Sign Language

October 1998


Sign Language

In-store signs are taking on a bigger role in conveying identity

Store designers are heeding signs more than ever, viewing them as a vital ingredient in overall store image. The reason: technology has made signs more versatile, interesting, attractive and cost-effective. "Signage is no longer an afterthought," said one speaker at the recent SPECS/98 conference (Store Planning, Equipment, Construction and Services) in Dallas, TX.

Digital imaging, for example, has made it cheaper to produce eye-catching, unusual signs. At the same time, adopting new materials – such as lightweight molded aluminum (an idea borrowed from airplane manufacturers) – has made it possible to hang even large signs easily. Improvements in manufacturing processes have made sign production more accurate and less costly, and computers have made it easier for sign manufacturers to communicate with retailers about the products they need, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president of Shikatani Lacroix Design, Toronto. His remarks were reported in a recent issue of Chain Store Age magazine.

He noted techniques used in the theater are working their way onto the retail scene. "Among these concepts are systems displaying multiple images on video screens, the use of motion and sound, interactive multimedia and ultraviolet inks that make a sign appear lighted when it is not," the magazine says.

Lacroix had a few sign-related tips for retailers:

  • Incorporate your store logo and color scheme into your signs as much as possible. This will reinforce your identity in your customers' minds.
  • Take advantage of new technology. Note, for example, there are now lighting systems that let you project your store name on the sidewalk in front of your store or on walls – handy for use in areas where local ordinances limit the number of signs that can be posted. You can even project your store hours using these systems.
  • Let signs work as a silent salesperson, directing customers to particular categories of merchandise and informing them of store services.


Great White Way

Why is white still right?

There's no end in sight to white. For three years now, white Leatherette has been the ne plus ultra material for jewelry displays. Some say it all began with Cartier then spread to stores throughout Europe and the U.S., from high-end independents to low-end mass merchants.

C.W. Fifield Co., Hingham, MA, which supplies fabrics to display makers, says the white craze reached a crescendo last year but is still going strong.

Some companies strive for variety with off-white colors or contrasting piping, but there's no real change. Display experts wish there was, not just for their own interests but for jewelers' sakes. After all, they say, a guild store should look different from a discount chain.


Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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