It’s incredible how quickly the term ‘physical distancing’ has entered our collective vocabulary. Back at the beginning of 2020, we never had to think about how close we stood to others while we waited in line, or about sanitising our hands before we entered public spaces – and masks were normally only worn in big cities where air pollution was a problem.
Now, everywhere we look there are floor stickers, signs and display stands reminding us to avoid non-essential contact with others, to keep our distance where possible and to observe a whole range of infection control protocols designed to stop the spread of Covid-19. Businesses have had to adapt their layouts and invest in displays to ensure safety messages are heard loud and clear by both staff and customers across a whole range of sectors.
However, a display stand is only as effective as its design and positioning – and there are a few common pitfalls companies can fall into when choosing and displaying their physical distancing messages. Here’s a quick guide to make sure you avoid the signage slip-ups that can cause confusion and increase infection risks in your office, store or workplace.
1. Get the position right
It sounds obvious, but understanding where to position your display stands or signs is critical to ensuring people actually see them. For instance, when we walk down the street, we have a tendency to frequently glance at the ground a short distance in front of our feet, to avoid any obstacles in our way – particularly in high traffic areas. When we enter a building, we are more inclined to look up ahead to where we are going, and we anticipate signage to be at eye level or higher. This is why sidewalk signs are so effective outdoors, and retractable banners work so well in lobbies. If you are unsure where to position your safety signage in your workplace, try playing the customer for a while – approach your premises as if visiting for the first time, and walk through as if you didn’t know where you were going. You’ll notice where your gaze falls and where you pause or slow down, and these spots are natural locations for safety display stands.
2. Size matters
Size really matters when it comes to signage and display stands. Have you ever noticed a series of light pole banners that are just a little too small to read when passing by in your car? As well as being annoying, this can actually be dangerous as you have to slow down and squint your eyes to try and read the signs, instead of concentrating on the road! The same applies to crowded spaces such as airports, train stations and shopping malls – the more people are around, the bigger a display needs to be in order to get noticed, and be readable from a distance. For safety messages, people need to be able to read and understand the content of your display stand in 5 seconds or less – any longer and you’ll lose their attention. In busy spaces and especially outdoors, signs must be big enough for this to happen without people having to stop or go out of their way to read them, or they just won’t bother.
3. Keep it simple
Design is another important factor in making sure that people can read and understand your safety messages quickly. It’s sometimes tempting to put lots of information on a banner stand, because you have plenty of space, and because you want people to be well-informed – but the harsh reality is that if people can’t read it in a couple of seconds, they are likely not to read it at all. Many printing companies will be asked by their clients for guidance on the actual messaging to go on a banner stand or outdoor display, and the golden rule is, less is more when it comes to word count. With that said, it’s important for signs to also be clear and highly visible. Common mistakes include using dark coloured signage in dark spaces or relying on symbols without words – you might think that a huge arrow will be enough to signpost a one-way system, for example, but often there’s too much room for interpretation with a symbol alone. A few carefully chosen words such as ‘one way only’ or ‘keep your distance’ can help people to interpret symbols accurately and act accordingly.
4. Cleanability is critical
Most businesses are using banner stands and other displays to reinforce infection messages at strategic points within their premises – on entry, in high traffic areas, near kitchens or cafeterias and in restrooms. But what about the hygiene of the signs themselves? You may not have designed your display stands to be touched or handled by customers and staff but they are still a potential breeding ground for germs and should therefore be suitable for regular disinfection. Retractable banner stands are usually fitted with wipeable vinyls while tension fabric displays can be machine washed. Rigid media is another robust option, especially for healthcare settings, while snap frames are a good way to display safety posters in a wipe-clean format. It’s worth considering the effects of regular cleaning and disinfection on the substrates you recommend to your customers for use with their display stand, to ensure the quality and vibrancy stays high throughout its life.
5. Stay on brand
Just because your signage needs to be clear and simple doesn’t mean it has to be bland and in fact, there’s some valuable equity to be gained from making sure your safety messaging is on brand. Since you are investing in display stands, you might as well make them work for you by incorporating your brand logo, colour palette and even strapline into the design. Combining a smart, branded appearance with clear messaging lets your customer know immediately that your business cares about their wellbeing, and is committed to the necessary measures to keep them safe. These subconscious messages are likely to linger in the customer’s memory long after they’ve left your premises.
To view Frontline’s range of versatile display stands, available for immediate dispatch, visit www.frontline-na.com.