The most obvious form of communication you’re overlooking.

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We all know communication is delivered in multiple ways: with text and images, through words and action.


Pictures are worth a thousand words.


It started in childhood.

We pined for pictures on every page in our books.

It continues in adulthood with US Weekly and GQ.

(Yeah, I know… your wife ordered them. Right.)


We know too that vivid colors are preferable over black & white.

It’s Design and it’s a good thing.


We also know humans are incredibly skillful at ignoring constant stimuli.


The manure smell at the farm?

It disappears in 10 minutes.


The baby crying during the closing minutes of the World Cup quarterfinal?

Never heard a thing.


If we know all this – humans prefer pictures and colors to go along with text and our brains quickly block out consistent stimuli – Why do we continue to botch the most obvious form of communication?



I’m talking about your jobsite signage.

The signs that welcome and inform (in theory) workers and guests about your expectations on-site.



Most signage stinks.

It’s an after-thought.

It appears to be for compliance purposes only.


The roach coaches have better signage than our jobsites!




It’s like building a multi-million dollar home and when we spec in the front door we say, “There’s a rusted-out El Camino in the lot next door… let’s just use the passenger side door. They’re both doors. What’s the difference?


Are you currently using 3’ x 5’ white corrugated plastic with black vinyl letters in ALL CAPS Arial font?


OK then, I’m talking to you.

Stop doing that.

No one is reading it.



The signage welcoming jobsite workers and visitors should say something.

Use pictures.

Use colors.

Use some design elements.



If you’re going to do it, do it right.

As construction managers, how often are you preaching to do it right the first time?

Well… practice what you preach.



The incremental cost of creating jobsite signage memorably is minimal.

Red Angle recently translated and designed a set of jobsite posters for a Chicago commercial construction company. The original request was simply for the translation of 60-some words.


We asked, “Do you mind if we try to make it awesome?”

I’ll let you be the judge on whether or not we succeeded.




Signage ESP



The feedback we’ve received is that it’s much better, different and much more noticeable.

Workers are talking about it.


The signage is in English, Spanish and Polish. We’ve been told that has communicated a strong cultural message as well – one of inclusiveness… not to mention logic. The cost of a few additional signs per job is far less than a worker’s compensation claim.


When is the last time you evaluated your jobsite signage?


Is it in your workers’ language of preference?


Does it have colors and pictures along with the text?


Does your signage communicate anything other than, “This is for compliance only. You don’t really have to read it.








Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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