By Augusta MeillSignage, a wonderfully old-fashioned, tangible mode of advertising, branding, or image-enhancement, has been catapulted into the 21st century with tremendous high-tech capabilities. The new signage for Reuters’ headquarters at 3 Times Square, New York City, crosses traditional boundaries and opens up unprecedented avenues of communication.As a communications tool, the Reuters sign conveys powerful corporate messages in the Times Square global arena. Designed by New York City-based interactive design firm ESI Design, a series of state-of-the-art Mitsubishi video LED signs display on a grand scale the news and financial content compiled by Reuters and its subsidiary Instinet.The scope of this project is unmatched. Nine LED signs wrap around the building just above street level at 43rd Street and 7th Avenue. Two more large screens extend an additional 200 feet above the lower signs – creating an array that is among the world’s largest, according to ESI Design head Edwin Schlossberg. The top of the building is crowned by additional screens that identify the building and display top headlines.ESI Design developed 15 display templates for the new signs, drawing on Reuters and Instinet news and financial materials for content. Each template addresses an independent corporate goal, delivering news or a message to the public through innovative graphic design and engaging programming. For example, to convey the speed, global breadth, and volume of the Reuters newsgathering organization, ESI Design developed programming that provides nearly instantaneous delivery of international and domestic headlines and photographs. Other templates display market activity, top stock reports, live video feeds, breaking news, sports, and entertainment, as well as corporate identity visuals.The elegance of the sign’s programming allows it to run on existing Reuters’ products or services – requiring no additional editorial attention, yet providing up-to-the-minute breaking news and financial information. While designing a low-maintenance system for the new signage, ESI Design also developed templates to provide a clear framework and specifications for custom programming by Reuters or outside advertisers.It is rare for corporations to seek out a design firm for such a project; typically, they turn to traditional sign-makers. Unlike a sign-maker, however, ESI Design has a particular expertise in visually conveying corporate messages, graphic identity, and branding using dynamic media in creative ways. Signage is a natural extension of ESI Design’s oeuvre.Reuters and Instinet are ideal clients for this type of signage, with the topical content and goals of the company. The benefits of designer-signage, however, are not lost on other types of businesses. Just as billboards served as marketing tools in the 20th century, in the 21st a corporation’s message may be flashed on the skin of a building.Augusta Meill is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who covers design and architecture.