Joanna Tarasiewicz
March 14, 2023

3 Differences in Costs of Translation vs. Transcreation

shutterstock_336157508 (1) (1) (1) (1)If you are planning to launch your product on a new market and translate your marketing content into several languages, e.g.: French, Spanish, Chinese Simplified and Japanese, you've probably already heard about transcreation.

What is the difference between translation and transcreation and why one of the differences is the price?

During the 15 years of ATL's providing localization solutions to various clients, we have come across clients asking about the difference in pricing for translation and transcreation.

Assisting with product development and launch on a new market, working with marketing campaigns translation and supporting our clients with transcreation has given us a lot of opportunities to talk about the prices. Consequently, we understand that differentiating between translation and transcreation may sound complicated.

This article explains three main differences in the cost of translation and transcreation.


What is the difference between translation and transcreation?

Both translation and transcreation are creative processes. When you finish creating your marketing content in the original language and want to share it with your buyers in their language, what you need is a combination of both services.









Translation is the basic step of localization processes. It focuses on communicating the meaning of the text in the original language using equivalent text in the translated language. It does not mean changing words from one language to another. Translators don't do that unless you strictly ask them to.

A professional translator will produce text that expresses everything found in your content. The translator is not allowed to skip or introduce any additional concepts in the translated text.







Related content: A Guide to Understanding Translation and Localization Terminology






It involves an experienced linguist, a professional, native user of the target language. The qualified translator is proficient in your industry, which means knowing the terminology and concepts of your product.

Translation, as a stage in the localization process, enables your translated content or concept to become familiar to your local buyers. The best translations sound as if they were not translations at all.

Translation supports your product launch and content localization with:

• Adapting graphics and visuals to target markets;
• Adapting formatting, layout and design, in general, to properly display translated content;
• Converting units of measure or currencies to local requirements;
• Using appropriate local formats for dates, addresses, or phone numbers;
• Taking into consideration local regulations and legal requirements;
• Using appropriate punctuation and writing directions.

Translation includes all the cultural and market-specific attributes.

The translation step is most often followed by revision. Revision is applied for your translated content to be double-checked. Revision compares your original content in the source language with the translated version. The linguist performing revision corrects any spotted issues.

During the revision, your translated content is checked for accuracy, completeness, style, logic and sometimes even the layout is checked and corrected if needed.

In terms of type of content, we may talk about various types of translations, for example:


Software Localization



software localization



Software localization (or software translation) is the process of adapting a software product to the linguistic, cultural and technical requirements of a target market. If your product is an application and you want to localize it for a new market, the service you should buy is software localization.







Related content: A Guide to an Efficient UI Software Localization Process






Documentation Translation

Document translation is a type of technical, specialized translation. Whenever you have content created by technical writers, what you need is technical translation.
It may include user guides, manuals, or anything that is related to the technological subject area.




Copy of Copy of tech doc



Website Localization


Creating multilingual website is all about making a user experience as stunning, and as personalized as possible. According to Common Sense Advisory Survey 76% of people want to buy products that offer information in their native language. And 40% of people will never purchase products from websites that are in different language.


Website translation is also about increasing your ROI thanks to reaching international audiences in their native languages, enhancing their experience and making it easy to understand your content and purchase your products.


We've seen the reports from our clients who doubled their revenue and increased their website traffic by 25-50% with the ROI of 150% after adding more languages to their websites.







Related content: A Guide to Measuring Website Localization ROI





Marketing Translation

Marketing translation requires a lot of creativity. It can be applied to marketing campaigns or websites.

While localizing marketing campaigns, localization experts need to take into account your buyers’ preferences and desires. It is important to remember about localizing visuals like videos or graphics. The visuals need to be appropriate for your local audience and allow your potential buyers to identify with the product.







Related content: Marketing Translation Playbook






Some pieces of a marketing campaign, like slogans, need a different approach than a regular marketing translation, and this leads us to:








Transcreation is the highest level of marketing translation. It's the form of translation closest to copywriting. It is very often applied to short content, like slogans.

The work of transcreation experts is based on a sort of artistic freedom. It enables the linguists to translate the meaning of your text but allows significant changes in words and concepts.

Transcreation is very often based on recreating the original text in the translated language. Sometimes the whole marketing message needs to be recreated in order to successfully support your product launch on a new market.

Linguists who work on transcreation projects must thoroughly understand your desired outcomes. Transcreation is based on translating the notion and the idea, not necessarily the sense of source content.

For example, the use of a cultural reference about folklore characters. The localized marketing campaign needs to awake the same need, as it does in the original language, rather than tell exactly the same story.







Related content: 5 Signs That Indicate Bad Marketing Translation Services






What is the characteristic of a good transcreation? The highest level of creativity, as well as the complete understanding of the contemporary trends followed by the local audience.


Creating the most original international slogan without understanding what sells in a particular market, may lead to misunderstanding or even a bad first impression. The text still needs to be appropriate in the context for which it is intended.

Transcreation is based on rewriting the original concept into another language. It is allowed to change the meaning, introduce some factors that weren't there or take them out for the sake of awakening the corresponding emotions.

1. Translation Rates Calculated Per Word Vs. Per Hour




calculating translation costs


Localization services can be charged per word and per hour. One of the differences in the cost of transcreation and translation is the pricing unit.

To make it easier to understand, we'll go through both ways of calculating localization costs and explain the differences in translation and transcreation prices.


Translation is Calculated Per Word

The most common calculation units that can be found on the majority of translation proposals are per word rates.

Translation rates differ for various languages due to the different number of available linguists and the high-costs of living in some areas of the globe. Translations, on average, can range from $0.10 to $0.30 per word.

How is translation cost calculated per word? Each source word that needs translation is multiplied by the translation rate.

But how are words calculated?


For translation purposes, a word is defined as a string of letters or special characters. Numbers ending with a space are also recognized as a word.


Translation software scans the original text and counts the words in each segment (a segment is the smallest, logical piece of text, for example, a sentence).

The translation software also calculates words included in repeated segments. This is a very important feature as it can save you money in your localization cost.


The majority of localization companies provide a considerable discount for words included in the repeated segments. You can save even 75% of the regular rate.


Transcreation is Calculated Per Hour

Transcreation is usually charged per hour. As in copywriting, working on a few creative high visibility phrases takes much more time than the simple translation of a sentence containing a few words in a longer text.

Transcreation often requires a lot of time and energy due to finding that exact word or concept which will speak best to your buyers.

The hourly rate may start from $35. The very average number of words that can be processed during one hour of transcreation is about 200 words.

But be ready to be charged a full transcreation hour or more for a three - word slogan.

2. Why is Transcreation Charged More Than Translation? Is It Worth It?




transcreation costs are higher than translation




Transcreation, as the name suggests, is a mixture of translation and creative writing. Its cost is at least 30% more than the translation.

The created content has to build trust and motivate your buyers to take action. What you don't need is a literal translation that turns your customers off.

It takes time to create an original slogan or text that sells and you know it. The same goes for the new language version. It takes a lot of research, thinking, reading and inspiration.

Transcreation often consists of preparing several drafts and brainstorming the ideas. Sometimes the linguist prepares a few versions so that you can decide which is best. Just add this request into the project instructions and the transcreation provider can do it for you.

The pool of linguists that offer exceptional transcreation services is limited due to the fact that it requires additional skills, for example, the ability to relate to your buyers and think outside the box.

It all leads to the conclusion that transcreation is more demanding in regards to time and skills.

Consequently, fewer words are processed within one hour of transcreation, paid on average $35, than during one hour of translation.

In order to justify the higher rate, remember that transcreation is used only in special cases. Your localization needs can be met by mixing good quality marketing translation with elements of transcreation. The translation proposal should clearly show the difference so that you know what you are paying for and what to expect.

What transcreation is not? It is not copywriting service provided in another language.


3. Transcreation and Translation Software

Translation, just like most of the contemporary industries, is technologically advanced. The technical solutions and automations allow localization providers to offer you faster, better and cheaper translations.

CAT Tools

Translation software is called CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. There are many to choose from. Some of them are cloud-based, others provide desktop versions but there are also those offering both solutions.

Thanks to the use of translation software the cost of translation can be reduced by up to 36%.

How is that possible?

It's not about machines translating your content.

All of the tools are very similar and serve the same main purpose - they allow translation to be finished faster and reduce your localization cost. Every respectable translation agency that applies transparent pricing rules uses CAT tools to lower your translation rates.

The basic feature of CAT tools is that they divide the original content into smaller pieces, called segments.

If your document contains repetitive segments, CAT tools help to accelerate the process by prompting how a repeating segment has been translated previously. This reduces the time of translation.

It also reduces your translation cost because all words within repeated segments are charged even by 75% less as illustrated below:




Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 21.00.52


Translation Memory

Translation Memory (TM) is a database containing all the translated segments. Thanks to the TM it is possible to reuse content that was already translated. It contains segments consisting of the original and the translated text. As a result, the more you translate, the cheaper it gets.

For example, you assign a 200-page document for translation. There are 50,000 words. 0.3% of those words are repetitions. You get a quote for 49,850 words paid at 100% and 150 words paid at 25% of the rate.

The translated content is saved in your TM.

After that, you assign another 200 pages for translation. There are 49,206 words. 1% of the text consists of repetitions but the documents also contain pieces of previously translated segments. These segments will be presented in the word count statistics as a TM matches type.

Each TM match range receives a discount and hence the lower cost of translation.







Related content: Translation Memory Generated Savings in Practice [video]






If you Can't Feed the CATs, then You Must Feed the Rat(e)s

We already told you about the discounts that translating in CAT tools gives.

Unfortunately, when being asked to creatively approach your content to motivate your buyers to take action, it is not really helpful to look for inspiration in Translation Memory.

What TM helps with are technical translations, software localization, documentation translation and so on, but for transcreation, it may not necessarily be helpful.


Translation memory helps with consistency and reuses translated repetitions. Transcreation avoids that and moves towards a free, creative way of conveying the concept.

If we are talking about a transcreation job based on providing several versions of one sentence in the original language, it is difficult to decide which should be added in the TM and reused further in the project.

Naturally, the final, approved version can be added to the Translation Memory and propagated in all future parts of the same localization project.

Therefore, for transcreation parts of the localization project, no CAT discounts are applied. The transcreation outcome is also rarely used for a TM update as it very often does not convey the basic meaning of the translated text.


When Is the Cost Difference Justified?




justified translation costs difference



Transcreation is more expensive than translation. It is calculated per hour; it costs on average 30% more than translation and you also rarely can reuse the transcreated content.

But when is transcreation worth the extra cost?

If it is applied to the parts of your localization project designed to trigger emotions, like slogans it is worth the additional cost.


If a company sells you transcreation instead of a decent marketing translation, in that case, it's not.

If transcreation is applied to clearly informative content - it is a waste of time and money.

Translation companies are there for you to create a personalized experience for your buyers in multi-market. Whether it's through translation or transcreation is to be discussed and decided. Don't wait too long.


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10 Ways to Make Your Multilingual Marketing Content Fail You

5 Ways That Translation Companies Cause You to Overspend

7 Tips to Avoid Wasting Your Translation Budget