Transcreation is a big buzzword these days. Lots of people are talking about it. The most frequent question that I’m asked about transcreation is, “When should we transcreate content?” In this post, I share the top reasons you would transcreate your content.

Definition of Transcreation

Let’s start by defining transcreation. Transcreation is the process of creating content that is for a specific location or culture. Transcreated content is unique to the audience for which it is created. For example, this page is transcreated by Ikea on Saudi National Day:


There would be no reason to have a Saudi National Day splash screen in, say, Greece or Spain.

When Should I Transcreate?

Clearly, you cannot transcreate everything. Transcreation is expensive and can be time-consuming. A transcreation project is its own development project and has to follow its own development schedule. Plus, if you have too much transcreated content and not enough people or systems to monitor it, you’ll end up with a big mess.

In general, transcreation is going to be the exception to the rule. The rule is most likely going to be to localize and then translate content. Localization and translation are scalable processes, designed to handle large quantities of content. Transcreation, on the other hand, is specialized content.

So, when should you transcreate? You should transcreate when:

  • You have something special that is going on in just a single place (or a single language).
  • You need unique content to fit a particular market and there is no other content that can be localized sufficiently to satisfy your needs.
  • The message you need to deliver is not translatable, perhaps because the emotion it seeks to evoke does not translate.
  • You have the people and resources to create content that is very specific to each country or culture that you support.

When Should I Not Transcreate?

There are just as many reasons to not transcreate as there are to transcreate. You should not transcreate:

  • Because your translation quality is poor. Poor translation quality is indicative of a much bigger problem than transcreation can solve. If your translation quality is poor, you probably need to fix your source content before you translate it. Nine times out of ten, fixing your source content first will lead to much better translations overall.
  • Because you want to ‘go rogue’ and do your own thing. The more transcreated content you have, the more unique content there is for you to keep track of, the more headaches you will have. The more transcreated content you have, the more unique places that potentially need to be updated when something in the product or service changes.
  • When you don’t have the people, systems, and resources in place to manage all of the content that will be created. When you create content, you need to track it. Sometimes, you need to update it. At some point, you need to retire it. Even if your management gives you a boatload of money for transcreation, if you cannot manage the content, use the money to put systems and people in place first. Then, transcreate to your heart’s content.


Here are some examples of transcreation that I think are really well done.

The first one is from Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola does an enormous amount of transcreation and they do it quite well. This is the Coca-Cola Japan site. They are having a baseball card-like activity in Japan. This promotion is not running in any other country that I checked.



Here is Lush Australia celebrating the Australian Business award for environmental sustainability:


And here is BMW-TV for the German market, only:



So what do you think about transcreation? Does your company transcreate? Should it? Let me know in the comments below.

Val Swisher
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