Wayfinding is a key part of environmental graphic design – or the whole-body approach to incorporating signage into branding. It’s the idea that there is no stone left unturned in the branding process, from the signs leading to the bathroom to the exit ramp out of a parking garage. Environmental graphic design (EGD) can immediately immerse customers into your brand and turn a brief shopping trip into a full experience.
Wayfinding plays a significant role in the customer experience. The signage installed can impact whether or not customers return. Here are seven ways wayfinding enhances the customer experience.
1. Create Positive First Impressions
Signage is often the first impression that customers have of a storefront or business. In the case of our work with Port Canaveral, the first thing guests saw when approaching the port was the clearly labeled parking garage for visitors who were coming or going.
The first impression plays a significant role in the brand experience. It determines whether your customers arrive happily or stressed. It sets the tone for what people should expect from your business.
In the worst-case scenarios, poor wayfinding can actively drive people away from a business. Potential customers could give up if there isn’t clear signage directing them to the best options for parking and to the entrance of the building.
2. Help Customers Find What They Need
If you can’t find what you need in a store, are you going to keep wandering or will you give up? Customers can substitute the items they can’t find or order them online. If a retail location is confusing, they aren’t going to try to find what they need.
Wayfinding assures customers that they can easily reach their desired departments. It makes them feel confident in their ability to find key items or people. With clear guidance, you can keep people looking (and finding) what they need, driving up your sales and improving the customer experience.
3. Keep Customers Longer
Customers who stay at a business longer are likely to spend more. For example, look at Sparkman Wharf, an outdoor waterfront destination in Tampa with eating, live music, and entertainment. If a customer buys food and leaves, they will only make one purchase. However, if there is live music or their friends are around, they are more likely to find a drink or look for another snack. The positive experience drives them to spend more.
Wayfinding contributes to positive experiences. Customers are more relaxed and comfortable. This keeps them on-location longer and drives up your profits.
4. Present New Opportunities
Along with informing customers on where their desired products or destinations are, wayfinding can also present new ideas. This is particularly useful in the hospitality field where guests want to explore new activities while relaxing. The signage we created for Busch Gardens alerted guests to the new Iron Gwazi ride. Thrill-seekers who had never ridden the coast before would be drawn in by the bright colors and dramatic lighting.
Wayfinding is valuable for both new and returning customers. New customers want to know about everything you offer while returning customers want to try different things and get to know a brand better.
5. Reduce the Burden on the Customer Care Team
Good wayfinding will have ripple effects throughout a business. Clear signage and directional instruction mean customers will ask fewer questions. This, in turn, frees up the time for employees to help other customers.
For example, half of all hospital visitors report getting lost when trying to find the right department. They stop doctors, nurses, and other staff members for guidance. While it might only take up a few minutes to help a visitor, those minutes add up during the day and take time away from patients. This is why we were so dedicated to the signage at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Minutes are crucial in a hospital setting. In a way, good wayfinding saves lives.
6. Increase Customer Return Rate
Customers overcome a lot of hurdles to visit a business. In a world where almost anything can be ordered online and business can be run over Zoom, it’s asking a lot to bring people to a location. Marketing gets them to visit – the customer experience determines whether or not they return.
Businesses need a healthy mixture of new and repeat customers to succeed. New customers help you grow while your repeat customers drive profits. After three purchases, your customers have a 54% chance of purchasing from you again. After the first purchase, that return rate is only 27%.
Wayfinding has a direct correlation to your sales and business performance. If you create a positive experience with clear signage, then customers are more likely to return, spend more, and share their positive experience with others.
7. Contribute to Your Overall Environmental Branding
Environmental branding involves using different aspects of your business to tell a story. For example, if you have ever been to Legoland, you will notice just how many aspects of the theme park and neighboring resorts are made of bricks (or look like they are). At Legoland Beach Resort, the environmental branding makes families feel like they are on a pirate adventure or a challenge to find lost jewels.
Wayfinding contributes to environmental branding. It enhances the existing brand elements. In a restaurant, the signage reflects the furniture choices, menu, and interior design. In a business, the wayfinding reflects the company’s brand values.
Companies that are committed to thorough branding need to keep signage and wayfinding in mind. Paying attention to the smaller details is just as important as your customer service.
Learn More About Wayfinding and Environmental Graphic Design
Wayfinding is just one part of the environmental graphic design umbrella. Every sign and navigational tool you post reflects your brand whether you realize it or not. A poorly printed sheet of paper says just as much about your core values and customer care as a well-designed poster.
At Creative Sign Designs, we work with enterprise organizations to build a sign strategy around their branding. Contact our Environmental Graphic Design Studio to learn more.