“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” Helen Keller once said.
Communities are built and strengthened by its members and residents, and those members are linked by the experiences they share. Whether participating in the simple day-to-day routine of the community or working together to improve quality of life, all of these experiences are created, enhanced, or reflected by signs and visual graphics.
Here are three areas that signs and visual graphics assist to actively strengthen and build communities.
1. Reflecting Identity within the Community
Perhaps more than anything, community signage highlights the identity of a community. From the zoning requirements and design of community wayfinding signage to the storefront signs of local businesses, the identity of a community is linked to its appearance. Beyond the appearance, the information and messages that are shared through those signs and displays help enhance a community’s true identity.
Monument signs help brand a city or town at entrances and exits of a community. They also help with the branding of a noteworthy local geographic marvel, something that makes the town special or claims to fame.
A community’s identity can also be tied to its history. Many communities choose to recognize that history through outdoor signage, but it also can be told on the walls of libraries, schools and city buildings.
Informational signs can be found at community parks, landmarks, and memorials. These signs share the community’s history and give residents context around their culture as well as share community events and initiatives. Residents can carry community pride from the past to the present by regularly updating signage for growth and by sharing what they are accomplishing today.
2. Enhancing Infrastructure in the Community
Within a community’s infrastructure that is necessary for operation, signs act as informers and communicators to share important messages with members. A city’s infrastructure relies on a shared understanding of certain messaging. The stop sign is immediately recognizable, but you might take for granted all of the other community signs that provide the structure for daily life. Regulatory signs are present at nearly every turn. Additional signs include ones that identify restrooms, disabled parking and caution zones.
Regulatory signs – including room signs, exit signs, elevator signs, and more – must present the same information to every person regardless of physical limitations. These are the unsung heroes of signage, and their sole function is to protect each and every citizen in the community.
Lastly, infrastructure signs which can be found nearly everywhere, including parks, businesses, schools, and medical facilities, offer convenience and promote cooperation through wayfinding. When adequately positioned on the streets and in the hallways of communities, they inform residents of their whereabouts and direct them to their destinations. Wayfinding signs are specifically designed to seamlessly fit within their surroundings -- creating a functional and attractive tool for the good of the community.
3. Encouraging Participation in the Community
Communicating a message and gaining participation is a critical component in a community, and a great way to get your message out is through the use of signs and visual graphics. The organization of a community can take place virtually anywhere but without active members, a community can struggle to take shape.
Special events are important for creating lasting relationships and investment in the community. At these events, signs should encompass all ages and be easy-to-read for full inclusivity.
Fundraisers, food drives, sporting events, and concerts provide a way for community members to help and be entertained, thus building a more connected community. Cause-related signs enable community members to promote races, local festivals and any events that raise money for charities. Another way we see signage increase community awareness and participation are related to elections and other civic matters. Posters, banners, yard signs and vehicle graphics are often placed in high-visibility areas for community members. This is a great strategy for getting the word out about events happening in the community. Without the proper publicity or organization, community initiatives and events fail to gather the momentum needed for success. A coordinated signage strategy is an effective way to build not only awareness and enthusiasm but also active engagement.
Today, having a sense of community is more important than ever before to our success, safety, and our overall happiness and well-being. The next time you step out in your own community, take a look around. How is your community incorporating a visual communication strategy?
Need help strengthening your community through signs and visual graphics? FASTSIGNS® is more than ready to help!