A bad sign (Part II)

Sign of confusion

It appears that the windows below would meet the city’s sign standard requiring 60% transparency on “Pedestrian Streets” (see Sign, sign, everywhere a sign). The business below moved a couple of storefronts down a few years back, and in doing so it overcame its previous problem of a Sign of a lack of urgency. But still I find the clutter of signs unattractive and distracting and therefore detrimental to the success of Milwaukee Avenue as a commercial strip. I don’t even see how the sign clutter is beneficial to the merchant. One of the rules of good signage is legibility. Too many messages distract the potential customer. Keep it simple.

Both for traffic safety reasons and for sign legibility, I have read that two pieces of information is as much as a driver can take in at the speed of Milwaukee Avenue. Store owners need to focus their messages. While a driver might, for example, catch the message in the sign on the left (above) for Old Style beer, if she is looking for a bottle of wine, she may have missed that wine is also available for sale. Or maybe the store catches a driver’s attention with a bunch of beer signs, but he’s not looking to stop today. Unfortunately, with the focus on the beer signs, he doesn’t catch the name of the store, which might be helpful for a future visit.

One of the primary reasons to have a business sign is so that potential customers can identify a business and the products for sale. I’m not sure of the name of the business below: Accidents? Or what exactly it’s selling: legal services? loans/financing of taking on a personal injury case? Even for a pedestrian who is able to come to a complete stop to read the profusion of signs, there are too many messages with too little information conveyed. And in this case, though visible, the barren interior does nothing to better reveal the business of this business.

2651 Accidentes sign clutter

Sign clutter can also negatively impact the image people have of a particular business. For me, the business below looks rather junky, maybe even fly-by-night. It doesn’t instill confidence in the reputation of the business.

2785 OBC sign clutter

And that impression spills over into the image of the community, negatively impacting the impression people have of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square as a viable place to shop.

Surf\'s UpSummer diversions in Logan Square:

Storytelling in the Park: tales of nature, culture and adventure acted out with props, costume and sound; followed by Movies in the Park:

“Surf’s Up”
at Haas Park July 11

Update: The Winds Cafรฉ will serve “American cuisine with a Caribbean flavor” before the movie.

One Response to A bad sign (Part II)

  1. Christopher says:

    I’m going to disagree with you again. I love windows that look like this. To me its the sort of pedestrian typography that announces authenticity. Nothing worse than a neighborhood all yuppified in my opinion: cleaned up for the aesthetic values of the petite bourgeoisie

    There’s a great passage in Jacobs’ Death and Life wherein she is talking to a priest (a Chicago priest if I’m not mistaken, although it could be NY) about the chaos and clutter of the city is what gives it vitality. The priest comments that the chaos causes us to spend more time to focus our minds. Chaos breeds a content ordered mind. It’s a meditative quality of vivid disorganization. I always thought that the corollary to that is that the overly ordered suburban environment breeds a chaotic mind.

    Christopher: Some interesting points arise from an article in today’s Dallas Morning News: “Dallas law aims to bring signs down…,” issues of safety and whether there is a considered decision to use the excessive signage as there is no investment on the part of the business owner when the signs are supplied by corporate behemoths without a stake in the community.

    I want to take some time to address other points you raise in a future post. ~ Lynn

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