3 Main Differences Between Translation and Transcreation

Translation of your content into another isn’t always a literal, word-for-word interpretation. Depending on the type of content, it may be necessary to use transcreation to get your message across. But how do you know which method to use?

What’s the Difference Between These Methods?

There is a big difference between the two methods. One note—it is possible that one translator performs both types of work. Depending on the translation company you choose, you may find that these jobs are separate. However, it is possible to have one person who performs both types of work.

1. Content: transcreation is recreation of a content in another language. For these types of projects, a linguistic copywriter is used, one who has a deep knowledge of the target audience, their language and culture. People who specialize in this process are content writers or copywriters, who use their knowledge of language to deliver the intended message of a client from one language into another but using creativity in the process. The content is not translated word-for-word. Instead, the linguist will use words and ideas that fit the target language, while maintaining the intent of the original source material.

2. Scope: translation is the process of literally translating from one language to another. During the translation process, the words from one language are replaced with the corresponding words in the new language. Translated material remains close to the source content. This method is often used for material that requires a high level of accuracy. This process is done by a qualified translator.

On the other hand, transcreation is a more creative process. The linguistic copywriter uses their knowledge of the target audience and the new language to recreate the source material to fit the local market and culture. In this method, the concept is retained, but the words are changed and adapted. This method is most often used for advertising materials, slogans, taglines, marketing content, etc. This process uses a linguistic copywriter trained in writing.

3. Approach: transcreation requires a deep understanding of the culture and the target language. Linguistic copywriters work with concepts. These may involve words and even design elements. Just as the linguistic copywriter uses their knowledge of the target audience to recreate the message, they also use this knowledge on visual elements of the project.

Images, tables, etc. may need to be recreated in order to fit the target market. With translation, the translator works with the words directly and may offer insight on the visuals; however, their main focus is on the translation process.

4. Uses a creative brief: just as you may give a brief to a content writer, you’ll do the same with a linguistic copywriter. You, as the client, provide the documents and discuss the tone, intent and desired results of the intended message.

5. More expensive: writing takes time and research. The linguistic copywriter may spend considerable time researching your industry and brand, along with the target market before they begin writing. In addition, they’ll share drafts of their content as part of the process. As a result, this method tends to cost a bit more, but that’s due to the time and effort involved.

Transcreation and Marketing Localization

Both marketing localization and transcreation are more contemporary translation methods used today, rather than just relying solely on a literal translation. Literal translations are not effective in conveying the ideas and emotional connection to the content.

Market localization remains true to the ideas and emotional impact of the words in the original language. This process is about creating culturally appropriate messages. Localization adds value.

Transcreation carries this farther by completely adapting the message in order to maximize cultural resonance and relevance. This method creates an entire experience in the language of the targeted audience.

These are the main differences between translation and transcreation. Each provides value but must be used for specific types of content to clearly and correctly get your message across to the target audience.

Tags: translation transcreation

Karim Seif


As one of the founding members of our team, Karim knows the value of maintaining productive relationships with clients and staff. A graduate of Sadat Academy and The American University in Cairo, he has background and expertise in sales, marketing and management. Karim directs the company’s business endeavors and works with our project management teams to ensure that clients are receiving the best services to meet their unique needs.