signs not only to direct attendees, but also to inspire and educate them, according to Jayson Haynes, managing director of
hospitality and convention operations for FedEx Of;ice. Ladegaard references the architectural principle “form follows function” when designing visual elements for events. Keep purpose
Beyond traditional functions of way;inding and identi;ication,
signage can drive event objectives by creating the right physical
environment for those objectives to be achieved. Ladegaard describes how color and design choices for a wellness conference
can promote thoughtful re;lection, and how visual elements (
including signage) create a full sensory experience that may also
include music or scents to create emotion in participants.
Color selection impacts the event experience, says Andrea Sullivan,
an organizational psychologist who has done extensive research
on enhancing meeting experiences with neuroscience principles.
Sullivan and Janet Sperstad, CMP (MPI Wisconsin Chapter), director of the meeting and event management program at Madison
College, outline the speci;ic effects of color on mood and cognition
in their white paper, Mindful Event Design: The Psychology of Physical Meeting Environments.
• Red stimulates the brain and increases vigilance and memory.
• Yellow enhances concentration and
produces a happy, peaceful mood.
• Blue calms and enhances creativity.
• Green relaxes and alleviates stress.
Similarly, Sullivan and Sperstad recommend the use of elements or imagery
of outdoor environments, as they reduce
stress and facilitate attention restoration.
At eye level, a sign can stimulate conversation and discussion, Sullivan says. Below
eye level it is more likely to evoke emotion,
and above it tends to elicit re;lection. Depending upon the results you want, consider where you are placing your signs.
Signage can also alleviate what Sullivan
describes as “navigational angst.” Keep signs simple, she says, and
use graphics that require less brainpower to decipher than words.
SUSTAINABILIT Y: IT’S A SIGN
Making sustainable choices for signage products means balancing
effectiveness, display environment, durability, manufacturing processes and disposal. Shawna McKinley, director of sustainability
for MeetGreen, offers the following recommendations.
• Invest in durable signage that can be reused from year to year
and plan for storage.
• For single use, select substrate materials that can be recycled
and are made from post-consumer, renewable materials such
as cardboard or wood ;iberboard.
• Limit the use of non-recyclable materials, including adhesive
vinyl and foam board.
• Use post-event materials, including banners, to create upcycled
consumer products or donate them to charitable organizations.
Mobile technology can interact effectively with printed signs to
personalize the event experience for participants and create new
opportunities for engagement.
“Signage is an important component of an event communica-
THE WO W FACTOR
tion strategy and needs to be looked at strategically,” says Trevor
Roald (MPI British Columbia Chapter), mobile event technology
evangelist for QuickMobile. “It needs to create a sense of place and
community and consistency with the brand. Signage helps partic-
ipants navigate their physical journeys, their education journeys,
their emotional journeys, their brand journeys and, in some cases,
their buying journeys.”
Simple technology, such as check-in or QR codes printed on
event signs, can be used in conjunction with a mobile app to add
a dynamic element and serve as “another touch point to person-
alize the experience,” he says. These codes can track continuing
education units (CEUs) or be part of a gami;ication plan for the
event. Some events are embedding RFID chips or beacons into
doorway signs to not only track CEUs, but to personalize push
noti;ications for surveys. Large
touch-screen signs, often built into
an event-branded kiosk, are also
used and can be pre-loaded with
the event’s mobile app.
Signs can just do “their job” (in-
form) or they can help an event
come alive through branding and
storytelling, says Mari Carmen
Obregon, CEO of El Efecto WOW!
“It is here where you can touch
people’s emotions, make them part
of a collective experience, give them
a sense of belonging and share a
story,” she says. “You can tell peo-
ple to go right or left with a sign. Or
you can add some emotion, and let
them know the way to prosperity,
to laughter, to joy or to a buddy meeting point. Citywide events can
brand the whole city with event promotion, or they can use those
same signs to give people tips, fun facts and event or city trivia. The
wow factor is all about using what you already have at hand in an
extraordinary way.” ■
for events. Keep
type and form.
This article is an excerpt from the white paper Signs for the Times:
Beyond Wayfinding - Creating Event and Brand Experiences with
Signage, sponsored by FedEx Office. Download the full version at