I’m a big fan of Dan Pink’s blog, and I particularly look forward to posts in his ongoing series, emotionally intelligent signage. The examples he posts are always thought-provoking, and the series has made me pay a lot more attention to the signage used in stores, restaurants and offices I frequent.
Here’s one I saw at a local coffee shop:
It reads “Newspapers are… For Sale. Please pay at the register. Thanks! (They are NOT free )”
I considered this sign emotionally intelligent because the store owners had a tricky situation—customers who were unintentionally stealing—and handled it with clarity and a bit of humor. As someone who’d be mortified to discover I’d stolen a paper (but might easily misinterpret a pile of newspapers), I appreciated the directness of the statement; I’d much rather read that than have someone inform me of my mistake after the fact. And the smiley face, font and “Thanks!” made it seem a lot less accusatory. Plus, it fit in with general atmosphere of the shop.
Do your signs produce the kinds of emotions you want your customers and employees to feel when they interact with your organization? Have you even thought about the emotional responses you want? Consider these questions:
- Do your signs have any spelling or grammatical mistakes? Those kinds of errors make you look unprofessional and might alienate nitpickers like me.
- Does the font support the message you want to send? Writing in all caps can make a customer feel like they’re being yelled at. “Fun” computer fonts, like Comic Sans are often perceived as unprofessional.
- What tone do your signs use? Are they aggressive? Bored? Professional? Funny? Does the tone of the sign match the character of your organization?
- Where might a customer encounter a sign in your organization? A few that you might not have thought of: the restrooms, employee name tags, tip jars. These too should induce the emotional message you intend.
- What about the signs that only your employees see? Are those emotionally intelligent? Do your employees feel motivated, supported and confident when they read the signs in your office? Or do they feel patronized, attacked or apathetic?
Share in the comment section: How do you use emotionally intelligent signage at work?