Translation, Localisation, Transcreation – What is the Difference?

In the translation industry, we use certain terms to describe the major steps involved in modifying language to better accommodate the needs of a changing world market. Although these are common terms in the industry, it’s essential to fully understand their definitions and how each builds upon the other to bridge languages and cultures in a seamless, relevant exchange.


Translation involves the careful conversion of information from one language into another. Basically, the translator draws from his/her educational background and work/life experience in order to best capture the essence of what the original text means. Even though both definitions should be accurate, no two translators will produce exactly the same finished texts. Therefore, although it’s crucial to produce translations that are accurate, there is room for a degree of individuality in terms of style and execution.



Unlike the previous term, which focuses solely on the conversion of words, localisation considers the actually cultural expectations of an audience. This process often starts with a conscientious review of all content to ensure that everything is culturally sensitive. Localisation can save companies from offending overseas cultures, and it takes the details into consideration, such as relevant time and date formats for target countries and colour choices for marketing materials. It indicates that a company is truly invested, both socially and intellectually, in a target market and has conducted the necessary research to ensure that needs are accurately and effectively addressed.


Transcreation is essentially the product of translation + creation. This step builds upon the two previous steps and involves the changing of the original text into a new language while maintaining its original integrity. The intent is to produce a meaning that is culturally appropriate for the target market. This can involve major tools, such as a company slogan, that will likely lose a portion of the original meaning as soon as they are taken it out of their native language. Although the process of transcreation could leave companies with a very different slogan than the original, the goal is to develop a slogan that has the same or very similar meaning.

A conscientious company will secure accurate, culturally-sensitive services that will satisfy the changing market. By properly grasping the uniqueness and application of the target terminology, businesses can better understand the relationship of each term to the industry overall.

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