When to use Translation, Localization and Transcreation?

When to use Translation, Localization and Transcreation?

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Some time ago, we started discussing the different levels of effort you need to put into making your content available to others. We started with translation, moved on to localization, and ended with transcreationI am sure that many of you still need a clearer picture when it comes to the differences between these approaches, so today we will try to summarize and explain which approach should be used and when.

As a result, you should be able to easily determine what your business really needs and how these approaches can enhance the user experience of your translated website

 #1. Translation

Translation is what most people have in mind when they think about converting text from one language to another. In fact, it is the process of switching the content from the source to the target language, in the simplest form.

It doesn’t usually concern itself with a deeper, more meaningful analysis of the source content, and it does not attempt to bring marketing slogans to life in a foreign language. Such an approach is usually used for simple content in which linguistic nuances have little effect upon the overall message.

In real life, simple translation is used for help articles or product lists, which don’t use complex language or expressions; and which can, in most cases, even be machine-translated. To avoid obvious quality issues, clients sometimes also choose to run a quick human review (read all about this approach here).

 #2.Culturally-sensitive localization

Localization is used for the majority of modern content that’s supposed to be presented to an audience in a foreign country. For example, any content that was originally created in English must be properly localized before being presented to a Chinese audience, including visual localization.

There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that cultural references which work in one language or market can miss the mark, – or even be completely inappropriate – in another.

In other words, if you made a funny reference in your About Us page, make sure that it also works in the new target market that you are expanding into.

 #3. Transcreation

This is the most complicated and time-consuming approach, and is only used for a specific type of content that wouldn’t work in the target market in a localized version alone. In fact, content that needs to be transcreated is a content that needs partial rewriting, that’s why transcreation is very often referred to as translation + creative writing.

Transcreation should be used when a company wants to copy-write or write completely new content for the new target market, because the language is so nuanced, that any aspect of the original doesn’t make sense in the translated or even localized version. It makes no sense to apply this approach to all types of content, but it’s appropriate for marketing messages and brand-related material.


If your business develops, the chances are that you work with different types of content. What do you do then? Which approach do you apply and when? Well, with a proper Translation Management System, you can divide up the tasks and just machine-translate your help articles, localize your About Us page, and transcreate the company slogan.

Using different quality levels you have at your disposal, you can also partially outsource tasks, performing some of them in-houseIn other words, you can have complete control over the whole workflow. If you want to try it out for free, you can do it hereIn case you need any help with your content, or with deciding which approach suits you best, feel free to reach out to us!

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