Transcreation vs localization: How they differ

transcreation vs localization

We previously explored the differences between translation and transcreation, highlighting the importance of conveying meaning accurately while preserving the original intent. Now, we are looking into localization vs transcreation, unpacking their unique strengths and how they can help you bridge cultural gaps. Read on to learn about the key differences between these two approaches, as this can help you decide which fits your needs best.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation, short for “translational recreation,” is basically a mix of translation and creative writing. It involves taking existing content, like marketing materials or slogans, and adapting it for a new language and culture. So you get to convey the same message and feeling as the original content, but in a way that resonates with the new audience.

What is localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a specific target market or region. It’s about making sure your message resonates with the local audience, not just translating words. So, you may say that localization and transcreation are pretty similar, right? They are, but they do take different approaches.

Improve your localization process

Discover an easy to use and affordable localization app.
Get started

Transcreation vs localization

We’ve broken down the main differences into four categories:


With localization, your goal is to ensure the content is culturally appropriate and clear for the target audience. This is similar to transcreation, because you pretty much want the same thing. However, by transcribing, you get to recreate the original message’s emotional impact and make it resonate with a new audience, even if it means significant changes. And this is where the main difference is, in how much you end up changing your message.

Changes made

Localization generally stays closer to the original content. It focuses on translating words, adapting references, and making technical adjustments. Transcreation, on the other hand, allows for more creative freedom. You can rework the text, references, humor, and even entire concepts to fit the target culture.


Localization has a wider range of applications, including websites, manuals, software, and anything requiring clear communication across cultures. When it comes to transcreation, you will most often use it for marketing materials, slogans, and anything where emotional connection is crucial.

Skills needed

Transcreation often requires significant creativity and linguistic expertise to ensure that the adapted content resonates with the target audience while staying true to the brand or message. To become a localization specialist, you need translation skills, cultural fluency, and sometimes technical knowledge. Here, the difference is that creative writing skills are no really a must when it comes to localization.

Examples of transcreation and localization

Let’s look at a good example of transcreation.

German confectionery company Haribo started using their famous “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso” slogan in the 1960s. The catchy advertising slogan roughly translates to “Haribo makes children happy, and adults too.” So, we can conclude that it sounds good in English. In other languages, however, the company decided to transcribe the slogan to better convey their message.

In French, for example, their “Haribo c’est beau la vie, pour les grands et les petits” slogan translates as “Haribo life is beautiful, for big ones and little ones,” so we’re already seeing a change. Haribo went even further when transcreating for the Dutch market. Their “Luk op for noget godt! Luk op for Haribo! Den er go” slogan translates as “Open for something good! Open for Haribo! It is good,” which is quite different from the original German slogan.

Now let’s discuss an excellent example of localization.

Coca-Cola’s iconic Share a Coke campaign, launched in Australia in 2011, wasn’t just about localization – it was a groundbreaking approach that transcended traditional marketing. Instead of simply translating their logo, they replaced it with a powerful message: “Share a Coke with [Name].” This seemingly simple change created a global phenomenon.

By replacing the iconic logo with popular names in different markets, Coca-Cola transformed a mass-produced beverage into a personalized gift. People were encouraged to find a Coke bottle with their name or the name of a friend, fostering a sense of connection and individuality. This campaign remains a prime example of how personalization can be a powerful marketing tool.

Closing thoughts

Ultimately, the choice between these methods depends on your specific content and goals. For technical documents or user manuals, clear and accurate localization is paramount. But for marketing materials or creative content, the emotional impact of transcreation can be invaluable.

Here are some key takeaways to remember:

  • Localization is essential for clear communication across cultures.
  • Transcreation focuses on emotional impact.
  • Both types of translation are valuable tools for reaching a global audience.
  • Understanding your target market is crucial for successful localization and transcreation.

Ready to power up localization?

Subscribe to the POEditor platform today!
See pricing