If we just say “no” to stock signage, we can freshen up so much: We can exercise our creativity, wow our customer, give each other a higher value-standard to live up to (one worthy of Aloha and Ho‘okipa), and how about this: We can say what we really mean and want most to convey!
Since I already had my camera in hand during my recent visit to an O‘ahu shopping mall, I started to wonder what else I would find after this episode: Those critical first and last impressions. Here are two more signs to think about, both which you probably have seen before and now take for granted. What if we try to reinvent them?
First (and constantly repeated) was this one, found on every door I knew I could not open and peek through uninvited:
It might be clear and succinct, but come on now… surely we can do better than that! What if it said something like, “Doorway to the work we do for you behind the scenes; Swings open often in our enthusiasm!”
And is it really that ‘clear and succinct?’ Or are we now just trained in knowing, “that’s a place that I would not be welcomed to walk through.” The devil’s advocate in me really wanted to ask someone, “Service Area” great! What kind of Ho‘okipa-inspired service can I now expect with all these doorways to where your magic sauce of combined Aloha Spirit mixes in business inventiveness and community contribution?” And” “Suppose I wanted to work for you too; what kind of person must I be so I can be ‘authorized,’ hmm?”
Here’s another one: Is this at the edge of the escalator —where it is legible to me after my stroller wheels are already on it, and the crowd behind me is pushing me forward to just get my ascent over with, turning back no longer an option— because you really care about me, and my family’s safety, or because this is the surest way an attorney somewhere thinks you can avoid litigation?
Sure, it is likely true that almost everyone who has ridden an escalator knows this is there, and it is probably true that people take their chances and ignore it anyway, yet I still have to ask: What if we challenged ourselves to do better?
What if the sign were posted a bit farther away, but still smartly in my walking path toward the escalator, and with arrows pointing to where the nearest elevator waited for me instead?
What if it wasn’t about rules, but about a genuine care for my best interests?
What if that elevator I should use had a surprising mural of cartoon characters and piped-in nursery rhymes, so my children would be clamoring to use it instead of the now-more-boring escalator?
What if we treated people not as customers we need to herd and rule over as we squeeze their dollars out of them, but as guests we want to appreciate, care for, and delight?
So I will keep looking, challenging myself to think fresher, smarter, and more creatively. I would love to see more examples that are good versus not: If you have them, comment with a link to share, would you?
Those Critical First and Last Impressions
Ban Stock Signage and Get Creative!