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Tuesday 2¢: Is your sign the right way round?

I haven’t done one of these for a while, and I will try and get back in the groove, but this Tuesday, I’m wondering how we deliver our message.


Today, on my daily walk, I saw a van with the company name written backwards across its front.

I can only assume that the signwriter or someone in their marketing team had figured out that for drivers of the cars the van was driving behind, looking at it in the rearview mirror, their name would appear the correct way round. 

Assuming that the driver of the car in front has nothing better to do than to let their attention linger on the rearview mirror as they consider ACME Removals (or Slavomer EMCA) for the next time they move house. 

I watched for a moment as it followed one car, but maybe a dozen or more passed the other way.

To the drivers of the cars coming the other way, the name of the company was, of course, backwards.

So, in this very unscientific observed research, the message was made accessible and relevant to one person (the driver of the car in front) but missed the mark for the dozen or so drivers coming the other way. 

How often do we, as marketers, do this?

We pick a single data point, a narrow audience and think of something slightly clever to access them and make it so. A highly personalised message to a particular audience that misses the mark for most.

Like many things in marketing, in defence of this van signwriter, it’s not that there is anything wrong with this communication technique.

If the core audience you need to reach is the driver in front of you, perhaps if you are an ambulance, then you need to cut through with a highly targeted back-to-front message and get them to act. To get out of the way. 

If not, is your sign the right way round?