Some of the terminologies in the language services industry can be confusing at times. Even though most people understand the difference between transcription and interpretation, it’s hard to make sense of some more intricate terms if you’re not a linguist.
One of the questions we get asked regularly is what the difference between translation, localization, and transcreation is. It doesn’t help that all three sound quite similar. Even worse is the fact that their definitions overlap in many ways. But that being said, these are three very different language services, each of which overcome different challenges.
Not sure if you need your content translated, localized, or transcreated? We’re here to clear the air so you’ll have a better understanding of which service you need!
Short and Sweet: Rewriting content from one language to another.
Detailed Explanation: Translation doesn’t require too much explaining. But for the sake of clarity, we’ll explain it in simple terms. Translations focus on taking content from one (source) language and converting it to another (target) language. The words within a piece of content are translated to the closest equivalent in the target language.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of translations: machine translation and human translation. MT still has many shortcomings and will never be able to replace professional human translators. If you’re interested in learning more about human versus machine translation, take a look at this post covering the topic. Translations performed by humans also branch out into various subcategories, including medical, legal, and literary translations, to name but just a few. You can learn more about each type of translation by checking out this post on the topic.
Short and Sweet: Going beyond words for a richer understanding of the message.
Detailed Explanation: Localization focuses on the cultural expectations of an audience. Translation mainly focuses on two or more languages, but localization goes beyond that and takes a more conceptual translation approach. It starts by considering the themes and topics of a brand and its content to ensure the message it depicts is culturally sensitive. A meat company, for example, could feature friends enjoying a “braai” in adverts for South African audiences. However, since this tradition isn’t widely known in the United States, this approach might not impact US audiences.
That’s a reasonably light-hearted example, but even the smallest of cultural differences can dramatically affect revenue. Localization can help brands avoid the risk of offending other cultures and breaking advertising laws and censorship guidelines. The other great thing about localization is that it focuses on fine details like images that can help brands connect with their target audiences on a deeper level.
Short and Sweet: The final step to creative freedom.
Detailed Explanation: If localization is one tier above translation, transcreation is the next step toward ensuring your marketing message is received the way you intended. Brands generally use a combination of languages, visual content, and storytelling designed to have a specific effect on their audiences. The problem, however, is that many nuances can’t be directly translated. Subtle wordplay, for example, loses its effect when a slogan is translated out of its native language. But you still want to prompt the same response in audiences across the world.
This is precisely where transcreation comes in. It focuses on the response brands aim for and then finds the best way to create that response in another culture and language. Transcreation might see brands entering foreign markets with dramatically different images, but the “revamped” message, slogan, or CTA will have the same (or the closest possible) impact on the new audience.
Coca-Cola is one of the best examples of transcreation done right, transcreating their brand to become more relevant to audiences across the world. Remember when Coca-Cola put common names on their packaging? In Vietnam, they used Vietnamese actors in their ad campaigns, filmed the content for those ads locally, and wrapped things up with common Vietnamese names on its product labels.
At times, you’ll need to have your entire advertising campaign, branding concept, or even product name transcreated to ensure your brand and message are received the way you intended in international markets.
Same Same, But Different
Translation, localization, and transcreation might sound similar and share a common goal of breaking the language barriers. Still, they are three very different services, and each has its own unique purpose.
If you’re a brand looking to leverage the international market, Day Translations is ready to help you get noticed abroad. Our team of experts can assist with translation, localization, and transcreation to ensure you have the most impactful and meaningful content that’s perfectly adapted to suit your new target market.