Why video transcreation is essential for your next digital marketing campaign

Yuichi Ishino

What is the key to adapting your message for video?

The emerging importance of video marketing in an increasingly global marketplace has created the need to apply many of the same principles of transcreation for text content to video content. Without delving too much into the statistics, the percentage of web traffic held by video-sharing websites has made it clear that a well-executed video has become a crucial part of the success of a digital marketing campaign. Companies wishing to maximize the impact of their campaigns in regional markets need to focus on adapting their video content much the same way they adapt their text content.

Like text, video requires development or adaptation in coincidence with its target audience. There are a few areas in which the need for transcreation in video are most apparent, in-video text being the most obvious. Videos made with incorrect subtitles, headlines, or infographics can severely affect the credibility of a campaign. Less obvious though is the need to adjust emotive cues for different cultures. Archetypes and visual symbols or even certain devices that were successful for one regional market will often require revision for another market. Not adapting these elements can often lead to the failure of a campaign as it transitions to its new audience. That is not to say that some basic assumptions cannot be applied globally, but that a sensitive and competent campaign will be aware of the structures already in place for reaching or eliciting certain responses across different cultures.


Transcreation for video

Successful global digital marketing campaigns pay attention to nuance. This consideration applies to the transcreation of video content. There is phrasing in video as well as formulaic language. Simply slapping subtitles on a video is not enough to guarantee its effectiveness as a marketing tool for a target audience for which it was not originally created. Many of the core ideas regarding intent and intelligibility that apply to the written medium also apply to the visual medium and often without much amendment. This is especially important to remember as humorous video marketing continues to take off as a successful method of securing brand recall. Humor is laden with nuance and comedic tropes are not usually mutually intelligible. If you’ve spent any time as an American in Japan, you’ve certainly been met with a flat, questioning “amerikan jooku?” at least once. Now imagine such a reaction to your promotional video.


Balance, focus, movement, rhythm, pattern, and proportion

Visual language requires transcreation in order to retain coherence, an easy example being the many cultural adaptations of Disney films. Green peppers are swapped out for broccoli in Japanese distributions as the iconic disliked vegetables. Often retaining the original content in a video marketing campaign is at the expense of the original intent. Of course, there are core universal expressions - a smile will indicate happiness to any audience - but cultural specificity is crucial to engaging an audience on an emotional level with any kind of depth. Although its effects are less palpable, it is even possible to see differences in composition across cultures. There’s a degree of standardization because of media globalization, but different regional traditions still lead to slight differences in understandings and emphasizes on balance, focus, movement, rhythm, pattern, and proportion.


Localizing your video content for the Japanese market

With video transcreation, messages require rethinking and cultural references like jokes or archetypes require adaptation. With video marketing the key is not the original content, but the original intended effect - eliciting certain emotional responses leading to brand recognition, recall, or buying intent. Transcreation in video is not limited to big brands with connections to international network advertising agencies, it just requires working with an agency that is familiar with navigating cultural differences and understands the impact of visual language on brand image. Videos are just as much a language requiring transcreation as text content. The kind of video that you might make for an English-speaking market, the kind of visual references you would use or your stylistic choices or even the composition, will be different than a video made for a Japanese market. From a marketing standpoint, a simple misunderstanding can represent a severe loss. However, the success rate of a video marketing campaign can be increased by transcreating content for different regional markets.


This article is contributed by Dugan Lunday of Media For You


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Yuichi Ishino

Managing Director


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