Transcreation vs translation: Which do you need?

Innovations in technology have brought the world closer together. While there are many benefits to these kinds of advancements, they can also present businesses with new and unforeseen obstacles to adapt to and overcome. 

The way in which we communicate information has never been more important. After all, the goal of any global company should be to unify people across different cultures and countries, while conveying their brand’s message as accurately as possible. 

But how do you get your message across concisely? How much creative freedom should your translations be given in order to become palatable for other nations? The answer to these questions ultimately lies in gaining a better understanding of transcreation vs translation. 

Regardless of what industry you work within, factors like colloquialisms and cultural sensitivities can either seal a prosperous business relationship or ruin your brand’s reputation on a global scale. 

During the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for corporate translation services grew by an incredible 40%. Taking advantage of this rise in demand will require the ability to pinpoint times where a rigid translation of your marketing may not suffice. In those moments, you may need to consider some flexibility in how to present your brand in new international territories. 

Learning the difference between transcreation and translation gives your business a clear advantage. With a better comprehension of what suits your business needs best, you can begin to apply them effectively. 

To discover which services you’ll need, let’s delve deeper into the transcreation vs translation dynamic. 

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a method of communicating across different countries and overcoming language barriers that go beyond linguistics. While written content is still a large part of transcreation, factors like culture and emotional intent of the targeted regions are included in the overall strategy as well. 

Due to its focus on elements like semiotics (signs, symbols, colours, and anything else that communicates meaning without words), many global marketing companies use transcreation services in order to gain the upper hand in competitive international markets. 

So, what is transcreation? Think of it as the ability to reach new audiences through a form of translation that allows a little more freedom to the person translating. While transcreation may alter the wording or appearance of something, it aims to retain the core value of the message itself. 

What is a translator?

A translator is someone who works meticulously and methodically through texts and other source materials. For corporate translation purposes, this can mean anything from the small print in a business contract to exhaustive legal documents. 

While transcreation allows more leeway in terms of altering phrases and colloquialisms, a translator tends to work with content and communications that need to remain true to the source material. 

A corporate translation service will use all of the latest technology to assist with an accurate and comprehensive outcome. The ramifications of a poorly translated document can be life-changing, as a corporate translation service will predominantly work within the following industries: 

  • Law enforcement 
  • Legal contracts and other documentation 
  • Sensitive corporate and financial information 
  • Immigration services 
  • Medical and healthcare services 

Transcreation vs translation: What are the differences?

Due to the fascinating nature of language, interpretations of words, and cultural differences, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly which of these services you’ll need for your specific business requirements. 

At the root of both is a clear objective to reach and communicate with others. However, if you’re actively searching for a linguistics service and have a very specific set of goals and requirements, it’s essential to know what each can provide for you. 

In order to fully comprehend what you’ll be getting from each process, here are the ways in which transcreation services and translation services go in completely different directions. 

Creative freedom

Corporate translation services are capable of translating your required documentation with accuracy and professionalism. Source material and translated content can be proofed, edited and checked meticulously many times over in order to ensure the most comprehensive translation possible. 

Transcreation services are afforded the room to alter and shape their communications to best serve the market they’re targeting. Nuances, regional lingo and even branded colours can be completely altered to appeal to international audiences. 


A translator does not have the luxury of changing statements or communications when working with the source material. Authenticity and precision are what matters, and this includes keeping a keen eye on the tone and style of the overall piece of content. 

Translators must clearly convey what was said or written down without implementing their own meanings or interpretations. Rigid and readable content with accuracy is the footnote of a professional translators’ daily goal. 

Transcreation provides a wider range of variables to consider. The majority of briefs for a transcreation professional will include visuals and deeper insights into the culture of a region. They are entrusted with discarding and including elements they feel are necessary to achieve their intended purpose. Think of it as a more localised marketing strategy for each and every new market they work for. 


As transcreation is a form of creative writing, it requires more time. Most transcreation services will expect to be provided with a brief of what’s required. However, there are many professionals who are perfectly content to receive a document and essentially be left to do what they do best. 

Either way, the process itself requires a little creativity and some patience on the part of the business hiring these services. 

While the assumption is that translators will also require a long period of time to accurately perform their duties, the advancements in linguistic technology have helped to speed up the process. 

Due to the nature of the industries they work within, reputable linguistics companies will be experienced in providing comprehensive translations within tight deadlines. 

Transcreation vs translation: The similarities

In finding the differences between transcreation and translation there are several similarities that can’t be overlooked. Both of these linguistic services remain similar in the following areas. 

  • The ability to write professionally in the native language of the source material 
  • The ability to professionally translate source material into another language with attention to the verbal and linguistic specifications of that language 
  • The ability to remain adaptable to multiple industries, countries, and scenarios 

With a reputable language services company, either of these services will be carried out professionally. Trained professionals have a deep respect and understanding of language. Not only this, they know the importance of clear communication for the benefit of all parties involved. 

An example of transcreation vs translation in entertainment  

If you’re aware of the huge success of the Netflix Korean drama ‘Squid Game’ then you may already have witnessed these differences first hand. A recent article lamented the English subtitles in the series, going so far as to say that the translations were so poor it was akin to watching a completely different show to the original. 

Cast members and native fans of the show have claimed that the translations of the dialogue have completely lost the metaphors, character nuances and context of the scripts. Despite huge viewing numbers, it has been heavily criticised for both is subtitles and closed-caption subtitles for completely missing the mark. 

While there is no ‘right’ answer here, this is a prime example of translation losing some of the colour and vitality of a popular show, which has been detrimental to the overall product. Would a team of transcreation experts be able to keep the subtle character traits if they’d been given a brief and afforded the freedom to implement changes? 

It’s highly likely. 

Transcreation vs translation: Either way, a professional is essential

Whatever your language  needs are, it takes dedicated and qualified experts to take a source and convert it into the language of a target region. 

The world has changed drastically over the last two years, and communication has never been more important. This means that when the right source is articulated in the best way possible, business relationships are unified in strong, long-lasting bonds. 

However, on the other end of that spectrum, when the smallest detail is overlooked, that harmony and prosperity can be lost in an instant. 

Hopefully, you now have a greater understanding of what services you’ll require. While a clear distinction between these two services is important to better serve your needs, the most important first step towards achieving your desired outcome is through trusting a reputable company. 

The Global Lingo difference

With over 150 languages supported, Global Lingo develops long-lasting relationships with global organisations to deliver comprehensive and professional translation services. 

We have over 6,000 specialist linguists spanning all industries and niches to ensure that your content is accurate, consistent, and culturally sensitive. 

For more than a decade now, Global Lingo has taken great pride in delivering a personalised service that speaks volumes globally. 

Looking for translation services?

Our global translation services help companies distribute content to other audiences across the world. Whether this is information in documents, web content, product or marketing campaigns, or audio-visual media, our team of experienced, industry-qualified translators offers an exceptional level of service.

Did you know?

Global Lingo has one of the largest pool of linguists in the industry. Everyone is a native speaker in the language they are translating into, and we can translate into and from 150+ languages. So, whatever your project, whatever the language, Global Lingo can help.

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