Localization Insights
Localization Insights

Transcreation: Definition, Benefits, and Examples for Global Brand Success

When expanding into new markets, brands and marketers employ many different tools and strategies. However, the key goal remains the same. If messaging fails to engage and resonate with international audiences, there’s almost zero chance of building brand awareness, acquiring new customers, and securing sales. 

Historically, translation was used to repurpose text from one language into another. However, substandard translations rarely capture the spirit of an original message. When it comes to creative copy, advertising, and marketing campaigns, a by-the-numbers translation simply won’t do. In order to deliver effective and culturally appropriate messaging, transcreation is the only option. 

What is transcreation? 

Although translation is a key part of any transcreation project, the overall process is far more complex. Transcreation is sometimes referred to as creative translation. It’s used to repurpose source text from one language into another. However, a word-for-word translation is rarely sufficient to reposition marketing messages for a new audience. Instead, linguists enjoy a little more flexibility than standard translators, while keeping the heart of the original message intact. 

The biggest challenge of the transcreation process is ensuring the final text is culturally appropriate. If the right idioms and phrases haven’t been used, a marketing message can fall flat. Depending on the target language, the transcreation process can involve drastically altering your original content

Where is transcreation used?

Think you can get away with word-for-word translation? Think again. Just about every industry sector and media format needs transcreation services if you’re expanding into international markets. 

Advertising and marketing 

If you’re planning on launching a product in multiple territories, a multilingual marketing campaign is essential. However, global marketing strategies aren’t as straightforward as translating your original message into new languages. Transcreation is vital for ensuring your marketing messages ring true with your target audience. Many major brands have run into trouble when directly translating marketing collateral like slogans. Marketing translation does have a place here, but it needs to be supported with in-depth market research and transcreation efforts. 

Televisual content

Thanks to the rise of streaming services and online video-sharing platforms, there’s a growing appetite for international televisual content. Transcreation ensures audio and televisual content is made as accessible as possible to new audiences. Whether you’re using dubbing or subtitles, transcreation services are essential. 

Video games

The video game sector is booming. However, if video game developers want to make waves in multiple territories, transcreation services need to be deployed. Everything from character and weapon names to dialogue needs to be adapted for new audiences. Specific cultural references can also prove confusing for unfamiliar audiences. By transcreating all of these elements, the gamer experience is enriched. 

Mobile apps

If you’re in a rush to get an app to market, it’s tempting to rely on machine translation to meet tight deadlines. However, automated translation systems are rarely effective. You need to think seriously about the user experience when repurposing apps for non-native speakers. Successful app localization goes beyond basic translation. If your localization efforts don’t hinge on transcreation, you’re dooming an app release to failure. 


Website transcreation is particularly important. Whether it’s a landing page to showcase a new product or an entire corporate website, only transcreation will ensure your content is making the right impression with a new target audience. As well as improving accessibility for non-native speakers, a transcreated website populated with accurate wording will encourage click-through rates and reduce bounce. 

Benefits of transcreation 

While standard translation seems like a cost-effective approach, you’ll yield the best long-term returns by investing in transcreation. 

Culturally appropriate messaging 

Any brand looking to do business across the world needs to be sensitive to cultural differences. You should have identified any specific cultural requirements during market research. When adapting marketing messages and online content for new audiences, you need to be confident that you’re not going to offend or confuse new demographics. Furthermore, the same message might not resonate the same way in different corners of the world. In a worst-case scenario, a lack of cultural understanding can turn potential customers away and permanently damage your reputation. 

Accurate brand image

You might have a great product or service, but your marketing messages and advertising copy needs to be an accurate reflection of your brand. The transcreation process ensures nothing is lost in translation. 

Increased sales and profits 

The more time and effort you have invested in adapting your content, the more likely it is that new customers will engage with your brand. An acknowledged and appreciated consumer base is more likely to choose your brand over others. This naturally leads to an increase in sales and a healthy profit margin. 

Disadvantages of transcreation 

Despite many undeniable benefits, transcreation doesn’t come without its drawbacks. For starters, it can take much longer than the standard translation process. However, longer lead times are often seen as an acceptable compromise. 

Transcreation is also typically more expensive than traditional translation. Once again, this is a small price to pay for the reassurance that your adapted content is on point and more likely to resonate with new audiences. 

Transcreation vs. translation 

Still considering using regular translation services instead of transcreation? Below, we’ll explore some of the biggest differences between the two approaches. 

Transcreation specialists are more than just translators 

When you use transcreation services, you’re benefiting from the expertise of talented copywriters with unrivaled insights into the markets you’re looking to penetrate. As well as being able to adapt content into a new language, transcreation specialists have a firm grasp on cultural nuances and understand how to reposition marketing messages for native audiences. 

A creative brief kickstarts the transcreation process

A translation project usually begins with little more than a piece of source text. By contrast, transcreation also comes with a preliminary brief that provides added insights for linguists. Transcreation briefs advise linguists on the concept behind creative copy, as well as the reactions you’re looking to stir up in audiences. 

Transcreation delivers truly unique messaging 

Unless the differences between two languages and cultures are negligible, transcreation will almost always produce wildly different results. Transcreation avoids literal translation but often keeps the spirit of the core message intact. 

It’s the only solution for creative copy 

If you’re relying on creative copy and marketing collateral to generate emotional responses and stir a reader into action, standard translation simply won’t do. In these scenarios, transcreation is the only way forward. 

Transcreation involves more than just words

As well as adapting words for a new audience, the transcreation process can involve looking at other elements of content and marketing collateral. This can include the images, colors, and other visual assets used in a campaign. 

Transcreation vs. localization 

Transcreation and localization share many similarities. However, while the transcreation process focuses on adapting content so it produces similar reactions in different languages, the localization process goes deeper than this. Localization delves into very specific cultural differences, adapting many different elements to meet the needs of target audiences. 

Transcreation real-world examples

Even major brands need to rethink their creative campaigns when pushing into new countries. The Chinese market has posed a significant challenge for many companies. When Coca-Cola decided to make moves into the country, even the iconic brand name needed a rethink. Avoiding a literal translation, Coca-Cola repositioned itself as Kekoukele, which roughly translates as “tasty fun.” 

Transcreation process: best practices 

Keen to make a success story of transcreation? Below are some surefire ways to streamline the process. 

Why do you need transcreation? 

Successful transcreation is all about preparation. Before you start thinking about transcreation services, outline what your ultimate goals are. Are you aiming to raise brand awareness in a new country? Are you already active in a territory but want to increase your market share? Once you’ve determined why you need transcreation, you can more easily calculate your return on investment. 

Undertake market research 

Any global business needs to invest in market research. However, a more tailored approach can significantly benefit the transcreation process. While transcreation experts will provide you with invaluable insights, preliminary market research will give you how much you’ll need to adapt your core messages and brand identity. 

Define clear objectives and purpose 

Now you’re ready to put your transcreation project into action, you need to set clear objectives. How much flexibility are you prepared to give transcreation experts? Do you want your messaging to remain largely intact, or are you happy for content to be heavily localized? Again, underlining your objectives will make it far easier to determine the success of your transcreation efforts. 

Prepare a detailed brief 

We’ve already touched on the importance of creative briefs in the transcreation process. Your market research will have already provided you with useful insights that can inform your brief. Make sure you’re providing clear direction to linguists and transcreation professionals.  

Calculate your budget

Transcreation is more expensive than translation. While the experience level of a typical transcreator is high, you may have to accommodate additional rounds of rewrites. The more rewrites that are required, the more you’ll spend on the process. Determine how much you can actually spend on the entire project before selecting a transcreation partner. 

Use a specialist transcreation company 

Many translation providers claim to be able to deliver transcreation services. However, only a tried and tested transcreation company can produce reliable results. When choosing a provider, take your time to see what other clients have said about the service. When in doubt, test the waters by reaching out and asking for examples of previous work. 

Set deadlines 

Transcreation doesn’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean it can’t deliver results quickly. Be clear about your expectations when choosing and working with a transcreation provider. While some deadlines can be flexible, you’ll want a firm idea of turnaround times and delivery windows. 

Transcreation workflows

If you’ve previously relied on machine translation or standard translation services, transcreation workflows might seem confusing. Generally speaking, transcreation workflows should be more agile. Regardless of which transcreation provider you’re using, you’ll want to be able to collaborate with linguists so you can provide up-to-the-minute adjustments to briefs and delegate urgent tasks. 

Rates for transcreation services

If you want your marketing material and creative content to strike the right notes with international audiences, you can’t rely on second-rate translation services. Although more involved and expensive, transcreation is the only way to ensure your content is repurposed effectively for new audiences. If you’re putting out advertising and marketing campaigns, televisual content, or localized websites and landing pages, there really is no other choice. 

Transcreation not only avoids embarrassing translation errors, but it also guarantees your messaging is always culturally appropriate. What’s more, this cements your brand image in new territories. In turn, you benefit from boosted brand awareness and consumer confidence, not to mention increased sales. 

Looking for an experienced transcreation provider who can help repurpose your content for new audiences? At BLEND, we work with thousands of experienced linguists, producing content in more than 120 languages. Get in touch today to talk to us about your project!

author post

Eilon Gueler

Eilon is a Customer Success Manager at BLEND. He helps global brands find the best localization and translation solutions for their business.


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