Category Archives: Food

Get Used To Ever Increasing Signage Confusion

We were recently asked about a growing trend causing hospitals, colleges and even cities severe issues.  Many of these issues have far reaching liabilities attached to them and when they say “we need signs” they mean in the next day or two.  The issue revolves around what are called “e-scooters.”

The “e-scooter” craze is an offspring from Lyft and UBER and they have cute names like Bird, MoBike and Jump.  These are electric scooters you can rent with your cell phone by the minute to get you from point to point.  Thus far there are few actual laws regulating these and many of those who use e-scooters have taken few laws to mean anything goes.  People are renting these scooters and riding on the street, sidewalk, shopping centers and even in traffic.  There is no training required and if you’re an adult you aren’t even required to wear a helmet… keep in mind many of these scooters can go as fast as 35 mph!

We’ve had calls from clients asking what signs we have to handle this and how soon we can create and install a sign.  Since each application is different and each set of rules unique we don’t have an off the shelf solution.  The rules are specific for a hospital, college, high school and an area where there are a lot of pedestrians who fear an almost silent machine coming up on them with minimal to no notice.  This reminds us of the time a few years back when we had less than a week to design, fabricate and install over 200 “No Smoking” signs in six business days.  Someone had a problem, needed a solution, called VSG… Handled!

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

Why Specific Specifics Matter

I saw this when I was helping a client in San Francisco.  While I’m not a huge fan of big cities I am a huge fan of San Francisco.  This sign is just one of the reasons why.  This sign is so specific it virtually eliminates guesswork and second guessing.

You can only smoke at the curb and if there is no curb you must be at least 15 feet from exits, entrances (sometimes these are the same so this eliminates arguments and alternative definitions) and you cannot smoke within 15 feet of operable windows and vents.  About the only thing this sign doesn’t explain is what an operable window is, how to identify a vent and what the penalty is if you get caught.  The clarity is amazing and from a sign makers point of view this is what we strive to create.

Contrast this with a “No Parking” sign randomly placed without any parameters.  How far away from this “No Parking” sign can I park?  Are there other restrictions I must observe?  Who came up with this “No Parking” rule, who is going to enforce the rule and what’s the penalty if I ignore the rule?  Most of these questions are easily answered in minimal space and giving answers to these questions might actually increase or decrease compliance.  If the penalty for parking is a $10 fine someone may not care on the other hand if the penalty is having your car towed it’s more likely to be obeyed.  Specifics matter!

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

Clearly Understood Or Intentionally Mis-Understood?

Imagine you are driving your Green automobile and you’re in desperate need of a parking spot.  Thank goodness you’re not handicapped and if you were you would have had a space 10 minutes ago.  You happen on this sign… “Reserved For Green Vehicles” and all of a sudden you remember your automobile is green.  Perfect!  Problem solved!

Even the most complete and clear sign can cause confusion in the wrong (or right) hands and this is a clear example.  The space is reserved for green vehicles and even though the sign maker and property owner meant something different it wasn’t made abundantly clear.  When Tesla decided to create charging stations they were very clear and made them Tesla Electric Vehicle Parking.  Zero confusion and from what I have been told almost 100% compliance from other drivers.

Sign confusion can be very expensive, time consuming and can be eliminated with effort.  The nice folks at Tesla could have easily created a sign saying Electric Vehicle Parking only and that would have included every other electric car driven and that wasn’t their goal.  Tesla went a step further and this is where the magic lies.  Having a sign that includes their logo makes it seem almost like Tesla owns the parking spots and parking there is a privilege.  If you’ve ever looked at where Tesla’s are parked and seen a row of them it certainly appears there is safety and some lack of confusion in numbers.  Wherever possible be as complete and specific as possible.

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

 

Vegetarian Corn Dog?

Webster’s dictionary defines “Vegetarian” as a person who does not eat meat : someone whose diet consists wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products.  Webster’s defines “Corn Dog” as a frankfurter dipped in cornmeal batter, fried, and served on a stick.  Webster’s defines Frankfurter” as a cured cooked sausage (as of beef or beef and pork) that may be skinless or stuffed in a casing.  Each of these disagree with one another and they do it on the same sign.

When you take a good Look at this sign it’s pretty easy to understand how confusion with signage happens.  It also explains why some signs bounce between out front office, you and our graphic designer.  How someone sees a sign is influenced by their point of view and how they read a particular sign.  I want to think this is where the idea of KISS came from.  KISS stands for Keep It Simple Sign person and we agree.

We will often see the final price of a sign overly influenced by redesign costs and much of this happens due to visual confusion and removing confusion is possibly the biggest reason we have signs.  I have seen signs that tell the reader No Stopping while telling you on the same sign to come to a complete stop.  The sign was professionally done and someone wasn’t paying attention!  We go out of our way to read your sign, determine how we can read your sign in a different manner and then and only then move on to creation.

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

A Contradiction In Terms On Display

There are times in life when we encounter something so clear its easy to miss.  Some people use the phrase “You can’t see the forest for the trees” which means the trees are in the way.  In this week’s example someone took the time to create and post a sign to alert others that no sign should be posted there.  This is like passing a police officer on the freeway while speeding and talking on your phone which makes no sense at all!

This sign almost begs someone to post a sign if for no other reason than someone else did.  There’s no authority on this sign so no real reason to respect what it says.  Had they taken the time to state who controlled the space and who was forbidding the posting of a sign it might go a long way to getting others to comply.  Since they were making a sign why not get it done right the first time?

Signs in schools or health care facilities have an even higher standard to serve.  Signs need to be as concise as reasonable while explaining what they need to explain.    Explaining everything there is to explain on one sign is seldom an attainable goal.  The “Post No Signs” should have explained who made the demand and left it at that.  Anything else isn’t necessary or helpful information and may lead to confusion.

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

When Does Too Much Mean Not Enough?

toomuch

At times people try to do too much then instead of getting something great done they aren’t able to accomplish anything at all.  This beach sign attempts a lot and I suspect gets little done aside from confusion and even a little upset.

When time permits I love going to the beach and so does my family.  The reason and goal I have for going to the beach comes down to having as much fun as possible.  I will submit that most of us feel the same way about the beach… no one I know goes there to have a horrible time.  What happens when you finally get to the beach and you’re met with a sign telling you about the 12 to 14 things you can’t do, even though most don’t apply to you?   How would you react?  Signs convey meaning… even if they don’t apply 100% to you they still bring intent with them.

This sign tells you no alcohol, no diving, no motor vehicles, no boats, no fires, no glass and the list goes on and on.  Unless you learned to skill of shorthand or have a photographic memory there is little chance you will remember everything on this list and you may develop a stubborn streak and see how many you can violate on your way to having your definition of a good time.  I will admit they lost me when they showed a picture of someone on the beach wearing a suit and tie with the caption “No Vendors”… seriously… What beach vendor wears a tie?

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

Under New Management

new management

I frequent a business that recently posted the sign “Under New Management.”  I immediately wondered what was wrong with the previous management.  I liked going there and always had decent service.  Why the change?

Has this sign ever increased the customer count by even 1?  I doubt it!  Whenever I’m asked to create such a sign I question the wisdom of placing it there.  If you liked going there and they change management are you likely to want to try the new team?  Doubtful.  If you hated going there already will a sign like this alter your opinion and then take a chance and risk it?  Again… doubtful.

From my side of the desk a sign like this shouts change for the sake of change and little more.  The new owner or new manager knew how bad things were in their opinion or there would have not been any need to put the sign up in the first place.  This is the age old example of working on the wrong problem.

A better approach might be to actually create a business with world class service and then sustain that level of service.  Companies that will never have a sign like this are Southwest Airlines, Disney and precious few others.  They have determined the customer experience is paramount and work toward that end.  They see the experience as a profit center and this allows them to hire and train the right people and that makes signs like this unnecessary.  Come to think of it this is how I set up VSG and I have several clients that do this exact thing.

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

 

Unintended Consequences Lead To Issues

We’ve written a lot about animals recently to say the least.  Animals strike an emotional chord with many of us and cause a shift in our attention.  The sign I saw recently when I was camping with my girls said a lot without saying a lot.  This is what I strive to create for you.

Wild Bears are instinctive hunters and as a result they are very good at the art of hunting.  With the exception of a sick animal when was the last time you saw a thin bear?  The reality is this has become a problem in some areas where people leave tasty little tidbits out for bears to eat.  These tidbits can be left out for a bear to easily get or someone may try to hide these in their car with predictably tragic results.  Bears are seldom slowed down by locked cars.  How does this apply to your verbal communication?

While we want to make it more challenging for Bears we also want to make things less challenging for your customers.  When your customer can read a sign and rapidly get the information they want and need they are happier.  This result typically removes the need to contact a staff member to handle their issues.  In the case of the Bear they are telling you what to do and the results if you don’t do what they say.  What if your sign said “Last Appointment 10 Minutes Before Closing” or “Customers With Complete Paperwork Given Priority”.  Would this change how your customer acts and help them at the same time?  Unintended consequences are never a good thing!

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication and we get your point across clearly and concisely.  We can also help with banners, graphics, apparel, printing and most anything else related to communication.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!bears

Where Are We Eating Tonight?

About the last thing I want to do is explain to the people in really tall buildings they are making a mistake but I find myself doing just that more and more often.  This time I will confine what I have to say to the executives at the International House Of Pancakes… Formerly IHOP.

There has been much written recently about a name change from IHOP to IHOB.  I cannot imagine the millions of dollars spent on branding the name IHOP and it’s even more difficult to estimate the number of people who associate the IHOP name with breakfast.   Like many of us I was moderately surprised to wake up and find out the House of Pancakes had become the House of Burgers.

The switch in the sign isn’t really all that noticeable and yet the change in focus is.  I wonder if they have given up on pancakes and have decided to shift their focus to burgers.  Big companies do this with the best of intentions and often the worst in results.  In the corporate world dramatic change is seldom positive.  Many of us remember the new Coke and the debacle that caused their company.

Whenever we are asked to make a dramatic change we carefully weigh both the consequences and desired impact.  Not for a minute do I think the impact was a move away from pancakes and article after article I have read suggests just that result.  We named our company Visual Solution Group and to be honest I don’t see this change as a desired solution.  I would love to hear your opinion.  Please e-mail me at mike@visualsolutiongroup.com and tell me what you think.

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication that gets your point across clearly and concisely.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!

IHOB

Getting A Text Is A Sign

I must disclose I have teenagers.  One of the reasons I need prayer is they’re daughters and pretty.  They’re also technologically driven and very intelligent.  They’ve trained me to text them first and call second.  I wouldn’t have believed, until it happened to me, how important and valuable text messaging would become in my professional life.

I take pride in adapting to what my clients need and then “finding a way” to help them out with unusual solutions to interesting problems.  I’ve been trying to get a message to a client for about 3 weeks with no luck whatsoever.  I’ve called, left multiple voice messages and I’ve left at least 5 e-mails and I hear nothing.  While this is frustrating me to a certain degree it was frustrating him to an even bigger degree.

This man’s assistant had a moderate heart attack and the result for my client is doing 2 jobs at the same time with high expectations on both, high need for completion, minimal help and close to zero time at his desk.  I’ve never been a big fan of texting in a professional environment and yet when I finally texted him I got an almost immediate response!  This reminded me of trying to reach one of my daughters.  Calling might mean hearing back in between 10 minutes and 6 hours and often when I call I get a text asking “What do you want?”  My thought process is answer and find out!

My client was happy to handle everything by text message because he could do it on the fly without communication regarding anything other than the task at hand.  I guess this is one of the things my kids like.  I now know it’s one of the things he likes.  If you need to text me feel free!  Text me 9162256931 and please include your name when you do.  If you want a call back that’s great and aside from a specific request I will simply text my response!  Thanks kids!

We are the Visual Solution Group.  We help you create communication that gets your point across clearly and concisely.  Call us at 916-225-6931 or visit us at www.visualsolutiongroup.com  We get your point across!