Missed signage opportunities

In today’s world of signage and ads plastered everywhere, it seems odd to advocate more. But here we are…some local cornerstones might be missing out on customers, and signage could change that.

The Seattle Center offers great examples. Atop the Space Needle, two comments from the visiting throng seem most frequent aside from ones about Mt. Rainier: kids shouting “there’s McDonald’s, with the “M” on the roof,” and people of all ages asking “what’s that building with all the colors?” The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum seem to have an awareness issue among tourists. Many of these people are presumably wondering what to do after the Needle, and might love to know about two of our best museums, which might even get the kids excited. Some signage viewable from 520 feet, not to mention some other angles nearby, seems worth the expense.

The Center House (ok, the “Armory”) is gradually adding new food outlets. But some break a cardinal rule of food courts: you can’t read the signs from across the room, particularly from some directions, and even if you can read the sign they’re not always clear from 150′ away about the cuisines they offer. Many visitors walk in, stand in one place, and decide what to eat, particularly families. The big signs seem to be winning. They’re aided of course by people’s familiarity with brand names, vs. local sellers who might have an artsy name and then, like Skillet, use smaller secondary signage to explain what they sell. For example Starbucks tends to have a line all day, often an absurdly long one (dammit), but a little coffee stand nearby goes mostly unnoticed, though in its defense it does say “coffee” if you’re looking from the south. For the Armory itself, a little of that “M” mojo would be useful too; why not tell Space Needle visitors above that food is available next door?

The new City Target is a welcome addition to Downtown. Their signage is clear – if you’re a block away, looking up, and familiar with their logo. But walking by, even the logo isn’t as easily seen. On high-traffic Pike especially, shouldn’t there be something pointed at pedestrians, a little above your head, that gives you some indication that it’s a Target store? Maybe even something that say they sell groceries, electronics, etc.? There’s a sign listing departments but it’s flush with the exterior and in small font, mostly useful as wayfinding for those about to walk in.

In Belltown there’s a place called Form/Space Atelier. It’s downstairs out of sight with only a small sign by the street entrance. After years of vaguely wondering what it is, this blog post was impetus to WebCrawler them. Turns out they’re an art gallery, not a furniture store. Good to know. Perhaps the sign by the door could have the word “gallery” added, unless this knowledge is
intentionally being closely held, or only for people who know that an atelier is typically the “workshop of an artist in the fine or decorative arts” according to wikipedia?

Again, the world has plenty of ads and signs. Actually far too many. But sometimes an addition is welcome – descriptive, not in anyone’s way, and pointed at likely customers.

  • http://Thesignsalesman.blogspot.com Isaac Duke

    Matt,
    Great post. However, it more than anything hammers home both the importance and difficulty of my job- a sign salesman. My competition is not so much the other sign companies, as it is convincing people they need a sign. The best example of this is a small shop in my town of Olympia. A prolific social media contributor also owns a high quality kitchen ware shop. He happens to have an extremely good location at arguably one of the top five most busy intersections in Olympia. However, he has no sign that says what he sells. I told him all he would nees would be a simple $750 sign s%gn visible to the high volume of cars and peds. He asked what is the point of paying money when I can advertise for free on youtube, twitter, and facebook. Obviously, most of the people who would buy his product (older stay-at-home or recreational chefs) would probably not even be on twitter, let alone know what twitter is. But they would want to buy a $100 souflee pan.. The VMAC is another good example. People know what that huge building off of 405 know what is. But what about the worker from Puyallup who is doing a paint job in Factoria. If he knew the Seahawks practiced there, he might want to drive up with his boys and spend the day there, as well as spend money at the landing…
    Of course, on the other side of the spectrum (and the lake) there is the CLINK. EVERYONE VAN CLEA