What’s New

Retail sign at checkout

10 Signs That Didn’t Mean to Be Funny

We often tell our Vancouver sign clients that sign making is equal parts art and communication. Skillful sign making is a balancing act between the two, and, if one discipline is lacking, your sign becomes a waste of materials and labour.

The following sign makers need a little more practice at finding that balance.

1. On SLAE now!

While the origin of this window signage is unknown, it is purportedly a real sign. Who doesn’t love a good SLAE? We’ve never seen such a blatant mistake in Vancouver signage, but they likely happen once in a while.

2. Lifejackets. Your life depends on wearing one. Or not.

Outdoor sign at lake

From buzzfeed.

Hey, Army Corps of Engineers! What is it that a life jacket is supposed to save you from? We know what they mean, but this outdoor sign is a little confusing and not exactly persuasive. Wear one…don’t wear one. Maybe it doesn’t matter at Lake Cumberland, since one person drowned even with their lifejacket on. It would be best to stick to the most impactful part of the message: “304 people drowned and were not wearing their life jacket”. Sometimes less is more.

3. You can check out any time you like, “butt” you may never leave.

Retail sign at checkout

As seen on happyplace.com.

A little knowledge of sentence structure in sign making goes a long way. This retail sign gives “cueing up” an entirely repulsive meaning. Where is the store entrance located? On second thought, we don’t want to know.

We were once told of similar gaffe resulting in a misworded parkade sign in a Vancouver store, penned by a well-meaning attendant, reminding people to “Remember to take your ticket and place face upon dash.”

4. Bacon and “Eggs”.

Outdoor sign eggs

A roadside sign posted by Reader’s Digest

Mmm…”eggs”. The use of quotation marks as emphasis is rampant in signage and in writing. When used in this manner, the quotations marks mean “so called” and are commonly referred to as “air quotes” or “ersatz quotes”.  Though we aren’t editors, we’d never go to a “restaurant” and order an “omelette”.  Sure…I’ll “pay” for my order now. The food was “great”.

5. Park here any time?

How many people have parked illegally here? According to the street sign, none. It’s amazing how something as simple as a missing time range changes the meaning of the sign or makes it utterly confusing. If you look at parking signs in Vancouver, they’re usually quite clear, stating the time range and days you are not allowed to park in a location.

6. Yes, we do have a bike trail and no you may not bike on it.

Why would I go to a bike trail if I couldn’t bike there? Makes you wonder if there is any gardening allowed in the gardens? The proximity of words to one another in signage design can be nearly as important as the words used to convey the information. A little space would do wonders for this sign, but maybe two signs, one above the other, would have been the best choice.

7. Eh Mon. Careful de cars.

It’s great that west coast college campuses are warning unsuspecting motorists of the dangers of driving when so many students are stumbling around near-campus streets half baked. Those impromptu Hacky Sac sessions are the cause of many a fender bender. There may be a case for similar signs in Vancouver campuses given the pot-friendly atmosphere that the city and coast have become renowned for.

8. You can never have enough big building signs.

“Scuse me sir, can you tell me if this is Best Buy?”

“Hmm. I’m not sure, but you know…I get this weird feeling it just might be.”

Big box stores adhere a very simple signage principles: everything is BIG, BOLD and BRASH. As in your face as these store signs are, there is no mistaking a big box store. Thankfully, not every Vancouver business uses signage as overbearing as this.

9. Open season on motorcyclists.

The less stable among us might interpret this as incentive or permission to drive into a motorcycle.

We know what they mean but perhaps the people responsible for traffic signage didn’t have their coffee before crafting the message for this public service billboard.

10. Sorry, we don’t want your complimented wire.

It’s usually difficult to find a buyer for insulted wired. Perhaps “complimented wire” would be an easier product to buy and sell, or better yet, just check the dictionary if spelling is not your forte.

Obviously this vinyl sign needed a proof reader. One missing letter changes everything.

Get Not So Funny Vancouver Signs

We do have a sense of humour, and sometimes humour may be intentionally incorporated into a sign’s design, but, rest assured, when Sandbox makes signs, we do so with care and professionalism. Receive a free signage quote and consultation.