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Elevating signage design: Any takers?

By N Jayalakshmi | June 20, 2019

Last month VM&RD had presented a detailed look at the signage industry as a whole – its growth, challenges and opportunities. This month we take a closer look specifically at one important aspect of signage – its design.

signage
signage “We live in a day and age where everything can be posted, tweeted or shared. With signage, you have the opportunity to create something worth experiencing and sharing.” The words of Alan Leusink Independent Creative Director, who was formerly with Duffy, sum up the role of signage in the retail context.

Indeed signage is often the first point of contact between a brand and the consumer, a doorway, literally, to the brand experience, if you may. Both at its functional and aesthetic best, signage can contribute greatly in enhancing the brand experience. As Sanjay Agarwal, Founder & Director, FRDC puts it, “Signage tells the stature of a brand, its promise, and the quality level of interaction that it wants with you; it symbolizes what the brand stands for.”

Agrees Nagaraja R, Founder and Director – Design, Four Dimensions, “Signage is the first element to be seen by the customer when he approaches the store. It indirectly builds up his interest to explore and signage is carried into the store design. It is an extension of the brand story, its image reflecting the personality of the brand. Whatever the brand, it has to complement the brand attitude and philosophy.”

And yet, is signage design in particular, given the due it deserves in retail? While a clear ‘no’ may be a sweeping generalisation and involves many factors, it would still appear that in reality, signage design as a specialized area does not get the attention it deserves, especially in the context of store interiors. Says Michael Foley, Founder, Foley Designs, “While navigational signage has been given good importance by brands, I don’t think brands do enough for communication beyond that at the point of buying; there is not enough story telling happening.”

Agarwal concurs, “As far as retail is concerned, signage is more like a brand name; it doesn’t get the attention like say signage in a campus or a corporate office does. This is because many retailers usually believe that the logo becomes the signage.”

One reasons why the design aspect of signage in particular does not get priority is because signage is usually considered a part of the façade system, as both Agarwal and Foley point out, and it is very rarely, if ever, looked at something beyond this in the retail scenario.

There are also other challenges. As Agarwal says, particularly in the context of facade signage, “Every brand knows and wants the signage to be good. But sometimes budget is a challenge and sometimes it’s a space challenge, sometimes you are in a scenario where the building doesn’t allow you to use the space. Then there is also the issue of maintenance, especially when you use crafted or tech led signage. Brands are also worried about exposure to the weather and vandalism. So they wonder how much they can invest in it.”

Read the complete report in the June 2019 issue of VM&RD.

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