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A Definitive Guide On Signage: The Uses And Market Trends

The digital revolution has rendered many former products irrelevant, with search engines replacing encyclopedias, Google maps replacing physical maps and bulky cameras being replaced by digital cameras. However, signage is a form of physical communication that is growing at a rapid pace, undeterred by digitization.

Signage refers to the use of signs, symbols, and graphics to convey a message to a group of people. The concept of signage can be traced to ancient civilizations as road signs, and signs on homes/markets can also be termed as signage. Other forms of signage include banners, street signs, billboards, and even murals. While signage can also be in a digital format, in the sense that the sign has a digital screen where the message can be changed, it is inherently a physical mode of communication as the sign itself is physically placed at a specific location, instead of being sent digitally.

The global signage market is expected to reach a value of $49.8 billion by 2020 with China, India, the U.S., and the U.K. being the key demand countries. Meanwhile, the regions of Asia, North America, and Europe are considered to have high-maturity markets. Almost all industries use signage in one form or another, and there is a wide variety of materials used for signs.

Signage Uses

There are a variety of uses for signage, based on the message that is to be conveyed to viewers. Here are a few popular uses:

Identification – The simplest and most basic forms of signs are used to identify locations, services, and facilities. The styles used are straightforward and direct, aiming to convey the information in the easiest way possible, without any fancy additions. Such signs include overhead boards, road signs, maps, directories and more. They can be used outdoors to identify places and directions and can also be used indoors within shops and buildings to identify specific areas within the premises.

Navigation – Despite the popularity of digital maps, to reach a specific location people generally rely on local signs to confirm where they are as well as where to go next. Again the navigation signage can be used outdoors and indoors to direct the public in a specific direction. Navigational signs are popular in large spaces, whether in malls, shops, or offices. Highway signs are also a form of navigational signage as they indicate the directions users should follow to reach their destination.

Informative – With a clear motive, the goal of informative signage is to provide viewers with information. Most often used in recreational spaces for example museums, zoos, parks, gardens, exhibitions, and other tourist attractions, informative signs are in place to enhance the experience of users and provide relevant details without a need for experts.

Persuasion – In contrast to the other forms of signage, where the message communication channel is generally one-way, persuasive signage aims at evoking a response from viewers. Persuasive signs are used by establishments for marketing and advertising of their brand, products, and services. Apart from private companies, government bodies also use persuasive signage to promote their policies. The signs are more elaborate, attractive and eye-catching and can be spotted indoors or outdoors, but generally will be in locations where the target audience is likely to see the signs.

Market Trends

In-store marketing – For retail shops or other businesses, signage is an important aspect of in-store marketing, as they expose the customers to new products and deals, boosting the overall sales of the shop. Due to the importance of in-store marketing through signage, retailers are seeking to include signage as a part of their overall marketing strategy.

Urbanization of developing markets – The rapid urbanization of developing markets in Asia and Latin America are increasing the demand for signage, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Along with the urbanization, retailers are tapping into opportunities by expanding into the developing markets. The development of cities boosts the demand for informative and navigational signage as well as persuasive signage used by modern retailers to establish their market.

Digital signage – Retailers and private companies seeking persuasive signage are leading the trend for digital signage. There is a higher set-up cost for digital signage however, the content can be modified easily and with minimal expense. In contrast, setting up physical signage is cheaper but the content cannot be as easily modified unless an erasable message (for example chalk signs) has been used. The overall impact of digital signage is higher, which has led to its popularity amongst retailers that are competing with e-commerce companies.

Multi-lingual signs – The trend of providing signs with Braille lettering so that blind people can understand them is a common feature in developed nations. A similar pattern of having signs available in different languages is catching on in developing nations, especially in areas where tourists or people in other languages are expected to come.

Signage has clearly stood the test of time and their needs are observed throughout the world. Competition is expected to further drive the market for persuasive signs as establishments strive to have the most effective and visually appealing signs to draw in consumers. Quirky styling, graphic designs, and digital layouts are characteristics that are being adopted in more and more signs, so as to stand out in the crowd, while multi-lingual signs are the next step for signs used for identifying and navigating.

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