By Mike Flynn from Matisse Communications
In property development, signage is often a leading marketing source of enquiry. Whether it is the primary source of enquiry or acting as a reinforcement for another source is often debatable. Nevertheless, signage is an integral marketing channel for residential, commercial and retirement living projects.
Signage is frequently the topic of discussion within project meetings. Marketers often hear the war cry of ‘just get the signage up’ or ‘we need more signage,’ but there is a lot to consider and it is something that needs an upfront strategic and collective effort.
These 10 signage considerations for a property development are by no means comprehensive, but for developers, project sales or those new to property, they might be a good starting point.
1. Location, location, location
Know what’s possible! Get out to site with your signage and creative contractors and sales and development managers. Drive and walk the site and consider all signage requirements upfront so it is not an after thought.
• Sight lines for passing traffic
• Scheduled development / construction work
• Land which can be withheld and developed at the end of the sales period
• High visibility areas. I.e. road corners, roundabouts and higher ground
• Best signage sizes and angles to gain maximum visibility
Signage locations to consider:
• Main roads for billboards
• Internal roads for directional / way-finding
• Community amenities and facilities
• Sales office
• Display homes / village
2. Structural considerations
Understand site characteristics. These considerations might affect types of materials, construction and installation methods:
• Weather conditions: How windy is the location? What direct sunlight will there be?
• Is the area known for vandalism?
• What is the ground surface? Clay, rock or, sand or soil?
• Any underground services?
3. Signage permits
Create a detailed plan using satellite map sites like Nearmap or Google Earth. Plot locations, angles and sizes. This will become the working document for internal approvals, council permits, creative and signage briefs and stakeholder engagement.
With new projects, include the strategy document in the development application for council. Aim for the stars in terms of quantity and size of signs. If you don’t ask you don’t get! It is easy to decrease the sizes or number of signs than to seek approval for more signs or bigger signs.
Signage contractors can also help secure signage permits from councils. Council might want structural and installation details, so leaving it to the experts could be a good strategy.
4. Messaging – Keep it simple!
Have you driven past a billboard featuring 1) project branding, 2) developer branding, 3) sales agent branding, 4) positional messaging, 5) call to action messaging 6) campaign decals plus imagery?
If you drove past a billboard at 60kms, how many messages could you digest? I would suggest no more than 2-3 messages and an image.
If there is an opportunity for a series of billboards along a major road, consider spreading the marketing messages:
• Project brand and product sell
• Project brand and position sell
• Project brand and retail sell
• Project brand and directional messaging
Nominate specific signs to accommodate campaign messaging and consider this in the creative and production briefs. Make these boards adaptable. What will these signs communicate outside of campaigns?
Font types, sizes and spacing are also critical. Make it as easy to read!
And remember, the simplest or most straightforward messaging could be the best. It may not be the most creative, but it might be the most effective for lead generation and brand awareness.
5. Imagery – Stand out from the rest
I was reading a Hubspot post recently and it stated that the brain processes visuals 60, 000 times faster than text.
But bear in mind, many types of images used in property development are becoming clichéd. For example, land developments showing families in natural surrounds; apartment projects showcasing city skylines; retirement living showing group activities. Do these sound familiar?
With this in mind:
• What images best represent the project positioning?
• What images best represent the customer profiles?
• What images can differentiate the project from competitors?
• What images can create a point of difference or ‘cut through’ branding?
• What images can communicate a key message?
And lastly, the choice of colours in the image or on the sign itself is an important consideration. Don’t use anything that might blend in with the background environment. Make it bold!
6. Directional and way finding signage
Where do you want your customer to go once they have reached your project? Create a customer journey through directional or way finding signs. Destinations could include:
• Sales office
• New stage releases
• Display homes
• Project features I.e parkland, community facilities, retail
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes:
• Consider the best view lines for drivers
• Ensure destinations are consistently communicated across appropriate signs
• Consider taking customers on a journey past other places of interest on route
• Ensure customers can find their way back!
7. Destination signage
What are your project’s main attractions? How can you use these destinations to maximise your marketing efforts or create customer love for the project? Create a sense of arrival! Consider:
• Investing in quality renders or artist impressions
• Articulating key features
• Detailing completion dates
• Creating customer excitement through positional messaging
8. Flags and banners
Flags and banners are a great way to break- up a series of signs or if there are space restrictions, an effective alternative. Their strength is creating visual movement and perfect for:
• Project branding
• Business branding
• Destination messaging
9. Landscaping and maintenance
Signage is an extension to a project’s marketing and sales point of sale. It is ultimately part of the project and business brands.
• Consider landscaping to boost the presentation
• Create a landscaping maintenance schedule with the development team.
• As sales and development teams are often onsite regularly, seek regular updates on structural, vandalism and wear and tear maintenance issues.
Signage will ultimately need updating with new stage releases, events, retail campaigns and branding.
• Keep messages current
• Consider what will replace the current campaign. Have creative printed and ready for installation.
• Brief signage contractors once for both installation and removal. Don’t have removal and updates as an after thought!
• Consider weather conditions for installation and removal deadlines
Throughout his career with national developers and smaller private property businesses, he has launched and marketed retail, land, housing, apartment and retirement living projects across Australia.
Mike created Matisse Communications in 2013 to provide strategic marketing and creative services for property and finance groups, private developers, architects, project sales and real estate agents.