The way you handle
signage for an event speaks volumes about your company’s
or client’s values. So it is rather troubling that most of us are
still ordering truckloads of signage made of traditional materials
such as foam core, Sintra, Gatorboard, vinyl, PVC,
polystyrene-infused disposables and other materials deemed
Foam core is still the most common
material used for portable signage, but there are few ways to
repurpose the material after the meeting. Foam core can be
reskinned, but it’s a difficult process.
Vinyl banners, if stored correctly, can
be reused for many years if the content printed on them is not
going to change. But that isn’t the typical scenario: Logos change,
meeting themes vary, even company or association names can be
modified over the space of a few years.
It might sound daunting, but making
signage greener and leaner is relatively simple.
Projecting images -- on flat screens,
pop-up screens, walls, floors -- is an outstanding alternative to
printed materials. Assess what resources and technology you already
have invested in or can invest in for long-term return. Flat
panels, for example, are low-cost or, if you don’t want to buy
them, easy to rent -- and they look cool, too. Panels can be reused
again and again. Perhaps their greatest value is that the content
broadcast on them can be modified instantaneously, meaning errors
can be fixed or changes made in seconds. And the bright clarity of
the images makes a strong impact.
PDAs are another great replacement for
much of your signage: You can beam all the key event information,
including agendas, general session details, maps and room
numbers/names directly onto individuals’ own PDAs or even rent them
for attendees and preload them with data. Strangely, the technology
to easily and quickly zap information onto PDAs has been around for
years, yet it is far from ubiquitous at myriad renowned high-tech
events. Why? In part because signs are just so easy and cheap to
order and produce.
Banish any sign that does not serve a
distinct purpose. Your sign must provide a critical function that
will either identify, direct or give essential information that
cannot be reasonably replaced by another method.
Many signs become obsolete the moment
they are printed -- for example, the gigantic at-a-glance agendas
that can change radically by the time a meeting takes place or even
during the event.
Some signage is wasteful and redundant.
While creating a branded and distinct footprint in a venue is
vital, you don’t need to put your own signs on the rest rooms or
over the exit signs to complete the group’s “owner-ship” of the
Create your own alternatives.
Organizers of a recent confection convention leveraged their
candy-making skills to spell out their messaging and “baked” their
signage out of pastry ingredients. Other groups have used signs
made of natural materials such as bamboo, wood, leaves, etc.
Push the Vendors
Put the onus on your vendors to come up
with better signage solutions -- and offer to partner with them on
creating better alternatives. General contractors and printers are
pursuing more environmentally friendly and innovative signage
options for their clients, but the industry has a long way to go.
Until more completely recyclable and environmentally viable options
exist, keep challenging your partners and vendors to think
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,