Signage Strategies Within Buildings

July 10, 2002

In buildings across the country, signage is everywhere you look—on windows and floors and in elevators and stairways—but in reality, how many of those signs do you notice?  For sign and graphic companies, building signage is one of the leading industries—and rightly so. They help to direct traffic throughout the building as well as increase tenant revenue since they act as an advertising medium.  In addition, they keep building owners and managers up to par with the various guidelines and codes that are enforced with the Americans with Disabilities act.  In essence, signs and graphics are commonly used to achieve various strategies within buildings.

But what about for emergencies?  Sometimes, needed signs can be overlooked until a dire situation calls for them. When the Maller Building in downtown Chicago experienced an explosion that damaged a large portion of the building, it was the local sign and graphic provider that came to the rescue. The building, which is an older multi-story property with many tenants known as the “Jewelers Row”, was partially devastated when an explosion caused by a welding tank of gas used for fabricating jewelry erupted. The result was substantial, structural and retail damage that toppled in the millions. Three of the four elevators in the building were destroyed and an evacuation of the entire building was announced. In addition to the structural integrity of the building at stake, there were also many shattered windows to the Maller building and in adjacent buildings.  

For those tenants who were able to keep normal operating hours, business dropped considerably.  With the help of the building owner and manager a plan was devised to make sure customers knew that some portions of the building were indeed open and available for business. To start, a rush order for large color banners was placed with FASTSIGNS®, a local sign and graphic company.  The banners were used to announce to the public that the building was not completely a loss, but that in fact, many of the businesses inside were open and ready to serve the public.

According to Dick D’Amico, Owner of the FASTSIGNS store that the Maller management called upon, “The building was basically devastated, with the exception of a small area of tenants.  The public wasn’t sure if they were open or if the building was sound, so business was definitely negatively affected.  The building owner called us to create signs that would alert the public that these tenants were still open and ready to serve. When the initial order for the signs and banners were called in and delivered within a 24-hour period, several other tenants in the building came in asking for banners as well to hopefully beef up their business. Over a dozen banners were provided to the management company and their tenants with an average size of 3' x 6' to 3' x 12' on each one.

In addition to banners, safety signs such as “Watch your step” and “Please excuse our mess” was also placed to keep the building’s tenants and visitors as safe as possible.  “People don’t view signs as necessities in business until emergencies like this happen. We were able to prove that signs and full color graphics not only help to direct and control the traffic, but they also created an additional marketing strategy which ultimately lead to increased sales and customers for these tenants.”

The truth of the matter, is that most business owners do not know that signage typically brings a high return on investment-regardless of the situation at hand. For example, a $200 sign displayed at a location where just 10,000 cars pass by every day will be seen more than 3.5 million times in a single year—a cost of about a penny for every 15 “advertising impressions.”  With that $200 sign, you’ve established your company’s presence in your community.  In emergency situations like the Waller building, you have then alerted the public to the problem and are able to update them to the current status of the situation.

Because of their relatively low cost, long life, and 24-hour-a-day work ethic, signs carry your marketing message to more people per dollar invested than many other mediums. A well-designed, well-placed sign can generate tens or even hundreds of thousands of impressions per day for months or years at a time.  Depending on the nature of the business and the type of sign selected, it could pay for itself with the very first customer it attracts.

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