4 Ways Translation and Transcreation Are Different and Why You Need to Know This!


Translation isn’t what it was 20 or even 10 years ago. There have been many changes and overall development in the industry that calls for attention.

One of those fast-growing developments that many are unfamiliar with is the rise in transcreation. 

Transcreation has been around for years. Translation agencies like TranslationPartner are familiar with it and have been using it for over a decade.

But business owners and translators aren’t as familiar.

In fact, many aren’t aware that there are major differences between translation and transcreation and that each of them comes with a set of rules not to mention pricing methods and levels.

In this article, I’ll help you understand the 4 main differences between translation and transcreation, when to use each of them, and why agencies are your best bet for your transcreation needs.

What is transcreation?

To highlight the difference between translation and transcreation, let’s first define what transcreation is.

Transcreation is a portmanteau or a combination of two words, namely translation and creation or rather content creation.

Projects that require transcreation are those that combine translation skills with creativity, strong research, and being able to deliver the message in a unique but clear way.

This means that transcreation projects don’t follow standard translation rules. The project still involves some translation but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes with transcreation involved.

A great transcreation example can be seen in this Samsung ad. In English, the ad reads ‘Now is the future’ whereas the Arabic version takes it a step further with ‘سابق عصره’ which, if back-translated, means ‘ahead of their time .’

transcreation examples

To understand more about transcreation, let’s look at the qualities a transcreator needs.

Although the term transcreator isn’t very common, the person in charge of delivering a transcreation project needs to have the following set of skills:

–          strong command of the source and target languages

–          stellar research skills

–          able to think outside the box

–          is familiar with the basics of marketing

–          willing to rewrite their copy a few times

–          is extremely patient

Translation vs localization vs transcreation

Now that we’ve defined transcreation, let’s look at its sisters: translation and localization. In a way, the three terms complement each other.

Translation is the basic form of transforming a piece of content from one language to another. This could be a document, thesis, medical journal, contract, or something else.

Localization, on the other hand, is a step further in translation that takes into account local dialects and terminology.

Let’s say you’re looking to translate a video game and you decide that you’ll target Arabic speakers. At this point, you have one of two options:

1)     Use the standard formal Arabic which is used in writing but isn’t spoken by any native.


2)     Pick a specific target market within the Arabic-speaking world and use their dialect.

Most video game makers would opt for option #2. By selecting a dialect, you’re asking your translation service provider to localize rather than merely translate the content of the game.

This means that localization is an advanced form of translation. And it’s certainly more specific and more difficult to produce.

Top transcreation categories

But how do you know if the content you have requires translation, localization, or transcreation?

To answer this question, we’ve listed the types of text or content that require transcreation or a combination of the trio.


Localization and transcreation both involve translation. So, we’re still operating in the same domain.

Top content types that require transcreation

1) Marketing content

The translation of marketing materials tops the list of content types that require transcreation. After all, marketing requires creativity and testing for production.

So naturally, it would need an equally or even more creative mind to transfer the tone, message, ideas, and benefits into a different language.

Marketing content types include website translation, which involves SEO translation, as well as translating social media ads, posts, and images, as well as Google ad campaigns, and other types of online content.

2) Video translation

Translating video content can range from documentaries, docu-series, movies, and songs to speech. All of these can’t be done using a simple translation.

Moreover, all of these options require subtitling work, voice-over, or both.

3) E-commerce translation

While general website content falls under marketing content, e-commerce websites fall under e-commerce translation. Think of it as a combination or an overlap.

To produce a multilingual e-commerce website, you’re going to need localization, transcreation, or both.

E-commerce giant Jumia is a great example of a multilingual website that combines localization and transcreation. The website is available in English, Arabic, and several French dialects for French-speaking countries in Africa.

Translating stores on Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce also falls under this category.

4) Literary translation

The translation of novels, novellas, poetry, and any other form of fiction – and to a great extent modern non-fiction books – is purely transcreation.

Why transcreation differs from translation

Here are four ways translation and transcreation are different:

1) Transcreators aren’t just translators

People involved in transcreation work aren’t your average translators.

They are part-copywriters, part-translators, and must be creative and amazing at research and experimentation.

2) Transcreation involves a creative brief

While a translation project requires a translation brief or some form of brief about the project, transcreation is different.

It’s more like copywriting and involves a creative brief that offers information like target audience, buyer personas, and other details.

3) Transcreation entails tone and creativity

Also like copywriting, transcreation means the translator and writer need to adapt the text to the tone of the source text.

Adapting the tone is one of the hardest things to do. Even newbie copywriters struggle to adapt to the tone of a certain brand. Imagine having to do that in two languages!

4) Transcreation is more expensive

By now, you’ve probably realized that transcreation isn’t easy. And accordingly, transcreation fees are higher than standard translation and even localization.

How to move forward

Finding that unique combination of not only being fluent in two languages but also writing and shifting between those two languages is hard.

Add in other requirements such as research skills, familiarity with the topic, copywriting or marketing knowledge and skills, creativity, and adapting to the tone of the content and you have a recipe fit for a king!

In other words, transcreation is no easy feat and it’s not for perfectionists or the faint of heart. It involves a lot of work but the end result is usually quite rewarding!

That’s why we recommend collaborating with a translation agency like TranslationPartner for your transcreation needs. Our team comprises translators and copywriters along with expert reviewers in various languages.

Do you have a project that you think will require transcreation services? Get in touch with the team at TranslationPartner and we’ll give you a free quote and explain our work process to you.