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Marketing Translation, Localisation or Transcreation?

When it comes to marketing translation, there are so many confusing terms around! Logically, most people are unsure of their meaning. So it’s important to establish a difference between concepts like translation, localisation, transcreation, marketing translation, etc.

We absolutely love with this article from MotionPoint. Here, the author explains these terms very clearly. Drawing from this article and from our own expert knowledge, below is a summary of what each process involves:

Translation (in General)

This is the concept you are all probably already familiar with. Translation means re-expressing meaning. Usually word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase, translators transfer the meaning of a source-language text in an equivalent target-language text. For example, the phrase “I love you” translates into German as “Ich liebe dich”. Into French, it translates as “Je t’aime”.


This process involves going one step further than simple translation. It means choosing the most appropriate variants of a word for a certain target culture. In the article we quoted above, the example is the localisation of the word “popcorn” into Spanish. In this language, there are over 10 variants (or “different ways of saying it”) depending on the region.

You will not translate “popcorn” the same way for an Argentine audience as you will for Cuban or Peruvian consumers. Have you ever read something in your language that made you think… “the person who wrote this is clearly from X country” because of certain expressions or word choices? If so, the reason is that such content wasn’t localised to your exact culture.

Marketing Translation

This is a very transparent term. It refers to the translation and localisation of copy. Copy is the output of copywriters who produce material which encourages consumers to buy goods or services. Therefore, marketing translation includes marketing texts, advertising, packaging and brochures, catalogues, product descriptions, websites and web content, etc. If you would like to know how to measure the success of a marketing translation, check out this post.


Some people refer to this process as creative translation, but we favour K International’s definition. They define it as “creative international advertising translation”, and it’s spot-on. Because, you know, creative translation is too broad a definition for transcreation, which focuses on marketing texts.

The aim of transcreation is eliciting the same reaction and emotional response in each target market as the one consumers experience in the source market. As you can imagine, this is something that translation on its own wouldn’t be able to achieve. Some people refer to this attempt at provoking a particular emotional response in the public as “emotional marketing“. In other words, we are speaking of appealing to feelings to convert customers.


We hope this article has helped you clear your questions! Otherwise, please do let us know in the comments. Happy translating!

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