Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia the nation of Turkey is a rich mix of Western and Eastern civilizations, as well as both established and new ways of doing many things. In the world of signage, nowhere are these differences more evident than at Doganer Architectural Signage Systems in Ankara, Turkey.
Doganer is the first signmaker in the region to offer photopolymer signage, relying on equipment and supplies from Nova Polymers. “We want to sell the best solution for photopolymer signs,” says Yakup Colak, Import and Export Manager, “and Nova Polymers is the best solution for these signs“.
Doganer has been using Nova’s technology since 2015 and faced a headwind as the company brought photopolymer signage to the Turkish market. While Doganer is producing and selling wayfinding and other photopolymer signage that would be ADA-compliant under U.S. regulations, the same rules don’t apply in Turkey, where there is some resistance to change. Dig a little deeper and you find that some of that resistance is rooted in Turkey’s lack of rules regarding signs that aid people with visual disabilities. Although there are some regulations in place, enforcement is not always a priority when time and cost pressures mount on a construction project. As a result, Colak and his colleagues find themselves breaking new ground with every engagement, having to prove they offer a superior option.
Changing the game
One of Doganer’s recent successes was in providing signage for a large new hospital. The common practice in Turkey was to use mostly vinyl signs, even though such signs required frequent replacement and did not aid wayfinding for visually disabled citizens. Doganer recommended photopolymer signage, particularly for signs that required Braille characters, because of their effectiveness, long-term durability, and superior appearance. The ultimate decision lay with the chief architect of the project. He was immediately impressed with the look and feel of the photopolymer signs and grasped the importance of durability and the value provided by the Braille characters. Despite the greater cost—about three times higher than for the interior signs normally used—he quickly specified that the new hospital’s interior signs be photopolymer.
Now, half a dozen other new hospitals are turning to Doganer for photopolymer signs, especially for wayfinding applications. Because they are made with Nova Polymers’ technologies, the signage meets U.S. ADA standards. While those exceed the requirements for Turkey, being able to provide signs made to the U.S. standard has made Doganer the national expert on signage for visually impaired citizens. Colak notes that this expertise is of growing importance because international standards are emerging for these applications, and Doganer is already ahead of the market.
Doganer first turned to Nova Polymers in 2015 because it was seeking a better way to make the signs needed by hospitals, hotels and other large building projects. “Once we saw samples of what could be done we knew it was right for our market. It gave us better sign-making materials as well as a way to clearly differentiate Doganer from our competitors,” notes Colak. “Other technologies are not as strong as photopolymer.”
While Nova Polymers is a U.S.-based company with locations in Australia, Qatar and Spain, it had not done business in Eastern Europe and the region around Turkey. In talking with Doganer, Nova saw the opportunity for introducing photopolymer signage in the region and began providing equipment, materials and training.
“Having the technology has helped us show architects how photopolymer signage can make buildings friendlier and more accessible to visually disabled people. So now we are beginning to place photopolymer signs in more places,” says Colak. “We see a very bright future. People appreciate the quality and know the signs will last a long time. They understand the value.“