Transcreation. Is it the same as translation?

By GeaSpeak Team | 2021-11-16

“What is transcreation? Isn’t it the same as translation?” Well, most people think it is. For those who do not work in the translation industry, these two terms may be a little confusing. In this article, we will explain why translation and transcreation are definitely not the same. This way, the next time you require translation services, you will ask for the right one to get the results you need. 


Translation is the process of rendering a message from one language (source language) to another language (target language). In doing so, translators have to preserve the original tone and intended meaning while being accurate and idiomatic in the target language. Consequently, translators are constrained by the limits of the original text and have to stay true to it.


On the other hand, transcreation, as the word implies, combines translation and creation. Transcreate, putting it simply, is translating creatively, therefore, transcreators have more artistic license. Although they are true to the original, they can incorporate copywriting as well. As translators, they have to preserve the original tone and intended meaning. But, in addition, they also have to preserve the original feelings and emotions that brands look to evoke in the audience. In other words, they have to give the target culture the same emotional experience as the one provided to the source culture.

One great example of transcreation is Coca-Cola. They not only transcreate their campaigns but the entire brand. For instance, that campaign in which they put common names on cans and bottles, was transcreated differently according to each target country. The names used in English-speaking countries were not the same as those used in Spanish-speaking countries.

When do you need transcreation?

If you need to get business papers or life-science documents translated, where accuracy is what matters the most, then you will have to ask for a translation. However, if the intended effect is more important than the content itself, you will most likely need a transcreation. 

When it comes to marketing content or videogames, where culture plays a key role, a direct translation might not work because the audience may not be attracted by the original message. Therefore, you will probably need to change the content or add new information. That is to say, you will have to transcreate. Instead of a strict sentence-by-sentence translation, the final product will be a totally new creation built on the basis of the original text. 

Main differences between translation and transcreation

Brief: Firstly, while the translation process begins with a source text that will then be translated faithfully into the target language, the transcreation process starts with a brief. The brief is a document that will help the transcreator create a targeted material. This document should contain a clear idea of the creative content, the desired actions and emotions to be evoked in the audience, and some information about the target market’s culture.

Creative freedom: Secondly, as we have already mentioned, transcreation is about translating and creating. Transcreation specialists will stay true to the original content as long as it works in the target culture. When this is not the case, they will resource to their creativity in order to keep the emotions, tone and style of the original text and make the product resonate with the target audience. On the contrary, translators must stay true to the original text and seek for an accurate rendering of the original content.

Time and cost: Lastly, while all translation services require time to be high quality and accurate, given that transcreation is a creative process, it will certainly require more time than a regular translation and it will therefore be more costly. Furthermore, transcreators are not only professional translators but also trained copywriters. As a result, rates will often be higher and deadlines will have to be less tight.