voice-over translation - japanese market -Video advertising in the billboards of Shibuya, Tokyo

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is the combination of translation and creation and it’s one of the most important trends in voice-over translation. It is the act of changing the script to be appropriate for the target audience. Transcreation may seem like translation but it includes an important marketing aspect, creation. It is the process of adapting through translating and recreating but also maintaining the emotion, style of the message. It is to deliver the core message to markets with different backgrounds.

Why is it important?

As a consumer, we see hundreds of advertisements each day, yet we can only remember those that either have a catchy slogan or convey some type of emotion. It doesn’t have to be visual. Lots of times it can be a memorable voice, a funny or cute accent, or even just the way of speaking.

The voice-over horror

A fun example of this case is the English version of Resident Evil (Biohazard) horror survival game. It was originally written in Japanese, and the script was simply had a voice-over translation to English by someone who barely spoke it. The voice actors were handed over the script, and they did their best to correct it and bring the most out of it.



As one could expect, the voice-over has become known for cringe-worthy translations and voice over fails. The line “You almost became a Jill sandwich” is still one of the biggest memes among the Resident Evil gaming community.

How can I avoid making such mistakes?

When targeting different markets, you shouldn’t just go for a voice-over translation – you should rewrite your script. Different languages may follow very different logics and different emotions. Translating a script from a language to another could lead to a very different message if the linguistic and cultural means are not taken into consideration.

Choosing suitable accents and tones also play a huge role in succeeding.

If the voice-over is aimed at French Canadians, it is important to be authentic and use the accent spoken in the targeted country. The same goes for different tones – the wrong tone can make or break a deal for the audience.

“Mr Muscle” as “Mr Chicken Meat” on the Chinese market

Another example of the importance of transcreation is the brand names on the Chinese market.

In China pronunciation-based translation for names is very popular. Yet, there can be some unwanted consequences. That’s why many foreign brands decided to come up with a new brand name instead of using the Chinese pronunciation of it.

Some Significant Cases


For instance, Apple realized that the sound-based translation would harm their brand reputation. Since it would have been either “爱炮” Aipao (“Love Cannon”) or “阿婆” Apo (“Grandma”). Instead, they translated it to Chinese and run by the name “苹果” Pingguo. – Imagine upgrading to the new Grandma 12 pro max!


Audi decided to stick to its original name but with Chinese pronunciation and worked out very well for them. The word Audi translates to “奥迪” Aodi which is the Chinese way of pronouncing it. The literal meaning behind the name is “profound enlightenment”. Brilliant choice!


Arla, the largest dairy producer in Scandinavia went through rebranding for the sake of the Chinese market. Just like Audi, they kept their name and gave a little Chinese twist to it. “阿尔乐” Aerle which doesn’t really have an actual meaning, but it includes words such as “you” and “happy.  It gives a warm, fuzzy feeling to the customers.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz wasn’t so lucky though.
The German luxury car giant had it tough on the Chinese market with its poorly translated brand name. The German car giant entered the Chinese market under the name of ”奔死” Bensi which literally translates to “Rush to your death” in Mandarin. Luckily, Mercedes-Benz quickly realized and changed its name to “奔驰” Ben Chi which translates to “Dashing speed”. A small but drastic change in the meaning.

Lost-in-translation brand mistakes around the world

There are a handful of companies that shocked their customers with their translations. Here are some light-hearted examples of embarrassing brand blunders.

Schweppes Tonic Water

The Italian campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water was “Schweppes Toilet Water” – Guessing they did not sell a lot of these.

Swedish Electrolux

When Swedish Electrolux marketed its vacuum cleaners in the U.S. market, they thought they were highlighting their vacuum’s high power and focused the campaign on the tag line: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”. Oh well…

Brewing Company Coors

The Brewing Company Coors’ slogan “Turn it loose” ended up as “Suffer from diarrhoea” in Spanish – This one is even worse than Schweppes Toilet water!


Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France with the name Cue – it turned out that Cue is also the name of a French ill-famed porno magazine.

Find the perfect voice for your campaign

Finding the perfect voice for your campaign is not always easy but we got you covered.

At VoiceArchive, we pride ourselves on working with the best (native) voice-over talents to authentically deliver your message. We offer a wide selection of voices, so you can find the one that perfectly fits your specific project needs.

We act as a one-stop shop for our clients. From translation and localization to final delivery: get everything from a single source and save your team time, money, and frustration.

Contact our dedicated sales team to find the right voice for the right message.

Anna Sticken

Global Key Account Manager