When one of our non-profit clients, His Hands Free Clinic, moved into a new location this year, not only did it double their overall clinic space, it also gave them a clean slate to reorganize their clinic with a flow that was better equipped to welcome and direct visitors. It also called for a signage strategy that combined branding and user experience.
We’ve worked closely with His Hands over the years on the branding of their clinic, which provides medical services for the underinsured and uninsured. Acting as a bit of a gatekeeper for the brand, our role has included everything from logo/tag development, corporate ID, and collateral material, to interior/exterior brand presence, videos, and fund-raising materials. We approached this job as we do with all of our clients: asking questions and listening to learn about the clinic’s needs for the space.
1. Because first impressions matter
Along with the logo and hours, a number of required items such as warning signs and daily notices made the front door at their old clinic a bit of a mess.
Solution: For the warning signs we simply created a uniform format for each notice and arranged them uniformly on the right door. The composition of the two doors allows for additional notices or affiliations to be placed in this same row on the left door.
Short of investing in a digital sign, there was no getting around the fact that the clinic was going to regularly hang 8-1/2 “x 11” papers on the doors. So rather than fight that Post-it Note look, we embraced it by providing two outlines for these types of notices. This helps ensure the papers are hung straight and look as if they are intended to be there.
2. Because it’s an integral part of your overall branding
The previous tenants had invested in a very nice monument sign that mirrored the architecture of the building, so the plan was always to incorporate His Hands logo into the existing structure. Two hurdles needed to be overcome. First, the two approved logo configurations didn’t nest very well in the shape of the sign. And second, we were made aware of the fact that the potential existed for the “Free Clinic” portion of the name to change somewhere down the road.
Solution: While we were the ones that designed the His Hands logo and wrote the graphic standards manual allowing just two configurations of the mark, we elected to break our own rules. The goal was to design to ensure the name was as large as possible, and having it fit nicely in the peak of the sign.
We also reduced the “Free Clinic” line and applied in white vinyl on the blue bar so it could be easily and inexpensively changed if a future name change required it.
3. Because user-friendly design is not just for websites
Since a number of His Hands patients are non-English speaking, a clinic employee suggested displaying the word “Welcome” in several different languages.
Solution: A large soffit area above the check-in desk turned out to be the perfect spot for a large word graphic. His Hands works with a number of translators, so the clinic was able to provide a list of all the different languages of clinic visitors. We added some to that list and ended up with 26 translations of the word Welcome – from sign language to braille.
Side note: When we quizzed the staff about the most frequently-asked question at their old facility, the answer was unanimous: “Where are the restrooms?” We tried to make it abundantly clear.
4. Because it tells your brand’s story
In 1992, Dr. James Bell started His Hands as a Christian outreach to help those needing medical as well as spiritual help. That Christian foundation remains today, and an effort was made to reflect that inside the clinic.
Solution #1: To highlight this important aspect of His Hands, we carefully selected passages of scripture that are encouraging and hopeful and placed them in high traffic areas. The clean vinyl design with text just a few shades darker than the wall provided a subtle yet noticeable anchor in overall aesthetic.
Solution #2: To visually communicate the history of His Hands, newspaper articles and other artifacts were arranged in the corner of the waiting room to tell the story of how His Hands Free Clinic got started and the growth they have experienced over the years.
5. Because it’s designed specifically for your needs
Directional and labeling signage seems like a no-brainer when it comes to professional settings, but it still requires intentional thinking with the end user in mind. In this case, the end user is both the His Hands staff and the patients visiting the clinic. That combination requires language that’s easy to see and not too technical (for patients) and a design that’s easy to change out if spaces are reorganized in the future (for staff).
Here’s your sign
Remember when the phrase “Here’s your sign” was a spoof on pointing out the obvious? Investing in professional signage for a professional office space can seem like an obvious choice, but don’t forget to treat the experience as part of your overall branding, and to view it through the eyes of your customers.
Don’t wait for a move, remodel or new construction to think about the image you are portraying to visitors to your business. Whether you already have a vision of improving your space, or need a nudge in right direction, drop us an email and we’ll get started.
Jeff Westrom is JWM’s Co-Founder, Co-Owner, President of Creative Services, and designer of historical displays and groan-worthy puns.