Do I need translation, localisation or transcreation?

These 3 terms can be confusing, it’s hard to know which is right for your project, but fear not! In this blog, we explain the differences between translation, localisation and transcreation and what type of content they are suitable for.

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The process of rendering written communication from one language into another.

In simple terms, translation focuses on the words, the grammar and the tone of voice within a piece of content (for example, a document).

The translator working on the content should be a native speaker of the target language and have a full understanding of the source language. The translator should also have expertise in a particular field, in order for the translation to be technically correct.

Typical translation work includes general documents, contracts and technical manuals.


The process of adapting content to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel”. Localisation should focus on making the text read like a natural text originally produced in that country for that target audience, not a text that has been translated.

Localisation goes one step further than a direct language translation and starts to take into account other factors that will influence the target audience, such as cultural nuances. For example, ‘skinny jeans’ might not translate with the same relevance into other languages, so in a French localisation for example, ‘jean cigarette’ might be used.

Emirates adopt a localised approach to their website: on the homepage, the list of popular destinations shown changes dependant on the language. For example, when French (France) is selected, flights from Paris are displayed, and when French (Canada) is selected, flights from Toronto are displayed.

Another good example of localisation is the Arabic version of The Simpsons, which changes any references of beer to soda, and pork to beef.

Typical localisation work includes video games, websites, learning & training content and software.


The process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context.

Transcreation (or creative translation) may include copywriting, image selection and other transformations that tailor the message to ensure relevance for global audiences.

Transcreation ensures that the intended impact and emotion of your message is not lost in translation, and that the original intent, style and tone are maintained. Translation stays faithful to the source text, localisation tweaks it slightly, while transcreation is an art that uniquely customises the material for your target audience.

We work with a leading British shoemaker who sells their products globally. One of their popular products is called ‘London Lights’, but this wouldn’t resonate with an international audience as it does with Brits, so for the Spanish website, we used ‘Barcelona Boots’.

Other things that need to be considered are slogan translations where suggestive wording might be too subtle or in fact cause major offence. For example, Pepsi’s slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” was translated as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead” in Chinese.

Typical transcreation work includes marketing material, slogans, e-Commerce and retail.

Translation Localisation Transcreation

For more information, or to request any of the above 3 services, leave your details in the contact form below.

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