Signposting Your Audience in the Right Direction

Which way are you going?

How did I come to find myself paying such absolute attention to a road sign? I see them every day. I usually don’t give them a second glance. Neither do most people. 

Lining Glasgow’s residential and urban streets, are 20 mph speed signs, with a difference. As per the standard in road signs, these sport a number encased in a circle. The difference though, is the catchphrase beneath: “Twenty’s Plenty”. 20’s Plenty is a UK based campaign to lower speed limits in residential and urban areas where pedestrians/cyclists and motorised traffic mix, aimed at promoting safer road use. 
At first I thought my appreciation for the campaign, was for the storytelling: the slogan draws your attention to your participation as a road user. You are forced to consider what is beyond ‘plenty’, why more than twenty might be excess. You consider the consequences. Marketing that makes the audience an active participant, has done its job. 
But surely, I thought, there had to be a more significant reason the campaign appealed to my senses so considerably. Eventually, the penny dropped. The answer was in my first reaction - I don’t usually actively read road signs. It is a passive day to day action. Of course I take notice, but the action is largely subconscious. So, again, I posed the question, how was I suddenly pondering (for quite some time) on such an ordinary object? There had to be a science behind it. And there is. It’s called Explicit Memory. 
Explicit Memory involves conscious recollection, compared with implicit memory which is an unconscious, unintentional form of memory. As we become familiarised with objects or images that are commonplace into our day to day lives, such as road signs (or overused marketing buzzwords like ‘innovative’ or ‘solutions’), they move from the realm of explicit memory, to implicit memory. We stop actively paying attention and the information slips straight into our subconscious. The slogan “Twenty’s Plenty” had successfully transferred road sign reading back into my explicit memory, through change. 
So how do you create sign posts for your audience, to help them pay attention again? Stay fresh. Change your design. Stop using the same old words and images. It’s only a matter of time before your explicit messages become implicit. Keep creating new sign posts, and your audience will take notice. While every ‘innovative’ company out there is ‘thinking outside the box’, Glasgow’s just writing road signs. And, just for that, they win my vote for marketing campaign of the week. 
 Thanks Plenty Glasgow. 
P.S. If you look up 20’s Plenty, you’ll discover it’s a pretty old campaign. But, hey, it’s my first visit to Glasgow - so it’s news to me! It’s the learning that counts, right?


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