Archive for October, 2010

Direction Perfection

Customers are more comfortable and safer when strong directional and wayfinding signs are present in commercial parking lots.  Directional signs are smaller than monument signs, ranging in height from 2 feet to 6 feet, making them easily visible at short distances.  These signs are used for conveying directional information, rather than representing a recognizable logo.

El Pollo Loco Directional Signage

Once a customer has reached the place of business, smaller on-premise signs are often used to instruct them which way to go. Placing directional signs at the street can help motorists identify the business and indicate which driveway to use for the entrance.
Directional signs can point traffic to parking areas, drive-thru lanes and registration areas. 

These signs are especially important for on-site safety where there is a possibility of confusion for the driver.  Keeping traffic flowing smoothly from the street to the final destination is the ultimate goal of any successful wayfinding signage.

Seaworld parking directional signage

Seaworld parking directional signage

The format of these signs can vary widely from simple post and panel systems, to elaborate way-finding signs. Frequently, these signs are constructed to match the clients building color and logo scheme.

Wayfinding Bliss

Even repeat visitors to a commercial property, hospital or theme park may need a little help navigating the intricacies of a large complex. When designing any wayfinding program CNP Signs & Graphics works hard to keep visual consistency and simplicity throughout the process.

Simple, clear direction without confusing clutter

The recently completed Pacific Center business park in Sorrento Valley, CA is a good example of how uniformity can also be very visually appealing. Moving from the outside to the inside of the property, we will describe the elements and how they contribute to the success of the project. Experts at Stuart White Design conceived the project for the Pacific Center and CNP implemented two gateway monument art pieces at the entrance of the park. These monument structures are faced in black marble to tie into existing elements of the buildings in the complex. Two large entryway arches were also manufactured by CNP. These were the largest pieces in the project and are the focal point of the wayfinding system.

The size of the arches along with the design intent that they appear continuous when installed made it a challenge for CNP installation experts. Additional bracing and laser guides were employed to make sure the structures were installed plumb along the asymmetrical property entrance.

Pacific Center entrance arch

Arched entrance to the Pacific Center in Sorrento Valley, CA

Just inside of the monument signs and entryway arches, CNP also installed four primary directional signs and eight secondary directional signs to guide guests entering the property. These directionals contained design elements similar to both the buildings and the other signage in order to maintain design consistency.

Finally, two stone and tile monument walls were constructed with pin-mounted letters (“Pacific Center”) that helped identify the park from adjacent streets. Good wayfinding matches elements of the property and is properly spaced out to give drivers time to make necessary adjustments. Another element that makes a successful system is the elimination of clutter. Too much information can actually slow the flow of traffic in a complex environment.

Wayfinding achieves its goal when guests can determine where they are, where they want to go, and when they have arrived at the destination.

Pacific Center Kiosk

Clear information, clearly displayed defines good wayfinding

What Main Street is Really Saying

Successful Main Street Sign Programs

Smart cities and counties around the country are focusing on creating attractive business districts and promoting healthy commerce within their downtown areas. Signs help generate business within commercial districts and tax revenues for their communities. With planning and thoughtful attention Building Improvement Districts (BIDs) can use wayfinding and commercial signs to direct visitors and residents in efficient and aesthetically pleasing ways.

Branding your downtown area is a smart way to define a business district

Effective Businesses Bring in More Tax Revenue

It’s easy to get bogged down by numbers, but take a look at this research by the University of San Diego that allows us to see the effectiveness of business signage programs. This study, conducted several years ago, gauges the economic value of on-premises signage.
TABLE 2 – Average Increase in Sales Revenue
Signage Change                                                          Fast Food              Pier One Imports
Add one monument or pylon sign                                  9.3%
Add large pole sign (144 sq. ft.)                                    15.6%                              8.6%
Add chain identity to plaza identity sign                                                               7.7%
Addition of two new directional signs                                                                    8.9%
Replaced storefront wall sign with larger sign                                                       7.7%

Let’s assume you own a typical family clothing store and add a new, better-designed sign to the business. Here’s how it could impact your bottom line:
Your annual sales $1,757,486
Cost of goods sold 61.8%
Gross Profit Margin 38.2%
Operating expenses (includes other expenses of 1.5%) 36%
Income taxes (estimated at 35%) 0.8%
Income after taxes 1.4%
After tax profit ($1,757,486 x 1.4% or) $24,604

A 7% increase in sales created by the addition of a needed sign, without increasing operating expenses, would cause the following change in profit:
New sales at 7%   ($1,757, 486 x .07)  $123,024
Gross Profit from new sales  ($123,024 x 38.2% Margin Contribution)  $46,995
Net Profit (Assumes 35% taxes) $30,547
Total Profit (Original Profit $24,604 plus New Profit $30,547) $55,151

With a modest 7% increase in sales, profits more than double. Increasing profits is one way that signs improve your bottom line. Another way is by decreasing expenses.

Signs are a Long Term Investment in Advertising

There have been several surveys conducted to determine the effectiveness of signage measured before and after installation. For example, one study looked at a Los Angeles auto dealership going in where three previous auto dealers had failed. The new owner, Aztec Motors, spent significant time and money improving the building and lot.
After renovations the owner invested $7,400 on one wall sign and one double-faced pole sign. A survey found the new signage, not the renovations or other advertising, was responsible for a minimum of ten new walk-in customers per week, resulting in at least six additional sales per week.
It took less than a month for the new signs to pay for themselves, and the owner was able to reduce his advertising budget from $16,000 to $4,000 per month an annual savings of $144,000.

Getting In the Zone

If a city hopes to make the most of the land it has zoned for retail use, the laws addressing aesthetic issues will affect their success. Appropriate aesthetics for economic vitality need to balance vibrancy, orderliness, attractiveness and the compelling nature of signage. A top-down approach from city planners on design, font, color and size will effectively reduce the ability of businesses to attract customers, and hinder both their ability to make money and generate tax revenue.
Additionally, lit business signs enhance public safety by lighting commercial areas at night. A well-lit street with an attractive appearance at night is an effective deterrent to criminal activity.
This is not to say all signs should be allowed: cluttered signage and wayfinding diminish the effectiveness of the business district. The best way to avoid disorderly clumps of sign confusion is for BIDs and City Planners to consider signs an integral part of their plans from the beginning.
Roy Flahive with CNP Sign & Graphics was joined by Jeff Aaron Legal Counsel for the California Sign Association, in conducting a seminar on “Signs in a Successful Downtown” for the California Downtown Association in Sacramento, on Thursday September 30th 2010.
For more information on wayfinding, zoning regulations or successful Main Street sign programs, contact CNP Signs and Graphics.