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Translation, transcreation & copywriting. Confused?

Translation, transcreation & copywriting. Confused?
Home » Blog » Transcreation » Translation, transcreation & copywriting. Confused?

Expanding your brand worldwide can be an expensive business. Most of us have a finite budget that must be utilised to communicate with our target audience as effectively as possible.


This makes it essential that we ensure our resources are being used for the right things, in order to get our message across and win business.


It’s important to focus on the right technique and marketing approach. In order to do this, it’s vital that you understand the differences between standard translation, transcreation and copywriting. We’ve added some visual examples that we hope will help to make things clearer.

What is standard translation?

Standard translation is simply the process of changing text (or speech) from one language to another. Essentially, the meaning of the content exactly reflects the source text.

When to use standard translation: Translation is the least expensive option of the three as the translator/writer does not have to be creative in how they translate the text.

If you’re not concerned about cultural differences for the particular content you’re translating and do not have to pay close attention to the brand language, standard translation can be used.

Standard translation is usually fine for content such as product catalogues, training manuals and user manuals, as in these you need the content to exactly reflect the original text.

When NOT to use standard translation: Straight or standard translation can cause a wide range of issues when it comes to translating marketing content to use across a variety of regions, because what may make sense in one culture, may not be understood by another. A succinct and catchy marketing slogan in English, for example, could be clumsy and uninteresting in French.

By simply translating an English phrase without taking into account cultural differences, you run the risk of offending or alienating your audience.

What is transcreation?

An amalgamation of the words ‘translation’ and ‘creation’, transcreation is the process of adapting your advertising and marketing copy for different cultures.

In essence, it is a creative writing and localisation process which is carried out by specialist translators, who are also copywriters. During this process, your content will be adapted for local cultures in a way that results in your transcreated content having the same impact and emotion as the original.

If you’d like a more in-depth explanation of transcreation, take a look at our blog post: Transcreation: what is transcreation?

When to use transcreation: Transcreation should be used whenever you need to communicate your brand effectively with a local audience. Some would argue that this makes it essential for all marketing and advertising copy, such as your brochures, flyers and banners.

If you want to ensure that your brand and message are culturally appropriate for your audience, it’s essential to transcreate, rather than simply translating.

When NOT to use transcreation: It may not be a good idea to use transcreation for highly technical materials, as you want the content to reflect the exact same meaning as the source text.

Transcreation is usually not necessary or cost effective for instruction manuals.

What is copywriting?

In short, copywriting is the creative process of writing fresh copy in your target language.

Copywriting does not include translation from your original language. It is content created from a brief and written in your target language and is developed to match your business objectives.

When to use copywriting: Copywriting should be used in a situation where you need to develop new content, such as blog posts or articles, in your target language.

One of the main benefits of copywriting, rather than transcreating or translating blog posts, is that you can write about subjects that are relevant and interesting to your local audience, rather than translating a blog post that they will simply not engage with. For example, writing about the benefits of wearing a woolly hat when you go for a walk, may be interesting to people in Scotland but not for those who live on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

When NOT to use copywriting: If you have text, such as a website’s homepage, that needs to comply with brand guidelines, it may be better to transcreate, rather than write fresh copy.

It can be difficult to keep up with the ever-expanding list of terms used when people talk about marketing on an international scale. Whilst many people are familiar with what translation involves, few outside of advertising circles have ever heard of the vitally important process of transcreation.

For situations where you need fresh content in your target language, such as blogs or articles, copywriting should also play a key role in your strategy.

For many businesses, budget is often a major factor when deciding whether to use translation, transcreation or copywriting, or a combination of all three – usually the most cost effective result!

If you need professional translationtranscreation or copywriting services, do get in touch today to speak to one of our specialists.