Localisation 101 – Translation vs Transcreation

by | Dec 12, 2022 | Localisation

When it comes to translation vs transcreation, how do you know when your project calls for one versus the other?

These similar-sounding processes serve very different purposes, yet both play a vitally important role in the localisation industry.

It is important to understand the differences between them to make informed decisions about which approach best suits your project needs, so read on to discover the key differences between translation and transcreation.


Localisation 101 – Translation vs Transcreation - Infographic - SM - International Achievers Group


What are translation services?


Translation is the process of accurately conveying the original meaning of a text in another language. The key word here is “accurately” since translators must ensure that all information conveyed in the source language is faithfully replicated in the target language.

This means not only ensuring that the translated text has an equivalent meaning, but that it also uses appropriate grammar, syntax and style. To achieve this level of accuracy, translators may use specialised software such as CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools which help them to identify any inconsistencies between source and target texts.


What are transcreation services?


Transcreation is the process of adapting creative content from one language to another while preserving the original intent and message.

It goes beyond translation by taking into account cultural nuances, audience preferences, and other factors that may influence how the content is received in different markets. This can include reworking phrases, expressions and metaphors to ensure that they are culturally relevant to the target market.

As such, this type of adaptation requires an understanding of both languages as well as a deeper knowledge of the target culture. It tends to be a more fluid, creative process than translation, with transcreators often adding, removing or changing content as needed.


Localisation 101 - Translation vs Transcreation - International Achievers Group (2)


What are the differences between translation vs transcreation?


One of the main differences between these two processes lies in how much freedom each allows. While translations should remain faithful to the original message without any changes made unless technically necessary, transcreations can be adapted significantly depending on what works best for each particular context or market being targeted.

Transcreation takes a more creative approach to localisation by taking into account cultural nuances and context when creating new versions of existing texts in different languages. The process often involves creative elements such as design changes or adding visuals to make sure that messages have maximum impact across all markets where they will be used.

Transcreators must have an intimate knowledge of both the source language and target language as well as cultural understanding to accurately convey the intended meaning behind each phrase or sentence.

Other areas of contrast include:




The cost implications associated with these services can vary significantly. Translation is typically faster and less expensive than transcreation, making it an attractive option for companies looking to quickly localise their content.

However, translation can be less accurate than transcreation, especially if the text being translated is idiomatic or colloquial. This can lead to misunderstandings or incorrect interpretations of the original message (hence the phrase “lost in translation”).


Localisation 101 - Translation vs Transcreation - International Achievers Group (3)



To translate a piece of text word-for-word, you just need to be fluent in both languages, whereas transcreators are usually skilled copywriters.

Laura Fernández, CEO of Corporate Solutions at Supertext, offered this definition of the perfect transcreator as someone who is “definitely a copywriter who will focus on their mother tongue and has a good command of one or two foreign languages”.




Translation only requires the source material, whereas transcreation requires a creative brief that outlines the key concepts, target audience, and the client’s intentions for the project.




Generally speaking, if your goal is simply to communicate the meaning of the source text then translation alone should suffice.

However, if you want to also convey an emotion or create a feeling in addition to communicating the meaning, then transcreation is more appropriate. It requires more time and resources but produces higher-quality results that are better suited for marketing materials or other types of content where emotional resonance is paramount.

When it comes to sales copy, transcreation will often have to take a strategic use of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) into consideration. Keywords have to be translated correctly to ensure maximum effectiveness.

In a nutshell, translation focuses primarily on accuracy whereas transcreation emphasises creativity and cultural relevance when translating content from one language to another.


International Achievers Group – your specialist localisation recruitment service


Localisation is a vast, burgeoning industry with huge potential for employment and career progression, and different skill sets are required depending on the type of material that needs to be translated.

If you need highly qualified localisation professionals for your upcoming projects career, get in touch with our expert team today and ask about our specialist localisation recruitment services.

Make sure to also check out our blog and resources for the latest trends and insights in the world of localisation!


Localisation 101 – Translation vs Transcreation - Infographic - SM - International Achievers Group