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Advertising Basics: Signs
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As we and many others have mentioned, our industry is a "trends first, results second" environment. When something new and shiny comes into our view, we latch onto it and claim that it is going to be the next biggest thing and everything else before it doesn't even matter anymore. All the stuff before was last year's toy. 

We then build presentations and research that skew towards making our perceptions reality. Long Live Digital! All Hail Content!

But when we do that, when we shift all our attention to the latest and greatest, we seem to forget something very important to our success.

The basics.

At the National Signage Research and Education Conference (NSREC) in Cincinnati, researchers and professors presented findings from a study based on North American households from 2011. The results? The analysis showed that across North America, there was a failure to provide adequate signage for consumers. James Kellaris, the presenter of the study, stated that nearly half of the population either drove by or failed to find the business they were looking for due to bad signage and "communication failure."

Kellaris, who then placed his teaching hat on, noted that consumers preferred signs that were large, clearly visible, and informative. According to the release, the presentation showed how the current trends are smaller signs, with images and icons rather than information. Kellaris also said that the analysis showed that consumers perceived the personality and character of the business from the signs it used.

The basics.

How did AdLand get so hopped up on digital and online media that we forgot the importance of display advertising? This is more than mere oversight. The fact that a paper got accepted to a national conference, meaning it was at least significant enough to be heard amongst colleagues, on one of the basic advertising elements, is alarming.

Bill Bernbach once said, "If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic." With businesses creating signs that go unnoticed, it is easy to conclude that the business will have difficulty attracting new customers. Would you give a restaurant a great review on Yelp if you couldn't find it? Probably not.

We understand full well that the advertising landscape is changing, but in order to be successful at the next stage of advertising, whatever that stage will be, we must get ahold of the basics.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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