Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Make the right first impression!

How to ensure your signs stand out

Every day as people drive to work, school, home or other destinations, they see hundreds of signs from the businesses they pass. Unfortunately, many of these signs turn customers away before they even make it to the location in question. Drue Townsend explains how parks and attractions operators can make their signs stand out above the crowd.

Signs and graphics are one of the most affordable and powerful ways to build awareness and promote an outdoor amusement destination. By using signs and graphics, amusement park planners can help customers enjoy their visits by providing needed information on easy-to-view, readable signs.

The quality and appearance of the exterior signs are a good way to convey to prospective patrons a variety of messages – that they are open for business, closed for the season, holding a special event, or premiering a new ride – while upholding the personality of the venue.

The value of signs

Signs and graphics inform, direct and sell. When looking for ways to draw in customers, signs and graphics, among other advertising mediums, can offer a high return on investment. As such, planners should consider the impact of signs and graphics in their overall marketing plans.

Tote boards, concession and restroom signs, sponsorship banners, directional maps and parking & ride safety signs all help to inform and direct visitors.

The initial impression potential patrons have of an amusement venue, or any other place of business, is often through the signage that it utilises. According to the Signage Sourcebook, compiled by the US Small Business Administration and the Signage Foundation for Communication Excellence, signs are the primary way that newcomers become aware of a business, as well as reinforcing what they may or may not already know about the company.

Whether it’s a special event at the park, or just a regular day of business, signs also play an important role in the safety of managing large crowds of people. Signs and graphics can assist in making the park, and the parking lot, a safer place for both employees and patrons. This can be achieved by posting warning signs, first aid locations and emergency shelter locations.

When deciding how to incorporate signage, amusement park planners should consider these design tips for maximum impact:

1) For comprehension and legibility, letters should be one inch for every 10 feet of viewing distance, and the stroke of the letters should be one-fifth the letter height.

2) If you don’t have the space for large letters, use light-coloured letters on a dark background for greater contrast.

3) If you add a border to a sign, viewers can read the message more quickly.

4) If a photo is included on a sign, make sure it is large enough for viewers to see it clearly.

Finding the right signs

Chances are that parks already have a variety of signs in place, or parks still in the planning stages will have signage onsite. It is still important to think about the potential of signs and the options available both in and outside of the park.

Full colour graphics and photos are great for creating signs with high visual impact. In addition to permanent exterior signage, other exterior signs that work well for amusement centres include full colour banners, window graphics and vehicle graphics.

Banners promoting discount days, for example, can lead to increased attendance and boost the likelihood that guests will return to your park for another day of fun, or perhaps for a special event that has been advertised throughout the park on other signs.

Another type of exterior sign that can be effectively used is a promotional banner displayed on stands throughout the park promoting events or venues inside the premises. Banners can also be placed in banner stands – flexible, moveable displays that can be posted anywhere on site.

Vehicle graphics are another example of exterior signs and graphics ideally suited for amusement parks. Eye-catching graphics on vehicles such as buses, vans or shuttles can be a fun, creative way to advertise the park while building name recognition. Whether announcing the season opening, a new ride or a special concert, displaying the message on a company vehicle can generate up to 1,000 impressions for less than 70 cents (US), according to research by Madison Mobile Media. Furthermore, Madison says three quarters of consumers develop an impression of a company and its products based on vehicle graphics.

By being prepared with some basic information and collaborating with an experienced signage professional, your destination’s sign and graphics can reflect the best image possible for the park and attract the desired attendance.

Drue Townsend is the senior vice-president of marketing for Fastsigns International. Franchised Fastsigns outlets can be found in over 500 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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