Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

UC Research Examines Unintended Consequences of Signage Regulation

Monday, December 19, 2016 6:25 PM
Lindner marketing professor to present findings at National Signage Conference on October 8-9.

Research on the rules governing the use of signage show that although regulation can be a good thing, being overly restrictive can, in the end, harm businesses and turn consumers away.

“The majority of American consumers agree that signage must be regulated to avoid chaos; however, they find the proliferation of signage regulation to be overly restrictive and not beneficial to businesses or the consumers they serve,” says Lindner College of Business marketing Professor James Kellaris, Womack / Gemini Corp. Chair of Signage and Visual Marketing.

Kellaris will give an overview of these new findings in presentation called “Viewing Signs Through the Eyes of the Beholders” at the National Signage Research and Education Conference on Oct. 8-9, 2014 at Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center.

The conference theme on signage regulation is the fifth and final event of a five-year UC commitment to jointly present research findings with the Sign Foundation, Inc., Lindner College of Business, and UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP).

Among the findings from a national, online survey of American consumers, a consensus exists that signage must be regulated, but not so restrictive that rules can lead to problems such as signs being too small or indistinct to be easily read from a passing car, Kellaris says.

The survey also revealed that as believers in commercial speech, which includes signage, both liberal and conservative consumers agree that regulators should strive to err on the side of liberty over restriction when ‘reasonable limits’ are in dispute.

Over the five years of this industry-university partnership, Lindner research has significantly added to the knowledge base on signage. Kellaris will summarize past research with industry partner BrandSpark International, noting that signs draw traffic to businesses, consumers infer quality from signage, and that signage trumps radio, internet, newspapers as a source of new product information. This stream of research also discovered that over half of the population has driven by and failed to find a business due to signage communication failures. Overly restrictive regulation may be a source of such failures.

As part of an eight-segment presentation, UC DAAP Professors Chris Auffrey and Henry Hildebrandt will present “New Tools for Looking at the Importance of Signage.” The session summarizes the results of graduate students use of  3M Corporation’s Visual Attention Service (VAS) visual computational modeling software to analyze on-premise signage within urban-street and suburban-road contexts.



Who: Open to the public. Reservations required.

What: National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC)

Where: Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center at the University of Cincinnati, 151 Goodman St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45219

When: Wednesday and Thursday, October 8-9th  |  8AM-5:30PM

Cost: $295

Registration: Online registration