There are many reasons I have chosen to live in the South West of Western Australia, and being a lover of the great outdoors the relatively untouched, natural beauty of our beaches and forests definitely rates high on the list. Understandably then, it irritates me when people blatantly pollute this natural environment. Whilst passing tourists do contribute to the litter on the side of the road, the type of pollution I am most concerned about is that created by local businesses – namely in the form of excessive and poorly designed signage.

You only need to take a drive down Caves Road to see what I am talking about! The roadside is littered with corflute signs nailed to trees and strewn along the curb, advertising pointless facts such as ‘wine tasting’, ‘coffee here’ and ‘Restaurant 200m ahead’. Garish coloured bali flags poke their ugly heads out from behind fences and the sides of driveways at every given opportunity doing their best to reel you in.

When you stop and think for a minute what do these signs do other than contribute to visual pollution? Do they really make you want a coffee or influence you to choose this winery to taste wine as opposed to the one down the road a bit? Are bali flags really going to make you stop at one restaurant over another? I personally think if you need to place colourful flaps of material on bamboo at your entrance to make people notice you then your regular entrance signage is not doing its job.

A well designed entrance statement with classy understated signage should be more than enough to get you noticed and visited. If your marketing in other mediums is doing its job then people will remember your name and will have a fairly good idea of where to find you. They will seek you out and make you their destination – not something a few pieces of plastic signage on the side of a road is ever likely to do – and if they miss you I can guarantee they’ll turn around and come back.

It is also the responsibility of business owners to make sure their signage is well designed. Signs should be visually appealing and well branded so that anyone who already knows about you can instantly recognise you. Good design isn’t just about making your sign look good but also making sure it communicates well. If information such as opening hours or particular services are important, incorporate them into your main signage and avoid the need to tack lots of little signs up in lieu. Signage should also be structurally sound to avoid it causing harm to visitors or road users.

The South West is a beautiful place and I for one do not agree with our views being spoilt by unnecessary signage. If you are a local business owner in the region I encourage you to take a look at your signage and make sure it is not contributing to the visual pollution. If in doubt put your dollars into real advertising rather than bali flags and reap the rewards for yourself and
our environment.