Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When City Signs Become an Iconic Destination

If you were asked to think of the most recognizable street-level city sign, most people would probably say the "I amsterdam" sign comes to mind. And for good reason.

As David Hornstein of Eye for Travel puts it, "The I Amsterdam sculpture elegantly captures the information of place in a meaningful way. By being able to touch, climb and photograph the sculpture tourists can literally touch and feel the brand, something that usually is very abstract and intangible. This brings the brand to life and makes it fun to interact with." In fact, I Amsterdam is not only a sign but also an intereactive sculpture. I myself am guilty of climbing on and taking pictures in the sculpture. It was a tangible memory.

The I Amsterdam sculpture is one of the images most posted on social media including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc. Because the world is globally integrated with social media, the city of Amsterdam is globally marketed for free. The I Amsterdam sculpture is a destination in itself that attracts people to the neighborhood and who end up visiting the shops, cafes, museums, and activities nearby.

Through the installation of one of these sculptural signs a city or commercial district can easily boost city pride, tourism, iconocism and promote activity and engagement- especially if the word(s) have integrated meaning to the city or word play. It can serve as an anchor to the surrounding district and become a meeting point easily identifiable and fun.


Lafayette, Louisiana for example, through their Creativity Everywhere project, produced a giant "LAFAYETTE". This one is interesting because it is interactive as well as iconic and pride inducing because it encourages people to create the "Y" in the middle.

Obviously not every city can adopt the same signage strategy as this could cause a lose of uniqueness, charm, and individuality of the city or district. However, as cities and districts continue to create strategic marketing plans, the addition of a city sign to the scene may become a an integral branding component that reflects each city's identity and reinforces its brand.

Here are some additional city signs from around the world:
"Only Lyon" sign found in Lyon, France
OY or YO sign, found in Brooklyn Bridge Park
"Mexico 68" Olympic sign
Central District, Mexico City

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