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& the Illuminated Brand

by Todd Mayfield


Copyright Š 2018 Todd Mayfield • All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed of transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic methods, without the prior written consent of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical review and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.


Contents

1 ~ Introduction

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2 ~ What is Destination Wayfinding?

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3 ~ Anatomy of a Destination Wayfinding System 4 ~ Destination Wayfinding Strategy

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5 ~ 7 Steps to Successful Destination Wayfinding 6 ~ Maintaining the System 7 ~ About the Author

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Special thanks to Bill Baker from Total Destination Marketing who contributed content for this book and continues to inspire me in the practice of building a strong foundation of strategic thinking from which creative solutions may take flight. And to Roger Brooks who was instrumental in my early development as a destination wayfinding and branding expert.


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Introduction Why I wrote this book Wayfinding is an important component of a successful destination. Whether it be for a large metropolis, small town, historic district or county, wayfinding connects people with places. Destination wayfinding connects people with experiences. There are several books about wayfinding in general terms – connecting the dots through built environments. Its harder to find information specifically for community wayfinding with a focus on brand, the specifics of process and how to manage its execution. Most readily available information about wayfinding in urban environments seldom explores the strategic union of brand with wayfinding. In my research, I have found information about brand supportive wayfinding in blogs and white papers written by people who position themselves as authorities on the topic. Some are indeed qualified and knowledgeable, and some are not. Few truly understand the complicated aspects and nuances of wayfinding as a support mechanism for a district, town, city or regional brand. Destination wayfinding can be a powerful system that supports a community’s brand message and helps to create a memorable sense of place.

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Destination Wayfinding & the Illuminated Brand

Branding has become an important part of destination marketing and placemaking. A community brand (place brand) is typically developed before a wayfinding initiative begins. As with wayfinding, a brand’s success relies on a highly evolved methodology executed by a qualified consultant: specifically, one who has experience in the development of brands for communities and urban environments. Organizations such as convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs), steering committees, or civic teams that contract with minimally qualified consultants are often disappointed with the results. In order to determine if a consultant has the right stuff, one must know the basics about band supportive destination wayfinding. Good information about this specialty is not easy to find. That’s why I wrote this book. The information I present in this book will enlighten those who are considering brand-supportive wayfinding for their community. It will serve as a valuable reference to help insure that the right steps are taken toward a highly successful solution.

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What is Destination Wayfinding? What it is and what it ain’t Wayfinding is the art and science of moving people through an environment and to desired locations within it using signage and other visual cues including, but not limited to, guide signage, place identification, visual landmarks and various forms of experiential graphic design. It connects people to places. Destination Wayfinding not only guides people to and through places, it serves as a highly visible brand delivery mechanism. It connects people to experiences. As Roger Brooks puts it, “infusing brand into a wayfinding system helps transform a designation into a destination”. Just as some people make the mistake of confusing a logo with a brand, others confuse the design of a wayfinding system as effectively communicating their community brand. A brand is much more than a design, and destination wayfinding is more than a bunch of signs in a community with a logo slapped on. A destination wayfinding system should be inspired by, and integral to, the community’s brand strategy. There is a symbiotic relationship between a community brand and its wayfinding system. Incorporating a brand into wayfinding ties the brand to the physical environment and creates an

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emotional attachment for people by creating familiarity and reassurances as well as new experiences and encounters. Destination wayfinding can provide added benefits and purpose to an otherwise generic signage or wayfinding system. In addition to its basic functionality in providing orientation and navigation, a branded system introduces personality, storytelling, and importantly arouses the senses and stimulates emotions through its connection to the core values of the brand. This can contribute to a deeper relationship between the place and its key audiences. In order for a wayfinding system to support a brand effectively and provide outstanding experiences at critical touch points, the brand should be fully developed and ready for implementation before the first visual concept for wayfinding is explored. A branded wayfinding system draws inspiration from the brand assets– logo, color palette, graphic character fonts, emotional benefits, and personality outlined in the community’s brand manual or style guide. Link Communications to the Physical Environment In many cases, tourism is the most visible marketing goal of a community. The quality and visibility of promoting a tourism brand often has a strong influence in shaping perceptions of the city’s image in target markets, which in some cases may be on the other side of the world. Another reason to align with the tourism brand in wayfinding is that many towns and cities have found that their best small business relocation candidates include people who previously visited as tourists. These cities reason that once people have positive experiences in their communities as visitors, they are much more inclined to relocate their business or family to the area. It makes sense that the brand and its attributes communicated through print, web, broadcast and social media

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should also inform how visitors encounter and navigate through a place or region. Imagine entering several McDonald’s restaurants, Starbucks stores, or Shell service stations and being greeted by completely unfamiliar products, designs, colors, services and symbols in each. Meaningful brands don’t display this type of dissonance or schizophrenia. However, this is a common occurrence in the way many places present themselves. This most commonly happens where decision-makers within a city are confined to their organizational silos (and their associated budgets) and set out to design a wayfinding system from scratch without reference to the destination or place brand. For this reason the values of the tourism brand should be influential in designing the wayfinding system. The Link Between Branding and Destination Wayfinding An increasing number of forward thinking places are looking beyond their marketing communications to build their images. There is a growing awareness of the opportunities to shape their brand identity through their physical environment and how people interact with the place. Today, place branding is increasingly likely to engage urban planners, architects and placemaking specialists as readily as tourism and economic development marketers. The introduction of destination wayfinding involves much more than creating attractive signs with a design theme. It goes beyond satisfying the basic needs of “where am I?”, “how do I get there?”, and “how do I know I’m there?” Wayfinding is an important part of a place brand toolkit and is a conduit for delivering the experiences that have been promised in communications. It adds a common thread and context that unifies the physical realm of the place. In addition to the physical environment comprising architecture,

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streetscapes, natural features and infrastructure, it is beneficial to consider a community as also being experiential and possessing important intangible characteristics. No community is onedimensional. It’s always more than its physical attributes and features. For example, its cool, relaxed, laid-back demeanor and celebrity can be as attractive as physical assets like the beach, jazz bars, outdoor restaurants, and galleries. It’s often these intangibles—such as culture, heritage, personality and atmosphere—that have the most profound influence in conveying what makes the place distinctive and attractive. If these are distinctive community strengths, they should be embodied in the brand and be revealed through the wayfinding system in ways that make them more accessible. A destination wayfinding system should never be regarded as an expense for a community who understands that the long term benefits have a substantial ROI. If designed right, it will prove to be a smart investment which will transform the community’s trajectory and bring a measurable economic return.


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Anatomy of a Destination Wayfinding System Parts, pieces, function groups and sign types Like a living organism, a successful wayfinding system functions best when all of its parts work in concert with one another. Remove one part, and the system no longer functions at its fullest capacity. Depending on the size and complexity of a community, a wayfinding system may include over one hundred components, most of which are signs and all of which are visual cues. Important aspects of wayfinding include the placement of parks and green areas, visual corridors through architectural environments, public art, strategic traffic flow, pedestrian paths, lighting, and of course, sign systems. Destination wayfinding systems vary in size and complexity. Depending on a community’s density and geographical size, destination wayfinding system can be as simple as a few guide signs on Main Street or as complicated as a comprehensive program with landscaped gateways, district demarcations, several levels of vehicular and pedestrian guide signs, kiosks, directory maps, interpretive signs and trailblazers. Each unique program will incorporate a combination of elements that are customized to perform within a specific environment.

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Function Groups

A successful destination wayfinding system includes three or more of the seven basic function groups: influential, enhancement, guidance, informative, orientational, identification and regulatory. Each of these function groups include several definitive sign types. The three most important function groups are guidance, identification, and orientation. The guidance group includes devices that lead people to places such as vehicular and pedestrian guide signs. Signs from the identification group announce a point of arrival such as a gateway or facility identification. You can lead a horse to water, but if you don’t identify the water source, the horse may not know it’s there. The orientational group of devices helps people understand where they are in relation to a particular destination such as visual landmarks, directory maps and kiosks. Devices within the influential function group serve as marketing tools and encourage people to think or respond in a desired manner. Devices in the informative function group consist of interpretive (story telling) and messages intended to advise rather than regulate. The regulatory function group includes devices that control behavior. The enhancement function group of devices are typically decorative imagery, public art, and visual mediums that enhance a place or experience. In creating successful messages for all function groups, there are 3 common rules to follow: 1. Simplify the message down to its most basic form without restricting comprehension. Limit the amount of information to a few basic points. 2. Tailor the message to the intended audience. This includes the viewer’s comprehension time and relevancy to the 12


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viewer’s needs. 3. Function must always precede form. Form is important for brand support and aesthetic appeal, but function is the reason you have a wayfinding system in the first place: getting people to places. The following function group definitions include signs and other wayfinding devices that fall within a specific group. But many of these devices may fall within more than one.

Group 1: Influential

This group brings awareness to a place, service, event or activity and promises an experience. It is intended to market a community or its attractions. This group includes roadside billboards and facility displays such as in transit stations and hotel lobbies. Advertising in travel publications and websites is also used to generate awareness of a destination and promote its values, resources and opportunities. Street banners can promote a brand, activity, event or destination within a community. All of these devices support efforts to attract visitors or influence their behavior with the ultimate goal of stimulating economic growth. Billboards Billboards are large advertising devices placed alongside streets and highways. They display promotional messages to vehicular audiences. The primary objective of a billboard is to market or promote a place, product, service or activity. The billboard’s role within a destination wayfinding system is to entice people to stop in a community by promoting a key feature or attraction supported with brand graphics and messaging. To maximize a billboard’s success, it must be kept as simple as possible. A driver has only a few seconds to comprehend a message when traveling at 35 mph or more. The intended message must be quickly understood and easy to remember. There is no time for a

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driver to grab a pen and paper to jot down a phone number or an obscure website address. An effective billboard promotes a destination by using no more than four elements: 1. An attention-grabbing image 2. A short caption that communicates a benefit or opportunity 3. A branded identity 4. Distance and/or where to exit or turn An important rule of thumb to consider: less is always more as long as you include these basic four elements. Any more information and comprehension drops dramatically, since billboards are aimed at vehicular audiences who only have five to eight seconds to take in the messages. Billboards should not be used to communicate phone numbers or lengthy website addresses. Billboards are best used as brand builders or directions to a turn. Electronic Message Centers Electronic Message Centers (EMCs), also known as LED signs or electronic message boards, are computerized electronic visual communication devices that can be programmed to target specific audiences with tailored messages. They can reach onetime visitors to your community, promote special events or key attractions, and provide community information to your residents. They should be used in areas where they can be seen by your target audience without distracting from signal lights and other regulatory devices, so as not to create driving hazards. Messages should be short and concise. Displays Airports, train stations, bus terminals, rest stops, hotel lobbies

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and some rental car locations may offer wall or free standing displays. Depending on the venue, these can be pricey but effective. These “signsâ€? are really ad spaces, targeted to visitors. These and other forms of promotion should be included in the marketing budget, not the wayfinding budget. Street Banners Street banners are a relatively inexpensive way to enhance an environment. They can support a destination brand, create a sense of place or arrival, demarcate a district, celebrate seasons, or promote events and venues. Banners can be classified as part of both influential and enhancement groups. Some can even be used as guidance devices. Banners are most commonly made from exterior grade vinyl with digitally imprinted graphics. Canvas or Sunbrella™ is used when a banner must endure harsh environments or is required to last several years. But the application versatility of graphics on canvas material is limited and the banner is heavier requiring stronger support systems. Consider using two banner sizes. Larger, substantial banners would be hung on tall light standards at primary gateways or entry corridors. These will strengthen the announcement of an entrance into a community and help to excite the visitor. Smaller banners should be hung on pedestrian scale light standards in town centers, special districts and at places where pedestrians gather. As with billboards, comprehension time is limited to a few seconds for vehicular traffic, so their message should be legible at a few hundred feet and understood within seconds. When you consider working with a vinyl banner company, make sure they offer at least a two-year warranty. Banners should include UV protection (applied protection against fading due to sun and weather exposure) and structural integrity that will withstand strong winds and extreme weather conditions.

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Before installing a banner onto an existing light pole, check with the pole manufacturer if their product is engineered to withstand wind load generated by the banner. Some manufacturers will void their warrantee if the pole is penetrated by mechanical fasteners or made to support a banner that causes a wind load greater than their rating.

Group 2: Guidance

This group includes signs that lead visitors to and through a community. Three primary sign types are included in this group. Vehicular Guide Signs Vehicular guide signs are used by drivers to navigate through streets and highways. They play a major role in a community wayfinding system. They serve three functions. First and foremost, they guide vehicular traffic to destinations. Second, they display destinations that visitors may not have known about which may drive traffic to other places, lastly, they help create a sense of place with thematic or brand-supportive graphics. So vehicular guide signs could also fit within the influential and enhancement fujnction groups. The first line of wayfinding devices that are part of a community wayfinding system (not including web media messaging), are highway signs under the jurisdiction of the USDOT (United States Department of Transportation). The form and function of this sign group is strictly controlled and must follow the standards included in the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices). These control standards facilitate uniformity of traffic control devices across the nation have been adopted throughout the US to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of people and goods. Uniform messages, location, size, shapes, and colors help reduce crashes and congestion, and improve the efficiency of ground transportation systems. Standardization also

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helps reduce the cost of fabrication and implementation. Signage located within USDOT jurisdiction cannot deviate from the MUTCD standards, but the messages may be influenced by application through specific channels. Messaging must meet specific criteria and demonstrate that they add clarity to a driver’s navigation to a qualified destination. TOD (Tourist-Oriented Directional) signs provide roadway users with directional guidance to business, service, and activity facilities available to them during their travels along noncontrolled routes. Located on non-interstate, rural highways, they consist of a reflective blue sign panel with reflective white letters stating the name of a qualified tourist-oriented business or activity or qualified historical or cultural feature, together with directional information. While the MUTCD standards seem firm, we have observed that some states or regions have unique additions to TOD rules, or else interpret the rules loosely. Contact a representative in your area to learn about those requirements. Streets beyond highway off ramps but within state DOT jurisdiction may be customized but must still comply with MUTCD and receive permitted approval from the state DOT. Typefaces other than the standard Highway Gothic or Clearview are rarely approved for use on signs within DOT-managed jurisdictions. Sometimes they will be considered if they have been tested through an engineering legibility study. Most state DOT agencies have narrowed the font choices to only one: Highway Gothic. There are still a few local DOTs that will consider Clearview Highway or simple fonts such as Frutiger, Formata, Helvetica

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and Trebuchet, but condensed fonts, serif fonts, those with thin strokes, outlines, drop shadows or graphic embellishments are almost always denied. When allowed, we like to use Clearview Highway. It insures maximum legibility and is more attractive than Highway Gothic. We recommend no more than three messages be included on a single sign. This is in line with the MUTCD and insures that messages are easily comprehended without becoming distracting hazards. In some cases, we have included a 4th message but only when the local DOT will allow it. The criteria for designing vehicular guide signs have been tested by private industry and government agencies to insure maximum legibility for the few seconds a driver has to read, comprehend and react to a sign. The Standard Legibility Index developed by the United States Sign Council (USSC) is a numerical value representing the distance in feet at which a sign may be read for every inch of capital letter height. For example, a sign with a Legibility Index of 30 means that it should be legible at 30 feet with one inch capital letters, or legible at 300 feet with ten inch capital letters. If you follow the Standard Legibility Index, a general formula to determine the legible height of a letter is one inch for every 30 feet of viewing distance. It may seem that the Standard Legibility Index is the final word in letter height for guide signs, but we have found that this calculation does not take certain conditions into consideration. The Legibility Index 30 Rule works for signs with very few words, within speed limits less than 25 mph (40 kph) and where there are minimal visual distractions, but in an interview with a leading representative from the USDOT, we found that, in reality, a letter height should be no smaller than four inches (25 mph zone or less) and that its height should be determined as one inch for

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every 15 feet of viewing distance. This accommodates speed fluctuations, multiple lanes of traffic, set-back distance from the curb, competing signs and distractions, and longer messages. The revised MUTCD has relaxed its previous rules for letter height on low-volume roads and urban streets with speeds of 25 mph or less from six inches to four inches. It states, “The principal legend shall be in letters at least four inches in height for all upper-case letters, or a combination of four inches in height for upper-case letters and three inches in height for lowercase letters.” For streets with speed limits above 25 MPH, it is recommended that a minimum of 6” tall letters (cap height) be used. Light letters and graphics against a dark background are preferred over the use of dark letters and graphics over a light background. Dark colors are recessive and drop away visually. Light colors are dominant and appear to move forward. When we look at dark and light objects together, we notice light objects sooner than dark ones. In either case there must be high contrast between the letter-form and the background. Mixed-case words should be used instead of all caps. Mixed case messages have several advantages over those that are set in all caps. They take up less room horizontally. We comprehend mixed-case words faster than words in all caps: the mind recognizes mixed-case words as a footprint, comprehending the entire word at once. When set in all caps, the mind tends to read each letter in a word individually, slowing comprehension. Capitalized words, however, do require less space between lines (leading). This can be helpful if you have sign height limitations. Words should not be kerned (horizontal space between letters) too tightly. If letters within a word are too closely spaced, they meld together in the viewer’s eye, reducing comprehension.

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The same goes for the vertical space between lines of words, (leading), and between the edge of the sign and the message itself. Ample negative space around messages is as important for comprehension as the letter-forms themselves. In this case, bigger isn’t always better. Proper legibility requires ample visual breathing room. Typically, a vehicular guide sign will allow room for 12 to 18 characters per line across a sign face. Any more and you end up with a very wide sign, small illegible letters, words that are too tightly kerned or use an overly condensed font. If possible, use abbreviations such as Dtn (Downtown) and Ctr (Center). Don’t include periods and other forms of punctuation. If you have only one casino or airport in your community, leave off the proper name and just use Casino or Airport. Instead of John’s Golf Course, simply use Golf on your guide sign, unless you have more than one golf course in the same area. There are five message configurations commonly used. The first format is the most legible, and is best for fast comprehension. It groups messages together that share a single common arrow positioned on the left side of the panel. Each message group is separated by a horizontal rule. The second format is similar to the first but places the arrows above each message group. This allows for a narrower sign but the sign’s height increases. The third format follows the USDOT recommended arrow placement: the ahead and left arrows are placed to the left of the message and right arrows to the right of the message. This increases the panel width. The fourth format places an arrow to the left of each

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message. This makes it a little harder to read and slows down reader comprehension. The fifth format separates messages, placing each on an individual panel. This makes it easier to add or change messages, but limits each message to a single line unless each panel is tall enough to accommodate a double line message. This will make the sign taller. Of the five configurations, the multiple panel system can be the most expensive. The Society of Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) fought to have alternate arrows allowed, such as crow’s foot and Montreal Expo, instead of the standard FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) arrows. Research has demonstrated that they are more legible. But the 2009 MUTCD maintains that only standard FHWA arrows must be used. When we engage local transportation authority representatives, though, in most cases we find allowances are given. The same goes for an arrow’s positioning on a sign. The official standard is that an arrow should be placed next to the message—straight ahead and left arrows on the left of the sign, right arrows on the right— but designers have been successful in getting alternate arrow placements approved. Arrows are all aligned to the left of the messages in some cases, regardless of their direction, in order to reduce the width of a sign or to maximize type size. Another option places arrows flush left above one or more corresponding messages in order to reduce sign width. In any case, arrow orientation from top to bottom, should begin with those pointing ahead, followed by left-pointing arrows, then right pointing arrows. The revised MUTCD requires a 3 to 1 legend-to-background luminance ratio (contrast). The higher the contrast, the better (and more quickly) the message is comprehended. This 3 to 1

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ratio not only ensures the proper contrast requirements for new signage, it provides a basis of measurement for sign materials that lose their contrast over time, indicating when they should be resurfaced. The MUTCD requires signs to be either illuminated or made with retroreflective sheeting materials. Before reflective vinyl was introduced to the signage industry, tiny glass beads were added to wet paint. Today there are at least three methods to achieve retroreflective signs. For multiple copies of the same sign, such as the common regulatory street signs (Stop, Yield, One Way, etc.), transparent ink is screen-printed over a highly reflective white film that has been laminated onto an aluminum panel. An older method but still used today uses colored transparent vinyl film applied over reflective white vinyl. The graphics are weeded away from the vinyl film, exposing the white reflective material. This method offers a limited color palette to choose from. It won’t be long before this method is considered outdated and replaced by new technology. The third and most modern method utilizes a four-color printing process applied directly to high-intensity white reflective film that has been affixed to a sign panel. It’s similar to ink-jet printing, but the inks are specially formulated with transparent pigments that allow the reflective material to bounce light back through it. This method works better for custom colors and graphics with greater detail. It is subject to UV deterioration and may not have a long life span unless coated with a clear UV barrier. If these signs use 3M materials and processes and receive a UV clear coat, they will have a 7 year warrantee. Placement Vehicular guide signs should be placed on the right side of the

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road whenever possible. In some cases, where there is no room to add a sign on the right side, it may be placed on the opposite side of a street as long as it does not impede critical sight lines. This is not recommended because drivers are conditioned to look for directional messages on the right side of the road. Guide signs must be placed before a turning point and not after. In rare cases, guide signs may be placed beyond a turning point when the road ends in a T and there is no place for a guide sign before the turn. In single-lane streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less, you need between 100 and 200 feet of distance before a turning or decision point. In areas with higher speeds, with turning or multiple lanes, you need about 300 feet (or more) before a decision point to allow for ample and safe reaction time. Sometimes there is a need to include more directional messages that can go on a single sign. In these cases, more than one sign may be needed before a specific decision point. When more than one guide sign is required before a turning point in single-lane streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less, they should be placed between 50 and 100 feet apart. In areas with higher traffic speeds, with turning or multiple lanes, they should be placed between 100 to 200 feet apart. The sign furthest from a decision point should include the most urgent messages. A vehicular guide sign should be placed no closer than 50 feet after a preceding decision point or intersection. Sometimes a guide sign can be placed in a median to the left of the vehicle if the following conditions apply: 1. There are no appropriate areas on the right side of the road for a sign. 2. The width of the median is large enough to allow a regulated setback between the edge of the sign and the outside edge of the curb. 3. The sign will not compromise visibility of oncoming traffic,

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creating a potential driving hazard. 4. The position of a sign in the median allows a driver in the far right lane time to change lanes safely. 5. Traffic control devices such as signal lights railway crossing lights and regulatory signs are not obstructed. Guide signs should be positioned so they are within a driver’s cone of vision. A cone of vision extends laterally 10 degrees to the right and left of the viewer. Vertically, it extends approximately 15 degrees up from the viewer’s line of sight. The bottom edge of the sign panel must be no less than seven feet from grade. The important thing is that vehicular guide signs must be legible and easily comprehended within a few seconds. If a vehicular guide sign is located in an area that slopes down from street level, the bottom edge of the sign must be perceived at the same visual height as a sign located at street level which is seven feet from top grade. The inside edge of the sign panel must not invade the highway right-of-way. A concrete footer must never exceed more than four inches above grade to comply with regulated break-away systems. Parking Guide Signs Parking guide signs specifically direct people to parking areas. The iconic “P” with a directional arrow is a universally recognized symbol. It is preferable to isolate a parking guide sign from multiple destination directions by installing a stand-alone sign. If that is not possible, the parking message can be included on a standard multi-message guide sign, with a small P icon with an arrow, or else grouped with the word “Parking”. In some cases, isolated parking guides will need additional messaging to define the type or conditions of a parking area: for example, if it serves a particular venue, time limits or if it has special parking

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conditions. Some state DOT agencies will only allow the P icon with a directional arrow. Pedestrian Guide Signs Pedestrian guide signs are used by people on foot to find places within a reasonable walking distance. These signs don’t require the same strict standards as vehicular guide signs, but the messages should be clearly legible and positioned in a way that will not cause physical hazard or block the flow of pedestrian traffic. The MUTCD requires that they must not be obviously visible to vehicular traffic to the extent that they can be mistaken for vehicular guide signs. This could cause confusion and ultimately distract a driver. Pedestrian guide signs can represent the community brand without restriction of font, color, sign shape or accompanying brand graphics. Retroreflectivity is not required. The design of these signs can take many forms, as long as they comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. ADA calls for a visual character height of 5/8� when a sign is between 40 and 70 inches above grade and two-inch height for signs that are 72 inches and higher above grade. If a sign panel or any other element protrudes more than four inches away from a wall, pole or base, it must have a clearance of seven feet. Any time you have an element that projects more than four inches and is lower than seven feet in a public right of way, it is a hazard to people who are visually impaired. A blind person who uses a cane to navigate will find the pole, but may be unaware of the item that projects a few feet off the ground. More information about ADA signage compliance requirements can be found in section 4.30 of the ADA Guidelines at: http://www.ada.gov/adastd94.pdf. A popular type of pedestrian guide sign is called a finger post sign, in which multiple signs are attached at one end to a

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common post. Each is positioned to point in the direction of its respective destination. The lowest edge of the bottom sign that projects beyond four inches from its base must be seven feet from grade to have the proper head clearance. Any multiple message panel sign should include changeable panel inserts to accommodate pedestrian destinations that come and go, especially restaurants and retail shops. Changeable panels can be mounted to a single or double pole support. The later format would allow the sign panels to be mounted below seven feet as long as they don’t protrude beyond four inches. Use commonly recognized icons whenever possible. Hungry people have one thing on their mind: FOOD. A fork and knife icon will stand out from other messages on signs. People also appreciate clearly visible restroom signs. The internationally recognized “Man and Woman” symbol will be understood more quickly than the words restroom (US) or washroom (Canada). Even in a pedestrian setting, the “P” icon will help people navigate back to their parked cars. Internationally recognized icons speed up comprehension. Icons can be used on maps to reinforce those used on guide signs. Avoid using custom icons that may not be quickly understood. Trailblazers Trailblazers are small, usually iconic signs that mark bike or pedestrian paths such as bike routes, walking trails, and historical walks. This group often includes site markers or interpretive graphics. When used as pedestrian trail markers, they can also serve as visual references for emergency personnel responding to 911 calls by including locator numbers. In the context of USDOT highway signage, the term “trailblazer” has a different meaning. USDOT defines trailblazers as single

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destination vehicular guide signs with a straight ahead arrow. Most state DOT agencies discourage vehicular “trailblazers”.

Group 3: Identification This group identifies facilities and places. They also provide arrival announcements for regions and districts such as gateways. Identity signs can be effective supporters of a brand. Primary Gateways Primary Gateways mark perceived points of arrival into a county, parish, province, city, town or village. We use the term “perceived” because a gateway doesn’t always have to be located at an official boundary or city limit. In many cities, you will find industrial parks, salvage yards and processing plants located at the outskirts, where rent and property taxes are lower. These are often the first things visitors see as they enter a community. In these cases, gateways should be moved closer to areas that represent the positives and not the negatives of a community. Gateways set the stage. They let visitors know that they have arrived at a unique place and that a memorable experience awaits them. Beyond media advertising and billboards, gateways are really the first graphic elements within the environment that announce a community or the attractions within it. A gateway sign is an opportunity to make the best first impression to visitors who enter into your community for the first time. A positive first impression will set the tone for a visitor’s experience and reinforce the brand identity. Secondary Gateways Secondary gateways mark entry points into alternate access routes, downtowns, special districts, communities, parks or amusement areas within a community. They are usually scaled-

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down versions of the primary gateways, but may have unique elements to help create a separate sub-identity. In Disney World you have the main gateway that is a grand announcement of the park. Beyond it you have secondary gateways into the individual thematic areas such as Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center. Each conveys a unique identity and generates an anticipation of an exciting experience while maintaining continuity with the entire system and, just as importantly, the Disney brand. This same strategy should be used for a city, town or region. Destination Identity Signs For a wayfinding system to work, you have to identify the destinations. Private retailers will be responsible for their own identity signs, but to help create definable retail districts or place experiences, design standards can be developed as guidelines for retailers and service providers. The more signs and storefronts in an area that promote a common theme or character, the more traffic will increase and all merchants in the area will benefit. Retailers should display their products more than their names. Visitors who are unfamiliar with local brands are looking for experiences first before considering a store’s name. Municipal buildings, parks and public spaces need identification as well. These are good opportunities to support the brand while allowing the place’s appearance to take on a specific character to convey function. Options include wall-mounted signs, garden monuments, pole signs, and others. Although you can’t effectively dictate the design of private or retail identities, you can control all municipal identities. The more you can echo the brand in your environment, the more you control the brand experience.

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Parking areas are found faster when they are identified with a large iconic “P”. When used in conjunction with a wayfinding guide sign using the same “P,” the parking identity sign becomes the recognizable “last bread crumb” at the end of well-marked path. Consistent use of the “P” icon in guide signs conditions the viewer to recognize the “P” used on identity signs at entrances to parking areas. Street Identity Signs Street identity signs serve a vital role in wayfinding. It’s not overly important that they match the same aesthetic vernacular as the rest of the sign types, but it is important they are placed in consistent locations that are clearly visible at every intersection. If budget allows, unique street signs designed to support a brand or theme will help define key areas within a community, such as historical districts, special neighborhoods, and town centers. Illuminated street signs at key intersections increase night visibility. Searching for street signs can pose a danger to both vehicular traffic and pedestrians, especially at intersections with cross traffic and crosswalks. Illuminated street signs also raise the stature of a community.

Group 4: Orientation This group provides visual points of reference telling visitors where they are in relation to other areas or landmarks. The group includes informational kiosks and directory maps. Informational Kiosks Informational kiosks are free-stranding structures that provide visitor information. A kiosk usually includes an area map with a you-are-here marker and a legend of destinations. If possible,

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maps should be oriented so they are “right read,� which places graphic representation of destinations that are directly in front of the viewer in the North position of the map, destinations that are to the immediate right of the viewer in the East position of the map and so forth. They show people where they are currently located and provide information and destination locations within the area relative to the direction they are facing. If a right read format is not possible, rotate you-are-here markers on the map to indicate the viewer’s point of perspective. Kiosks are for pedestrian audiences. They are most effective when located in high pedestrian traffic areas. If they are located near vehicular routes where they are clearly visible to drivers, they should be accessible within safe pullouts where drivers can easily move out of traffic and stop their cars. A kiosk should be designed so that it can be recognized from a distance. It should be ADA compliant. Elements of a kiosk may include an area map, a changeable destination legend, brochure holders, digital event displays and enclosed display cabinets for postings. In areas where power is not accessible, small solar panels can be incorporated into the design for night illumination or to power interactive displays. Brochure holders have both pros and cons. A readily available brochure at a kiosk will get plenty of exposure. The down side is that brochures can be a nightmare to manage. Unless you have someone maintaining them daily, they can create a serious litter problem. Directory Maps Directory maps can be part of a kiosk or they can be stand-alone monuments or wall mounted panels. Freestanding versions can include sponsorship graphics or event information on the second side. Maps should be geared to pedestrians, with information on

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places within reasonable walking distance. Graphic vernacular such as icons should be designed to match those used on guide signage and website maps.

Group 5: Informative

This group provides information that describes, advises, or tells a story about a place, event, or activity. Used mainly at zoos, museums, theme parks, sports venues, and natural reserves, these signs are usually referred to as interpretive signs. Interpretive Signs The design and development of interpretive signs require specialized skill sets and are often segregated from a wayfinding program as a separate scope of work. Interpretive signs include information and/or stories about a place, object or event. Interpretive signs serve little to no wayfinding purpose. They are used to communicate a specific message to visitors. They inform, educate, and entertain. Their message can influence behavior, solicit an action, or evoke an emotion. You see them in zoos, aquariums, forests, historical sites, arboretums, monuments, parks, museums, sports venues, and other public spaces that have a story to tell. Developing interpretive signs requires a mix of graphic design, illustration, structural engineering, landscaping, research, and storytelling. Their specific benefit within a wayfinding system is that they engage visitors with their environment. The more they know about a place, the stronger the connection will be. Interpretive signs help to create a sense of place. They should be designed to have little impact on a natural setting. They should not become visual barriers to the very thing they are interpreting. A common interpretive device is called a sloper. It is an inclined panel mounted at an angle of about 22 degrees, the bottom

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edge about 28 inches above the ground. This is high enough for a standing visitor to comfortably read, and low enough for a person in a wheelchair to see. Slopers are often located in areas vulnerable to weather and vandalism, so the materials need to withstand severe conditions. There are several methods and materials used to insure the longevity and durability of interpretive graphics. A popular material used for the graphic panels is graphic-embedded fiberglass or digitally imaged high-pressure laminates. A newer method which is much more durable and graffiti resistant embeds detailed graphics or photographic imagery into a powder coated aluminum. Structural metals are selected to withstand corrosive environments and assembled with tamper-proof fasteners to discourage removal or tampering.

Group 6: Regulatory This group includes signs that restrict, warn or control actions within an environment such as public parking areas, parks and public facilities. Regulatory signs communicate rules, warnings and restrictions. They have little to do with wayfinding but are necessary for the control of public behavior in public areas. Rules and Regulations Upon entering a park or public place, signs with long lists of “Nos” and “Don’ts” are often the first thing one sees. These have the opposite of a welcoming effect and take away from a positive place experience. The messages on these signs are necessary, but they don’t have to be ugly to be effective. With a little creativity and word-smithing, they can be designed to support the overall branded aesthetic while serving as effective behavior control devices, using positive rather than negative language.

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In some places, multiple layers of signs have been added to supplement information missing from previous signs. The result can be an unsightly collection of sign clutter that negatively impacts a visitor’s experience. Regulatory messages should be consolidated into one or two signs if possible, placed away from a primary entrance but near a visitor’s path, clearly within view. Traffic Control These signs should not be customized or fabricated outside of regulated methods. Traffic control signs are used as standard vehicular control devices. They include stop signs, yield signs, speed limit signs, and any other street signs that are intended to control driving behavior. Drivers are conditioned to recognize control devices by their color, shape, placement, and message. Change one of these elements and the sign can go unnoticed, posing a traffic hazard and possibly causing injury or death.

Group 7: Enhancement Decorative banners, public art and architectural features such as landscaped greenways, public plazas, roundabouts, fountains, and iconic buildings are key visual features that create memorable experiences for visitors and residents. They also function as landmarks or reference points, helping people navigate through an environment. Street Banners Street banners, celebrating seasons, brands and occasions, can be included in both influential and decorative function groups. They can portray anything that adds to an environmental experience purely for aesthetic appeal. Public Art Wall murals, sculptures and other forms of public art add value

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to open spaces and public gathering areas. They bring a sense of culture to an environment and are sometimes used as reference landmarks. Street Paving Paving treatments for crosswalks or key intersections provide benefits similar to those of public art. They help define pedestrian areas, improve the visual appeal of a streetscape and help pedestrians and drivers with spatial orientation. They help to demarcate districts, public gathering places, and town centers. They also provide a visual cue to divers to slow down. Traditional paving methods such as brick or stone can be expensive. They require extensive surface preparation in which existing hardscape is removed and replaced with pavers. There are decorative thermoplastic products that can be applied directly to an existing asphalt or concrete roadway. The surface is cleaned of loose debris and sealed. The patterned material is positioned, then heated with propane heat torches to adhere to the street surface. There are also resin-based compounds that are applied in thin layers. While hot they are stamped with a mold to simulate dimensional brick or stone. Street Furniture Fixtures such as public benches, street lamps, trash receptacles and signposts add character to urban environment. Their design can support a theme or brand. Flags and Flagpoles Flags and flagpoles serve as both decorative and identification elements. They are commonly placed at municipal destinations and public gathering places.

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Destination Wayfinding Strategy Right brain, left brain The development of a successful destination wayfinding system is both a science and an art. It requires the balance of right and left brain thinking. A community wayfinding system is a visual ensemble of signs, landmarks and tangible elements in an urban environment. The various elements serve as message delivery systems that connect people with places, both physically and emotionally. Although the design is the delivery mechanism for communicating messages, strategy is the foundation that holds it all together and creates a seamless, functional wayfinding system. Wayfinding was formally identified as a distinct discipline in the early 70’s. Since then it has evolved from the design of communication devices in the built environment to an integrated system of marketing, brand support, online information, experiential messaging, architecture, streetscaping, and landscape design. All of these things are driven by the desire to influence human behavior for specific results. This requires an understanding of how people think and react within their environment: what motivates them, and also what discourages them.

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A strategic method of attracting and guiding visitors to your destination(s) can be broken down into four basic levels of focus: 1. Awareness Before people even begin to consider visiting your community, they have to be aware of it. This is accomplished by word of mouth or targeted marketing. Word of mouth is always the best form of marketing but is not necessarily a direct result of strategic planning. Brand awareness through web media, print, broadcast or event marketing is the direct method of making people aware of your community. The cornerstone of brand awareness is obviously “brand,� with its promise of a unique experience. 2. Motivation Once you have established brand awareness, you motivate people to visit your community through targeted marketing. The services of a qualified marketing strategist will give you a strategic marketing plan and a blueprint for a successful marketing campaign. For a marketing initiative to be successful, your brand must be fully articulated. Your online presence (website, social media, banner ads) and traditional communications such as print ads, broadcast and event marketing, must reflect your brand message consistently. 3. Facilitation Your website is a valuable tool that people use to learn more about your community. It is a key mechanism for creating first impressions and delivering information. The information it provides facilitates the planning of a vacation or business trip. In addition to community websites and social media sites, a powerful online tool that is growing in popularity is a destination app. These are becoming a key part of destination wayfinding.

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4. Experiential To help visitors navigate to and through your destination(s), and to create a memorable place experience, branded wayfinding devices must be in place. A positive place experience will mean longer stays, return visits, and word-ofmouth recommendations. Part of a strategic destination wayfinding system is hierarchical messaging. This will help you determine which destinations get put on which guide signs. Business owners want their companies’ names on as many guide signs as possible. In the case of pedestrian guides and directories, this is not really a problem; but vehicular guides are a different story. As discussed earlier, vehicular guide signs must include no more than three or four short messages because of the limited amount of time a driver has to understand and react to a guide sign. We have seen several communities that have installed multiple destination “finger” signs in groups of 10 or more. These are often paid-to-display signs that give businesses a false sense of performance. The fact of the matter is they are highly dysfunctional and do more to clutter the streetscape than to actually guide visitors. When drivers have to spend more than three to five seconds looking at a sign, their eyes are off the road, which may result in accidents. These multi-message signs aren’t just ugly—they’re safety hazards. Even though most of our business is about wayfinding signs, we prefer there were as few signs in an environment as possible. That’s why we think less is more. It can be a challenge for communities to apply rational logic to sign messaging. Often personal agendas and political influence drive sign content, and a forest of signs springs up.

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To help determine which destination gets placement on vehicular guide signs, we follow a simple logic based on hierarchical importance, relative to the proximity of the final destination. 1. Outside the City The area outside the city is controlled by the US Department of Transportation; it is almost impossible to customize or change sign guidelines in these areas. The objective of guide signs here is to guide vehicles to exits to specific communities. 2. Inside the City The next area is within the city limits. These signs can be freely customized as long as they do not occur within USDOT’s jurisdiction. (If they do, they must follow the MUTCD.) The objective of this group is to guide vehicles to regions within the city. 3. Inside City Regions The third area includes regions within city regions. These regions can be historical districts, retail clusters, downtown centers, industrial areas or any area that can be delineated. These signs will include a combination of destination-specific messages. 4. To Parking As a visitor gets close to their destination, the next level of guide signs direct them to parking. 5. On foot Once visitors are out of their cars and on foot, they are guided by pedestrian guides and information kiosks directing them to their destination and exposing them to other experiences.

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There are exceptions to these rules. Destinations that, by themselves, draw visitors to a city should be highlighted on guide signs well beyond the region they are located. Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Mount Rushmore in Rapid City, North Dakota, and the Black Canyon in Gunnison, Colorado, are all examples of destinations that attract people to a city. All are featured on guide signage well beyond the city limits in which they are located.

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7 Steps to Successful Destination Wayfinding The step by step process from planning to implementation Developing a successful destination wayfinding program is process driven. The standard wayfinding process, practiced by qualified firms that specialize in wayfinding and experiential graphic design, is derived from the SEGD play book, which was based on standards originally set forth by AIA (American Institute of Architects). This process assures that all of the tasks required to achieve a successful destination wayfinding program are systematically followed. It is also part of the wayfinding and experiential design industry’s code of best practices. While the standards have evolved greatly since the mid 1970s, our firm has added and continues to add refinements to our own methodology. Each year we look for ways to increase efficiency, reduce cost, and facilitate better communication between our team and our clients. The following chapter articulates seven steps a wayfinding steering committee should follow to plan, design and implement a successful wayfinding program.

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Step 1: Preparation Assemble Your Team Developing a successful wayfinding program is a team effort. Your team will be made up of a core group—who will be the primary drivers of the wayfinding initiative—and an extended group of stakeholders, who will serve periodically as valuable resources. You will need to select a team leader who will manage the program and keep everyone on task and on schedule. When you eventually engage a wayfinding consultant to design and develop your program, your team leader will serve as the consultant’s primary contact person during the course of the seven-step program. Your core team should represent the government, business, tourism and social sectors of the community. Its motivation should be devoid of political agendas and personal gain. All members should remain united in their support of a predetermined mission. Above all, they must be committed to this effort and available for the duration of the program. Your extended group will include stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success and development of the community, and representatives from regulatory entities such as the US Department of Transportation, Building Department, Mayor’s office, Parks & Recreation Department, Business leaders, marketing consultants, etc. If urban planners are involved in ongoing or future development activity, it may be wise to interact with them, to avoid duplicating efforts or to synchronize design directions. If leaders from your Convention & Visitors Bureau and your Chamber of Commerce are not already part of your core team, You may want to include them as they can be valuable participants. 50


Five ~ 7 Steps to Successful Branded City Wayfinding

Establish Your Design Budget After your team has determined that a wayfinding program will benefit your community, the next question you will ask is “How much will it cost?” There are two budgets to consider. You will need to establish one budget to plan, design and document the program, and a second budget to fabricate and install it. Be careful when hiring a designer who offers discounted design fees. When companies of any type cut their rates, they look for ways to reduce their production time, abbreviate their process or count on back end opportunities that they will position themselves for. Sometimes this results in more efficient methods in order to maintain a company’s standard of excellence, but it commonly leads to weaker solutions that don’t render the results you need. Discounted fees can also be a red flag that a designer is not really qualified or does not understand the required tasks. There are some fine design firms that combine award-winning design with methodical process and agile research. When we lose a bid to one of these companies, it doesn’t hurt as much as when we bid on a project and it goes to a firm that romances prospective clients with too-good-to-be-true promises. Some companies that come in with low bids abbreviate their process or deliver off-the-shelf solutions that don’t precisely reflect a community’s brand. The bulk of the project may be delegated to junior personnel, resulting in watered-down solutions due to lack of experience. When the time spent on a project is reduced to meet a modest budget, the result is often a reduction in the time spent understanding the challenges and exploring the best options for a successful solution. Sometimes caveats are put in the contract that push necessary steps into the “optional” category. In these cases, the results are watered-down plans that just don’t

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deliver the goods. Here’s the thing– If you are truly looking for a wayfinding system to bring you measurable results, such as increased visitor spending and return visits, then your costs must be regarded as an investment rather than an expense. If you regard these costs as merely expenses and go with the lowest bid, you may end up losing potential revenue due to a poorly designed or abbreviated system. My advice: do it right the first time and hire a firm based on its experience and track record. Ask about their process. Drive through a community they designed a system for—see if you “get a branded experience,” and are able to navigate to key destinations without getting lost. Beware of slick sales pitches. Advertising agencies that specialize in branding sometimes pitch wayfinding projects. They are good at making the sale and put a lot of effort into their presentations. They make a compelling pitch, designed to appeal to your emotions. But the fact is, if a company does not specialize in wayfinding, it will not have the skills required to develop a program that gets the results you need. They may bring in a partner consultant who does, but you may still lose the valuable benefit of direct collaboration. Be careful when considering design/build packages. Many “consultants” who offer these are really fabricators dressed in designer’s smocks. If a fabricator is driving design, the design may be developed to suit the company’s fabrication limitations, and may not represent the best solution for you. The best wayfinding designers are those who own their own businesses or work for formal design firms. A wayfinding designer who works for a sign fabricator is less likely to have the specialized experience one gets in a pure design environment. If you are considering a design build package offered by a designer who has partnered with fabricator, you will be much better off. In either case, we still recommend that you separate the two initiatives.

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Design the system, then go out to bid for the fabrication. This will allow you to compare apples to apples and negotiate the best price. The designer will be working on your behalf and not the fabricator’s. Wayfinding design fees for a destination wayfinding project can range between $40,000 to $150,000 depending on scope, size of a community or the comprehensiveness of the desired plan. A small town with few destinations should budget between $40,000 and $50,000. Midsized cities should budget between $60,000 to $75,000. Large cities that are in the market for citywide comprehensive plans should budget between $75,000 to $100,000. The more emphasis on design quality, high end materials and quantity can push fees exponentially higher. Establish Your Fabrication/Installation Budget Fabrication/installation fees can range from $150,000 to millions of dollars. It all depends on the quantity of signs (and sign types), design complexity, the sign contractor, and the method of fabrication and installation. A small town or specific district within a larger community could fall between $150,000 and $300,000. A midsized city that requires a full system should budget between $500,000 and $1,000,000. A large city should budget $1,000,000 to a $2,000,000. And it can go up from there. The individual high-ticket items in most wayfinding systems are primary gateways, digital message boards and information kiosks. These sign types typically require foundation or infrastructure engineering. Each can range from $15,000 to $100,000 (and up), depending on their size, use of technology, structural requirements and/or fabrication technique. The most expensive “group� of sign types are vehicular guide signs. These also require structural engineering to assure proper wind load compliance and impact/break-away mechanisms. These signs can

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run between $5,000 to $9,000 each, including foundation pouring and installation. Role Coordination In order to eliminate duplicated efforts, find out if other groups within your community are involved with parallel wayfinding initiatives. Make sure you consolidate efforts, so that wayfinding initiatives do not conflict in design and that they support a comprehensive and integrated system. If you have already contracted with an urban planner or developer prior to engaging a wayfinding designer, make sure you clarify every team member’s respective role. Some wayfinding components, such as information kiosks, directories and gateways, will be part of an architect’s scope. Many architects claim to be wayfinding designers, but few have thorough, qualified experience. Designing award-winning structures doesn’t mean a practitioner has the same expertise in wayfinding systems as an experienced wayfinding designer. Some large architectural firms do have their own experiential graphic design departments; some are highly accomplished and successful. However, my observation is that companies that focus on wayfinding excel over those that offer wayfinding as a subordinate support service. My advice: always buy a car designed by a car manufacturer, not a ship builder. It’s not wise to divide up parts of a wayfinding program between consultants. Choose one designer to design the entire system. It works best when all parts are designed in concert: think of it as a complete package. Hire a qualified wayfinding designer. Make sure candidates are true wayfinding experts, with real experience in community wayfinding programs. If a designer does not offer urban planning services, find out if he or she is willing and able to collaborate with planners and architects you may already

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have under contract. Wayfinding goes beyond sign systems. It can include landscaped corridors, strategically placed public gathering spaces, road realignments, and architectural treatments that serve as visual landmarks or district demarcations. A good resource to find wayfinding designer is the Society for Experiential Graphic Design. Most qualified design firms who specialize in wayfinding, belong to this organization. If you reach out to SEGD (segd.org), they’ll notify their members about your project. You’ll want to know how long a designer has been in business and if they have experience with similar projects. Look at their samples of built programs and consider their design quality and diversity of style. They should have a good understanding of branding and fabrication. How concise is their methodology? And how well do they respond? Do they demonstrate an understanding of your community and objectives or do they respond with a cookie-cutter answers and solutions. Issue a Request for Qualifications ahead of a Request for Proposal. This will allow you to evaluate bidders qualifications and pair down finalists who will be invited to provide a proposal. Once you have a designer on board, make sure there is no scope overlap with other consultants like architects, engineers and planners – all of which might elements of wayfinding in their services.

Step 2: Research & Planning After you have contracted with a wayfinding consultant, the project begins with a kick-off meeting between the consultant’s representative and the community’s wayfinding committee. At

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this meeting, you will revisit scope expectations, clarify roles, and confirm project objectives and a realistic time line. Reconfirm the task schedule for the visit. The consultant will review current data, previous studies and all available documentation. You will need to supply additional resource materials such as private and civic promotional collateral, current streetscape conditions, electronic street plans, and Federal, State and County signage requirements. If urban development plans are in the works, the wayfinding consultant must understand how this will impact the landscape and traffic flow. Any design consultants who will be involved in the project should be introduced and encouraged to work in collaboration with the wayfinding consultant. It is imperative that roles be clearly defined and understood to avoid assignment overlap and redundancy. During the kick-off meeting, have a large civic plan of the project area out on the table. have a large roll of tissue that can be placed over the plan. Mark up perceived arrival points, all possible destinations, DOT routes and notes onto the tissue so the designer can walk away with a visual guide they can use when they explore the project area in the next few days. Take the consultant on a guided tour of your community so they can have a perspective from the local’s point of view. Point out the problem areas, identity destinations, arrival points and key traffic routes. The consultant should then explore the community on their own so they can have a perspective from the visitor’s point of view. They will take a photographic inventory and make notations on the plan you provided. During this first visit, the consultant team will conduct preliminary interviews with community stakeholders to further understand project goals, community history, demographics, resources, development plans, competing destinations, and

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strategic plans for the future. Definable attractions, districts, and traffic decision points will be identified. Before the consultant leaves, have a recap meeting to answer any questions or discuss preliminary observations. As the wayfinding consultant digests their findings and begins formulating their assessment, destinations, will be evaluated and graded for their inclusion on guide signage. We break these down into three categories: 1. Destination This is a primary attraction that visitors travel to such as Disney World in Orlando or Muir Woods in Northern California. Large cities such as New York are destinations in themselves because of the many primary attractions they include, such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Broadway. Convention Centers are primary attractions for business executives who attend trade shows and conferences. McCormick Place is a popular conference center in Chicago. 2. Diversion This is a secondary attraction, peripheral business or service that benefits from the traffic generated by a primary attraction. These can include historic districts, restaurants, hotels, transit stations, museums, zoos and universities. 3. Community Resource This is a service provider or government office, such as a visitor center, city hall or police station. Parking areas and public restrooms also fall under this category. Traffic speed, flow, sight lines, visual competition density,

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environmental conditions and existing wayfinding vernacular will be studied and documented. Future roadway improvements will be considered during the Planning stage. Pedestrian gathering places are studied for their current condition and potential for development. Parking areas are evaluated based on their location and ability to support visitors who come to pedestrian areas. The consultant should identify opportunities for the integration of existing elements, such as mounting substrates and hardscape conditions. He or she will also consider ways to reduce the amount of visual clutter and redundant signage. Other elements such as newspaper dispensers, bulletin displays, existing information kiosks, and all communication devices that contribute to or detract from a successful wayfinding solution will be evaluated. After the on-site survey and stakeholder interviews are complete, the design consultant will prepare and submit a Project Needs Assessment. This will summarize the existing conditions of the project area and the stakeholder interviews. The assessment will include the designer’s observations and conclusions. It will also include requests for additional information, resources and materials to help the designer in the planning process. Once the designer has all the required data and resources in hand, planning may begin. Traditionally, large printed plans are used to plot traffic patterns, districts, key destinations and decision points. This represents the beginning of a wayfinding plan. To encourage early collaboration with the client and partner agencies, we use online maps that allow collaborators to place customized icons and comments. All who have access can then review these suggestions.

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Google offers a helpful free utility that allows anyone to create interactive maps. These serve as valuable collaborative tools. We designed a set of customized icons we use to mark sign placements, traffic routes, destinations, and other points of discussion. A few rounds of collaborative interaction will lead to a preliminary wayfinding wireframe. Potential sign types and their locations evolve with message suggestions. An Assessment or Planning Report is the final deliverable for the Research, Planning and Programming phase. It should include a photographic survey and a written assessment of existing conditions with plausible solution recommendations. It should include a site plan with circulation patterns, destinations, key decision points, gateway candidates, and an inventory of existing wayfinding elements. This is shared with the wayfinding committee either electronically or as a printed document. The designer should host a meeting or teleconference to discuss the report and receive feedback. If needed, the report will be edited to reflect substantial comments before it is distributed to key stakeholders. The objective for Step 2 is to gain approval of the recommended plan approach, which will drive the actions in the next step.

Step 3: Concept Generation Some projects include workshops in which the design team meets with the wayfinding committee for a charrette—a collaborative session in which the design team and members of the client’s planning committee consider preliminary program solutions. These informal meetings usually generate lots of energy and ideas. They can be both productive and enjoyable. The goal is to collaborate and generate several concept directions. There is only one rule we follow during a charrette or brainstorming session:

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no nay-saying! In this forum, there are no bad ideas, only steps in the process to achieve successful ideas. One idea will inspire a better one. That better idea will inspire an excellent one, and so on, until a brilliant idea evolves. Other projects require public buy-in. In some cases, early public involvement may be required before any concepts are developed. Having public support for something that will have such a visual impact on a community is very important—but when you open the collaborative process to the public, you had better manage it carefully. Be prepared for challenges. Things can get ugly fast. Work with a designer who has experience in achieving public consensus. We recommend that public involvement be held to a minimum. We prefer to bring preliminary concepts to a public workshop. The workshop attendees are given a project overview with objectives and regulatory constraints. The preliminary concepts are presented and explained. After the presentation, the attendees can ask questions and offer comments and ideas. The wayfinding consultant will collect the information, digest it and consider if any of it merits inclusion into the 2nd round of concept refinement. Most city driven wayfinding initiatives require that presentations be given to their City Council, Commissioners or Board of Alderman. Work with the consultant beforehand to establish a project schedule that aligns with these meetings. The objective of this phase is to identity a single concept for development.

Step 4: Design Development Once a final concept direction has been approved, it is time to develop the design. This step in the process includes your

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comments and input from the public (if included), government leaders and outside agencies. This input is applied to all representative sign types. Colors and materials are considered and incorporated in preliminary scaled layouts. Some sign types are rendered as photographic images to help visualize how they will appear in the real environment. In the old days, scale models were built to understand how a proposed structure would appear as a dimensional element. Now 3-D computer software is used to create digital models that can be studied from all angles in a virtual environment. We recommend that the designer’s scope include full size, on-site mock-ups before a design is committed to fabrication. Mock-ups of key sign types can be made from digital prints mounted to rigid substrates such as plywood or Gatorfoam®. Panel signs are temporarily mounted to existing poles or light standards in the environment where they can be tested for visual impact. For vehicular guide sign mock-ups, it’s a good idea to create several font sizes to test their legibility. The smaller the font size deemed legible, the smaller the sign structure can be which will impact the environment less and can mean lower fabrication costs. More complicated mock-ups such as kiosks or gateways may be expensive to produce. It’s better to render these digitally and drop them into photographs for evaluation unless you really want to see them in their natural setting. The objective is to have as little impact on the environment as possible without sacrificing function and legibility. Although their function as wayfinding devices takes precedence over aesthetic impact, signs should fit well within the environment without becoming huge billboards or structural monsters.

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The mock-up study will either confirm the success of proposed sign types or allow the designer to make further adjustments before committing them to scaled drawings. It is important to gain final approval of sign designs (as well as the location and messages) on the Google map before the next step begins. It’s best not to make design changes or plan adjustments after the designer has started to create scaled drawings and related specifications.

Step 5: Documentation The final sign types are transformed into scaled elevations, sections and details. These scaled drawings, along with specification call-outs and a color/finish schedule, are known as Design Intent Drawings. These drawings are not to be used as shop drawings or fabrication documents. The sign contractor is required to provide those as part of their scope. Design Intent Drawings are intended to control the design and performance of each sign type in the system. They convey the designer’s intent. The sign contractor will be responsible for preparing detailed shop drawings that convey how each sign will be engineered and installed. Depending on how complex the system is, written specifications may need to be prepared in accordance with CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) standards. and provided as a separate document and eventual included with the fabrication RFP. Specifications are used to communicate material, finish and fabrication/installation performance criteria. In less formal projects, or where there is a need for efficiency, the written specifications can be included as notes and call-outs directly on the design intent drawings.

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Final location plans communicate general sign locations. This information is transferred from the approved version of the Google map. Message Schedules are usually created in spreadsheet form. They list the sign type number, message on each sign, location plan page number where they are placed, quantity, and implementation phase. Sometimes we include GPS or GIS coordinates in the message schedule for exact on-site placement. Sometimes we take photos of a person standing in each sign location holding a white board with the sign’s sign type number written on it. These photos are included in the final message schedule or location plan prior to installation. Together, these documents are issued as a draft of the Bid Documents. This compilation is submitted for your review before it is finalized for bid release. By the time you are in the bid process, the designer should have completed any production-ready artwork that will be used by the sign contractor. We create a dedicated password-protected client web page. All project documents and production-ready artwork is stored there and is available for download for one year, or longer if requested.

Step 6: Bidding We recommend that you issue an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) before you issue an RFP (Request for Proposals). This makes managing the bid process much easier. Bidders will submit their company qualifications less a proposed fee. You can pre-qualify respondents ahead the release of an RFP. You will be able to answer questions from a much smaller, pre-qualified group. This will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to manage the process.

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There are a number of government RFQ distribution services you can use to get the word out to fabricators. SEGD also has a large fabricator membership. You can use its services to get the RFQ in front of the right people. Fabricators who qualify will be put on a list of qualified bidders who will be given the RFP package directly. You can send them an email followed by a mailed letter. The email and letter include access information to an online location from which the bid documents can be downloaded. We recommend that you allow about three weeks for qualified bidders to prepare their bids. One week after you issue the RFP, you should host a pre-bid conference, at which interested respondents can get more project details. While there, they can make inquiries and hear answers given to questions raised by other pre-qualified bidders. During this first week, you will collect questions submitted by all respondents, including those who cannot attend the pre-bid conference. A day after the conference, prepare a summary of all the questions and your answers, and send it to all qualified bidders. This gives them two weeks to finalize their bids. To speed up the selection process, allow bidders to submit their bids electronically. They should be required to submit a hard copy before an award is made. When the bids have all been reviewed and rated, select the top three for interviews. The interview period should last no longer than one week (5 working days). Include the designer in the selection process. The designer will have worked with many sign fabricators and will have valuable insights. After the interview period, make your decision. Allow another week for further negotiations, and to hammer out details in the contract.

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Step 7: Production Management After a contract is signed with the sign contractor, arrange for a final site walk-through with the designer and the contractor. This will allow questions to be raised and last minute discoveries to be made. This will allow for adjustments to the Bid Documents before fabrication is under way. Over the following two to three weeks, the sign contractor will prepare shop drawings. As part of the shop drawing submittal, the sign contractor should include visual layouts of each sign with their unique message. This will assure that there is no misinterpretation of the message schedule. They will be required to submit an electronic set. The designer will be the first to review, comment and sign off on the drawings. They will either be approved as is, approved with comments, or rejected with an explanation and returned to the sign contractor for revision. The client will review the drawings and approve or reject them, with or without comments. If the shop drawings are approved, or approved with comments, a marked-up version will be returned to the sign contractor. If the entire submittal is rejected and returned to the sign contractor for revision, they will be given about a week to bring the drawings up to an approved standard. They will then be redistributed as approved documents. The sign contractor may now proceed with sample production. We recommend that you see (and approve) material and finish samples within two to three weeks, before fabrication is in full swing. This will allow you to make any desired adjustments before materials and techniques are fully committed. Requirements for material and finish submittals should be 66


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specified in the contract documents. These are usually prepared as squares (at least 6” x 6” or 12” x 12”) using actual substrate material. Color matches will be checked for accuracy and material samples will be reviewed for quality. If vinyl is specified in the project, look at vinyl samples applied to the specified substrate. The same goes for any custom treatments. Even if the sign contractor follows the specifications exactly, you may discover that what was specified is not what you want. It’s better to pay the extra charge to make a change than to live with something that doesn’t look good or perform as you expected. These samples should be submitted in two identical sets. Both sets are sent to the designer for initial review and comment. The designer signs off on the samples (or includes comments) and forwards the marked-up set to the client for review and signoff. The client’s set is then returned to the sign contractor. The designer holds on the second set as a control reference. If, for some reason, the final product appears to be wrong, the retained control set can be used to compare for accuracy. If the finished work is indeed wrong, the sign contractor is bound to redo the products without additional charge. The reason why both sets are sent to the design is so that the designer can determine that both sets are identical. Depending on the magnitude and complexity of the project, the sign contractor will need between 15 to 24 weeks to complete the fabrication from start to finish. If the sign contractor’s facility is within driving distance, or if your budget allows you or your designer to travel to a distant facility, it would be wise to visit the shop for a progress review at about the 70% complete point. If you discover that something is wrong or needs to be changed, the sign contractor will have time to make adjustments.

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Prior to installation, walk the site with the sign contractor and the designer (if he/she is available) to reconfirm sign locations. This will allow you to make last minute adjustments. The sign contractor will stake each location and flag it so it is easily found. Permitting Depending on your local DOT agency, the permitting process will vary. Make sure this task is included in the sign contractor’s scope. If your city requires separate permitting, make sure the sign contractor is aware of both needs. Again, depending on the requirements of the local DOT agency, you may need to submit a permit application prior to finalizing the design intent drawings in case they require changes to the design. Arizona and California are two states with very strict compliance processes. Receiving Delivery When the products arrive on-site, inspect them before they are installed. This is your last chance to reject items that are wrong in any way, or to catch any problems that need attention. Sometimes signs get damaged in route or during the uncrating. You will lose more time if the signs are installed before you discover a mistake. Inspecting the Installation Installation could take between one and three weeks. After the installation is complete, the designer should review the installed product on site. The designer will perform what we call a “punch�. He or she will inspect each item to make sure that it was installed according to spec and that the sign contractor honored the final agreement. The project area should be cleaned from debris and the sign elements should be cleaned and/or retouched if scratched or damaged during installation. If the punch shows that the project has been successfully completed, the designer will advise you to issue final payment to the sign contractor.

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Make sure you hold a final payment until the job is deemed complete. Once the fabricator has been paid, there is little incentive for him/her to correct mistakes.

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Maintaining a Destination Wayfinding System How to manage and maintain the system in place Now that your program has been installed and everyone is congratulating you on a job well done, the system will eventually require maintenance. Even the most sustainable systems will need some future attention. It’s important for your wayfinding system to contribute to a clean and well-kept city image. Maintained signs will help keep the public’s impression of a place positive. Maintaining the signs will also help them last longer, and save money in the long term. Barring extreme circumstances (like a truck crashing into a sign, or a determined vandal with a crow bar), a well-constructed sign should last seven years without needing to be repainted or refinished. There are materials and finishes designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and the occasional graffiti tagger. There will always be people who are determined to vandalize signs. You can reduce the cost of restoring your signs by using graffiti-resistant paints and materials. Components should be fully welded or fastened together with tamper-proof hardware. Most material manufacturers can provide maintenance information for their products. When you contract with a sign fabricator, request manufacturer’s maintenance information for your files. Many sign fabricators offer sign maintenance

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programs. These can include as little as replacing burned-out lights or as much as complete structural repair. Such services can also routinely survey the elements of your system. They will provide you with periodic reports that evaluate the condition of each sign and make recommendations for repair or upkeep. If you don’t want to use an outside service, you can create a maintenance plan of your own which should include: 1. Wayfinding System Manual In the event a sign is damaged, a message needs changing, or a new sign is to be added, it is important to maintain consistency throughout the system if your wayfinding program is to continue to provide seamless navigation and support for your brand. A Wayfinding System Manual will help accomplish this. You can have your wayfinding design consultant include this option in his/her scope of work. You can also keep records of the designer’s design intent documents for reference, along with the fabricator’s shop drawings. If you elect to have your designer create a manual for you, it should include: • Purpose of the wayfinding system and why it is important to maintain design consistency. • A visual overview of all sign types within the system. • A material and finishes schedule with manufacturer’s name and contact information. • Scaled fabrication drawings of each sign type. • Graphic template diagrams with design criteria. • Sign positioning, mounting and installation criteria. • Manufacturer’s material and product maintenance specifications.

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2. Inventory Record Create an Inventory Record document in which you list all signs and devices in your system. This can be an Excel spreadsheet made up of sortable rows and columns. From left to right create columns for: Sign Type Number, Description, Message, GPS or GIS Coordinates, Install Date and Photo Reference. Include a Comments column that will expand as new comments are added. 3. Sign Conditions Report Have your entire system inspected every six to eight months. The person assigned to this task will fill out a current Sign Conditions Report. If a sign is damaged or is in need of repair, detail photos should be taken of the damaged or questionable area(s) and included with the report. 4. Execute the Required Maintenance Findings from the Sign Conditions Report will determine maintenance actions. At a minimum, each sign should be cleaned after every inspection. If the Sign Conditions Report reveals damage or significant wear, appropriate action should be taken. When each action is completed, it should be recorded on the Inventory Record. Simply cleaning the signs at regular intervals will improve their appearance and lengthen their lifespan.

Your sign fabricator will be able to provide the appropriate cleaning methods for specific materials and finishes. This information should be included in your sign manual.

Graffiti is a constant problem. Removing it from your signs is necessary but could leave the surface of your signs permanently damaged. Abrasive compounds can scratch or change a sign’s finish. Before you attempt to remove graffiti,

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weigh your options: you may attempt to remove it, or simply reapply the sign’s finish. But it is important to address graffiti as quickly as possible in order to discourage continued abuse and to avoid giving visitors the impression that the area is unsafe. The best way to combat graffiti is to prevent it before it happens. Placing signs in well-lit or high-traffic areas will discourage taggers. Engage your local police by providing them with site plans where the most vandalism occurs. Neighborhood watch programs can be run by volunteers willing to report any suspicious activity.

5. Stored Sign Panel Blanks Eventually, you will want to change a message on a sign panel or repair one that is damaged. In most cases this means removing the panel. Depending on the extent of the damage or the complexity of the message update, it may take several weeks before your sign is back in place. To avoid having a pole without a sign for long periods of time, you can have your sign fabricator make extra blanks and components for many of the sign types in your system as part of their initial fabrication scope. This increases your up-front costs, but you will save money in the future. When a sign panel needs to be repaired or have its message changed, you can have one of the stored blanks prepared and swapped with the one on site.

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About the Author Todd Mayfield Todd Mayfield is a principal and Group Creative Director for Axia Creative based in Wellington, Florida with studios in Colorado, Minnesota and Alberta. During his 33 year career in wayfinding, brand development, advertising and print graphics, Todd has earned numerous awards for design excellence and for his contributions to place branding and branded city wayfinding. His work has been featured in various industry publications, blogs and books such as The PlaceBrand Observer, Print, Signs of the Times and American Corporate Identity. Previously to starting his own company, he served as the Design Director for the Douglas Group in Washington, DC, where he headed branding and wayfinding projects for clients such as the US Capitol (DC), the US National Arboretum (DC), the City of Rockville (MD), the Ronald Reagan Building (DC), Marriott Hotels and Ritz-Carlton. In Chicago, Todd was a senior designer for Ambrosi & Associates. His projects included in-store and point-of-sale graphics for Sears, Jacobsons, Walgreens and Herbingers. He also provided brand development and wayfinding for retail malls owned by General Growth Properties. In Hawaii, Mr. Mayfield worked for Media Five, Ltd., a large

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international architectural and interior design firm. He was a lead designer for the firm’s graphic design team, which specialized in creative services for the hospitality industry. His projects included branding and wayfinding for large hotels, resorts and communities such as the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, the Kapalua Beach Hotel on Maui and the Kapolei residential development on Oahu. Since 2003, Axia’s comprehensive visual communication services have included the strategic design of all graphic devices that empower brands and enhance place experiences. Axia holds strategic alliances with urban planners, architects, tourism marketing specialists and several complimentary service providers who are either brought in as project partners, subcontractors or guidance consultants. These resources allow Axia to respond to a wide variety of project types with the highest level of competence that ensures maximum results for their clients. Axia has a strong reputation of on-time, on-budget and on-target project delivery.

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We hope this book is a helpful resource for you. If you have any questions about destination wayfinding or are interested in an event presentation by Todd or Axia’s services, reach out to us by email at connect@axiacreative.com or visit us online at axiacreative.com

Profile for Axia Creative

Destination Wayfinding & the Illuminated Bfrand  

The information in this book will enlighten those who consider branded wayfinding for their community or region, and will serve as a valuabl...

Destination Wayfinding & the Illuminated Bfrand  

The information in this book will enlighten those who consider branded wayfinding for their community or region, and will serve as a valuabl...

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