How Effective is YOUR Workplace Signage?

How Effective is YOUR Workplace Signage?

Frank Kenna III

By, Frank Kenna III on Tuesday January 26, 2016

Every company uses signage to try to modify the behavior of its employees or customers.  In this case, my gym has been trying to get members to take their locker locks off this old coat rack which is about to be replaced. 

Obviously this signage is not at all effective, as almost two weeks after the deadline, almost no one has removed their lock. So what’s wrong with the sign? Many things – take a look at my list and see if any apply to your company’s signage, whether static or digital. For each item I tell what’s wrong and how to make it better.

1. It’s boring. In today’s digital-multi-media world, black block type on a white piece of paper just doesn’t cut it. Better: Something as simple as some clip art or printing it on colored paper would help a lot.

2. The ‘threat’ has no teeth. They were correct to include a consequence for non-compliance, but it’s obviously an empty threat because the locks are still there, and I doubt anyone believes that the club management is really going to throw out 150 members’ locks. Better: Say something believable. For example, “Please remove your lock by Jan 15th or we will remove them and put them all in a box in the store room.” Then do it.

3. There’s no social push. Nobody really cares that much about a new coat rack. But they might if there was a little social pressure. Better: The sign could read, “We are going to install a beautiful new coat rack with room for gloves, hats and wet umbrellas. We can’t do it until all the locks are removed, so do your fellow members a favor and remove yours by Jan. 15!!”

4. It never changes. For messaging to be effective, it needs to change. A well-known advertising statistic shows that after someone has been exposed to a message about four times, they ignore it, which is why marketers change their ads quite often. This sign has been there for over a month. I doubt anyone even realizes it’s there anymore.  Better: Change the sign once per week, changing the color print and/or paper and making the date bigger and bolder each week.

These points are all pretty simple stuff, so I’m guessing the staff member tasked to create the posting didn’t give them much thought. But you should, assuming the communications you post are important to the future of your company. Many digital signage products have these things built in; for example, auto scheduling, colorful built-in templates, and content feeds dealing with your critical workplace issues (at least ours does). 

The key to getting this right is to think as your readers will… does the piece command attention? Is the message strong and have a call to action? Does it need to stay up for more than a week? If so create new versions and schedule them in advance so you can be done with the current piece and get back to your other work. 

Thanks!