Localization vs. transcreation: Two components of successful globalization

By Acclaro
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Localization vs transcreation

Think about what matters most to customers: a product or service that’s tailored just for them, an authentic brand they can relate to, and a superior purchasing experience that meets or exceeds their expectations. 

As your business enters and expands in new markets, you need to demonstrate to prospective new audiences that your brand can deliver what they’re looking for. Localization and translation are two separate but related processes that can help your company connect with customers in markets around the globe. 

Defining localization vs. transcreation

Let’s start by taking a closer look at what we mean when we use these two terms:

  • Localization—This is the overall process of adapting what you offer and how you do business for a specific place and audience. Localization takes into account the entire business landscape in a particular market, as well as laws, regulations, culture, social mores, and of course language. 

Localizing your offerings and messages makes your brand more accessible, relevant, and trustworthy for local audiences, which in turn can help win them over as customers.

  • Transcreation—This is one specific aspect of localization. Transcreation is a creative way of adapting content and is often used for content like taglines, advertising campaigns, and brand videos. It marries translation with artistic interpretation to truly bring the source material to life in a different language, for an audience that may have very different values and cultural frames of reference. 

All marketers know that the more powerful your brand story, the more successful your brand. Transcreation preserves the impact of your messages while changing small details to make your communications more meaningful and persuasive for a specific audience. 

How do localization and transcreation differ?

Since localization is the overall approach to global adaptation and transcreation is one specific component of it, there are naturally a number of differences between the two processes, including: 

  • Scope—Localization is the entire framework of how you adapt your products or services, operations, and communications for a particular locale or culture. It spans both translation and transcreation, along with things like changing the design of your product to meet the needs of local customers, adapting your ecommerce site to accept the local currency, and making sure your financial reporting complies with local regulations. 

Transcreation is one part of the larger localization process. It can be used to reimagine your most foundational messaging—your tagline, brand promise, and company values—so that they truly resonate with audiences in each of your markets. 

  • Process—Localization encompasses the entire process: starting with analyzing existing content to determine what needs to be adapted, then either translating or transcreating the assets, and finally conducting quality assurance to make sure the localized content meets your standards.

Transcreation, on the other hand, is a single part of the process. It typically begins with a creative brief that acts as a blueprint for how the brand’s core messaging will be reinterpreted so that it’s more impactful for the intended audience. Expert linguists then adapt the content, changing details to better connect with customers in the target market while still capturing the original meaning, style, and tone. 

  • Output—To effectively reach new audiences in global markets, you need linguistically adapted, culturally relevant content on a large scale. This includes everything from your website to your marketing campaigns to user manuals and other customer service resources. 

Transcreation is one method for localizing your content. It’s typically used with core messaging that requires more creative adaptation, such as corporate taglines, campaign headlines, and other assets that are key to your brand identity. Maintaining the spirit of the original may require significant changes in execution across each of your target markets. 

Tips for sourcing professional localization services

Successful localization starts with choosing the right partner. So, what should you look for in a localization services provider? Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Check for proven experience—Select a partner with demonstrated expertise in your industry and your target markets. Make sure the company collaborates with local experts because firsthand knowledge of language and culture is crucial for successful translations. You’ll also want to see samples of work previously done in the markets you’re targeting to make sure the quality meets your standards. 
  • Choose a partner with efficient processes—You need to maximize the return on your localization investment. Your localization agency should be focused on helping you achieve your goals. Choose a company that’s prepared to discuss and deliver on your budget, KPIs, and desired outcomes You’ll want to get an understanding of the provider’s typical processes and timelines, as well as the quality assurance measures they have in place. 
  • Look for the availability of additional services—The right partner will be able to grow along with you. So, look for a provider that offers the services you need now, as well as those you may need later down the line. Companies that produce software, for instance, should choose a partner that offers continuous localization. Other specialty services that may be important for your company include multimedia localization services, SEO and SEM localization, and website localization, among others. 

Tips for sourcing professional transcreation services 

Transcreation takes a specialized skill set—linguistic expertise and native cultural insight coupled with creative copywriting and art direction—so you’ll want to look for an agency with the right teams and a proven track record of successful transcreation. 

  • Ask for case studies—To understand whether a particular provider may be a good fit, look at examples of transcreation projects they’ve done for other companies in your industry. Also, get information on the teams that will be working on your brand to make sure they have the necessary expertise in your target markets. 
  • Vet the process—Reimagining your brand’s most foundational content can be a complex and time-consuming undertaking if your transcreation provider doesn’t have an effective process in place. For any potential partners you’re considering, take a deep dive into how they approach the work. Look for any possible risks or challenges in their processes and workflows. You’ll also want to make sure they have a well-established reputation for quality assurance. 
  • Choose a partner with global marketing expertise—Transcreation is typically used for key marketing assets and advertising campaigns, so it’s important to find a provider with deep experience in multilingual marketing. The right company will have the skilled teams, deep cultural insight, and strategic know-how necessary to help your brand connect with audiences across different markets and locales. 

Key takeaways about localization vs transcreation

  • While there are important differences between localization and transcreation–including scope, process, and output—both are key to any successful globalization strategy 
  • As you develop your blueprint for global expansion, it’s crucial to assess your need for localization services, including transcreation, and to find a partner that can deliver on your goals

A full-service agency can help your brand grow and thrive

There’s a lot of potential reward to global expansion, but only if your brand can prove itself to local customers. Localization and transcreation are both powerful tools that can help you deliver your brand message with a persuasive impact to audiences all over the world. It just takes the right localization partner to help you fully capitalize on the opportunities. 

At Acclaro, we partner with you every step of the way, offering a comprehensive suite of services including translation, transcreation, and more. We’ve helped some of the world’s top brands win over customers around the globe. Get started today to learn how we can help your brand connect with international audiences in a truly meaningful way.

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