How Signage Helps Trader Joe’s Stand Out

Written by | Signage

With all the excitement over digital signage and its interactive possibilities, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the point: awareness and communication!

Regardless of the purpose of your signage — informational, directional, promotional or safety — integrated marketers shouldn’t assume that signs have to be boring to be effective.

How Effective Can Signage Be?

A few examples: Is your signage so artistic and cool that people snap photos and save them on Pinterest boards or post them on Instagram?

Do people blog about your store after visiting for the first time and bring home illustrated tote bags as souvenirs?

Does your brand have such a loyal, enthusiastic following that people set up fan pages to lobby for stores to come to their cities?

Well, as you may have guessed, this is Trader Joe’s we’re talking about, which many people feel is not the ordinary average grocer.

“The Store Is Like An Art Exhibition”

As a first-time customer (on vacation from out of state) explains: “Trader Joe’s is a quirky supermarket selling innovative foodie products … The store is a like an art exhibition, the walls have been covered in commissioned works from a local artist.”

Why go to all the expense of hiring another “crew member” (Trader Joe’s employee) to paint signs?

Colorful, hand-drawn signage is another one of the many unique touches that makes Trader Joe’s stand out from its competitors and avoid commoditization. Hand-lettered signs can easily be created on reusable surfaces such as chalkboards, whiteboards or painted onto windows.

One local Trader Joe’s artist elaborated on what the job entails in an interview:

“All the signs in Trader Joe’s are handmade. With the exception of receipts, if it has words on it we design it in-store. On paper, I’m responsible for making sure that every product has a shelf tag with a price and for highlighting products. In reality, that has translated to everything from sewing a giant turkey, crafting a 4-foot 3D hot air balloon out of paper, small illustrations, and much more.”

Trader Joe’s also integrates the look of illustrated advertising into other marketing materials like their direct mail newsletter, the Fearless Flyer, which also doubles as a handout.

Next time you’re looking for new ways to differentiate your business, consider how you can add more personality and creative flair to your signage. For additional ideas, read our previous post, “Signage Flourishes at the Intersection of Art & Marketing.”

Last modified: February 14, 2018

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