Event Signs and Wayfinding

Signs and wayfinding might be the most overlooked aspect of an event. When I started doing events in 2002, I got stuck with this job and did not care for it one bit. I was ill prepared my first time out. I just bought a bunch of bungee cords, zip ties, rope, etc. and drove to Over the Rhine (Cincinnati, OH) with a car full of vinyl banners. All the bars participating in the MidPoint Music Festival were supposed to get a banner, but no two venues were the same. Some venues had nothing to attach a banner to. Other venues required a longer ladder than I had. Some bar owners offered to hang the banner for me. Believing them was a mistake. The first day of the festival, I was scrambling to find the signs and hang them.

The following year, I did my homework. I took the time to think about every venue and what would be the best way to hang each banner. I had the volunteer manager find a couple of volunteers to help. I provided everyone with the tools, diagrams, etc. to properly and efficiently hang the banners. It was a fail. Even with specific instructions, the volunteers didn’t like hanging banners and “phoned it in.” I had to go around and fix most of the banners.

In 2004, I employed a trusted friend with event experience to hang the banners. I spent an hour explaining how difficult the job was, how to prepare, and what was expected. I was so excited to get this job off my plate. Delegating never felt so good…until I checked on his progress. Banners were duct-taped to many of the venues at waste-level. Once again, I’m hanging banners. A famous line from The Godfather Part III popped into my head: “Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.”

I handled signs and wayfinding at Bunbury through 2015; the first year partnering with Promowest. I worked with Matt, their graphic designer, on planning, designing, and hanging all the signs and banners. In 2016, I handed it off to Matt and never looked back. Sure, there were a few hiccups that year, but Matt seemed to tackle the challenge head on. This past year, I only answered a few questions and helped hang a few signs. I was finally free!

Matt just took a new position with another company. I have a bad feeling about this, but at least I can leverage DiaZam to make it easier.