City of Surrey Signage Bylaw

Better Signs Mean Better Business

Problem Definition/Need
Signs in Surrey needed to change. The visual clutter across Surrey has grown to a point where it has caused a driving hazard and negatively impacted the community. So Surrey passed a by-law revision intended to clean up and enhance this city that’s one of the fastest growing in Canada. The goal is to motivate business operators to choose signs that comply with the by-law, enhance their business and strengthen the community.

Because the by-law affected every business or organization with a sign, the campaign had to reach across sectors and scales of business. So research was conducted to determine the influencers and triggers to affect change. The intention was to influence the behaviour of any organization putting up a sign and change existing signs to conform to the new by-law and improve civic pride.

Our advice was to focus the messages on improving business: better signs mean better business (rather than focusing on the enforcement consequence of non-compliance). The campaign included creating key messages, a communications plan (that included a traditional and digital media plan), a social media component with visual icons, web content, brochures and an animated video. See the campaign web page here.

We worked with the animators, wrote the script, and ensured it was executed with precision and was engaging. We created a message that would motivate rather than force behaviour change. To do this, we researched the changes to the by-law, identified key triggers and influencers in signage decisions, reviewed goals of city planners and beautification planners. We then aligned messages with the audience using visual cues. Animation allowed us to eliminate risk of identifying individual businesses as ‘offenders’ yet still highlight the prohibited offenses so that anyone could recognize it.

The campaign met with unanimous support from council. The tone and tactics achieve the balance of persuasion with value of compliance. It exceeds goals by introducing beautification as an advantage to compliance. Metrics measurements are in place once roll out occurs. Analysis to come.