Transcreation vs. Translation | Translateswift

Transcreation vs. Translation – Understanding the Impact on Marketing Campaigns

Published:   |  Updated:   |  Posted in: Marketing
Transcreation vs. Translation – Understanding the Impact on Marketing Campaigns

In the 1960s, the Swedish domestic appliance manufacturer launched its vacuum cleaners in the US with a seemingly catchy slogan: Nothing sucks like Electrolux. But they forgot to realize that the verb “to suck” has another meaning in American English, and the audience was just confused why Electrolux advertised its product in a negative manner. This example illustrates the transcreation vs translation debate.

You may wonder what transcreation is and why translation for marketing isn’t the best way to connect with your target audience in a different country. Also, what is the difference between translation and transcreation in the simplest form? This blog will discuss it all with relevant marketing examples.

Let’s explore the subject of transcreation in translation in detail and determine which one’s the best option for your cross-country marketing campaigns.

Translation – Definition and Examples

First, we’ll explore the deeper meaning behind content translations. What does it mean to translate a document into another language? We can compare the definitions of “translation” and “transcreation” to better understand why these two concepts are different from each other. You’ll also learn why some marketers prefer transcreation over translation.

Transcreation is a more complex and time-consuming process than translation.

Translation is simply the act of conveying information from one language to another. It’s a process in which you convert text in the source language into the target language without changing the intent or style of the original text. 

This process goes beyond word-for-word translations; certified translators bring clarity, coherence, and cultural conformity to the translated text. Some examples of translations include:

  • Personal documents
  • Scientific research papers
  • Web content (blogs/menus)

Transcreation – Definition and Examples

The word “transcreation” comes from “translation” and “creation.” It refers to the art of successfully adapting the core message of your content from one language to another. In transcreation, translators don’t focus on the words they’re working on but on the underlying intent behind the whole message. 

This intent will remain the same, but the words must be rewritten. In other words, translators will often recreate the entire message to preserve the intent.

Dictionaries in Different Languages
In marketing, translation services are important to deliver the core message.

That’s why marketers ditch translation for marketing and use transcreation instead. It sacrifices the words but conveys the core message to the target audience. We’ll discuss the central role transcreation plays in marketing in a different section; for now, let’s focus on five exciting examples of transcreation at work. These examples will help you understand this reimagining process:

  • Marvel: They rebranded Spiderman’s Peter Parker as Pavitr Prabhakar, who gets his powers from an old yogi.
  • Intel: Intel rewrote its campaign Sponsors of Tomorrow for a Portuguese audience by rewriting it as Apaixonados pelo futuro or In love with the future.
  • KFC: This brand renamed itself as 肯德基 (Kendeji) to resonate with the local audience. The three characters in its name refer to readiness, virtue, and foundation.
  • BMW: You won’t believe that BMW’s Chinese name, 宝马 (baoma), stands for a priceless horse. It’s a fantastic way to advertise these luxury cars to Chinese buyers.
  • Haribo: They changed the slogan Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo in Spanish to a different line, which means Experience a magical taste, come to the Haribo world.
Multi-Language Dictionary Bookshelf
Translating a piece of marketing content into another language can be difficult.

Transcreation VS Translation – 6 Key Differences

You now know the basic definitions of both translation and transcreation services. We can go deeper at this point and elaborate on the key differences between these two processes. These six are some of the most noticeable differences between translation and transcreation:

  1. Copywriting Skills

Translators are usually writers with expertise in another language. However, transcreation experts are essentially copywriters who work their magic on a marketing copy in another language. We are not saying that translators aren’t copywriters, but copywriting is one of the major skills you need to enter the discipline of transcreation.

  1. Creative Brief

Translation projects start with a source text. However, transcreation projects start with a creative brief. One may argue that copywriting is the starting point of transcreation. Basically, the transcreation experts need to have a very clear idea of what kind of message you want them to create. Who is your target audience? That’s because the message is the main focus of a transcreation process.

Ancient Manuscripts
Translation is an art form that goes back several millennia.

  1. Audience Engagement

In translation, the goal is to rewrite a piece of content to deliver correct information. But transcreation aims to engage the reader. So, a transcreation expert can take creative liberties with the text in question how they see fit. 

As long as the outcome resonates with the audience and drives more sales to the brand, the client will be okay with it.

  1. Final Outcome

The final outcome of translation services is a document written in a different language in the spirit of the source text. But transcreation services will reproduce the text in different words. You may even notice that the final product is strikingly dissimilar to the original text. 

But that’s simply because localizing the content may require dropping some words. They will be lost in translation to ensure the core message is delivered to the intended audience.

  1. Time

Transcreation takes more time because it requires extra research. If a particular slogan, tagline, or ad copy is difficult to rewrite in another language, the transcreation expert may have to spend more time trying to come up with the perfect string of words to deliver the core message. You can see that along with extra time, transcreation projects also incur additional costs.

Copywriting Process
Transcreation is akin to translation services mixed with copywriting.

  1. Cost

Transcreation is a more complicated process and may cost 30% more than translation. This is something you should keep in mind when translating a document into a different language. 

This is because, unlike translators, transcreation experts don’t just reproduce the words in another language. They essentially recapture the core message of your brand and rewrite it for optimal marketing results.

It should be apparent why content localization is important when envisioning marketing strategies for a global ad campaign. Unless your content strikes a chord with a foreign audience, no ad campaign could be successful. That’s why marketing copies must be rewritten and rephrased by using the right words by transcreation experts. This leads us to the vital role transcreation plays in the world of advertising.

The Importance of Transcreation in Marketing

In hindsight, translation and transcreation seem quite similar to each other, essentially the same service. Even though both disciplines hire people with similar skills, you can see they are widely different from each other in the application. If you wish to better understand transcreation vs translation, you must delve into the quintessential role transcreation plays in marketing.

Man Reads Dictionary
A dictionary isn’t as important in transcreation as it is in translation.

After all, 60,000+ MNCs operate in the world, and they realize the success of any ad campaign relies on the right word choice. Thinking globally but acting locally is the crux of successful marketing in the 21st century. That’s why marketers must adapt their ad copies to local tastes and sensibilities. Not just text but even images and multimedia have to be revised for foreign audiences.

For example, Christmas doesn’t fall on December 25th worldwide. In some parts of the world, it falls on January 7th. In many countries, Christmas is immediately followed by the Boxing Day. The Santa character isn’t the same everywhere either; he’s Baba Noel in some countries. The marketing team has to consider these sensibilities when translating an ad copy from one language to another.

That’s why even the most straightforward transcreation process works like this:

  • Writing the copy
  • Editing the copy
  • Review by the client
  • Updating the style guide and glossary
  • Finalizing the ad copy

Hopefully, you now fully understand how translation differs from transcreation. 

Pen and Notebook
Unlike translation, transcreation is a more time-consuming process.


In short, transcreation is the art of reimagining the core message of a piece of content in a different language. The words may be replaced, and the whole message has to be rewritten. But the key intent of the message will be preserved. That’s why brands looking for marketing-related content translations often hire transcreation experts to redevelop their ad campaigns for foreign audiences.

Whether you’re looking for translation or transcreation services, only hire certified experts to get the job done right. At TranslateSwift, you’ll find experienced professionals with satisfied clients and a profound understanding of the language in question. They can deliver a translated file in just 24 hours.

If you need transcripts translation then contact certified translators to get the job done right. Ensure your translator understands the core message you’re trying to deliver to the intended audience.

A transcreation expert aims to engage a foreign audience by retaining and delivering the brand’s core message.

FAQs – Translation and Transcreation

What is the difference between translation and transliteration?

Transliteration means rewriting a word in another language based on how it sounds. So, the word 猫 will be translated as cat but transliterated as Neko.

What is the importance of transcreation in translation services?

Transcreation is about finding the perfect words to resonate with your audience. Experts in this field will rewrite a piece of content in a way that strikes a chord with an audience speaking another language. For instance, McDonald’s rewrote its famous slogan as I just like it for Chinese foodies.

What do we call a person who works in transcreation?

A transcreation expert is called a “transcreator,” who understands the cultural values and nuances of the target audience to repackage the already-existing marketing content for better engagement.