Mistakes Businesses Make When Implementing Physical Distancing Signage

As federal and provincial COVID-19 restrictions lessen at varied stages, each industry is quickly adapting to invoking physical distancing solutions within their space. Similar industries are learning about physical distancing solutions at different phases based on their region. As with anything new, mistakes are bound to happen! Essential services led the way showing us how to avoid the chaos of bad signage: handmade Band-Aid solutions and signage gaps. What we found has been working well for these businesses we’ve built upon, and continue to customize for every space’s unique needs.

Invoking physical distancing in our place of business is new to all of us, so as you prepare to refresh your signage or reopen, let’s help you avoid some of the pitfalls from those before you.


Physical distancing signage is useless if it’s not used in the right place, at the right time. When thinking about the positioning of your sign, ensure you’re walking through your space as your staff or customers will be.

For instance, welcome posters should be in a prominent position at eye level. One pitfall many businesses have is communicating too many messages at the same time. If your physical distancing rules are crowded by multiple promotional posters or staff memos, it’s likely that your sign will be glanced over and disregarded. Similarly, if your key physical distancing messaging is placed at one entrance, but not another, your physical distancing rules will be followed inconsistently.

By walking through your space as a “day in the life” – you can start making a list of potential at-risk, hot spot areas.

Forgetting high-traffic areas

When we conducted our webinar, ‘The Science of Signage: how to equip your business in the wake of physical distancing’, we emphasized the importance of identifying bottlenecks and common pathways. Start mapping out frequently traveled “hot spots” such as printers, washrooms, kitchens, hallways, boardrooms, customer service desks, entrances, elevators, and stairwells. All too often, we’ve watched businesses forget about some of these spaces entirely.

For customer-facing businesses, it’s important to make checklists for internal and external signage, for customers and staff. To assist you with this, we’ve created customer-facing, office, and restaurant checklists to help you think about some of your space’s hot spots and what type of solution (posters, A-frames, t-stands, shields, floor graphics) is needed where.

Feel free to lean on your TPH Manager for an expert opinion – we’ve helped countless industries like yours reopen or rebrand. We know what questions to ask to understand your space and unique business needs.

How it will be used

Our TPH Managers are solutions experts who can customize size and material for your space. We’ll ask what your signage will be used for, where you anticipate it should go, and how long you’d like it to last. For long-lasting solutions, we need to take into account the location (indoor or outdoor), floor and surface types, counter sizes, and more.

Some businesses forget to think about how signage will be used and that leaves a risk of the product or design not being the best fit with the space. Without consulting an expert, this can result in window signage peeling or bubbling, homemade posters tattering, or large-format signs needing to be redone as a professional wasn’t there to take error-free measurements. Measurements are important so that posters are high impact, shields fit your countertop, and floor signs fit your aisles!


Just because health and safety signage is necessary, doesn’t mean it needs to be off-brand. We can customize your signage to compliment your brand’s look and feel. Maintaining consistent branding emphasizes the consistency and professionalism that patrons or staff can also expect from your business. If you need design support – explore our design services.  

As we emphasized previously, the on-brand design of your signage should be chosen with respect to how the signage will be used. Let’s look at a real-life example, who we’ll call Suzy’s Restaurant. The high-end restaurant has chosen floor decals in their brand color – black. Suzy’s Restaurant didn’t consult an expert – who would have asked what flooring the floor decals were going to be placed on. Flooring type can help determine the best type of adhesive, but also the most high-impact design for visibility.

Suzy’s Restaurant’s black floor decals were difficult to notice on their dark hardwood and they received a ton of complaints! If they consulted an expert, the professional would have advised that the restaurant use their vibrant secondary colour to ensure their signage is noticeable and effective.

Another common design error we see with floor signage is disregarding the effectiveness of combining pictures and words. While symbols like the universal arrow may lead someone to assume that an area is one-way, it’s important to reinforce this messaging with a floor decal or poster that reads, ‘one-way area,’ ‘maintain 6 ft distance,’ or in smaller spaces, ‘wait your turn to use stairs’. All too often, physical distancing on stairs, hallways, or aisles can be completely disregarded due to signage gaps.

On the other hand, sometimes words can be the enemy. Effective signage uses as few words as possible in contrasting sizes (based on the importance of the messaging). Professional designers will know how to minimize text to keep messages clear and effective!

Whether you’re searching for physical distancing signage (indoor or outdoor), rebranding materials, staff communications (posters or postcards), or customer wayfinding signage (floor signs, welcome posters, A-Frames, window signs) – market.tph.ca and your local TPH Manager can equip your space to ensure you have effective signage that people notice, read, and take action on.


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