Author Archives: John-Scott Dixon

Successful Business Owners Are Sign Savvy

sidewalk-signThere are two very common complaints that we hear about advertising. The first one is that it can be very expensive and the second one is that it “may or may not” pay off. They’re right. Yes, it can be very expensive to advertise your business or event when using traditional forms of advertising such as radio, tv or print mailers. If the message isn’t that compelling, then the ROI (Return On Investment) can be very low.

Let’s look at one common scenario that we’ve repeatedly encountered with our customers; the customer has just started their first business and they need to promote their services.They’ve had a few sales people stop by with a pitch like “advertise with our radio/TV station and we promise we’ll bring in new business…all you have to do is sign this contact and we will start billing you a thousand dollars each month for the next year”. Tempting…the promise of new business.

However, because of the enormous cost with radio advertising, the business owner seeks the advise of others. They contact a business owner with a well established thriving business and that business associate advises them to try using better signage before they commit $12,000 a year to a limited market demographic. The business associate explains that he spent $250.00 for a couple of A-Frame signs from Signs Direct along with four custom printed sign panels. He put them out in front of his business which gets “average” vehicle traffic. He explains that he found that he starting to get new business right away. He asked his new customers how they heard about his business and most said “we saw your signs and decided to stop” which showed one advantage of “point of purchase” signage.

If a sidewalk “sandwich board” sign costs $200 with custom printed sign panels and it lasts 3 years outdoors, then you’re looking at less than $6 per monthly to advertise to passing traffic right by the location where they can make their purchase. Sidewalk signs really are one of the most economical way to promote your business. So, the business owner seeking advertising advise reaches out to Signs Direct and purchase a few A-Frame signs and some custom signs. They even purchase a few wall mountable snap frames for interior advertising after the Sidewalk signs get the potential customers into their building.

After a few months of increased sales, they conclude that they spent their advertising budget wisely and become regular customers of Signs Direct..

Please visit signsdirect.com for all your sign and advertising needs.

National Park Signs: More to Them Than Just Sticking Them In The Ground

Selected rules regarding the placement and design of signs in the National Parks

A good painting of a modern American family would be a fully packed station wagon of sorts driving past a National Park sign with a scenic backdrop and clear, blue sky. A lot of energy has been spent on those signs, cultivating that American image we’re so familiar with when we enter one of the country’s pristine natural areas, or centers of our culture and heritage. It’s not just the entrance signs in the parks that are of special consideration, however. All signs are governed by rules agreed upon by the National Park Service (NPS), as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Sign-governing rules in the parks are fairly intense, as they must transmit highly important information to a wide-variety of people from all over the world; furthermore, these signs must fit the aesthetic of the National Parks, so as not to be viewed as sign pollution, but as part of the park, and a delicate connector of humanity to nature.

National Parks entrance signs

The FHWA oversees signs along roadways, and ensures their uniformity. However, roads overseen by the National Parks are special cases. The purpose of National Parks roads is to essentially provide a path through the park for the enjoyment of the visitor. This special consideration was afforded to the entrance signs at the National Parks. According to FHWA rules, National Park entrance signs should be the same as any other sign denoting a landmark. However, thanks to a special agreement between the NPS and the FHWA, entrances to National Parks welcome visitors with the beautifully designed signs that are as recognizable as the scenery.

Signs in National Parks: What do they need?

According to the NPS sign manual (1988), there are some stock questions to be answered when planning a sign. The number one question is “What does the visitor need to know?” (p. 3-1). The idea of the need for the sign relates to the rest of the questions as well. Considerations such as if guidance is actually needed, where it’s needed, what message should be needed, and how it’s displayed, need to be weighed in sign design and placement.

The manual says that the aforementioned questions should be answered by a group of people. This group should also assess whether the sign is for either cars or pedestrians, or both, and what speed at which the sign will be presented.

How to make an effective sign

The NPS manual lists four ways signs are effective, and five things to ponder when making effective signs for use within a National Park. The four basic principles a sign must follow are that it must have a purpose, it must be seen easily and present itself authoritatively, its message must be simple, and it must give enough warning so as to be useful. To achieve these four goals, the NPS suggests following the following five principles.

  1. Uniformity – Simply put, “Similar situations are treated in the same way,” (p. 3-1). Messages should be easily recognizable and relatable to drivers and other park goers.
  2. Design – Take into account color and contrast, size of the sign and its text, shape and clarity of message when designing a sign. Also, lighting and reflectivity for night visibility are important considerations when making a sign.
  3. Placement – Should be in a spot that it will be seen and attention gets paid to it. It should give enough time to respond for cars moving at appropriate speeds.
  4. Operation – A sign must work like all other signs to which it’s similar. Uses of the sign must be consistent with all other uses of a similar sign.
  5. Maintenance – These signs must conform to a high standard of appearance so they remain readable and visible. Signs should be removed if they become unnecessary.

 

Ultimately, the park manager will sign off on the necessity of the signs. The biggest consideration they’ll likely useis that the sign fits the ideal behind park roads, which is that their intended purpose is not convenience or a fast route anywhere, but that the roads are paths being used to better the experience of National Park visitors.

Sign post considerations

Steel u-channel signposts have some particular usesin the National Parks, but in general, signposts are made from timber. There are safety considerations when choosing a sign posts.  For example, they need to breakaway if they are positioned in “an area of recovery” so that if a motorist swerves off the road andhits onethey can recover and drive back onto the roadway. For this reason, a timber sign post may not have a uniform cross section greater than 24 square inches. If a sign is of a size where a post of 24 square inches is not enough, then two or even three posts may be used. If using two posts, they may not each exceed 3”x6” or 4”x5”; round posts may not exceed 5” in diameter. For three timber posts, the biggest they can measure is 3”x5” or 4”x4”, or 4.5” in diameter.

Use of u-channel posts in National Parks

The NPS sign manual says in areas where it makes sense to use more durable signs, as well as road signs used under rules imposed by the FHWA, u-channel sign posts should be used. This includes along hiking trails, ski slopes and back country areas, where a u-channel sign post would be more durable against the elements, and where inspections are less frequent. U-channel sign posts require less maintenance than timber signs. Furthermore, u-channel sign posts should be used with aluminum, reflectorized signs, not the routed wood signs.

Sign messages

When creating road signs for the National Parks, there are rules to follow to ensure signs maintain uniformity and visibility. Road signs may not have more than eight words on them. Furthermore, each message on a sign can be no more than four words. There can also be no more than three worded messages per sign. In the event that a sign would exceed any of these limits, then another sign is necessary. Also, no more than three symbols are allowed per sign (such as directional arrows), and only one symbol per message.

The NPS sign manual is over 200 pages long, and it also references the UniGuide, which is a manual for the use of signs and giving visitor information in the National Parks. The UniGuide is over 900 pages long. It contains the vast amount of regulations regarding road signs, as well as the routed wood signs found throughout the National Parks. The attention to detail in the signs of our National Parks is impressive, but not as impressiveas the scenic beauty of the parks themselves.

Safety First or Third? Mike Rowe Says Third; How Can Safety Signs Help?

safety signs

We’ve all heard “safety first.” It’s drummed in our heads from an early age, on the playground, in the classroom, then later on the job and even as we drive on the highways. However, the idea that safety is first doesn’t sit well with Mike Rowe, the former host of the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs.” When the term “safety first” is uttered, it’s usually in relation to being compliant with some sort of standard.

On Mike’s blog titled “Profoundly Disconnected,” Rowe says, “…the whole ‘Safety First’ mentality might be having a counter-intuitive effect. Moreover, it struck me that on-the-job safety, for all it’s critical importance, is never really ‘first.'” Ultimately, Rowe is saying that being in OSHA compliance is a good thing, but just because a company or a worker is complying with safety standards doesn’t mean that danger is no longer present.

OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency under the United States Department of Labor. It was created when President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health act into law in late 1970. The law gives the agency powers to create safety regulations in the workplace, and to enforce those regulations. “Compliance safety and health officers” perform the enforcement. They are tasked with conducting workplace inspections of hazardous job sites and issue fines when safety violations are discovered.

According to Rowe, safety rules such as those concocted by OSHA are third most important to a business, i.e. safety is third, rather than first. What comes before safety for Rowe? In his blog, he says getting the job done and making money are both more important than safety – to the business, that is. Rowe says if a business says otherwise, it’s disingenuous. However, Rowe says he’s not denigrating the importance of safety measures and OSHA compliance; rather he’s suggesting that the best person in charge of personal safety is that individual.

Safety signs are a key element in OSHA standards; what better way to make sure a worker is aware of hazards than by posting a sign making that worker is aware of the threat? For workers to take charge of personal safety, signs need directives rather than platitudes. Think about a stop sign. It doesn’t try to make drivers feel good to stop at intersections; it tells them to stop.

Speaking of stop signs, “Mental Floss” (2014) wrote that the stop sign has eight sides due to the level of danger present. In 1923 in Mississippi, the state’s highway department came up with the idea of using the number of sides on a sign to denote the level of risk on the road. The more sides a sign has, the more risk there is present on the road.

The Mississippi Highway Department decided that informational signs should be rectangular. A diamond-shaped sign, likewise with four sides, would also denote the less dangerous threats. Next were stop signs, with eight sides, and beyond that was the railroad crossing sign – a circle, with infinite sides, denotes a high level of danger.

As a result, people know what these signs mean. Road signs are great examples of safety signs. The consequences of running a stop sign are obvious. However, in the workplace, a sign explaining the virtues of safety will fail to carry the same weight in message. In a perfect world, employers will comply with OSHA sign standards on the job site, and the signs will offer clear and concise directives. This will influence the employees to do as Mike Rowe suggests and take responsibility for their personal safety.
References

(7 August 2014). “Why Do Stop Signs Have Eight Sides?” Mental Floss. Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/56877/why-do-stop-signs-have-eight-sides. Retrieved on 12 September 2014
Rowe, M. (1 March 2009). “The Only One Responsible for My Own Safety is Me.” Profoundly Disconnected. MRW. Retrieved from http://profoundlydisconnected.com/the-only-one-responsible-for-my-own-safety-is-me/. Retrieved on 12 September 2014.
(11 August 2014). “Off The Wall: Safety Third Conversation Continues.” Profoundly Disconnected. MRW. Retrieved from http://profoundlydisconnected.com/off-the-wall-safety-third-conversation-continues/. Retrieved on 12 September 2014.