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Sign Language

So, you’ve got your FOR SALE signs down to a fine art but have you checked on the signage promoting your business lately? Let’s get back to basics and ask, “What does your outdoor signage say about you?” Story by David Falla.

There are many reasons you should focus on your business signage – particularly the signs on and near your building or shopfront.

  • A sign is your introduction and handshake with those passing by, identifying your business to existing and potential customers.
  • Signs are always “on the job” for you, advertising 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. [BULLET]People often judge a business by how it looks on the sign.
  • Many merchants increase their business measurably just by adding a good sign. Conversely, many have gone out of business because they simply were not identified well. As one sign industry professional put it, “A business without a sign is a sign of no business.”
  • From a business owner’s perspective, a sign should not be viewed as an expense, but as a capital investment. When you factor in your return on investment, signs are not expensive. An effective sign will most likely pay for itself many times over.
  • A sign “brands” a location, just as a product label brands the product. If an attractive image is not communicated by the business’ sign, the business will rarely convey its true message, or get the clientele it seeks.

12 tips for effective business sign design

  1. Keep it visible and legible.
    Remember that people of all ages are looking at your signage, and often through a windscreen, in traffic, day and night. They must be able to see and read your sign easily.
  2. 2. Save the details.
    Don’t attempt to sell them with information on the sign – save that information until they are inside your business.
  3. Keep it simple.
    The proper design of your sign is critical to its effectiveness. Crowding the sign with too many words or lines of text makes it impossible to read from a distance. Use as few words as possible so your sign is legible. Fewer words are better, and three to five words are optimal for quick readability.
  4. Grab attention.
    There should be something about the sign that will reach out and command attention. Ideally, the first read should be a large pictorial graphic or your company logo, but it can also be large dominating text.
  5. Your sign is your handshake.
    Your sign is your handshake with the buying public, and first impressions are lasting impressions. Your sign must project the image you want the public to have of you. People will judge the inside of your business by how it looks on the outside.
  6. Aesthetics and suitability.
    Your sign must be attractive and appropriate for your type of business.
  7. Make sure your sign is conspicuous.
    Your message competes in a complex environment. A passerby must be able to differentiate your sign from its surrounding environment. Your goal should be to make the sign unavoidable to the passing viewer.
  8. Avoid obstructions.
    Make certain the sign can be viewed without obstruction from any source. Drive past your business from all directions to help determine the most visible location for your sign.
  9. Make it memorable.
    It should make your products or services (and your location) easy to remember.
  10. Consider colours carefully.
    Too many colours take away from the quick readability of the sign. Again, stay simple. Make sure colours are contrasting. Yellow on white is not readable, whereas black on white is very readable. (Refer to a colour chart or wheel for best contrasting colors.) If you have several colours in a graphic, stay away from multi-colored lines of text or words (they will compete with the colors in your graphic). Black text is better.
  11. Keep the image consistent.
    Ideally, the design and the colours of your building should reinforce the design and colours of your sign (or vice versa). Colour is probably the easiest and most cost-effective device for this coordination of design for business identification.
  12. Avoid clutter.
    “White-space” is the surface area of a sign’s face that is left uncovered by either text or graphics. The proper amount of white space is just as important for quick readability as are graphics, text and colors. 30% to 40% of the sign’s face area should be left as white space for optimal readability.

In summary, your sign will do many things for your business, from creating the initial impression to providing the message to new and potential customers about your products and services. A sign does this through a combination of light, size, text, construction, placement and more. Keep these tips in mind as you design an effective sign for your business.

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