Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Welcome To The Bus Stop

As most of you may know, I am NOT A FAN of the new signage in downtown Columbia.
As a formally trained designer (although I do not practice) everything about these signs make my skin crawl -- color, design, font, and visual hierarchy. I hope I do not offend the designer and I pray it is no one I know but... here are my thoughts (because, I know you REALLY want to know them!)
Here are my general thoughts:
1. It looks like a Yellow Pages phone book.
2. It looks like signage you would see in a bus station or train station.
3. Why are yellow and baby blue used -- this is not Miami?
4. Huge NO-NO #1 never use a script font (harder to read) that small on something someone is supposed to be able to read from their car... come on. Consider your viewer, people.
5. Huge NO-NO #2 use your blank space -- once again consider the viewer -- don't put a tiny font in the middle of a bunch of blank space.
6. It is UGLY.
7. There is NOTHING about these signs that says "Columbia, a beautiful, old, hospitable, southern city" they say "Welcome to Craptown USA where we let the homeless trash our downtown like they live in a BUS STATION".
8. The actual construction of the sign appears to me -- to be a indoor sign -- maybe for a mall, airport, OR BUS STATION.
9. Did I say they were Ugly?
10. Milk Duds tells me that they do not direct you to the correct places on top of all of this.

Here are some photos with comments for your viewing pleasure:

Let your fingers do the walking! I am a giant phone book!
This font is so crappy for this sign -- you can't even read what it says up close. It looks like it says "Columbia, Riverloads Region" -- Um, no this is the "Vista" -- not the "Riverbanks Region" -- pick a concept people and stick with it. Look at all of the wasted space. Don't get me wrong -- there is nothing wrong with blank space -- it can be very useful and creative depending on the format for which it is being used -- but in this instance, not a good idea. Remember your viewers people!

I am actually not sure what is going on here. I am not sure if they have 2 different signs and one is supposed to have a white moon and one is not. Regardless this one did not have the white moon and it looked like they forgot to stick it on. Let me say this too -- I hate the moon, I hate it, I hate it. Without the Palmetto it makes no sense and I am so tired of seeing the Palmetto and moon anyway on everything -- but the moon really makes no sense and for anyone not from South Carolina it would really be confusing. They did use a good san-serifed font here though. Yay for them.

Good for them, they stuck the moon on this time. Look at all the wasted space. You can barely read the words from your car and once again the moon looks retarded as does the color scheme.

Once again, I am not going to vomit up again all that I went over before, but...

This one really peeves me. The logo stinks. I think they were going for a capital with three rivers flowing from it -- but the rivers look like highways and actually make me think of a bridge and that may be what they were going for(?). If you were not from here you would never realize those were supposed to represent the three rivers. The script font under the word "Columbia" is horribly placed, illegible, and the wrong size. They use 4 different fonts throughout the sign which drive me crazy and the concept just stinks. Once again, construction-wise this looks like an indoor sign to me. I really do not get this "Riverbanks Region" thing either, are they trying to rename the Vista?

I would like to say it is a valiant effort. I know, you are thinking "Who are you to be giving such a critique?" I am not anyone special, I am not a designer and have not been for years, I know my opinion really does not matter, but I have to look at it everyday.

If I were to do it -- I would get away from the "Riverbanks Region", and go with a more "Historic Columbia" and "Vista" feel... Use a wrought iron aspect to the signage with white, black, grey maybe a light salmon color -- stick with a antebellum theme and try to keep the serifed fonts to a minimum.

There, that will be 2 cents, please.

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