With today’s cruise vessels more ‘floating destination’ than ship, passengers need a great deal of navigational help in order to reach the myriad attractions they have on offer. Well-implemented signage and wayfinding assistance is vital, while branding plays a key role in passenger experience and the resulting revenues, as Len Levick, managing director of Lenco International, explains.

Lenco is now in its 25th year; how have you needed to adapt your offering over time?

Len Levick: Lenco International was conceived in 1990, filling an unoccupied market niche for a graphic design company that could professionally manage signage projects, seeing them from original concept right through to on-site signage installation.

Today, we’ve worked on over 160 cruise ships, including the QM2, Queen Victoria, and The World, and we are currently working on the new builds Koningsdam for Holland America and Encore for Seabourn Cruise Line.

The market has changed a lot in 25 years: ships have grown bigger and more complex, and they’re becoming ‘floating destinations’ rather than just transport. Cruise lines are offering more amenities for the passengers, and so signage and branding is very important, otherwise people can’t find their way around.

The challenge now is keeping abreast of the newest technologies, and continuing to develop the way we tie social media into signage and information systems. We’re currently working with our partners to bring in the next generation of digital signage.

Why is clear signage and wayfinding so crucial to the passenger experience?

Poor signage can create huge problems, especially when you consider the size of cruise ships today. Not only are guests irritated because it takes so long for them to navigate around, but on-board revenues also suffer when guests can’t find shops and facilities.

The purpose of the Lenco Wayfinding System is to guide and reassure individuals through an alien environment, by providing an integrated signage system that reliably informs their spatial awareness. By communicating only relevant data, the individual is not overwhelmed by information and can progress easily to their desired destination. Effective wayfinding empowers passengers, while reducing the drain on resources that occurs when staff members need to provide directions.

Lenco collaborates with project stakeholders from the earliest possible stage to ensure that an effective system of wayfinding and signage is integrated, and that there is no conflict with other artistic or operational elements. Requirements are assessed via detailed examination of architects’ drawings and an exhaustive site survey. A comprehensive signage schedule and location plan are then produced.

How do you approach the task of creating a consistent brand identity?

Our world-leading team understands that cohesive design is a crucial element in the reinforcement of brand identity. As creatives, it is our job to give each scheme that ‘special something’ that allows marketing executives to promote a distinct brand with an appeal all of its own. Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is understanding not only where a brand is coming from, but crucially where it is heading. In many cases, Lenco has been instrumental in creating the brand identity, or the repositioning of an existing brand for newly emerging markets.

Restaurants, bars and leisure facilities all represent smaller on-board ‘brands’. How do you portray this individuality while tying them into the overarching brand identity of the ship?

The importance of these smaller brands cannot be underestimated. Not only do they differentiate the offerings on board but they also increase turnover, ease customer flow and reinforce the corporate messages that keep passengers coming back.

Creating a brand or identity involves far more than simply designing a logo; it requires an intimate relationship with the area it represents. It should also facilitate retail revenues; for example, Lenco has previously developed T-shirts and memorabilia to accompany kids’ areas, or special boxes of chocolates specific to a particular on-board restaurant.

We make it our business to thoroughly understand our clients’ markets and customer base in order to provide original and memorable design solutions, delivered cost-effectively but without any compromise on quality.

What singles you out from your competitors?

Our management team has many years’ experience working on projects internationally. We understand that some sites are active 24 hours a day, so they have a constant demand for quick developments to be made. We have the necessary systems in place to allow us to deliver this.

Through our familiarity with global brands, we forge and harness strong working relationships with local partnerships across the world. We are able to maintain an open dialogue with clients, project managers and contractors through the use of our cloud server for the mutual exchange of drawing packages, technical information and documents.

Lenco International’s philosophy is always to present a proactive, ‘can do’ attitude, and to deliver exactly what we promise – on time, and on budget.