Shopping centre branding and wayfinding best practice

16 Jun 2014

Creating the perfect signage solution for a shopping centre involves careful consideration of a number of factors. The logistics of designing, locating and maintaining shopping centre wayfinding signage can be complex due to the sheer size of the site. However, careful planning from the outset will enable an efficient system to be designed and this challenge successfully met.

Barrier Signage

Location, Location

One of the first issues to clarify is where exactly signage is required. Although signs will obviously be required inside the building, it will probably be necessary to also cater for the car parks, public transport links such as the local train or bus station and the exterior of the centre. With some newer shopping centres covering almost two million square feet, a huge array of signage will be required. It is crucial to have adequate signs all over the site directing visitors to places such as food courts, parking areas and toilet and baby-change facilities.

Directory signage near all entrances and lifts will enable visitors to efficient navigate round the centre. An important aspect to consider when deciding where signage should be situated is the existence of other signs or displays. Too many signs clustered together make it difficult for shoppers to identify the ones that apply to them. This congestion can actually end up causing confusion instead of clarification.

Keep It Clear

The function of shopping centre signs is to provide information, so it is vital that signs are easy to read and understand. A sans serif font is a good choice, ensuring that both upper and lower case letters are clear. High levels of colour contrast make signs more decipherable, especially for the visually impaired, so black and white or black and yellow are popular choices.

Although red is an eye-catching colour, red text is surprisingly difficult for many people to read clearly, so is best avoided for smaller signs. For many visitors, the signs may not be in their first language so including internationally recognised symbols for toilets or food is beneficial.


Make It Varied

Shopping centre wayfinding signage has to meet the requirements of visitors, retailers and the shopping centre owners. Using a variety of different types not only looks more attractive but also serves different functions. For example, wayfinder totems would be useful as directional signs, whereas escalator signage would present a great branding opportunity for retailers. Flags, banners and suspended illuminated signs all offer different prospects for communicating a marketing message. Using signage at different heights will also facilitate the dissemination of key information.

step signage

Practical Considerations

Effective shopping centre signs should work within their specified environment. For example, signs using materials such as glass and aluminium would be in keeping with the character of a brand new, ultra-modern luxury shopping mall. However, signs must be functional as well as beautiful. Shopping centres are extremely high-traffic areas so it is essential that all signage is sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. Regular checks should be made to ensure the safety and integrity of the signs. Any faulty bulbs should be replaced in illuminated signs as soon as possible.

Generating shopping centre signage is a complex undertaking, but careful planning and thorough consideration of all the different factors will ensure the final result is both attractive and effective.