I Saw the Sign: Creative Communication of the COVID Message at Home and On the Road

Signs are everywhere! They are at gas stations and roadside restaurants, large retail outlets and mom & pop shops, outdoor attractions and workplaces. COVID arrived unexpectedly and the printing business ramped up and responded quickly.  

Work flooded in for creatives: graphic designers, copywriters, photographers, editors and printers. From idea and design to production, output and distribution, there was a sudden need for new signage. Not only did patrons need to know what to do, they needed guidance on how to do it safely. They were advised about the consequences of noncompliance. 

Did you see the mask sign, posted on the front door and pasted to the bathroom mirror? Notice the directional arrows stuck to the concrete floor, and signs at the end of every aisle, to let you know which direction to turn? Mascots and animated characters are recruited to send safety messages. Come on – Yoda’s wearing a mask; you can too! 

Some of the signs are hand-written, perhaps in hopes that COVID-19 will soon be eradicated, making a more permanent display unnecessary. As the weeks and months pass realization sets in, and business owners come to understand that many social distancing safety precautions are here to stay. 

Those who understand this have professionally produced, branded marketing. Displays are in full color, glossy and smartly designed to catch your eye as soon as you enter an establishment. Each has its own personality – serious, clinical and commanding vs. friendly, welcoming and reassuring. The bottom line? Public safety. 

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) have popped up on traditional media (radio, newspaper and TV) and more modern, digital platforms (social media sites, email threads and blogs). The message is everywhere! Well, everywhere in the city. 

As I’ve traveled around the Midwest my experience has been that rural areas are not as diligent about masks and social distancing. Hand sanitizer is harder to find. I exchange glances with an unmasked teen in the gas station bathroom and recognize a bit of contempt in her gaze. I’m sure she recognizes that same contempt is in my eyes; we have a fundamental disagreement about how to ensure public safety. Or perhaps she just doesn’t care!

I wash my hands for a few seconds longer than necessary, making a subtle point, quietly realizing that this passive aggressive approach is likely going unnoticed. I’m pleased that at least she is waiting quietly, on her phone, and intends to wash her hands. Will she sanitize the phone?

I consider personal safety, deciding it’s my responsibility to protect myself. I use plenty of soap with warm water, pull open door handles with my used paper towel, and am careful not to touch anything on my way out of the store. I bump the door open with my hip, then spray lavender hand sanitizer all over my hands, careful not to touch anything in my car until I’m sure it’s safe to do so. 

With safety in mind I frequent businesses and venues that visibly display their efforts to keep everyone healthy. So, I notice the signs because I’m looking for them.

Here’s what I’ve seen, in my travels around the Midwest (Ohio, Indiana and Illinois): 

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium:  

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomes our guests! 
*Please be sure to purchase your timed ticket or make a Columbus Zoo Member reservation at the links below before visiting” 

Trek (Westerville, OH): 

4 Ways to Shop: Shop by Phone. Shop Online. 1-on-1 Shopping. Shop in Store. 

REI – Recreation Equipment Inc.:  

“Across the co-op, we look forward to assisting you. As the majority of our stores have reopened for in-store shopping and returns, service may be slower than usual due to our COVID-19 safety protocols for staff and customers.” 


The safety, health and well-being of our team members and customers has always been and continues to be our highest priority. At this unique time, Giordano’s takes the growing concerns around COVID-19, very seriously and we thank you in advance for your trust in Giordano’s.

Warm Glow Candles:  

“The Warm Glow Candle Warehouse for online orders is experiencing heavier than normal volume. Shipping delays should be expected.” 

Burger King:  

“The Burger King brand is closely monitoring the situation and taking important steps to help protect the health and safety of our Guests and Team Members.” 

Trader Joe’s: 

“Neighborhood Shares Donations: It’s been our long-running policy to donate 100% of products that go unsold but are safe for consumption. In this time of crisis, we have continued this important everyday effort to support people in need in our communities. 

We face this unprecedented challenge together as a community, and we are deeply grateful to all our Crew Members, customers, and vendor partners, each of who continues to play a vital role in our effort as your neighborhood grocery store.  

– Trader Joe’s” 

This is a business I aim to support, for their efforts to protect against COVID and their contributions to the community! If you’re unsure which businesses to frequent just look for a sign! 

Join me on my next adventure, 

~ Kat 

Related Links: 

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/ 

Columbus Zoo (Reopening Plans): https://columbuszoo.org/home/visit/plan-your-visit/reopening-plan  

Trader Joe’s (Coronavirus Update): https://www.traderjoes.com/announcement/coronavirus-update-how-trader-joes-is-caring-for-crew-members-and-customers  

Burger King: https://www.bk.com/covid19-faq  

Trek (Westerville): https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/retail/westerville_northgate/  

REI: https://conversations.rei.com/t5/what-s-new-and-faqs/faqs-regarding-rei-s-store-closures-and-reopening-plan/ba-p/9501  

British Home (Cantata – Family Updates regarding COVID): https://cantata.org/family-updates/  

Warm Glow Candles: https://warmglow.com/  


  1. This is so concise and informative!
    Also truthful in its content!
    I hope it receives the readership it deserves!
    You are a conveyer of fact, Kathy, and back it with evidence!
    BRAVO and BLOG ON!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s