Updated: Apr 26
Whether you are looking for an Italian localizer or transcreator or you are not sure you may need one, you may be interested in knowing about my 7 years of experience as an English to Italian localizer.
What’s a localizer?
A localizer or transcreator is a person who translates some creative copy from one language to another. Wait a moment, isn’t that a translator? Well, not really. So, what’s the difference between a translator and a transcreator? Trust me, I work since 2016 as an English to Italian localizer and I’m happy to share what I learned about the industry.
As the words suggest, the transcreator translates creative content. This means a transcreator (or localizer) gives the perspective of someone within the culture and they are able to translate not just the words, but the concept, in a way that sells. A transcreator’s job is to deeply understand the content and bring it to their culture using their native language, in a way that makes the same sense the content had in the original copy.
A transcreation is also called a “localization” - or “localisation”, in the UK. Again, as the word suggests, localization makes the content work locally, according to the culture and the language together.
But there’s more. Usually, transcreations are related to advertising, marketing and media. They are creative. This is why a transcreator may also work as a copywriter and/or has a past in creative agencies and communications.
Where to find a localizer?
Localizers work for transcreation agencies, generally as freelancers (like me!) or gathered in collectives. In their past or present there’s experience as copywriters (like with me!). They know about marketing, media and advertising. They know how to sell something with words. Some companies need localizers for a specific language, and some others, like big brands, need their content localized to a bunch of different idioms, so they go to agencies equipped to work globally.
Personally, I’ve been working as a contractor for Mother Tongue, which is a worldwide transcreation agency, and as a freelance English to Italian localizer for individual jobs, hired by recruiters or directly by creative agencies or brands.
What does a localizer do?
Here is a list of what a localizer can work on, as for Mother Tongue I made localizations from English to Italian of:
video voiceovers (supervising the recording on site)
copywriting style guides (verbal brand identity documents)
taglines and campaign headlines
creative agencies’ pitches
proposals of campaigns for brands.
In my case, Mother Tongue gave me the chance to work as a freelancer for brands such as Philips, Unilever, ASOS, LG, Amazon, NHS, Ten Group, Paypal, TikTok, Huawei, Facebook, and Twitter. As you can see, a localizer can surf different clients and topics, and different media and assets. This is why a creative agency background is a must for a localizer.
My best moments as an English to Italian localizer
Although Google is still highlighting the word “transcreator” as a mistake, as something new or not really official, I’ve been working as a transcreator or localizer since 2016 - since I moved to London and worked for Expedia. Transposing global campaigns into messages that may be relevant for an Italian audience was fascinating. I used to make a lot of research and kept myself immersed in the Italian culture, although I was (and I am currently) living in London. Here are two of my best moments in working as an English to Italian localizer:
The night I felt the oldest
I’ve been collaborating with Mother Tongue since 2020, and still I am. I can’t disclose much about the work I’ve done for them. But I’ll never forget the night I spent on TikTok trying to transcreate memes. I was localizing the brand’s verbal style guide, to be shared with all the Italian writers who were working for TikTok’s Italian market. And I needed to localize memes, too. A whole night feeling quite old.
That time Rome didn't mean Dolce Vita
As individual projects, I made English to Italian localizations for Visa, Peroni, and Mastercard. For one of these brands, my suggestions made the creative agency reconsider their original master copy. It was the transcreation of a script for a TV commercial. The script was picturing (I’m paraphrasing) “wealthy people having an aspirational posh party in a communal courtyard in Rome, surrounded by fancy garden furniture”. This script was been wrote by English creatives and needed a localization English to Italian to be presented to the Italian marketing team of the brand client.
Now, I do live in London, and I know how usually English creatives dream about how it is to live in Italy. They think it’s just the Dolce Vita and they apply that cliche to situations where it's not really that authentic. While delivering my transcreation, I kindly flagged that no wealthy people live and party in "communal courtyards" in Rome. Just saying the words "communal courtyard", recalls a lower-class loud gathering. Hanging clothes, scraped bricks, some nonnas yelling at some kids. Not quite aspirational. And the characters sure wouldn’t sit on fancy garden furniture. I suggested changing the script and locating the scene on a Roman private rooftop terrace to make it aspirational in an authentic way, sending a quite famous reference.
The client really appreciated it, thanked me, and reconsidered the location of the script. Now, this is a true localization.
Do you need an English to Italian localizer?
You may have guessed what the purpose of this blog post is 🙂 but you may need an English to Italian localizer if you want to sell anything to an Italian audience, both B2B and B2C.
If you have creative ideas you want to pitch to an Italian company, I’m here. If you have a global campaign or assets you want to localize for the Italian market, or should you need to adapt some copy, but you don’t know where to start… let me start. Reach out to me at email@example.com
I’d love to say your message to the Italian people, the Italian way.