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What's in a Name?

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In signage, should emphasis be placed on the name or the product?

By Arnold N. Pollak

I am no brand expert, yet there are times when I talk to (especially small) business owners, that I cannot understand their logic when it comes to promoting their brand. This is essentially when they place all their emphasis on their name and none what-so-ever on what their prospective clients would recognise and look for—the products or services they offer.

I have had clients request vehicle signage with no contact details—why would anyone do that? I was also once told by a client that his business is not Coke®, so it makes no difference if people recognise the business name or not, as long as they purchase the products and services his business has to offer.

While I cannot totally agree with this comment , I do believe it has some validity, especially when taken in context of the following signs.

Pollack-blood_test-1As can be seen, the two competing pathologists signs are on the same wall, directing people to the same destination (their offices are in fact next door each other). However, the top sign, while displaying the business's name, has an easier to recognise description (Blood Tests), advising people that this is the way to go for blood tests.

I am sure some people may know who Lancet Laboratories are and may even know what pathologists do (it says that they are pathologists on the far left of their sign—not clearly visible in the photo), but I am sure a lot more people recognise what blood tests are, as that is what (the service) they are looking for.

To me this is a simple, but exceptionally effective example of how the supplier's name can (and sometimes should) take a back seat to the description of the product and or services that are being offered.

While at the end of the day, it is the client's decision what will appear (as the saying goes: “He who pays, says”), I do believe it is the responsibility of every professional sign maker to advise their clients as to the best way to ensure that their clients signage spend has the potential to achieve a return on investment. Sometimes that may mean something simple like adding contact details, or an explanation of what the business does.

Arnold N. Pollak is the managing director of SignForce (Pty) Ltd., a full-service sign company devoted to world-class made, delivered, and installed world-class signs based in South Africa. For more information, visit www.signforce.co.za and www.signforce.co.za/blog.


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