When I first came to the US, I had to get a new driver's license. I could have arranged for an international license in Italy, but did not think about it until I was ready to leave. It was just as well, because my intention was to stay for a number of years. Since at the time I did not have a car, I borrowed one from a friend.
It seemed strange to drive an automatic car, where was the fun of shifting gears? And everyone drove really conservatively compared to Italy. The cars were much bigger, and the street signs somewhat different. Instead of indicating the direction towards which a road went, for example Milan or Rome, the signs here had numbers on them with North and South. That took some serious adjusting to.
I also saw new signs like the ones cautioning you about deer, which we do not have in Italian cities. Stop signs here were taken seriously, while in Italy they represented just a suggestion as people seldom did stop. And so were red lights. I got an education on space for parking -- there is a lot more here -- and meters in the city of Philadelphia -- they promptly ticket you even on race days when they know people will need to park somewhat in the vicinity of the race and cannot control the time they will be in the race.
But the more interesting phenomenon was the school bus and school crossing zones. I thought it was fascinating that you could get a ticket for going above 15 mph when the light was blinking and the school was closed during a holiday, for example. Stopping traffic both ways for 10 minutes while the kids are still having breakfast inside a house and the bus is waiting outside would not fly too well in Italy.
And people driving slowly on the fast lane of a highway would definitely draw some heat. When I was on the road a lot, I once saw an old lady drive 25 mph in the third lane of a busy turnpike with the state trooper following behind her, lights ablaze, so she could pull over safely. In Italy, she would have been toast.
When I came across these series of European street signs for areas designated to child safety in front and around schools I smiled to myself. Here we have in order of appearance: Madeira in Portugal, Denmark, and Bulgaria, all thinking apparently outside the sign.
Visual communication can be designed to teach as well as inform. What I see here is also a glimpse of cultural richness. Look at the curious smile on the face of the child from Madeira and the nice collaboration of the children from Denmark. The children in Bulgaria apparently test the limits of play. All in good fun.
Could our corporate communications do the same? Could they be less boilerplate, more about the culture in the organization? There are many ways to convey information: make them all yours.