world, globalisation

Transcreation or Localisation: What do you need when engaging a foreign target market?

Globalisation of business is experiencing huge growth, as more and more companies tap into new potential overseas markets using improved online connections. When attempting to target a new market that speaks a different language, translating your content into that language is vital if you wish to maximise your sales. However, just like when writing copy for your home market, the way in which you construct your message and how it is received by your new audience greatly affects how successful a marketing campaign will be. Businesses must ensure that their message connects effectively with their new markets in the same way that it does with their home audience.

This is when localisation and transcreation become important.

These two concepts can easily be confused. One can even include translation to this analysis and then what service you actually require for your business can soon become very muddled. The three processes do overlap and there are similarities, however there are key differences too.

This week, eSense Translations looks to make things clearer for you; looking at localisation and transcreation, as well as getting back to basics with translation. We will explain exactly what they are, how they differ and which one is right for you.



In most scenarios simple word for word translations does not work. Either the way the text is phrased does not make sense or the words used are not appropriate in the new language. To make sure that a text is suitably received in a different language, the author needs to localise the content.

Localisation is the process of taking the original content and, using local knowledge, adjusting the content when translated so that it is appropriate for the new audience. Localisation needs to consider not only cultural preferences, but also religious, political and even legal differences that will affect how material is accepted in the new market.

In effect, localisation is considering the requirements of a local market and making the necessary adaptations when translating a text.

eSense Translations has previously explored different examples that illustrate the necessity for localisation and how the lack of localisation can cause issues. Failure to engage in successful localisation of content for a new target market can lead to campaign failure and potential damage of a business’ reputation.



Transcreation is the combination of translation and creation of marketing copy; and works from a different starting point to localisation. Usually transcreation is undertaken by linguists who are also skilled marketers. This is because the linguist needs to fully understand the brand’s ethos, the direction they wish to take with their campaign and the goal they are looking to achieve. They then need to translate and recreate (transcreate) this brief successfully for a different local target market, whist retaining all the key aspects of the brand’s campaign. Transcreation will not only consider the text in the document, but also the colours, images and layout used. A document that is transcreated may undergo significant changes, so that the resulting work is most effective in the new target market.

In short, transcreation begins with a thorough understanding of a brand and their campaign and then looks to convey the same message in a different language.



Following the two explanations above, you may be wondering when you need simple translation and what that entails.

Translation is simply taking a text and changing it into another language. However, as we have seen from the errors that occur from machine translation, it is not that straightforward and the resulting document still has to make sense. In fact, all translation will require an element of localisation and/or transcreation depending on the type of document it is; and this is where the lines are slightly blurred.

Generally speaking, the more straightforward and factual the document is, the less the translation needs to be adapted for its purpose.

Consider these two examples:

A birth certificate is required to be translated for immigration purposes. The document simply has entries for name, place of birth, date of birth etc. Very few full sentences are used in this document. A direct translation can therefore be completed where, in most cases, the word for ‘name’, for example, is just replaced in the new language.

A literary novel is to be translated for a new foreign market. This type of translation can take almost as much work as writing the original book! The translator has to get behind what the author is trying to convey and then recreate it, so that it reads well in the new language. This task requires localisation to ensure the book sells well to the new audience and also, to some extent, it requires an element of transcreation, as the translator must ensure the heart and soul of the book is retained in the new version.


This aim of this blog was to make clear the differences between translation, localisation and transcreation, however you may have seen that the concepts aren’t black and white and there is a good degree of overlap between the three. When requesting a translation, it may be a straightforward task with a form that contains few full sentences and little room for interpretation, anything more than this and you will need to consider what exactly you are looking to achieve from the translation, but don’t worry, if you have any queries, eSense Translations are happy to help!

By Lorna Paice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>