Building Impressions with Cerebral Signage

Applying design thinking to signs

A friend of mine recently sent me an article from Harvard Business Review titled “Plan a Better Meeting with Design Thinking” by Maya Bernstein and Rae Ringel. In short, they demonstrate how “design thinking” applied to meetings can make them more efficient and effective.

By taking the time to plan, brand, then design the key points properly, a meeting can generate more energy, enthusiasm, engagement and empathy with the attendees. In turn, there is a better chance of successful outcomes.

In other words, the reason for the meeting is made clearer, the objectives better understood, and there is increased productivity. This results in infusing creativity with the meeting’s agenda and information. Visually, the use of signs and graphics can enhance the environment and enforce the key elements of the meeting’s purpose.

The blending of intelligence and imagination with creativity is not a new concept. The theory of creation by Intelligent Design, for instance, is entirely based on it. Smart design wrapped around intellectual data and concepts can expand and extend a brand beyond the standard or traditional uses of branding. When expressed visually through signs and graphics, I describe them as cerebral signage.

The word cerebral is an interesting word to ascribe to this process of design thought and encompasses what it means to fully use your brain intelligently, analytically, smartly, and creatively. It’s using the right and left brain equally, together. The right side of the brain is said to be associated with creativity and emotion. The left side is related to logic and linear thinking. One side is smart. The other crafty.

As a designer, and sign-guy, I work in the world of branding. As a business owner, I consult other businesses. I’m continually using the full spectrum of my experiences that blend both sides of my brain to bring solutions to my clients.

What I have found to be very true in many cases is that the best results have come about when both the right and the left sides of the brain are blended and contribute equally to arriving at successful solutions. I call this the convergence of the cerebral with the creative, where the two streams come together and meet to become more forceful or powerful, like a river.

This is what design thought provides in the creative process. When design thought is applied and expressed through signs and graphics that are aligned with intellectual messages, the goals of the message are brought to life.

There are plenty of profitable project opportunities to provide cerebral signage. I’ve provided a variety of them throughout my career. One of the first steps to attain an opportunity is to attract one. Marketing and reputation help. Building a portfolio to show past projects helps. Once you complete some projects successfully, word of mouth will tend to bring a next one.

Smart people at smart companies come up with some really smart ideas, and they want to work with a smart branding provider. So align yourself smartly. There are plenty of reactive signs and graphics providers around who wait for the phone to ring then respond with a basic sign or graphic.

Be different. Be smart. Be proactive. Design smart and produce smart signs and displays. Be more than just a sign company. Be a branding expert woh provides smart solutions to a variety of needs. Nurture the relationship, and in time you’ll be producing all types of cerebral signs and graphics that could include being used for important meetings and meeting rooms.

A most recent example of my own personal experience comes from a non-profit entity that wanted to re-brand itself, then apply the new brand to their signs and print assets. With the relationship established and a reputation as a brand expert in tact, we were invited to work on the entire project from logo to signs.

For a logo, they selected one that was simple, strong, and smart while complimenting the new name; Cancer Resources for Elkhart County. Using the first two letters of the first two words in the name, the word CARE emerges to reflect their primary purpose and mission.

From there, a new tag line was carefully crafted; Caring Through Your Journey. By the way, they paid us for the smart design services first, then again for the upgrades and changes to all their signs.

Another recent project involved helping craft a theme and look for a booth display that the client was going to exhibit at a home builder expo. They also happen to be a non-profit cancer organization affiliated with a regional healthcare provider. Again, the relationship and reputation made the client think of us as their first choice to help.

Ribbon of Hope works with adult cancer patients by providing a number of services. The home builder show would allow them the opportunity to connect their brand to over 5,000 attendees.

A meeting was setup to explore ideas on how to connect the organization’s brand to the theme of the expo where people would be attending to meet a variety of home builder and yard service providers.

For a booth theme, we came up with taking care of your home can mean so much more than the bricks and mortar because cancer can enter any home at any time. Then we produced signs, graphics and magnets to match the theme. The show was a big success for them.

These are just two examples of how we worked with the client proactively and helped provide solutions that involved design thought, not just waiting for the client to tell what sort of sign they wanted.

These projects were on the smaller side. We have applied the same process on a much larger scale including entire interior environments where we conveyed the organization’s values and innovation through unique wall displays, to activating a section of a city’s downtown with artistic signs and graphics that included wrapping electrical boxes and light posts and producing large murals for the exterior walls of buildings, all with cerebral signage and creative messages that took a brand to interesting new levels.

The world is becoming smarter and more visual by the day. So whatever you want to call it-smart, intelligent, cerebral-by bringing it into your designs, signs, and graphics, you can grow your business and build impressions.

Scott Franko

Scott Franko

Scott Franko

Scott Franko owned Franko Design Concepts and Consulting. He formerly owned and operated a multi-division sign, graphics and custom fabrication business.

View all articles by Scott Franko  

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