Work September 20, 2019

IFAW. Conservation through Transcreation.

Living Word
By Living Word

Founded in 1969 to stop commercial hunting of whitecoat seals on the east coast of Canada, The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has since grown to one of the biggest environmental and animal welfare charities in the world.

IFAW now has a global presence working across six continents and three oceans. From helping to reduce poaching in Uganda to fighting whale hunting in Japan, they have rescued more than 20,000 animals worldwide.


IFAW rebrand and a new global audience.

In 2019, 50 years after IFAW was founded, the organisation was ready for a different kind of challenge. In a bid to attract new audiences and reconnect with its loyal donor membership base, IFAW decided to undergo a digital transformation which included a rebrand and new multilingual website.

Old branding (left), all new 2019 branding (right)

IFAW approached VBAT, a leading Amsterdam based creative studio to aid in this task. In response, VBAT approached the only agency they thought could genuinely do justice to the web copy when it came to the mammoth task of translating it for the French, German, Dutch and Latin American markets.


Translation or Transcreation?

Meeting at the start of the project, IFAW, VBAT and Living Word all agreed that what the website required was transcreation, copywriting in another language. Using their experience and cultural knowledge without changing the facts, our linguists would create brand new engaging copy, based on the source, but aimed specifically for each target market.

However, we still needed to work a little on what the brand’s new style and tonality would look like in those target languages. How do you get the tone right when your client is still figuring it out themselves? Sample transcreations. We provided transcreation samples from ten different translators so that IFAW could select the linguists that they felt were most suitable for the project stylistically.

Part of the feedback process involved a dialogue of amends which meant we were then able to fine-tune the translation samples to ensure everybody was happy.

IFAW working to reduce high levels of ocean noise caused by shipping and naval sonar.

Knowing our Narwhal from our Beluga.

A project of this scale requires a dedicated team of linguists. A passion for animal welfare was an essential requirement when selecting which of our translators to work with in this case – passionate writers will always produce sympathetic and compelling copy.

However, translation of a bold and impactful website takes much more than simply knowing our Narwhal from our Beluga. We needed translators with extensive copywriting experience whose language skills would engage with audiences to make them act, and act fast – luckily Living Word believe in those kinds of professionals!

IFAW home page (French)

The IFAW Glossary, our translation bible.

An important feature of strong branding is that it requires consistent use of keywords and terminology. It may sound simple, but with a project of this scale, you’d have to have the brain of HAL9000 to keep every phrase and every feature uniform and consistent throughout the entire translated website.

In addition, IFAW also wanted to have the opportunity to review and approve the translated key words, phrases and programme names that are so essential to their new and approved branding.

As a solution to this, a glossary of terms and phrases was deployed so that everyone working on the project had access to this at all times. Seeing as IFAW was rebranding, we started this from scratch. Our project managers combed through the source copy and picked out everything they felt needed an official IFAW-approved translation. Our linguists then offered suggested translations for those terms and phrases, which were reviewed and amended by IFAW’s country managers. Inevitably, clients change their mind on how certain terms should be translated as projects progress, so a shared cloud drive meant that everybody working on the project was kept in the loop.

Lusaka Elephant Nursery in Zambia (German)

More flexible than an Anaconda!

As an agency, we at Living Word pride ourselves on being super flexible. Usually, this applies to deadlines and a willingness to implement multiple client adjustments. However, with IFAW, we needed to be nimble throughout the whole process.  

Initially, the project size was expected to be around 25,000 words of copy with only a basic estimate for when each section would be ready for our linguists to provide their translation services.

As we started transcreating the first few sections, IFAW’s writers were busy writing, editing and finalising copy for subsequent batches. As you might guess, scheduling in work when you’re not sure how much you’re going to have and when can be challenging. To mitigate this, we had two Project Managers on hand to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible with a team of dedicated translators, proofreaders and editors that were fully committed to getting an end product that everyone could be proud of. As time went by, the project grew bigger and bigger, so big in fact that a second team of translators were brought on board to help. By the time IFAW’s website launched in May, we had produced over 60,000+ words in 5 different languages.

IFAW cracking down on wildlife crime.

Feedback is essential.

When it comes to launching (or relaunching) a brand, it is essential that the end client has full control on what appears on their website.

At Living Word, we have developed a process that we feel makes this a little easier. After each document has been transcreated, proofread, reviewed by a Project Manager and delivered, we encourage our clients to review the copy and feedback any adjustments they think is necessary.

Our translators then make any requested changes and suggest alternatives where appropriate. A short cycle of feedback and adjustments continues until everyone is satisfied.

We always like to say we work with our clients, rather than for them – which was certainly the case with IFAW. We won the project in a pitch against illustrious competition because we demonstrated the right mix of strategic thinking, creative flair and technical capability.

Living Word, VBAT and IFAW worked extremely hard together as a team to reach an end product we were all very proud of. It was a challenge but was well worth it!