I recently took a trip to YVR to pick my brother from the airport. On the way to the airport I found the time to construct a couple of excellent signs to welcome in my brother and his wife to the country.

At the airport, as I was holding up the sign, I quickly realised the average dwell time on my sign was considerably higher than other signs in the vicinity. There was little doubt in my mind that I’d scored something of a coup in the welcome hall that day.

Buoyed by my success, I thought I’d write this brief article to help fellow picker-uppers pick up their friends and family more effectively at the airport.

1) Include their title even its slightly ambitious, presumptuous or not entirely true. Titles add some intrigue and gravity to the signage.

2) Caveat their title if required. I.e., use TBC. It’s important that there’s limited confusion as to whether or not that’s actually their title or not.

3) Use graphical devices to highlight their name on the sign. Because of all the detail you’ll want to include it’s import that the welcomee’s name isn’t entirely lost within all the informationals.

4) Provide pertinent contextual cues alluding to the purpose of the welcomee’s visit. If you’re not too sure why they’re visiting imagine a best case scenario.

5) Use long words, even if they don’t quite make sense. Endeavoration, for example, as I’ve used above, provides a beautiful excuse for the eye to linger for just an extra moment longer.

6) Use abbrev’s where appropriate i.e. – if you can’t fit everything in that you want to say etc.

7) Arrive at the airport early enough for the person for whom the sign is for, to see it. It’s nice to let other people read your sign too, but when you realise you were too late and your brother has already left the airport, it’s mildly irritating.

Just seven simple steps and you too could be providing light and hope for someone next time they arrive in the airport.


Ben Aston

Ben Aston

Ben Aston is a digital project manager and online entrepreneur. He's the founder of Black + White Zebra, an indie media company on a mission to help people and organizations succeed. Ben brings over 15 years of experience in both strategic thinking and tactical implementation from a career at top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, and DDB.

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