A quick guide to help you write a perfect transcreation brief

My colleagues have recently blogged about transcreation agencies damaging brands, managing the transcreation feedback and the impact of having the wrong transcreator on a job.

I would like to take a step back and look at how you can stop transcreation problems from happening in the first place. What is the best way of achieving good transcreation?

We know what it’s like. Most of the time you’re really busy, you’re trying to juggle a hundred tasks at once, you need something done as soon as possible and you think that your transcreation agency should know what you know because it’s obvious. But that’s a dangerous line to tread. It’s possible that your experience and familiarity with the subject matter might lead you to overlook some crucial things that your transcreator needs to know.

As a client, you have the ultimate power – and that power is information about your brand. It’s down to you to communicate it in the right way, so it’s important to give some serious thought about how you’re briefing your transcreation agency.

Mapping the brief

Think of a brief as a “map” of where you want the transcreation to go. If a map is poorly signposted, you could well end up somewhere completely different from your intended destination. Similarly if your brief is incomplete, the transcreator has to guess the directions and can therefore produce a transcreation that isn’t what you expected.

What is a perfect brief? What should it include?

The brief always needs to define the following: style of writing, medium, target audience, and subject matter. It includes other vital information such as timelines, deadlines and budgets. Writing an extensive brief helps you set your expectations towards the end result.

When it comes to transcreation briefs, the more information you give the better it is, however it needs to be neatly organised in order not to be confusing. It is good to start from the vague and move towards the more specific information, as set out in the following steps.

Step 1. Background

Begin with describing the background. What is the brand? Is this a new product or campaign launch? What is the rationale behind this campaign?

Background information sets the whole scene for the transcreation, and helps understand the context.

Step 2. Objectives

The next step would be to clarify the objectives. You should communicate to your transcreation agency what you want to achieve with your campaign and share the bigger picture.

Step 3. Specifications

Part of the brief will be composed of many important elements like target audience, media channel, subject matter expertise, source and target languages, format and volume of the copy. Unless you are crystal clear on who it is that you’re trying to talk to, the language and the imagery might not be suited for your customer group. When you are defining your target audience include basic information like age, gender, social position and country. From this, your audience’s response and attitude towards the communication can be predicted and assessed.

Step 4. Budget, timelines, and reference material

Last but not least will be to talk about the budget, timelines and reference materials. Be clear when you need it, how much you are paying, and supply any additional reference materials which will help your transcreator to do a great job.

Transcreation brief summary

To help summarise, what should be included in a perfect transcreation brief think of the following elements:

  • What is it about? What brand/product/campaign does it concern?
  • Why does it exist, what is its purpose?
  • Where will it appear?
  • Who is the target audience? What should the tone-of-voice be? Is it internal or external material?
  • How Background info, reference material, brand guidelines, images, and previous transcreation.

Follow these steps and your transcreation brief should come back to you just as you planned. Share your knowledge and your expectations clearly, and the process will run smoothly.


Freedman International
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