Is Translation or Transcreation Best for Global Marketing?

The internet has been a miraculous tool for connecting businesses to potential customers all around the globe, however, this global marketplace comes with a catch – most customers prefer to browse and purchase from websites that are available in their native language, so it has become necessary for most companies to translate their websites, marketing material, packaging, and so on, into multiple languages in a bid to connect with more customers.

Yet, there are times when a straight-forward translation isn’t enough to get your message across to your audience, so in this instance you require transcreation.

If you are undecided, or unsure, about which language service you require from your chosen provider, then the following points should help you decide which best suits your needs.


What is Translation?

In essence, translation is the process of converting a message from one language (known as the source language) into a second language (known as the target language).

Translation refers to written information only, as changing verbal/spoken information would be considered interpretation.

Translation has been used as a tool for people to communicate a message from one language to another almost as long as humans have had the ability to write. There is evidence that translation pre-dates the bible, and scholars believe that translation was carried out as early as the second millennium BC in the Mesopotamian era when the Sumerian poem, Gilgamesh, was translated into Asian.

For modern purposes though, translation has become an everyday necessity for many business and now uses sophisticated tools and technology to achieve an accurate translation.

Translation isn’t necessarily a word-for-word adaption of a text but is a straight-forward conversion which conveys the original intent or meaning from one language to another. For instance, if translating a product description on a website, the translator would work from the original,

Basic translation, in its simplest form, translates text to replicate the original without reflecting any cultural or regional variations, or language particulars such as, colloquial phrases, idioms or humour.
This is ideal for brief product descriptions on a webpage, but not for targeted, personalised marketing materials, in-depth translations (such as, novels, legal and medical translations) or for technical translations.


What is Transcreation?

Transcreation is an in-depth form of translation which considers features such as culture, religion, style, and context to create a translation which is based on the original by preserving the intent, yet is adapted so that it is appropriate for a new audience. One might say that it is a recreation and translation which gives a greater perceptiveness and awareness of the links between language and culture.

Transcreation would adapt elements such as, humour, dialect, colloquial phrases, colour, tone, emotive language, and so on, to ensure they are culturally and contextually accurate for a specific target audience.

Transcreation is a must for global marketing, especially in relation to slogans, logos, advertising copy, product names, brochures, promotional flyers and so on, as communicating your message effectively to a local audience requires the ability to connect with them in a way that is familiar, acceptable and appropriate.

For instance, if you are planning to market your UK-made products to an Arab nation you might need to apply transcreation to images and text on your website, slogans on your marketing materials, and colours in your logo, to ensure they fit within the predominantly Muslim, Arab culture. Brand integrity will be preserved for you, while your customers benefit from a sense of familiarity and security.


When considering global marketing, it is easy to see why it is worth using transcreation instead of translation. Your transcreation project will use expert translators, who are also highly-talented copywriters, so that you receive a culturally-appropriate and linguistically accurate end product that reflects your brand values and promotes your products in the right way.

If you require advice on any aspects of transcreation please contact our team at Creative Word.






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