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RIBA Site Signboards put practices on the map

Is your architectural practice missing an easy marketing trick? In the days of Google search and social media, architects can overlook more traditional avenues to promoting their practice. That would be a mistake. Attaching the iconic red RIBA sign board bearing the practice’s name and contact details to a live construction can be a potent element of a multi-strand marketing strategy and will pay dividends for firms – both in the UK and oversees.

Around sixty years, the highly recognisable sign boards get firms noticed, reinforcing identities thrown up in internet searches. And by providing the reassurance of a contactable name, the distinctive boards help nurture good community relations – a key tenet of delivering social value.

Photo by Woodrow Vizor Architects

As Rob Pollard, joint founder of RX Architects and a fan of the boards, remarks: “The RIBA sign boards stand out and are easily recognisable by the public. If anyone has any queries, they can quickly see who’s designed the project and pick up the phone.”

Rob Pollard started his practice in 2016 and now employs 12 people. It is based in Rye in East Sussex and operates a 50:50 split between commercial and residential work. He says they have been deploying RIBA signs on projects since they started, and the tactic has been particularly effective in projects in towns and villages where there is high project visibility. “The public recognises the RIBA logo, and its cachet instils confidence that a professional and responsible firm is involved. It definitely helps cement good community relations.”

The RIBA has copyright of the board and restricts usage exclusively to RIBA members, either Chartered Practices or Chartered Architects – it’s one of the many benefits of membership, and one perhaps not always drawn on as regularly as it could be.

RIBA members are considered the gold standard of the architecture profession, so displaying a board proves they work to the highest industry standards.

Woodrow Vizor is another practice that has noticed the benefits. The London practice has recently moved westwards from Shepherd’s Bush to Hampton Court, and having sign boards on projects has helped the firm establish itself in its new location. Says co-founder George Woodrow: “Since we moved offices the boards have been a valuable marketing tool and have definitely helped us get recognised in Twickenham and Hampton. We still have a lot of work in Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith, but that's based largely on previous reputation and word of mouth. When we moved to the new area, it took a little bit of time to get local clients. Having sign boards up for that purpose was very useful.”

He’s hopeful their sign outside a large Victorian House in Twickenham the practice is restoring and renovating will provide a calling card to residents with similar properties in the area.

“It’s a lovely big double-fronted and detached house, which is a larger project than we normally do. If potential clients can see us working on projects that size, it aims to give them confidence we can do that for them and similar projects will hopefully come our way.”

Woodrow Vizor currently does mostly domestic work and George Woodrow says the sign boards represent “incredible value for money”.

“Given they cost under seventy pounds it means that we don't have to worry about the spend on a sign board relative to other marketing. There's a local magazine in Richmond that gets distributed to all the homes in the borough that we have thought about advertising in, but that's a bigger expense for us so we haven't taken the plunge yet. So it’s quite an easy decision to keep using sign boards because they are inexpensive, easy to put up and effective.”

Photo by RX Architects

The signboards, which are are available in standard sizes (4’x1’ and 8’x2’), come in three styles: on 5mm rigid board (suitable for outdoor), as a vinyl sticker (suitable for windows) or as a mesh banner (suitable for outdoor/scaffolding). The different formats allow flexibility of use as a project progresses, which maximises the opportunity for promoting the practice throughout the duration.

Practices can utilise the self-serve system to create sign boards themselves, adding in their personal details to stand-out further. “Chartered practices access the dedicated website and draw up their own boards in minutes,” says Amanda Winslade, RIBA Business manager.

“Lots of different professional organisations provide signs but they are quite similar. The RIBA red, however, is very distinctive and really stands out. They are one of the most recognisable ‘badges’ because they are used so widely and are proven to help architects to promote themselves. That’s why we get requests from our members all around the world including Belgium Brazil and Spain.”

Download the RIBA Site Signboards order form.

If you have never used a signboard on a project, then maybe now is the time to give it a try. For more details visit RIBA Site Signboards or email RIBA Design Services.

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