Commercial signs serve several functions which include the conveyance of information, attraction of customers, providing directions or spreading awareness. All these functions have been discussed below as follows:
Transmission of Information:
One of the earliest reasons for which signs came into being was that of information provision. In earlier times, whitewashed walls or custom made banners of wood, terracotta or even copper was used by people to publish information regarding certain products, ideas, or services to a target audience. Even in recent times, signs such as billboards or digital and electronic signs primarily seek to provide information about certain commodities to the public. It is through the signboards that customers are made aware of the availability of products available at the moment. Thus, one of the most primary functions served by commercial signage is that of transmission of information.
Signage is basically a means of advertisement. The Oxford Dictionary defines advertisement as “a notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service, or event or publicizing a job vacancy.” This is exactly the function served by signage. Men of trade and commerce employ signboards so as to publicize their goods or services to the target audience. This can easily be achieved by means of using signage because of their access to a large group of people, and the feasibility of usage.
Promotion is an activity that is closely allied to advertising. Once a product, idea or service has been advertised to the target audience- that is, once potential or actual customers have been made aware of the existence of certain commodities, they need to be informed about the uses and advantages of these products. This end can only be achieved through promotional tactics. In order to promote the products, signage plays an extremely important role. By making use of catchy taglines providing information about the products or incorporating attractive quotes that describe briefly how certain commodities function, signage can be effectively used for promotional purposes.
It should be noted that visual graphics do not simply serve to provide information or transmit knowledge to the customers. The appeal of Superior Signs can be far more overpowering- so much so that they can actually be used to convince customers to rely on certain products and eventually buy them. Exploiting the strong visual appeal that properly worked out signs can have on customers, businessmen and traders can actually try to attract consumers and persuade them into believing their products and innovations. Research on the appeal of signs has proven that customers tend to rely much more on products that are properly advertised and promoted through signage than ones that are not. The loyalty of customers seems to be directly proportional to the effect that the visual graphics of these products have on them. Hence, what acts as the tool for advertisement and promotion, also simultaneously serves the purpose of consumer persuasion.
One extremely important function of signage, which is closely related to the function that has been discussed first in this section, that is, transmission of information, is that of identification. By using a set pattern of lights or particular symbols and logos, signs serve to act as marks of identification for customers. In the medieval ages, for instance, the royal coat of arms were used to identify the royally endorsed ale houses. Similarly, in modern times, usage of certain signs seek to serve certain information to the public, especially that of identification. We may, therefore, establish a link between signage and popularization of certain brands. Signs may be used for brand endorsement, brand identification, and with regular use over a certain period of time, signage also seems to instill in the people a sense of brand loyalty.
The relationship between directions and signs seems to date back several years. It has been an age-old practice to indicate directions using signs. In modern times, directional signage is necessary for vast locations such as shopping malls, hospitals, and corporations. With these signs, visitors or customers are less likely to get lost and this helps to avoid a situation that could reflect badly on the business, thereby leading to dissatisfaction amongst customers or any cause of anguish. Directional signage can also be useful for large scales for outdoor events such as festivals or places where there are multiple buildings or entrances. It reduces the chances of consumers feeling helpless, and provides them with a sense of relief and support.
Signage may also be used to serve the function of health awareness and safety regulation. Consumers may be warned against the use of certain products in order to protect themselves from potential threats to health, or they may be made aware of certain innovations that can facilitate the improvement of their health conditions. Signs are also used to warn people against danger, thereby ensuring their safety and well being.
It should be remembered, however, that at a given point, a particular sign can and almost always do perform multiple functions simultaneously.