#CafeAntonioLB

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Signage Dilemma

Beach flags inspired our new signages along the National Highway
* Since 2008, we have been haunted by the infamous "Signage Dilemma." Back in Grove, customers were suggesting that we put a Panaflex signage protruding high over the sidewalk so that people would see us as they drove by. Obviously, we were not able to do that. When we moved to LB Square in 2010, the "visibility" issue even got worse! We were located at the back of the compound and we relied on word-of-mouth to promote our new location. The shop directory at the entrance of the square never happened so we became very frustrated because we weren't able to attract new customers and tourists unless they went to LB Square to look for a bar and happened to see us as they searched for a clean bathroom. When we finally moved to Maahas last year, we thought that visibility would no longer be a problem because the compound was along the road. Yes, it was along the road, but the store wasn't visible unless you start looking outside your window a hundred meters before the actual site. If you're not paying attention, you'll find yourself texting and asking me if the cafe was before or after South Supermarket, UP Open University, or Mer-Nel's Place. Especially at night, we were so invisible from the eyes of motorists, you would doubt if we ever existed at all.

* As frustration escalates and after several meetings and brainstorming sessions, we finally mounted a huge Panaflex signage up high on the takeout building wing. We thought that this would be the solution to our  problem. It was not.  After a few months, the lights inside the Panaflex got busted plus customer feedback told us that the signage was too high for them to see along the road.

* Everyday, I am haunted by this "Signage Dilemma." I cannot concentrate at work, I go to the parking lot  every night and try to visualize a solution. Well there are obvious solutions of course, but some obvious solutions are too expensive for us. We needed a cheap and effective alternative.

* On a very rare vacation trip to Boracay with my friends that almost didn't happen, I was hoping to draw some layout inspiration from the restaurants that we visited. I enjoyed looking at dining area layouts, bar layouts, al fresco layouts, especially if the space was small. I wasn't looking for signage inspirations yet but one evening, I noticed that the shops brought out flags with company logos on them, hanging on bamboo poles UPLB FebFair-style. And I thought, "Wow, that looks affordable and doable!"

* After several consultations with friends and the staff about the design, structure, and materials, we finally hoisted the flags yesterday. After 5 years in the business, we were able to put up our first decent signage. Five years is a long time, so don't follow our example. Immediately invest in a functioning and visible signage even before you buy chairs for the shop. If there's a lesson in this story, it's this: never EVER give up on a problem until it is solved!

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