The Signs of New York City


New York Signs

I spent last week in New York City, attending the BlogWorld convention and checking out all the sights that a city of 8 million people has to offer. Needless to say, there are a lot of signs in New York.

On any given block at street level you’ll find two pizza parlors, a drugstore, a grocer, a florist, two hotels, a cell phone store, three delis, a diner, a gelato shop, two coffee shops, a news stand and three hot dog carts. All of whom have signs, vying for your attention. It can be . . . visually noisy to say the least.

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Logo Series: McDonald’s Golden Arches

This article is the first in a series discussing specific company logos, their designs and histories. The definition of the word logo is, “a graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., often uniquely designed for ready recognition.” (1) The best logos, used consistently, provide a strong corporate identity of the businesses they represent. Eventually, a company’s logo becomes a complex symbol that represents associated meanings and values apart from the actual company and its product. A logo can induce emotional reactions, memories and even moral judgements.

McDonald's Golden ArchesThe McDonald’s Golden Arches logo is one of the most recognizable in the world and has been for decades. A study in 1985 asked three and four-year-olds to identify logos. The McDonald’s logo was the most recognized with 17 out of 20 preschoolers able to identify the golden arches as McDonald’s (2). Because of the global reach of the company, the McDonald’s logo has come to signify more than just a hamburger restaurant. Today it symbolizes capitalism and American culture.

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Where’s the Bathroom? 6 Tips for Directional Signage


The Savvy Shopper - Harper Grey

Have you ever been shopping with a three-year-old? There are a few things to know before you go. Be prepared to cut the trip short if he gets cranky. Don’t expect him to ride in a stroller – he thinks he’s too big. But don’t expect him to walk very far, either. Be prepared for lots of, “look how cool this bright shiny thing is! I need it, need it, need it!” And finally, either limit his beverage intake or know the location of every bathroom in every store and be prepared to visit all of them.

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3 Tests When Developing Company Signage

From time to time here at the Communication Department, we like to sit back and let others do the heavy lifting. That’s why today’s post is courtesy of our friends over at Business Logos. Business Logos, founded by two pioneers in the online graphic design industry, caters to small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. Knowing that many of the logos they design go on to be integral parts of signage all across the U.S., we asked them to give us some of their best design “tests” that companies should employ when creating their signs.

The “Glance” Test


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Signage: A Sign of Americanization?

India Billboards

What are the effects on a country that begins to transforms itself from thousand-year-old traditions to modern technology? A new book, “India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India” by Akash Kapur explores that question. A native Indian, Kapur returned to his country in 2003 after living in the United States for over a decade. He writes about the Americanization of India, from the entrance of multinational corporations such as McDonald’s and Starbucks to the growing prosperity of even India’s most impoverished citizens. But it’s not all a rosy transformation from old to new: Kapur laments that tradition is being lost in the mix.

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Road Signs for Humans, Road Signs for Deer

I live in an area where there are a lot of mule deer; two herds of about 25 deer each roam in the foothills above our home. Every evening they wander down to an area near the road to nibble on the grass that is apparently much tastier there than the grass elsewhere. Luckily, the speed limit is low and I’ve never seen a deer get hit there. But my constant anxiety over the safety of “Bambi” made me wonder how effective deer signage is at preventing accidents.

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Hiring a Designer: When and Why


Graphic Designer

So you are a ________ (insert business, non-profit, mommy blogger, little league coach, OK, you get the idea.) No matter what you do in life, at some point you will be faced with the question of design. Whether it’s creating a logo, website or sign for your business, an email newsletter for your non-profit or a blog theme to show off your family recipes, you have to decide between hiring a designer or going at it yourself. Like most decisions there are pros and cons of each, but there are certain situations when hiring a designer is worth the cost. Here are four critical times when hiring a designer makes a lot of sense.

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The History of Signage


Cave Paintings
Image Author: Carla Hufstedler

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, signage (which is what you have to search for unless you are super interested in the Zodiac) is defined as any kind of visual graphics created to display information to a particular audience. At, we’re OK with that description – of course we would have come up with something much more spectacular, but that is another blog post. What we really wanted to know is where did signs come from, how have they been used and what were they made of in the past. As far as we know, the history of signage dates back to when man first figured out a way to express himself artistically. From the symbolic cave paintings of early human existence to the bright and modern digital city that is Tokyo, signs and symbols have always been used to communicate feelings, capture moments or advertise goods and services.

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