Nicole Chen, a student at the California College of Arts’ cool new Design Strategy MBA program, sends this example of emotionally intelligent signage, which she photographed on a beach in Barcelona.

The comic word bubble is a nice way to soften a somewhat stern message. And my guess is that this surprising and friendly shape, coupled with the clever text, helps keep this beach pretty clean.


22 Responses to “Emotionally intelligent signage on a beach”

  1. Meg says:

    Hmm . . . it’s at a beach in Barcelona, but the sign’s in English. I wonder if there are signs in other languages.

  2. Dan Pink says:

    @meg — Good point. Or maybe the beach caters to tourists. Or maybe the English is part of the allure. Perhaps Nicole can weigh in.

  3. Michele says:

    That was the first thing that occurred to me too… interesting – maybe the English speakers are the worst litterers? I love the concept of emotionally intelligent signage… I’m a meeting planner and if it kills me, I’m going to figure out EI signage for my meeting this year. Dan – you are one of our keynote speakers 🙂 What would you put on an EI sign for YOUR general session?

  4. Emily Anderson says:

    i agree with Michelle, this english sign in a foreign country doesn’t make much sense, unless it’s on maybe an english resort or that the most frequent litterers are the english tourists.
    However i think it was wise to put the sign in such a friendly structure; most demanding signs are not followed…say if someone of authority told you to do something, you wouldn’t be very willing to do it because you feel attacked like “was that tone really neccessary?”. If something is asked of you in a more friendly tone you would be more willing to do it

  5. Becca Morse says:

    I am willing to bet that the majority of people who visit that beach are Americans. The beach workers probably noticed Americans litter the most; therefore, they put the sign up in English. Also, the sign mentions to “get fit”. They might be aiming at how the U.S. is the most obese country in the world. The sign is a hint to help the Earth as well as a hint for everyone to get healthier and exercise.

  6. Nicole Chen says:

    Actually they had signs in both English, Spanish, and Catalan..I snapped a photo of an English one because of the audience that I would share this with. My guess is that the large number of international tourists that come to Barcelona is also the impetus for making sure some of the signs were in English.

  7. Tyler says:

    This is definitely applied to Americans because people around here are so used to littering. Once the people saw this on the beach they made a sign and told them to get up and throw it away. Also how it says to “get fit” because they now know that a lot of Americans have become obese. Maybe they are trying to help us out and prevent that from happening to more people as they come around.

  8. Dan Pink says:

    @Nicole — Thanks for the clarification on the languages. A bit of a relief to know that English speakers aren’t the only ones in the beach owner’s targets. Spanish and Catalan speakers can be fat and lazy, too!

  9. Torley says:

    How’s THAT for mixed media! Very nice find, creative and it made me smile.

  10. Shaylee says:

    I think the sign is a really creative way to get an important point across. Agreeing with Emily, some people may disregard signs that read with an overly strict tone. Coming up with creative sayings, such as this emotionally intellident signage, a more friendly approach is taken in order to attract more followers.

  11. Bill Jones says:

    Great sign and message! I was tinkering with photoshop on a sign of my own…but my sign is virtual and not as creative…I gotta work on that!!

  12. Pete says:

    Having been to the beach many times, I know for a fact that very few people are courteous enough to pick their trash up off of the beach when they leave. The comic bubble sign showed above is very effective I’m guessing because it is different than most signs seen on beaches. The casual look of the sign doesn’t demand that people clean up after themselves but instead gives a reason to.

  13. Pete says:

    *shown; effective.

  14. Kayla says:

    I agree that the strict tone of the sign may give a stubborn person the reason to disregard the sign but i also agree that it sends a message. The way to make sure that the message is heard is through the strict tone in hope that people will understand and want to clean up after themselves. I know that if i saw a sign that is creative like that one, i would stop and read, which i think most poeple would do.

  15. Magnificent Mike Vitelli says:

    Who doesn’t love cartoon bubbles?? I’d pick up somebody else’s trash just because the cartoon bubble asked me to clean up.

  16. Sam Walsh says:

    I agree with Pete in that the comic bubble sign gives people a good option, not a demand. Some signs will read “DO NOT LITTER” in big, bold letters, which is sort of intimidating if you think about it. This sign is saying “could you” instead of “do it.” The niceness of the sign makes people want to help out and throw away their trash rather than rebel against one of the demanding signs.

  17. shannon h says:

    Agreeing with almost everyone, the beach is a relaxing place that people take advantage of. Some just bury their trash, or just simply leave it where they were. The sign on the beach is not a rule or demand that people want to break or go against. It is simply just giving someone a reason to walk and throw their stuff away. The sign is more creative and friendly yet can be more effective and useful.

  18. Shannon Capobianco says:

    I agree with the sign and think that it is an interesting way to get people involved in doing something to benefit themselves, as well as the earth. Personally, i love going to the beach but it makes me disgusted when it is dirty from trash everywhere. I believe in going green and i hate when people litter all over the place. People need to learn to respect the earth and no be so lazy by throwing trash where ever they feel necessary. I like the sign and think that it will appeal to people because of the nice setting and random thought bubble. Although there will always be people that disreguard the sign and do not listen to the message, there will also be people that take the time to read the sign and take it into consideration.

  19. P. MacLean says:

    It really bothers me when I show up at the beach and see numerous waste receptacles, but no trash in them. Instead, trash is scattered along the whole beach. It may not be alot of trash, but that’s still too much, and it’s ugly.

    I think signs like these appeal to the logic and postive emotions of those who look at the sign. When one see’s a sign such as that, it is VERY hard to argue with the logic of the sign, and the way the message is conveyed.

    I think if we had more signs such as these, people would be more motivated to do things like throwing away trash, because of the logic and appeal of the sign.


  20. Confused Colin Ahern says:

    This is an interesting way to create a message. I can relate this to my history through even athletics. When coaches send negative messages, it tends to give the team a pessimistic attitude, whereas a sign like this, or a coach, saying something in a more kind, and more courteous way is a lot easier for people to follow. When one is being yelled at they are most likely going to get upset and unmotivated, but if someone says something kindly then one might take it into consideration.

  21. Cheif Conor Regan says:

    I like the design of the sign because it grabs people’s attention and when people are intrigued by something they will remember it longer. The message is also one that makes you think. Many people go to the beach for the nice scenery and yet they leave their trash. It is a little absurd. This sign is very interesting.

  22. Scott Coleman says:

    I am an absolute beach bum. when I see trash on a beach it really makes me furious because I just cannot relate to someone leaving trash in suh a beautiful place. I mean, can you picture someone just leaving a bunch of empty bottles in the middle of the rain forest? I sure can’t! I really feal that all beaches should have signs like these.

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