Our office is located in Santa Monica, so I often have cause to drive along Lincoln Blvd, its main thoroughfare. I comment all the time on how run down and shabby so many of the storefronts are. The paint is peeling off, neon signs are only half lit; stores, inside and out, are a cluttered mess. I wonder why the building/business owners don’t seem to care to make their place of business more appealing to the passerby. I’m sure it all comes down to cost, especially “in this economy”, but shouldn’t the curb appeal of your business equate to more money for your business and therefore the whole reason why you should spend more?
An article published by yellowpages.com states:
“Your storefront can make or break your business. It’s a form of advertising, as well as the beginning of the customer experience. You can have the perfect location but waste it if your storefront and building looks shabby and dated or if customers fail to notice it. Retail curb appeal is more than just creating an aesthetically pleasing storefront. Retail curb appeal is about making people want to come inside and buy. If you are a retailer, your store is your brand. Effectively attending to your storefront and building, then, is one of the most important branding steps you can take. The storefront sends the world a message about your business and its personality.”
Making people want to come inside and buy. Enhancing curb appeal. Sounds like what we do for our clients.
I was intrigued by the new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust before it was even built.
The construction site was completely obscured by fencing, but the posted architectural renderings caught my eye. When the fencing was finally removed, I realized the renderings didn’t do it justice. I saw an elegant and thoughtful design, beautifully integrated into a slope at a corner of hilly Pan Pacific Park. Partially below ground, it’s rooftop paths seem like extensions of the walkways in the park. When on top, or viewed from the park, one might be surprised to learn there is something inside.
Perhaps this was a problem. It was too integrated, too calm and collected. How could anyone find it?
The signage that now mars the museum exterior is clearly the result of poor planning, not to mention taste. I imagine a reactionary “signage committee,” eager to address a problem but unable to comprehend a larger picture. It looks hastily “designed” and installed, with absolutely no sensitivity to what the architecture was designed to achieve. A ham-fisted LOS ANGELES MUSEUM OF THE HOLOCAUST, set in Helvetica Bold , white letters crammed in a long black rectangle debases the museum. Making matters worse, the name is bookended on each end by what is perhaps the worst logo ever—an inelegant, literal symbol that further devalues the museum.
From across the street you can see the sign is crooked. Not even the installers cared enough to step back and take a good look.
Branding is creating distinction, and there’s a point in a branding exercise when a company’s unique personality traits are devised. It’s as if a human being is being built—a living, breathing brand. It’s a part of the process I particularly enjoy.
While flipping through photos I’ve shot in various cities, I was drawn to images of Rome—specifically the distinctive storefront signage so abundant there. You see, I love cities. They’re the result of a massive collective endeavor, with their own unique complexities, histories and discoveries. Cities are rich in detail and no two are alike.
I was struck by the thought of how a city attains its personality without even trying. It just happens with time. In the case of Rome, its signage creates a singularly distinct and beautiful voice. I wonder how Romans would characterize their city.
As a designer, I’m drawn to this sort of detail. And I love typography. I haven’t seen anything else quite like it—in Italy or any other place.