Imagine a new construction worker with limited English skills, in a team that is filled with native English speakers. He enters a zone with a crane overhead, which isn’t marked by any sort of hazard alerting safety message. Everyone else around him is wearing hard hats, but no one tells him that a hard hat is required in this particular zone. It is difficult to communicate without a shared language, they think this to themselves in silence. Suddenly, a clutch of metal pipes slips out from the hoist rope of the crane, it falls on the worker, and the man without the hard hat is rushed to the hospital. The others are fine, just tensed.
This is an industrial scenario where safety signs play a major role.
Even for a business, signage is a business’s basic link to customers. This stands true whether the sign’s purpose is to promote impulse “stop and shop,” to create awareness for the product or service for future reference, to reinforce other forms of media advertising, to influence purchasing decisions once the customer has stopped, or to physically mark the building site and location to aid motorist safety.
Drive down the street and no wonder you’ll be confronted with road signs that give you directions (exit signs), control traffic on the streets (stop and drive slow), warn about a potential danger etc. Reach out to shopping malls for groceries and other stuff, signage stand important for wayfinding (relevant shops, parking spaces, washrooms).
Most importantly, signage stand useful in –
- Aiding in recall and reinforcement of other media advertising efforts
- Promoting traffic safety by notifying motorists whether they are in relation to where they wish to go, and assisting their entry to the premises, if they decide to stop
- Complementing community’s aesthetic standards
Cities usually place signs to convey key info – scheduled repairs, parking rules, historic buildings, any openings, events in the area. In health and safety, signs provide information and warnings about hazards or threats in commercial spaces, multiplexes, theatres, parks, restaurants, hospitals.
As a means of transmitting a message to the audience (through graphics or texts), signage is a good attempt to persuade us ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’, especially at public places.
Signage for business and public
In shopping and retail, signs can entice customers from outside (window displays), create curiosity and encourage to venture inside, thus attracting business for the specifics. A signage creates that first impression before that door is opened, help ease a consumer’s shopping complexities.
Traditional signage, on the other hand, does not rely on expensive technologies or a large number of people producing message contents, but rather is a stationary and persuasive means of communication that helps:
- Identify public concerns
- Provide information
- Give directions
- Raise environmental and safety awareness
Ideally, signs accommodate a wide range of audience (due to its clear and unambiguous nature), and are fundamental for behavior change at public places. They are mainly intended to help locals or migrants, reduce risks in accidents and injuries. All types of users are considered while creating them – from visitors, tourists, and bicycle riders, delivery personnel to residents, workers, families, older people, and wheelchair users.
In addition, there are city signage that pay homage to the history of the city; they are aesthetically pleasing. For eg. While entering a city, clear and effective signage lead visitors in the most effective way.
Cities benefit greatly from the branding and image – good signage is the key to participation and low contamination, so both function and aesthetics contribute.