Building on Creativity: Innovative Visual Communications for Construction Signage

2014 March Whitepaper

When the housing bubble burst in 2009 and the economy tanked, virtually every industry was affected and as a result, construction projects came to a standstill. Slowly, the economy has rebounded and 2014 promises to be a good year for many businesses. New projects are anticipated to increase by 9% on averagei and new commercial projects are anticipated to increase by an impressive 17%.ii Offices, retailers and even big institutions like colleges and hospitals are finally committing to overdue expansion, renovation and new building projects.

But the rules have changed since the boom times enjoyed at the market’s height. Dollars spent face increased scrutiny. Oversight from clients, management and local jurisdiction is more stringent. Now more than ever, all constituents of a building project need to be reassured that the project is being completed using state-of-the-art materials and machinery, in less time and with fewer unanticipated obstacles than ever before.iii  In today’s competitive environment, it’s no longer adequate for a construction project to be efficient, forward-thinking, and just plain creative—it has to look it, too.

One of the easiest ways to communicate to passersby, clients and even a company’s own employees that their business is on the cutting-edge of innovation is through creative construction signage. Required signs and branded visual communications offer a valuable opportunity to reassure all constituents that this project is in the hands of the best in the industry.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help. For instance, Image360 - Middle River, MD’s approach to visual communications for construction projects goes beyond producing standard notices or run-of-the-mill directional signage. Custom, branded signs throughout the job site are not a “can-do,” but a “must-do.” In fact, as the economy slowly rallies following the recession, the savvy business is looking for any and all ways to demonstrate that it is a step above the competition. The appearance of your job site is the ideal place to start.

Here are a few solutions for maximizing the impact of visual communications on a construction site:

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

Many construction sites—inside and out—border walkways that are packed with pedestrians. Instead of just slapping the standard “Caution! Hard Hat Area” sign on the barrier that shields the construction site, companies ought to make the most of the opportunity to communicate with those passersby. 

For example, by hanging a banner on the barrier that uses a detailed diagram and eye-catching photos to tell the story of what is being built, a company can transform a construction sign into an advertising piece, equipping strangers with the knowledge to become customers, or even brand ambassadors.

Overcoming Alphabet Soup

All job sites do need to adhere to OSHA and ADA signage requirements. But these guidelines do not need to impair creativity. Yet, many companies merely “check the box” when creating necessary signage, rather than recognizing every visual communication piece as a powerful opportunity to promote their company’s identity. Even small additions, like unique fonts, eye-catching graphics, non-traditional materials or bold color schemes that are used consistently throughout the site help brand a construction area and further solidify positive associations with a company. An experienced sign company will be able to help companies be creative, as well as OSHA- and ADA-compliant.

Think In Living Color

What do most construction sites have in common? Dirt—and lots of it. In a sea of brown, signage with a pop of color is even more effective. Most companies have a primary, secondary and often a tertiary color associated with their logo and brand identity. By selecting the boldest color from the company’s palette as the background for a company’s entire suite of communications, their message gets noticed while also lending an overall cohesiveness to the construction area.

Spin Your Own Positive PR

By their very nature, construction projects are a necessary nuisance. The construction company or the firm paying for the project may find themselves as the target for complaints from employees, customers or even neighbors. But once again, communication and creativity are the answers.  For instance, by using digital signage that enables instant updates, the contractor can provide daily progress reports and even prime their audience when traffic obstructions are anticipated, so they can seek alternate routes. By using signage to be a good neighbor, a company can chip away at the negative feelings aimed at a project and cast itself in a more positive light.

Master the Art of Disguise

Many owners or contractors find graphics most helpful just as a construction site is looking its worst. Strategically placed wraps can camouflage scaffolding or temporary partitions while offering premium advertising space. Want to get really clever? Consider a to-scale graphic that shows what the finished project will look like – a great way to get customers enthusiastic about the ultimate payoff for all the hassles of remodeling.

Now more than ever, it’s essential for both construction companies and the firms footing the bill to ensure that excellence permeates all aspects of a construction project. The competitive environment is too tough to allow your company to be defined by a mediocre job site. Find the right partner willing to work with you to develop a suite of custom, branded visual communications materials that will position you as an industry leader in 2014 and beyond.

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i Construction Market Forecast: Slow and steady in 2014;


ii http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Construction-Forecast-Commercial-Property-Activity-Projected-to-Rise-17-in-2014/153881

iii  FMI, “Innovation: Fostering Creativity in the Construction Industry.”



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