What is an effective sign?

As I prepare for my presentations next week at the tourism conference in Chemainus next week I am going over my notes and photographs. One of the first things I will do in my presentation is define a sign. A sign to me is so much more than what people normally think of when they think about signs.

'A sign is anything that draws attention to a client's business, product or service. A sign can be lots of things. An effective sign does so much more than just inform folks of what the name of something is.'

An effective sign has to get peoples attention in a big way. These days there is so much visual clutter around us. If we were to squint our eyes a little as we looked down the street most things would tend to blend together and get lost in the clutter. When we are travelling in a car or even walk down a street this is how much we really see. I call it the squint test. To win our attention and hold it we need something different - something memorable. What we see has to stand out in a BIG way. 

Typically we have only a few seconds to get our message across - two or three seconds at most at typical traveling speeds. That means there had better be a message with few words - something graphic is even better. Imagine if we can ceate something so attractive we can get people to slow down or better yet stop. If what they see is so cool they need to dig out their camera and take a picture that would be even better. Chances are they will be posting the pictures they take to their facebook page or sharing it via email with their friends later - all the while advertising our business in the process. How cool would that be! THAT would be an effective sign!

These are the kinds of signs that we create in our shop. We also display them out by the road to advertise our own business. One of these signs happens to serve other functions as well. Our power comes off the telephone poles to a colorful tower. Inside are the electric meters, a water shutoff, telephone distrbution boxes and a whole bunch of other mechanical things. It is a structure that needed to be there for practical purposes but it also acts as one of our signs out by the road. (Don't tell the city it's a sign however for we didn't call it that on our permit.) The tower is colorful and loaded with details to grab attention and hold it. Every day we see folks posing by it for pictures. (just like we planned) The only message it officially bears is a house number. The tower advertises that this is the place.

On top a rooster perches, fashioned from bits of rusty steel. The message he crows to all who hear is of the imagination that abounds on this property.

The tower is not a typical sign but it works and works extremely well.

-grampa dan