Whether you have a bricks-and-mortar shopfront, an office space, or participate in trade shows, your business signage gives potential customers an immediate first impression of you and your business. There is more to indoor and outdoor signage than simply putting your name on something – you want to make sure your signs have the most impact to grab attention quickly and build brand awareness. Studies show more than 25% of customers to small businesses come in just because they noticed the business’ sign, not because they were looking for it.
So much of our advertising focus these days is on digital media and online marketing opportunities, and while that is a great platform to promote your business, how you present yourself to visiting customers should not be overlooked. Your business signs either grab someone’s attention in a great way, or can be a turnoff. Or worse, maybe you have no signage at all – and by the way – nothing handwritten counts as a sign!
Here’s a rundown of the essential components of great business signage:
We need to announce our businesses in a variety of ways – exterior signage, interior signs and directions, trade show displays and banners. Each of these has its own viewing requirements, audiences, and design needs. Step back for a minute and consider:
- Where is the sign going (near foot traffic or off a busy road)?
- Who will be looking at the sign? What do they need to know?
- How close will people be to the sign when reading it?
Your roadside sign needs to stand out, and provide easy readability. Once people are closer to your establishment, important information such as business hours, contact information, and even your tagline or type of business needs to be conveyed. If you are including your services on a sign, include only the key services you offer, not a laundry list.
The most important factors in good design are readability, color, and size. Your signs need to grab attention quickly, and convey your key business message.
Studies show 80% of brand recognition is due to color; think McDonalds or Coke. Your logo and branding likely includes your color scheme, and you want to stick to that so your brand messaging is consistent. Don’t get trendy when choosing colors – colors and strong looks that are hot today will be gone tomorrow, and the long-term nature of signage needs to have a lasting appeal.
Good readability requires good contrast and “white space”. Keep signs simple, and don’t jam pack them with so much information that the eye doesn’t know where to go. Again, the key is to catch someone’s attention quickly and easily. If your colors don’t contrast enough, outlines, borders and the balance of text to graphics all help readability. Never include too many details in a sign, it’s not a duplication of your business card.
It’s common sense that the larger the letter, the easier it is to read of course. Always consider where potential customers will be reading a sign from, and make sure lettering and important details stand out easily. A roadside sign must be easy to distinguish and read from a good distance, especially to attract automotive traffic. A good rule of thumb is 10 feet per inch of letter height; a sign with lettering 10 inches in height has the best visual impact at 100 feet.
While it screams amateur-hour to use too many different fonts in signage (or any marketing materials), take advantage of the different typography of fonts. Utilizing different variations of a font’s weights such as bold, block or extended, keeps your message looking professional but mixes up the look enough to make it more readable or to highlight different items.
Where should you put your clean, easy-to-read sign? Be sure it is placed in a well-lit location, unobstructed by trees, other buildings or signs, and powerlines. Referring again to the questions about its purpose from the beginning of this article, consider who is reading it and from where when determining height. Inspect the visibility yourself, from the customer’s perspective, before drilling the hangers. Many landlords, neighborhood ordinances, and municipalities have signage regulations and requirements, so always check with these entities first before investing in costly installations.
Good Signage is Critical
Business signs are not just decorations! People see your sign, connect it to something they need or want, and you have a customer in hand. If you are lacking the information someone needs on your signage, they may choose to walk away without further effort, and you have lost a potential customer. No business should overlook the value of this important type of communication.