What to Do Before Meeting with a Digital Signage Consultant

Andy Shevak, Manager of Digital Signage

Andy Shevak, Manager of Digital Signage

 

I recently sat down with Andy Shevak, ASI’s Manager of Digital Signage, to have a conversation about the field of digital signage and how its technology and uses are expanding dramatically. We spoke about a variety of topics including the role that digital signage sales consultants should serve in working with clients and how clients, who are considering digital signage solutions, can benefit from determining their needs prior to speaking with a digital signage provider.

Andy Shevak, who has been with ASI since 2010, has an extensive digital background having worked as a buyer of consumer electronics for several top consumer electronics retailers. He has developed a network of partners over the years, which has enabled ASI to deploy best in class digital signage solutions for our clients. This is the first of several posts that will share Andy’s insights into the evolving technology, uses and deployment of digital signage.

Create List of Digital Signage Functions

Digital signage continues to evolve and the number of clients wanting to include digital signage as part of their signage solutions is expanding rapidly. Before meeting with a sales consultant Andy recommends that clients create a list of functions they want digital signage to accomplish within their organization. What are their digital signage goals? Digital signage has a wide variety of uses from communicating information to employees throughout their facility (and in some cases throughout facilities located around the world) to providing information to customers, visitors, students, suppliers and others.

Digital Signage Communicates Internally with Employees

Digital signage is an impactful way to communicate with employees in one location or many locations worldwide. Historically, such communications have been shared via printed (sometimes even handwritten) signs displayed in a variety of ways from memos posted in break rooms to flyers taped by elevators to posters shown on easels in hallways and other public spaces. Printed employee messages often are not professional in appearance, take time to produce and post, and often are taken down inadvertently and frequently not removed when they are no longer needed. Furthermore, it is difficult to maintain consistency and control over messages within one and between multiple locations.

Communicating with employees via digital signage has many benefits. Once messages are developed they can be deployed and viewed by employees within minutes. Employees housed in one location or spread worldwide can see exactly the same information at the same time, controlled from one point of origin. Systems can also be developed that allow some messages to be seen system wide as well as other messages being developed to appear in a region and/or a single location allowing combined central, regional and local message control.

Digital Signage Communicates Externally with Customers and Others

Digital signage is an equally powerful communication tool to reach an organization’s customers, visitors, suppliers, students, etc. Digital Signage is all about promoting an organization’s brand. It has to look and feel like the brand and communicate what a client wants to communicate in the manner the client wants to communicate it. Therefore, no two digital signage solutions will be exactly the same. A successful sales consultant should become entrenched in their client’s organization to ensure the development of a digital solution that accomplishes exactly what their client wants.

Digital Signage works in concert with architectural interior and exterior signage benefiting from the incorporation of the same aesthetic. Digital Sales consultants who work for a digital signage provider that also has extensive experience in standard interior and exterior architectural signage regularly work closely with architects and designers to make this happen.

Determine Types of Messages Your Digital Signage Will Deliver

As clients develop their list of their digital signage objectives, Andy recommended that besides addressing sign functions clients should also define the types of messages the signage needs to address both internally with employees and with their external audience. Digital signage utilization opportunities are vast ranging from cafeteria menu boards, wayfinding, and campus wide internal messages (such as parking lot construction updates, holiday celebrations and critical human resources announcements) to information tying in with advertising and marketing promotions. The uses for digital signage are only limited by one’s imagination with new uses constantly developing.

The more clients think through their digital signage goals prior to meeting with a digital signage consultant the better clients will be able to express their digital signage needs. Andy added that the sale of digital signage is very much a consultative sale with deployments ranging from basic to exotic and everything in between. Once consultants understand their client’s needs consultants will then be able to recommend the optimal digital signage solutions to meet their client’s goals.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

ASI, Cincinnati Hosted Open House – Showcased Expertise

ASI Cincinnati Staff

ASI, Cincinnati team – Back Row (Left to Right): Bill Kist, Ray Siegel, Paul Hays – Front Row (Left to Right): Debbie Hanson, Matt Berlage, Suzi Roth, Heather Casey-Knox, Dave Zeller, Kim Moscarino

Matt Berlage Wayfinding AIA Course

ASI, Cincinnati team member, Matt Berlage teaching AIA accredited Wayfinding training course to Open House guests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, February 12th the staff of ASI, Cincinnati held an open house to welcome clients to their office. ASI affiliate, Kim Moscarino and her team shared product information, AIA accredited ADA and Wayfinding training courses and advice on clients’ upcoming signage projects. An extensive collection of signs and photos of many ASI, Cincinnati’s completed projects were on display throughout their office. Perhaps most popular was the organized sign making activity set up in the workroom where the ASI team helped guests make their own signs to take home.

Why Host an Open House

Hosting an open house provides a great opportunity to standout by showing existing and potential clients what takes place behind the scenes. It enables you to differentiate your firm from your competition by putting a human face on what it takes to design, fabricate and install signage. Guests get to see that creativity and professional attention only begin with the placing of an order. Getting a look behind the scenes focuses attention on the professional process, not just the end product. It takes a product that might be viewed as a commodity and makes it unique.

Advance Planning Is Critical

A great deal of planning and preparation went into ASI, Cincinnati conducting their first open house. Over 50 guests attended the event, which took place from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.  The impressive turnout resulted in large part because of the detailed planning by Kim Moscarino, Suzi Roth and the rest of the ASI, Cincinnati team. They spent over a month getting their office in shape while at the same time working on everything from invitation design and their invitee list, to the theme, refreshments, sample displays, obtaining vendor support and giveaways to deliver a first-rate event. Those who attended will remember ASI, Cincinnati’s open house for a long time.

Choose a Theme and Follow a Timeline

With the Winter Olympics starting a few days prior to the open house Kim and her team decided that an Olympic theme would be the perfect tie-in for their open house. They designed special open house signage that they displayed throughout the office and the games that attendees played had Olympics sports themes.  The entire ASI, Cincinnati team wore specially designed shirts featuring both the ASI logo and Olympic sports artwork. The same sports artwork was used on the cut vinyl, which attendees used on the signs they produced.

One added touch was the design of cookies ordered from a local baker. Some of the cookies featured “ASI” gold, silver and bronze medal icing. Other cookies were designed with the same Olympic sports artwork that appeared on the ASI team member shirts and signs. The cookies were a hit as guests enjoyed the food and beverages.

A month prior to the open house an invitation was displayed on the ASI, Cincinnati webpage and an open house phone message was added to the message loop callers heard when they were placed on hold. Two weeks before the open house an email campaign featuring an invitation was sent to architect offices from the ASI, Cincinnati email database. Next, phone calls were made to follow up with key clients to encourage attendance.

Multiple Activities Build Open House Attendance

One never knows what winter weather will bring and the number of attendees remains an unknown until an event is underway. Although there was plenty of snow on the ground the streets were clear. Over fifty people showed up to ASI, Cincinnati’s open house. Both the ADA and Wayfinding AIA courses had strong participation and the client sign making activity was a huge hit with a constant huddle of clients and ASI staff working together to produce signs for attendees to take home as a reminder of the open house.  The sign making was great fun. More importantly, it was educational and provided the perfect opening for ASI staff to share the process ASI goes through to insure that the signage ASI designs, produces and installs for clients meets each client’s unique needs.

The open house was informal with lots of fun and laughing. Still, one couldn’t help but notice the respect and confidence that the clients held for Kim Moscarino and the ASI, Cincinnati team. The open house enabled their respect to grow as attendees’ knowledge grew about what goes on behind the scenes at ASI. Many of the attendees had worked with ASI for years, others were new clients and some hadn’t yet worked with ASI on their signage solutions. Many of the attendees were designers. Attendees really enjoyed designing and making their own signs regardless of their job functions.

It was obvious that most of the clients at the open house had never been to a signage company office and they were impressed with what they saw. As guests left with their sign samples and goodie bags each thanked the ASI team. The open house will stick with them and when new signage projects come along ASI, Cincinnati will be top of mind.

ASI, Cincinnati won a Gold Medal for this event as each client expressed appreciation and all departed with smiles on their faces. Differentiating your business from your competition by hosting an open house is a great source for future orders from existing and potential clients as well as increased referrals.

 

Additional Open House Photos & ASI, Cincinnati Webpage

To view more photos taken at ASI, Cincinnati Open House just click here.

To visit ASI, Cincinnati’s webpage just click here.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

When Selecting Architectural Signage, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Eyeglasses on Eye Chart

 

When considering purchase of a product, besides deciding the specifics of what is desired one must also consider the appropriate degree of specialization and expertise required. Some products are commodities while others benefit from customization to fit the purchaser’s particular needs.

In most instances office supplies are commodities. Pens, writing pads, ink-jet printer cartridges and the like are the same whether you purchase them from one office supply company or another, your local pharmacy or a discount retailer. If you know the brands and specific products you want they are going to be identical regardless of where you purchase them.

Commodities Don’t Provide The Same Quality and Options As Customized Products

Architectural signage is more like eyeglasses that you purchase at an optical shop after visiting an eye doctor. Sure you can go to your local pharmacy and find reading glasses on a rack. They come in different styles and with different strength lenses and they are really inexpensive. You try-on different frames and select one with a style you like and with which you can read. They won’t have your perfect prescription but they are good enough for you to keep an extra pair in your office or on the nightstand next to your bed at home. Your vision won’t be perfect but you will be able to read better with than without them.

However, if you really want quality eyewear that fits comfortably, provides the best vision available then you visit your ophthalmologist or optometrist to get your correct prescription as well as to check for eye diseases. You then take the prescription to an optician where you select a stylish frame from a wide selection (not just the three or four that you find at the pharmacy) and the correct size frame is ordered that fits just right. The optician will take the prescription from your eye doctor’s exam and have lenses custom made for the frames you select. Both distance and near vision can be corrected and if applicable, astigmatism, which is a common optical defect that causes blurriness, will also be addressed. Various alternatives are available for corrected distance and reading in the same pair of glasses from bifocals to no-line bifocals. Different coatings are available for the lenses that can cut down on glare and reflection and there are also many different types of sunglass lenses available as well.

You Get What You Pay For

Obviously the glasses that one has custom made by an optical shop are much more expensive than the cheap throwaway reading glasses that you can pick up at your pharmacy. But they are of far superior quality and the prescription in each lens is customized to optimize each eye’s visual acuity.

Sure there is signage available that is akin to reading eyeglasses from your pharmacy. Your local office supply store has signs that communicate open, closed, no smoking, restrooms, will return (with hour and minute hands on a clock face that can be set), exit, private, store hours, etc. But such signs are commodities. One style fits all and no guidance is given on how best to utilize them. The office supply store signage may come in one or two styles but the style isn’t optimized to augment the design of your facility. No assistance is provided in selecting the ideal placement of signage, local signage codes or ADA requirements. You are on your own, sometimes trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. Customized signs obviously aren’t available off the shelf.

Architectural signage is more like the custom eyewear you have made at an optical shop after visiting your eye doctor. When purchasing quality eyewear you seek out a doctor and an optical shop based upon the quality of eye care and glasses that they provide. You have a level of comfort after selecting the right professionals. You are confident that they will identify you unique needs and help you find the right solution to achieve optimal eyesight while sporting a fashionable pair of eyeglasses that enhances your appearance.

Seeking the Right Architectural Signage Professional Is Crucial

Just as you carefully seek out specialists for eye care, when seeking architectural signage you want to select a professional that will understand your specific needs. With eye care you are concerned with the health of your eyes, custom fit, optimal vision and style. With architectural signage you are concerned with wayfinding, branding, meeting building and ADA requirements and design. You want a professional that will propose a solution that is stylish and not only compliments the design of your facility but actually enhances it in much the way that stylish eyewear enhances ones appearance.

It is critical that when you seek an architectural signage professional that you should find an expert that understands the complexities of wayfinding, ADA requirements and local signage regulations. Obviously you also want a professional who can propose a solution that enhances your building’s design and builds your brand. Just as eye doctors and optical shops are not the same, neither are architectural signage professionals.  When purchasing architectural signage you are purchasing a solution, not just a product.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

Education Challenges and Solutions within the Architectural Signage Industry

December 2013 New Hire Training Class Students

Andy Levine, Director of Corporate Education - Presenting at December 2013 New Hire Training Class

Andy Levine, Director of Corporate Education – Presenting at December 2013 New Hire Training Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education and training are among numerous components that contribute to the growth and success of virtually any organization, and the construction industry and specialized areas such as architectural signage are no exceptions.  It could be argued that training challenges are even greater within the architectural signage industry due to unique business methodologies, a wide array of signage technologies both old and new, and special services that compliment and add value to signage and wayfinding solutions.

 New Hire Training

New hire training is perhaps the most critical part of an education program, as it must provide a solid foundation that newly hired employees can immediately draw from and additionally build upon for the long term. Trainers must balance the coverage and introduction of many different subjects without overloading students and thus reducing the learning benefit. Ultimately, if students complete new hire training and can answer questions including but not limited to the following with a ‘yes’, then this helps to verify that the initial training was successful:

  • “Do I understand my company’s history and how it shapes our business philosophy?”
  • “Have I learned critical elements and considerations used in producing architectural signage?”
  • “Am I now familiar with how our company sets itself apart from the competition?”
  • (Sales Consultants) “Do I understand the types of available Marketing, Training and Technology resources, provided by my company, that I can use to build relationships and enhance my sales pipeline?”
  • “Have I learned how to access resources that will empower me to continue learning and to quickly locate additional information?”
  • “Have I become acquainted with my corporate support staff and do I know how to contact them with questions?”

Flexible and Varied

Once the initial educational foundation is set, training should be flexible and varied to meet specific needs and company roles. For example, Project Managers may require additional training on special project management-based software applications. Additionally, if an architectural signage company has a relationship with an organization such as the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as a Continuing Education Provider, then Sales Consultants should take advantage of special train-the-trainer classes that empower them to sharpen their presentation skills, learn new information, and become certified to teach education topics to groups of architects and designers. These types of programs provide solid education about the industry and help to build positive, lasting relationships with key participants in the construction industry that can lead to stronger sales pipelines and better sales results.

Build Upon Educational Foundation

Education departments must also understand how to effectively continue to build upon the educational foundation, using a variety of learning methods to communicate product information, company procedures, technology tutorials and soft skills development. Available learning technologies should be evaluated and trainers should be flexible and skilled in various technologies, so that education can be developed and delivered in the format that best fits the learning needs and audience. Nowadays, good trainers must be comfortable providing instructor-led classes, presenting via webinars, developing training videos, and implementing and managing online learning and learning management systems (LMS). Webinar tools provide an excellent distance learning method of delivering live content to numerous company locations, making supplemental learning more interactive yet cost-effective. Online learning systems can provide a wide variety of courses, meaning that courses can be taken by employees with different roles within the company, and a web-based learning system can easily reach and benefit more employees regardless of geographical location.

In addition to the above primary considerations, training may also take on support, coaching and subject matter expert roles. Trainers, especially within our industry, must also be flexible and versatile, keeping an open mind to new learning methods, architectural signage technologies, and company initiatives. Balancing traditional learning requirements, company / industry education, role-based learning, technology training and coaching activities is an ongoing and fascinating challenge for Education departments within our industry.

 

Andy Levine
Director of Corporate Education

 

The Customer is Always Right, Even when the ADA is Involved. Right?

 

In the midst of a project, a question arises from the customer, architect, designer or general contractor regarding the signage and ADA/Accessibility code compliance. We demonstrate our expertise and consultative approach by fully understanding the customer’s concerns, researching local codes and contacting additional ASI resources for guidance. See the ADA section of the ASI website for additional information. We then contact the customer, make our recommendation, the customer accepts the recommendation, and we’re ready to move forward. Simple as that, right?

ADA & Local Accessibility Codes vs. Aesthetics

Well, that’s not always a correct assumption, as sometimes our recommendation doesn’t sync with what the customer is hoping to hear. If the customer is concerned about ADA and local accessibility codes conflicting with the aesthetics of their architectural environment, then it’s always possible that they could argue their case and in some instances decide to go against your recommendation.

When researching and consulting with ASI franchises on ADA signage questions, this scenario is presented to me somewhat regularly. For example, in one recent instance, the architect/designer argued that visual text describing instructions for emergency and non-emergency exits did not have to adhere to the 5/8” minimum character height requirement. I provided the actual scoping requirement text directly from the ADA, which states:

216.3 Directional and Informational Signs

Signs that provide direction to or information about interior spaces and facilities of the site shall comply with 703.5 (703.5 provides all of the guidelines related to visual characters on signs, including the chart that specifies a minimum of 5/8” in character height).

Advisory 216.3 Directional and Informational Signs

Information about interior spaces and facilities includes rules of conduct, occupant load, and similar signs. Signs providing direction to rooms or spaces include those that identify egress routes.

Clearly, the signs in question fall under section 216.3 of the 2010 ADA scoping requirements, which means that the 5/8” minimum character height requirement also applies. Even with this additional information, the architect/designer argued that the 5/8” guideline simply did not apply to these types of signs.

In another example, the customer’s facility, an Assisted Nursing and Sr. Living Campus, included glass doors and glass frontage within the building interior. They were concerned with placing ADA compliant ID signs directly on the glass, so they hoped that they could identify the spaces with dimensional letters above the respective spaces. I don’t believe that it’s totally unreasonable to try to ‘protect’ the aesthetics of the glass-based interior design, but ultimately the ADA and accessibility must be considered and applied, even if it means mounting ID signs on glass. The reality here is that the ADA ‘s intent is to ensure that a blind or sight impaired individual can accurately confirm their location in a public facility.

Document Decision and Obtain Sign-Off

When these situations occur, and the customer “is always right” and won’t budge from their stance, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we thoroughly document the decision within the project documentation, signed-off by the customer if possible. This way, we can both satisfy the customer’s requirements and reduce our future liability by demonstrating that we advised the customer, architect or designer accordingly and in good faith.

 

Andy Levine
Director of Corporate Education

ASI Signage Innovations Featured on Fox Business Network’s Manufacturing Marvels

 

 

ASI Signage Innovations was featured on Fox Business Network’s Manufacturing Marvels on October 2, 2013. The Manufacturing Marvels segment showcasing ASI discussed ASI’s broad architectural signage product line including interior, exterior and digital signage as well as ASI’s manufacturing capabilities and the market segments served including the healthcare, education, corporate and hospitality markets. ASI’s expertise at producing wayfinding signage and incorporating client logos into signage was also cited. The manufacturing facilities and offices as well as the staff at ASI, Iowa were spotlighted in the segment.

View Video featuring ASI 

Manufacturing Marvels segments are 2-minute videos that highlight American manufacturers, their products, as well as manufacturing processes and major customers. Nationally acclaimed voice talent, John Criswell, narrates Manufacturing Marvels.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

ASI Introduces Slimline Interior Digital Signage

 

ASI has been a leader in architectural signage since 1965, providing consultative wayfinding and branding services to clients in market segments including healthcare, education, corporate, hospitality, government and more. ASI’s expertise includes interior signage, exterior signage and digital signage.  ASI is proud to introduce our new line of interior digital signage called Slimline.

The digital signage market is currently experiencing growth at a rate in excess of 35% with a new digital display being installed every 3.5 seconds. Digital signage has many uses ranging from building directories and maps to the display of corporate messages, information about products and services and building brand identity. Digital signage enhances customer and visitor experiences by reducing perceived wait times and influencing visitor behavior by directing them effortlessly to their destinations.

ASI is committed to providing digital signage solutions to our clients, enabling them to capitalize on our expertise in wayfinding and branding, and to find just the right signage solution to meet their unique requirements. ASI’s Slimline digital signage compliments our interior and exterior signage solutions, allowing clients to obtain total signage solutions from the same proven signage expert. ASI’s Slimline digital solutions, along with our exterior digital message centers, provide a broad selection of digital signs for sharing important information while grabbing attention and being easily updated.

Configurations

ASI’s new Slimline digital signage is available in a wide variety of configurations:

  • Wall Mount – designed to be integrated into any architectural environment, with the enclosures surface mounted. Enclosures and faceplates can be colored to match their surroundings. Slimline wall mount digital signs are available in landscape and portrait layouts, as well as both passive and touch screen models.
  • Free Standing – features a thin profile and can be placed in a variety of locations to meet the unique needs of each client. Slimline free standing digital signs are available in a floor stand housing, vertical screen format, with or without a touch screen option. Front panels on free standing digital signs can be customized to match your interior décor.
  • Room Sign – provides elegant design combined with reliable room-booking software. The panels surrounding the screen can be painted to match your décor. Slimline room signs are ideal for meeting rooms, reception areas and anywhere the display of easily updatable information is important. Slimline digital room signs are powered by a unique power supply with one cable providing both power and data.
  • ID Screen – the latest innovation for hot-desking and multi-functional departments. They are perfect for flexible spaces such as meeting and conference rooms, hotel rooms and offices whose occupants change frequently. ID screen signs can be used for rooms, desktops and cubicles. Slimline ID screens are powered by battery and activated only when information is changed resulting in battery life of at least 5 years or 10,000 updates. Updates are a breeze with information communicated directly to a wireless communicator inside each sign. ID screen digital signs are ideal for displaying names, room bookings and any information that needs to be updated often.
  • Video Wall – digital signage is an ideal signage option to grab attention that breaks through the visual barriers, allowing the display of content across multiple screens in any configuration using a single player device. The technology driving Slimline video walls has a resolution much higher than Full 1080 HD. Slimline video walls can be oriented in either portrait or landscape display in various configurations. Try walking into a room with a Slimline video wall and not have your eyes immediately drawn to it!

ASI provides turn-key digital solutions from design through delivery, installation and support of our Slimline digital signs. Every turn-key solution includes hardware, software, standard or custom designed and built enclosures to match your décor, content management solutions, screen content design services and on-site installation.

Slimline Digital Signs Provide a Variety of Solutions

Slimline digital signs display content that can be designed and configured in a multitude of ways making them perfect for providing a variety of solutions within architectural environments, including:

  • Wayfinding information at critical points
  • Directories and welcome information boards
  • Hot-desking/hoteling wireless digital signage systems that can be updated frequently
  • Interactive touch screen information centers
  • Donor recognition systems and historic displays
  • Room ID, suite ID and meeting schedules
  • Large format video walls that are sure to grab attention and get your message across

ASI, the leader in interior and exterior architectural signage is also your leader in effective, state-of-the art and turn-key digital signage solutions.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

ADA Quick Tips – Guidelines Website, ATMs & Parking Signs

 

 

Here are few new tips regarding updated ADA resources and interesting questions that have arisen as we continue to learn more about the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design:

ADA Guidelines Website

The United States Access Board has improved its ADA Guidelines website to be more intuitive and user-friendly: Click here for the ADA standards website.

Click here to view Chapter 2, Section 216 of the ADA Standards for signage scoping requirements.

Click here to view Chapter 7, Section 703 for the specific ADA guidelines pertaining to signage.

Instructional Text on ATMs

Some jobs have included a requirement to apply instructional text on ATMs, specifically instructions on how to access audio information. So, what are the text and Braille requirements for this type of application?

Section 707 of the ADA addresses guidelines for ATMs, specifically 707.8, which states that Braille instructions for initiating the speech mode shall be provided. Braille shall comply with 703.3. So, the same Braille guidelines that apply to Room ID signs would apply here. The interesting thing is that although accompanying instruction text is required, there are no specific ADA guidelines that govern the text itself in terms of size, raised characters, etc. So, the text portion of the instructions are required but designed from more of a practical, common sense, and legibility standpoint.

Parking Signs

On the topic of accompanying text on special types of signs, what about the text that may accompany the ISA pictogram on parking signs? In section 502.6, the ADA states that “Parking space identification signs shall include the International Symbol of Accessibility complying with 703.7.2.1.  Signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the designation “van accessible.” Signs shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface measured to the bottom of the sign.” The ADA does not provide any instructions regarding the accompanying text, although if used then the text should be designed at least with practical and legibility considerations. Also note that your local code may have more stringent requirements on elements like parking sign height and text.

 

Andy Levine
Director of Corporate Education

Signs Have Been Around a Long Time

 

The architectural signage industry has taken advantage of a plethora of technological advances that have enabled the design, production and installation of signs that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. A vast array of materials and finishes are available for both exterior signage and interior signage, and digital signage technology seems to advance daily. So many signage options are available to help organizations choose just the right solution to build their brand and to assist in wayfinding while also adhering to the latest ADA guidelines concerning people with disabilities. It is easy to forget that signs date back to the days when humans were cave dwellers and that signs have been a fundamental element of trade throughout history.

Known Use of Signs Dates Back to 18,000 BC

The first known use of signs dates back to around 18,000 BC during the Paleolithic Age when signs were used not only for identification and directional communication but also for spiritual purposes. The word sign comes from the ancient word “signum” which means mark or token.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen Lend Me Your Signs!

The Romans and ancient Greeks used signs to promote services that were available at different buildings. An image of a bush was used to indicate a drinking establishment and the still used image of 3 balls denoted a Roman version of a pawnshop. The Romans were the first to employ the use of signs on road systems to indicate distance and direction. One cannot help but wonder the arduous task of measurement that the Romans must have employed two thousand plus years ago to measure distances throughout the vast territory that they controlled.

England’s King Richard III Required Signs on Pubs in 14th Century

During the fourteenth century England’s King Richard III was the first European monarch to require establishments that served alcohol to have signs outside. The legislation was instituted to enable inspectors to be able to easily identify all places serving ale so that they could determine the quality of the ale being served (the water quality from which ale was made varied greatly). No doubt the inspections also made tax collection easier to enforce. Signs on businesses also served as a form of advertising. Soon signs showed up with different logos including lions and dragons and other popular symbols such as shields.

The 1700s Brought The First Sign Ordinances

By the 16th and 17th centuries signs became more elaborate, being made out of hand-carved wood, wrought iron and gold leafing. As cities grew in size signs actually became dangerous as roads were narrow and crowded with people, animals and carts, and signs could easily get in the way as they became detriments to the flow of traffic. The first sign ordinances came into being in the 1700s with both Paris and London requiring signs to be displayed flat against walls. In the 18th century signs started relying heavily on the printing press for producing messages.

With the advent of the industrial revolution and the emergence of the automobile, signage became crucial for safety and as an aid to ever growing hoards of travelers to assist them in finding their way through cities, countries and across continents.

The Birth of Neon Signs

In 1929, a U.S. car salesman ushered in a technology that soon spread around the world when he ordered the first neon sign; signage has never been the same since. The signs of Las Vegas are visible from space as are the bright lights of New York’s Time Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus, along with Tokyo, Rio de Janerio, Shanghai and numerous other cities around the globe. The introduction of neon signs nearly a century ago was revolutionary but today’s ever growing advancement in digital signage is no less of a revolution in today’s signage marketplace.

The early sign-builders could never have envisioned today’s $50 billion a year signage industry with signs now being fabricated from hundreds of different materials in a myriad of colors, textures and finishes. Throughout the signage history signs major use has been their service as a major communication tool. The messaging options continue to expand to serve an ever-growing list of uses with new design choices growing daily.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

Quarterly Architectural Signage Audits Are Critical

 

When was the last time you performed an architectural signage audit? An architectural signage audit? What the heck is an architectural signage audit, and why is it so important?

How often have you gone to a restaurant or retail establishment and noticed that something wasn’t right, the look of the place wasn’t up to par? Perhaps shelves were messy or the artwork on the wall had turned purple or green from age or there was still promotional material displayed featuring holiday specials for a holiday that had passed months earlier.

“Store Blindness” Makes Noticing Signage That Needs Updating More Difficult

It is easy to grow unaware of ones surroundings. Each day we go to our office, medical facility, classroom, retail establishment, or wherever it is that we work. We become so accustomed to our environment that we could literally stumble over an obstacle without even realizing that it was there. This phenomenon is what many in retail businesses refer to as “store blindness.”

Signage is not immune to this occurrence. Years ago there was a TV series that was adapted from a hit Off-Broadway comedy called “Hot l Baltimore.” The story took place in a fictional hotel in Baltimore, Maryland and the show got its name from a broken neon sign above its entrance where the “e” in “Hotel” was burned out. The hotel was as rundown as the sign out front so the broken sign served well as the symbol for the show.

It is no coincidence that “Hot l Baltimore” chose a sign to represent the hotel. Signage in general, and architectural signage in particular, symbolizes your establishment. It both signifies and builds your brand along with its being a crucial wayfinding tool. If your signage is broken, out of date or misleading, people will become confused and lost. But that’s not all. What does broken or incorrect signage say about your brand?

Signage That’s Broken, Out of Date or Inadequate Hurts Your Brand

Signage is extremely visible. If your signage is broken or incorrect your customers, visitors, vendors, students and/or patients are likely to question everything that goes on behind the scenes. If what’s visible is in disrepair, what isn’t visible must be far worse. They will lose faith in the products or services that you provide and the sad thing is you won’t even be aware this is happening. Furthermore, they will tell others. Word of mouth is well known to be the best marketing tool but it can also erode your brand’s reputation.

The good news is that you can easily make sure that your architectural signs remain in top condition, are accurate and continue to be the advocates for your brand that you need them to be. Major restaurant and retail chains often perform store tours a few times a year having a group of their managers from nearby restaurants or stores tour each other’s establishment. The managers comment on the pluses and minuses observed at each location visited. Managers take copious notes on comments about their own restaurant or store. They amass a list of needed, but previously unnoticed, repairs and updates, which are critical to the appearance and operation of their business. Each manager then addresses the items on their list to improve the appearance and function of their facility.

How to Perform an Architectural Signage Audit

Quarterly architectural signage audits are easy to perform. Grab a co-worker or two to join your signage tour. Before starting your inspection, request everybody to clear their minds so that they can examine your signage as if it was their first time at your facility. As you proceed with the audit take good notes listing any items that need attention.

To conduct your audit, start examining your exterior signage. Are your exterior signs in good shape? Make note of any signs that need to be repaired or replaced because of breakage or no longer being accurate. Also, check all exterior signage at night as well as during the day so that you are certain that the lighting is still functioning properly. Is any landscaping needed so that signage remains attractive and isn’t overrun by vegetation? Do any exterior signs need to be replaced because they are no longer correct or do new signs need to be ordered because of changes to your facility?

Next, walk through the inside of your facility and carefully examine your interior signage. Are the wayfinding directions that the interior signs provide still accurate and plentiful enough? Are the names and titles on signs still current? Check any directories to assure that they no longer list tenants or employees that are no longer in the building and that they reflect any moves or new hires that may have taken place. Are any signs in need of repair or replacement or cleaning?

Be sure to check your digital signage as well to make sure that it is in excellent working order. Also, review all screen content to assure that it is up-to-date. Like the store promoting a sale for a holiday that passed months ago, you don’t want your digital signs delivering messages that no longer apply.

Conduct Quarterly Architectural Signage Audits

A major benefit of working with ASI is that our concern for clients extends beyond designing, fabricating and installing architectural signage. ASI is committed to assist you in keeping your signage in top shape and accurate. Remember to perform quarterly architectural signage audits and contact your local ASI signage consultant if signs need to be repaired, updated or replaced or if additional signs are needed so that your signage continues to build your brand and provide optimal wayfinding capabilities for years to come.

 

John Selig
Marketing Manager

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