Signals provide us with a clue of what is to come. A signal is a transmission used to relay information or instructions. Over the past twenty years or so, due to my background in design, I have been extremely tuned in to the visual signals that exist and what impact they play specifically in the area of market positioning. Many clients I have worked with over the years have had the right stuff, but lacked the ability to provide the appropriate signal to the market. Companies that had great ideas, great products, people and expertise—provided signals that were contrasting their exceptional capabilities. It happens. It happens all the time in fact. What starts out as a perception problem often blossoms into full dysfunction.
Companies will surge and grow regardless of the poor signals they send. Besides, most of these companies and organizations aren't communication companies, they sell widgets, and build bridges—signals and communications aren't important—just widgets and bridges...or whatever it is they hock for a buck. But what happens is they grow into big companies and their small signal / perception issue becomes a gargantuan communication problem. Now we don't have 33 people sending the wrong signals, we have 33,000 people degrading a brand. You can see where this could get a little messy (and expensive).
Let's look at a turn signal (on a car) for an example. You might take it for granted but consistency, frequency, and standardization have really helped this simple little signal communicate with clarity and connect with people at the highest level. Misunderstanding about this minuscule little light could have grave consequences. Just think if some people tapped the brake 3 times for left and 2 times for right. Or, what if others honked their horn, or waved a hand to indicate or signal which direction they were turning. With over 250 million automobiles on the road in the U.S. it would be devastating not to have our signals jive up with our actions.
What signals are you sending? What signals do we send as parents? What signals do we send to our spouse? What signals do we send as a church? What signals do we send as a business. What signals do we send as a state—or as a nation? Are we sending the right signals?
I plan to write a series on this topic, and hope that these posts will inspire you to stop, refocus, and look at things from a new perspective. Why does it matter? —Stay tuned.