I went shopping last week and wandered into a cavernous fashion outlet that is quite literally underground. Once I found my bearings beneath the low ceilings and pulsing artificial lights I was struck by simple sets of signs making the hyperactive environment easier to navigate. To my right, in endless recursion, I read “This is Tall!”. To my left was a chorus repeating in unison “This is Petite!” Simple language, repeated often and clear, in large, legible font to the point of bluntness. Wall posters, rack labels, hand tags. Over and over again. And, in this dense, saturated environment the plain spoken, obvious messaging provided an immediate sense of direction (and relief).

The shop is a large, saturated environment. The stock changes every few weeks which results in the shop layout constantly changing. A pragmatic system of “wayfinding” is essential to avoid overwhelming, confusing, and irritating the customers. I started thinking about the lessons from this experience in relation to Change Communications.

MY TAKEAWAYS

  • Think of change communications as “wayfinding”.
  • In a saturated, overwhelming environment keep change messages simple – detail can be provided when you get up close.
  • Provide redundancy, and be consistent with the message – say it clearly and say it often.
  • In an often changing environment be consistent with the format and manner in which messages are delivered – create a logical delivery system that can be repeated through the cycle of the change.
  • Be aware of the state of your audience, and communicate in order to both assist with comprehension and to land your message.