Translation vs. Transcreation: 6 Differences

Translation vs transcreation – what’s the difference? There are so many buzzwords out there it’s sometimes difficult to work out whether calling a translation a “transcreation” is simply a trick to get you to hand over more cash.

Of course, there’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about the difference between translation and transcreation. The terms are often used interchangeably, but translation and transcreation are actually very different processes. In this blog post, we’ll explore the six main differences you should keep in mind when investing in either one of these services.

The definitions of Translation and Transcreation


Translation is the process of transforming information from one language or system to another. Effective translation requires not only a deep understanding of the languages involved but also a strong familiarity with the cultural context and the specific needs of the audience to ensure that the text is completely meaningful in the new language.


Transcreation is the process of creatively adapting a message from one language to another. It requires a deep understanding of both languages and cultures, as well as a creative approach to make the new text resonate with the target audience. 

Transcreation can be used in a variety of contexts, including advertising and marketing, where it is vital to preserve the intent, emotion, and tone of the original copy. The transcreator or creative translator captures the meaning of the original text and expresses it in the target language in a way that is natural, easy to understand, and culturally relevant.  

6 differences between translation and transcreation

Transcreation starts with a brief

If you’re working with a transcreation specialist, having a well-defined transcreation brief is key to developing a successful project. It should include key details such as:

An effective brief provides transcreators with the necessary guidelines to ensure that your copy conveys originality, style, and message. Put simply, if you want to ensure the success of a transcreation project, it’s necessary to provide sufficient information to create a message that resonates with your brand and your audience.  

Transcreators are writers and translators

People who specialize in transcreation have a deep understanding of how to adapt the intended message of a client’s copy in a powerful, impactful way that cannot be achieved through a simple translation. 

They are usually translators as well as talented copy or content writers, making them experts in the written word. If you’re looking for a transcreation specialist to deliver a compelling message to your target audience, it would be wise to ask for samples of creative copy to assess their skills.  

Creative freedom

A transcreation specialist focuses above all on maintaining the tone, style and emotion from the original text, while a translator must keep to the facts of the original text. The transcreation process allows for some creativity in order to better convey the original message and successfully recreate it in a foreign language.

By incorporating copywriting elements and making sure the emotional aspect of the text remains intact, the specialist can effectively tailor the message to their target audience. This takes us to the next point: New messaging.  

New messaging

Transcreators have the freedom to create a new message in the target language as long as it resonates with the audience. Actual examples of transcreation can help illustrate the importance of crafting international messages that are tailored to each language’s audience. Here are two examples of global campaigns that succeeded thanks to transcreation services.


Transcreation played a major role in helping Intel reach its target audience in Brazil. The computer chip maker Intel wanted to translate their well-known campaign “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” into Brazilian Portuguese. However, Intel’s research showed that a word-by-word translation of “Sponsors of Tomorrow” into Portuguese would imply that Intel would not deliver on its promise immediately.

By tweaking the original “Sponsors of Tomorrow” slogan used in the United States to “Apaixonados pelo futuro” (In Love with the Future), the company effectively communicated its mission of delivering on its promises in a timely manner and avoided a possible error in the message. 

Apaixonados pelo futuro, Intel slogan transcreation in Portuguese, on a blue background

Image source


Marvel, the American comic book publisher, was concerned that Indians wouldn’t be able to identify with their friendly Spiderman character, so they effectively transcreated him for the Indian market. This involved changing his name to Pavitr Pabhakar, replacing any mention of New York with Indian locations, and even changing the source of his powers to a spell laid by an ancient yogi.

Spiderman transcreated for the Indian market changing his name to Pavitr Pabhakar

Image source

Take a look at some other examples of transcreation to discover why it is important for your marketing messages.

Engagement with your audience 

When it comes to transcreation, one of the most important things to think about is your audience. A transcreator needs to understand the people your brand is trying to reach and what kind of message will resonate with your customers. In some cases, this may mean altering the original content in order to make it more appealing to a particular group. 

However, this does not mean that you have to sacrifice the integrity of the story. Rather, it is about finding a way to adapt the story so that it can reach your audience effectively. By thinking about your audience, you can ensure that your transcreation strikes the right chord with them. 

Time and cost

Time and cost are even more of an issue with transcreation given the extra effort required for successful transcreation projects. While it may take the same amount of time, in general, to translate words from one language to another, the creative nature of transcreation means that a particular slogan or tagline can take much longer to be adapted than another one. You’ll therefore need to keep in mind the additional time required when negotiating delivery times. 

And the same goes for the cost. Since your transcreation specialist needs to spend more time working on the text, the cost is usually higher than that of traditional translation services. By investing a little more in a service that is sure to capture the heart and minds of potential clients no matter where they are in the world, everyone stands to benefit.

Translation or Transcreation: what service is right for you?

Translation and transcreation are not exclusive but work together! If you are translating marketing materials such as your new clothes collection catalogue or car brochure, you will often require both translation and transcreation to effectively communicate in a new language. The level of transcreation will vary depending on how many elements of the copy are deeply rooted in a particular culture or country. 

At Ampere, our transcreation experts work with you to adapt your message into any language, providing the guidance you need throughout your translation and transcreation journey. Get in touch with us to find out more.