Translation, Transcreation, and Localization: What’s the Difference?

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Crafting content for an international audience requires creativity.

While translation plays a vital role in garnering attention for your global website, product, or service; sometimes a translation is not enough. You may also need to use transcreation to keep content culturally relevant during localization.

But wait a minute…aren’t translation, localization, and transcreation the same thing? Nope! Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

What is Translation?

Translation is the process of converting the written word from one language into another. A translation project typically involves translators or language service providers (LSPs) who transform the content using their expertise. Translation requires a certain set of skills and often includes the use of a glossary and style guide to maintain the integrity of the translation.

Example: Translation at

Many global companies translate their online help centers so international customers can get assistance. For example, Google’s support website is translated into dozens of different languages. Here are the Urdu-language and American English versions of You’ll probably notice that the websites are the same, aside from the language and text direction.

Urdu-Language Google Help Center:
Translation, Transcreation, and Localization: What's the Difference? 1

American English Google Help Center:
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What is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a specific target audience. While translation is about the words you use, localization is more about how well your product resonates with people in a different culture.

Localized content is translated and adapted based on the target audience’s culture. That means, in addition to language translation, localization can include color scheme changes, layout differences, unique images, expanded product offerings, and more.

Example: Localizing with Nike

Popular sneaker retailer Nike sells their products in over 160 countries, so good localization is incredibly important. Upon entering the website, Nike’s visitors can select their geographic location. In the screenshot below, we’ve selected China. Notice how different Nike’s Chinese homepage looks compared to the American site. Not only do the languages differ; the Chinese site has a different color scheme, culturally-appropriate models, and a unique design.

Nike’s Location Selection Interface:

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Nike’s Localized Homepage for China:

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Nike’s American Homepage:

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What is Transcreation?

Transcreation is the process of recreating content so its original message—including voice, tone, and style—makes the same emotional impact everywhere. Ideally, advertisers and marketers want their global campaigns to evoke the same response in every audience, no matter where they are in the world. To do this, transcreation is key.

Transcreation is a merger of two words: translation and creation. While localization focuses on culture, transcreation is a blend of translation and adaptive creativity. Advertising content like product names and taglines don’t always have a direct translation. For example, it’s rare to use the word “love” in some cultures; Mcdonald’s famous slogan “I’m lovin’ it” wasn’t suitable for everyone. This is where transcreation can help transform a marketing message for a unique audience.

Example: Transcreation with Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola, the beverage industry leader, has an impressive amount of transcreated sites. You might recognize the iconic logos and the red color scheme in each transcreated site, but the similarities end there. Each regional version of Coke’s site is precisely tailored to suit the nuances of the target audience.

Coca Cola’s American Site:

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Coca-Cola’s Japanese Site:

image: transcreation at coca-cola

Coca-Cola’s Austrian Site:

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Streamline Your Translation, Localization, and Transcreation

While the concepts of translation, localization, and transcreation overlap; understanding the differences can greatly increase your effectiveness in engaging with your target audience.

Localize provides you with all the tools you need to establish a focused website translation and localization strategy. We have partnered with experienced language service providers to help you successfully translate your content. Plus, our platform enables you to seamlessly integrate your expert translators. Contact us today.

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