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WayForward — How we started a signage company for the COVID era

A talk with Geoff Cook, partner at BaseNYC, about launching a signage company for the COVID era in partnership with Hastings Architecture.

How did you come up with the idea of WayForward?

It was actually something our client, Hastings, requested for their own offices. They needed “back to work” signage but couldn’t find anything of the caliber, design-wise, that was appropriate for an architecture firm. As we discussed designing branded wayfinding for them, we realized that many of our clients would have the same needs, so we decided to create the Way Forward Signage Co.

From a personal standpoint, how do you feel about the signage we see in the public space today?

Just like the brands or objects we love, signage needs to engage people emotionally. Today when you go to medical clinics, hospitals, restaurants, and hotels to name a few, their signage consists of printed pages in plastic sleeves placed crookedly on windows and doors, which just adds to the depressing nature of the current situation. The fact these signs are often unclear from an informational point of view makes it more complicated to safely navigate complex spaces.

What were the important factors you took into consideration during the design process?

We focused first and foremost on making them extremely clear and highly visible, which led us to develop minimalistic icons that people can read at a glance. As we delved further into the design process, we saw an opportunity to not just deliver on those fundamental elements, but also on making these symbols more uplifting and positive.

Today you’re focused on small and medium-sized businesses, is there anything else in the works?

Yes, we are looking into creating something specifically for hospitals and medical clinics, cultural institutions, restaurants, and schools and universities. Next week, we are also launching all signage in Spanish.

For highly public brands, are you thinking of developing branded packages?

Yes, in fact for Hastings itself we did a custom package that reconciles with their brand identity. Clearly, for well-known brands, we are offering custom signage that is aligned to their existing identities.

Why do you think businesses are ready to invest in this today?
I think the safety of their employees and customers is paramount. What we are realizing is that we were all hoping this reality would be temporary, but we are now seeing that this is not the case. Signage therefore has to be treated as permanent.

Should this be another extension of a brand touch-point?

Yes, it has to be considered as such and match with the brand’s tone of voice, personality and identity.

Why did you decide to offer ready-made packages?

We wanted to make this process, which can be a trying one, as effortless as possible. With our partners, as architectural experts in spaces, we defined packages that are easy to purchase and install, and that adhere to CDC guidelines.

Where can we find WayForward and what’s the price range? Is it available worldwide?

Individual signs start at as little as $19.50, and it goes all the way to $745 for a 66-sign, medium office package. As of right now, Way Forward is only available only in the USA though we are starting to get requests from Europe as well.

Visit the webshop here!