Signs are perhaps the most ancient yet still relevant tools of marketing. According to the International Sign Association, signage is the least expensive but most effective form of advertising and can account for half of your customers.

Can sign makers use systematic methods of creativity?  Absolutely.

Here is a classic example of Attribute Dependency in signage.  Attribute Dependency is one of five techniques of the corporate innovation method called SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking).  It differs from the other techniques in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency (or potential break in an existing dependency) that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves.

In this example, the sign’s message is dependent on the height (therefore, age) of the viewer. That is the hallmark of Attribute Dependency – as one thing changes, another thing changes.  I always think of transition sunglasses as an example.

For an interesting history of signs, visit the American Sign Museum located here in Cincinnati.  Special thanks to my co-author, Dr. Jacob Goldenberg, for sharing this with me.