Translation vs Localization Photo1

Translation Vs Localization Vs. Transcreation — What Is the Difference?

Transcreation, localization and translation; “what on earth do these words mean?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone! It can be confusing to understand the differences between these language-related concepts. Most people even use them interchangeably since they don’t really understand how they differ. You should know that they don’t mean the same thing since each plays a distinct role in effectively communicating ideas across cultures.

If you’ve been wondering what the differences are, then you are in the right place. Today, we explain the differences between these terms to comprehend how they function and when to use them.

What You Need to Use

What is Translation

Translation involves converting text from one language to another while preserving its original meaning. For example, when translating from English to Dutch, the goal is to maintain the essence and intention of the original text. However, it’s important to note that translation is not just about changing words from one language to another; it’s about conveying the same message and sentiment. Consider this example:

English: Have fun
Spanish: pasarlo bien (literarily mean “to spend it well”)
In this example, the words translated are expressed differently, but the meaning and intention remain the same as in the original.

What is Localization

Localization involves adapting content to resonate with the cultural and linguistic nuances of a target market. It goes beyond mere translation by integrating the cultural, grammatical, and stylistic aspects of the target language. For instance, in the context of video game localization, consider an English game being adapted for a Spanish-speaking audience. This process would involve more than just translating text; it would include adjusting cultural references, localizing wordplay, and even adapting units of measure and currency (like converting kilograms to pounds). These changes ensure that the game feels familiar and engaging to players in the new market, enhancing their overall experience.

What is Transcreation

Transcreation combines two keywords; creation and translation.

Hence, it means the act of creatively translating languages. Transcreation gives translators an artistic or inventive reign over how they create content but with the requirement of retaining the intended message of the original text.

A good instance is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. In this campaign, Coca-Cola replaced its logo on bottles and cans with popular first names and nicknames, of people, depending on the location.

A campaign like this focused on a single theme “inspire happy moments with loved ones.” Although the names were adapted differently to suit the cultural references, the meaning of the campaign still stuck.

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What You Need to Use

Now that you understand these terms differ, the next step is to fathom when to use them.The translation should be used to create informative, technical, or legal texts. Hence, businesses should adapt them in emails and documents such as manuals, contracts, and reports. Localization works best for course training, web content, video games, success story, products, and on software apps to facilitate engagement.

Meanwhile, businesses can adapt transcreation during their ad and promotional campaigns or on their blogs, video scripts, and brochures where the goal is to arouse an emotional and passionate reaction from the audience.


With the rise of e-commerce and international trading, organizations need to communicate effectively across transnational boundaries to engage their core market. Transcreation, localization and translation are three ways to breach communication gaps. However, where and when you use them will shape your brand’s performance amid its diverse customer base. For instance, in the world of video game localization, these methods are vital to connect with players globally, ensuring that games are culturally relevant and linguistically accurate.

If you require high-quality transcreation, localization, or translation services, contact the Tolma4 Team today to learn about how we can help you achieve your communication goals.


Marketing Team T4T
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