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An evening of live transcreation

An evening of live what? I hear you!

I can assure you, a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what live transcreation meant either. I was as puzzled as you are right now reading this. When the client on the phone said “live transcreation”, I thought to myself “surely they mean interpreting”. But after a few questions, both client and I were on the same page.

That doesn’t solve anything for you yet, I know. Bear with me for a second. Let’s ignore the “live” part and let’s look at transcreation first. What is transcreation? Is it really that different to translation? If you haven’t read this or this post, please go read those two first and then come back here! But for those of you who don’t want to be jumping between posts, I will very briefly describe transcreation in this post.


Transcreation is creative translation. It is translation that is performed for the creative industries. Creative industries are the marketing & advertising industry, design, illustration, the visual arts, the film industry etc. So, when we talk about transcreation, we specifically refer to translation work intended to be used by the above industries.

It is different to translation, not only because it requires more creativity, but also because it takes a set of additional skills such as copywriting and copyediting. Transcreation is often delivered in three versions where the first is close to the original, the second a little bit further away and the third quite further away from the words of the original. In essence, it is rewriting taking inspiration from the original content.

In addition, content for transcreation is very often accompanied by images, video, sounds, style guides, brand guidelines and tone of voice (TOV) instructions. Transcreated content is returned to the client along with its back translation and a rational; a commentary explaining word choices, drastic changes, stylistic amendments etc.


Now keep that in mind and add the word “live” to it. Typically, a transcreator will be given a copy, a brief and a timeframe, let’s say 3 days, within which they need to produce the transcreated copy.

“Live transcreation” means the transcreator is given a few concepts, including the copy, imagery, video, brand messaging, style guide, hashtags and they have to come up with the transcreated copy instantly, on-site.


During my evening of live-transcreation, I was given 7 different concepts designed for the UK market and my job was to come up with 7 concepts for the Greek market. 7 concepts, 4 hours, less than 0.57hrs per concept.

I worked on-site with the creative team consisting of photographers, designers, illustrators, copywriters, copyeditors, and marketing communications specialists. Each of the 7 concepts was given to me as a brief and I had about 30 minutes to produce each concept for the Greek market.

After that, I worked with the creative team to produce the content. That means dropping the transcreated content in the right environment and then testing it. This was perhaps one of my most interesting projects in 2019.


Transcreators tend to work on their own, and I found myself all of a sudden having to produce copy into a second language surrounded by a creative team in an open-plan office. You can understand why at first, the working environment was a little stressful.

But then, I started feeling the energy in the room. Soon everyone was bouncing ideas off each other. I had the client right there in front of me. That meant I could ask anything I wanted, whenever I wanted and get an immediate response. This was particularly useful.

I expressed my concerns about the areas I felt didn’t work very well for the Greek market, suggested solutions and back translations and the client instantly chose their preferred option. Magic! Any professional transcreator knows that usually, you have to email back and forth, wait for answers, confirm and reconfirm. So, this new, instant way of working, was a breath of fresh air. As the evening progressed, the process became more fun and energising.

There was certainly a buzz among transcreators. Having all the transcreators from the various languages working around the same table was genius. We aired our queries and mentioned the solutions each one of us was employing. And of course, what wasn’t working in Italian, wasn’t working in Spanish. And what wasn’t working in Greek wasn’t working in Russian. And the solution for Italian could also be applied to Spanish, for the Greek to Russian etc.

And so, the result was a collaborative, creative effort of different individuals from different backgrounds, industries, languages, and cultures acting in synergy.


Back at home, I was still buzzing, proud of the experience. Perhaps this way of working wouldn’t suit a more introverted, less social transcreator. Some individuals perform better on their own, especially when having to produce copy in a second language. Others may prefer having all their dictionaries physically around them or may require more time to familiarise themselves with the team or the product involved.


Have you ever had transcreators work on-site in this way?

Do you think you might try this method in the future for your marketing campaign?

Tell me in the comments!


Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English and Greek and specialises in legal, creative, and psychometrics. She is a Chartered Linguist, member of CIoL, ITI and PEM and she is registered with the Greek Consulate as a certified translator and interpreter. She holds a BA in English and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. She is a Steering Group Member of the CIOL Translating Division and CIOL Business, Professions and Government Division. She is an Associate Lecturer in Legal Translation at London Metropolitan University, a public speaker and writer for industry magazines. Her mission is to help you achieve your goals through the power of words. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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