Creative adaptation: Learning from moving companies

For the past 10 years, after I have relocated to London, my work had been almost 100% around international brands and communications. Building great platforms for advertising ideas and making sure it travels to other cultures has been my focus. Being someone from with design training and a copywriting background, I naturally think both visually and verbally. As a creative I have never confined my thinking in either discipline. To me visual and text can never be separated – they compliment each other and form the message collectively. Even when I put on the hat of a copywriter, I also write ‘visually’ – even for radio commercials!

There are just a handful of companies in London who specialise in creative adaptation of international advertising ideas, so not only there are not a lot of people truly know the skills and the work involved, worst still, there have been many misconception about this particular sector.

Some people think it’s just about ‘translation’, for others, who may have a bit of knowledge about the differences, call it ‘transcreation’, ‘localisation’ or ‘internationalisation’. I admit I have used all these terms when engaging in conversations or presentations that simply didn’t have the luxury of time to explain its true definition. A lot of people asked me about the differences in ‘translation’ and ‘creative adaptation’ (the way I tend to prefer to call it if I have the choice), I often cite the example of a moving company.

Translation is like a moving company that deal with straightforward transport of the goods from one place to another. A good moving company is reliable and charge reasonably, but there won’t be any added value or they won’t give you any advice on what to look out for in a move. I have come across with moving companies who don’t even check if the destination has any place for parking! But they serve the purpose, and we all need the service of ‘a man and a van’ at some point in our lives.

Creative adaptation is like a relocation consultant, they specialise in international moving and know exactly the climate, traffic condition, culture, people and the customs of the place where you are moving to. Good relocation consultant even will advice on what needs to look out for when you arrive and prepare all the necessary documents so you can clear the customs quickly and efficiently. They even unpack everything and put them all in the right place. I have relocated twice in my life and know exactly how valuable these services could be; they may cost more but you know damn well that they are worth every penny.

With international brands expanding overseas rapidly to secure their position in the global stage, and with advertising spending need to be accountable these days, creative adaptation had become a hot topic once again. It is even more important to make sure companies don’t see creative adaptation as a language business but rather an area that combines creativity and marketing knowledge.