Translation, Localization, and Transcreation Have Important Distinctions

Global brands spend a lot of money to create engaging online content for their target audience, but resonating content with an international audience is tricky and requires creativity. While translation plays a vital role in garnering attention to your website, product, or service; sometimes translation is not enough. It may also require transcreation to keep content culturally oriented, or in other cases, localization is the more effective approach.  

But wait! Isn’t translation, localization, and transcreation the same thing? No, they’re not! Let’s take a closer look at the differences.


Translation is simply the process of converting the content from one language into another. A translation project typically involves a pool of translators or native linguists who transform the content using their judgment and level of understanding. It requires a certain set of skills and often includes the use of a translation glossary to maintain ensure integrity of the translation.

Here are three major characteristics of translation;

  • Content remains the same even after translation
  • The translation is word for word (but based according to contextual meaning)
  • The brand vocabulary remains the same


If you look at its definition, localization is the process of adjusting a product’s functional properties and qualities to accommodate the language and cultural differences. It goes beyond translation and includes other changes to promote cultural adaptation.

Localized content is appropriately translated according to cultural references familiar to the target audience. That means, in addition to language translation it may include color, image, layout, and other formatting alterations.  

The advertising and entertainment industry often require localization for their marketing campaigns and product launches in different markets. For example, fast food chains like Burger King and McDonald’s have changed their menu when targeting Muslim regions of the world. Pork is prohibited for Muslims; therefore, any food item containing that ingredient was removed from the menu.

Here are the major characteristics of localization;

  • The meaning of content remains the same
  • The translated content is focused on culture
  • The formatting of images and layout is changed to meet the product’s requirement in cultural expectations


To complete our comparison of translation, localization, and transcreation – let’s look at transcreation.

Transcreation is a combination of translation and creating writing.

While localization focuses the culture, transcreation is a blend of translation and adaptive creativity. It is about adding emotional characteristic to the translation and localization process to merge culture, emotions, and language.

Your brand is a perfect merge of colors, language, and everything else that makes the visual content more attractive for the target audience. Therefore, a transcreation project aims to bring in additional expertise and industry knowledge, but most importantly cultural awareness in order to attract the target audience.

With a professional translation service provider, transcreation is done within the same charges or bundle offering, and sometimes charge extra depending on the product niche and requirements. 

Here are some factors to keep in mind with transcreation projects:

  • Content is developed to meet business goals 
  • The local language is focused while English is a common part of the brand vocabulary
  • To meet local expectations, images, slogans, and even taglines are changed
  • Local phrases and expressions are commonly used.

Streamline Your Online Translation and Localization with Localize

While the concepts of translation, localization, transcreation overlap; understanding the differences can greatly increase your effectiveness in engaging with your target audience. Localize provides you with all the tools you need to establish a focused website translation and localization strategy. We have partner with experienced language service providers to help you successfully translate your content. Plus, our platform enables you to seamlessly integrate your own expert translators. Contact us today.

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