Marketing Translation vs Transcreation: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated On: January 20, 2023

inTranslation Skills

Marketing translation and transcreation

Whenever original marketing slogans and strategies are used anywhere else apart from their origin, there is a possibility for misunderstanding, confusion, indifference, and even offense. The greater the cultural differences between the original and target markets, the greater the chance that the marketing tools used will not have the same effect. This means that smart businesses intent on expanding their sales to new markets engage experts who can adapt the marketing material to suit the new markets better. This is where marketing translation and transcreation are both involved.

Both techniques have a similar intent: to adapt marketing content to best sell whatever it is that the business is selling. They also have distinct differences. This article attempts to explain the similarities and differences between these two techniques.

What is marketing translation?

Marketing translation is an advanced and specific form of translation in which marketing material is adapted to suit a target market that uses a different language than that of the business.


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    It stands to reason that any sensible business that is intending selling its products to potential customers who speak another language will engage translators to convert the content of their marketing material into that language so it can be better understood. Professional marketing translators will have an in-depth understanding of the two different languages and cultures and will do more than literally translate, word for word or phrase for phrase. They will change the wording used to best avoid misunderstanding and confusion. This could mean changing units, currency, adjectives, and anything which may have no cultural resonance in the intended market, or which could cause offense.

    Marketing translation is also a form of localization. Not all translators need to adopt this type of translation. For example, scientific, technical, and medical translators rarely have to go to lengths as marketing translators to localize the content they translate.

    Transcreation refers to the creative adaptation of marketing content

    Transcreation takes the whole marketing conversion one step further. The idea with transcreation is to keep the end goal: selling a certain product or service, but to change the way it is marketed completely so that it has a much greater impact on the target market. Transcreation totally reworks the original marketing content, rather than retaining most of the content but adapting it for local use. Transcreation isn’t always necessary. It depends on the culture gap whether transcreation or marketing translation is used. As has already been mentioned above, the greater the cultural gap between the business’s home and that of a target market, the more likely that transcreation could help to drive the sales of the business’s products through a more radical alteration of the marketing material used elsewhere.

    Transcreation may or may not involve translators

    Transcreation may not always involve translation. It depends again on cultural context rather than simple language differences. For example, marketing content devised in the U.S. may be better ‘transcreated’ if intended for a British or Australian market, even though the same language is used. 

    Marketing translation vs transcreation

    Marketing translation or localization is the minimum marketing content required whenever a marketing drive targets an international market. If the differences in culture are greater, then transcreation may be the better strategy.

    What content should be transcreated?

    Some examples of marketing content that could be transformed by trans creators are listed below:

    • slogans and taglines;
    • brand and product names;
    • creative content;
    • ads and commercials.


    Businesses keen on expanding their sales outside of their traditional market will need to ensure effective marketing techniques are used. At the very least, their marketing strategies may need the use of professional marketing translators, proficient in localization. For more effective marketing in cultural environments that are very different from that of the business’s home base, transcreation is the most suitable strategy.

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