5 Factors that Make or Break a Great Business Sign

Interior and Exterior Directional Business Sign Shop Walnut Creek CA - Office, Lobby, ADA, & MoreWith so much attention paid to improving websites and enhancing customer experience, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that business signs — yes, those things that have been around eons before Emojis and selfies arrive on the scene — also need to be optimized. The question, of course, is what comprises an outstanding sign that boosts visibility and attracts customers vs. a mediocre one that that is readily forgotten and might as well not exist.

As you might expect, there’s no definitive answer to this question, because businesses and marketplaces are unique. What works in one context may not work in another. Yet with this in mind, I can certainly highlight the core principles and best practices that make or break a great business sign. These include:

1.     Keep it Clear

While being creative and unique is important (and we’ll explore that in a moment), it’s important to remember that business signs have a fundamental functional purpose, which is to convey a message — even if it’s just the name of your business. A survey by the University of Cincinnati found that the most important aspect of signs was clarity (i.e. they could grasp what was being conveyed vs. had to guess).

2.     Place it Right

It sounds strange, but many businesses — it could even be the majority — aren’t placing their signs correctly, which means that they’re not reaching a portion of their target audience (including those on foot, in cars, busses, trains, and possibly even planes). Make sure that you are placing your signs effectively and give your business sign a comprehensive eyeball test from multiple angles and under various conditions (near, far, cloudy, sunny, morning, evening) to ensure that it’s doing as much heavy lifting as possible to get your business noticed.

3.     Don’t be Approximate with Proximity 

Flash quiz: what’s more effective, a billboard two miles from a business, or a sign within 400 feet that is also within visibility of the business itself? If you said billboard, then you’d be wrong! According to Landmark Signs, a St. Louis-based sign company, businesses that can be seen at the same time as their sign get more customer traffic vs. those that can’t be seen at the same time as their sign.

4.     Size Matters

Have you ever driven by a billboard and said to yourself: “what, do they expect me to park my car, grab a pair of binoculars, and read what the heck they’re trying to say?” Well, this kind of thing happens all the time in the business sign world. Basically, this is because what looks great on a computer or close-up doesn’t necessarily translate well when you take into consideration that folks who see the sign might have all of three seconds to spare and that they might be 20, 50 or 100+ feet away. So while you don’t necessarily have to have the biggest sign around, when it comes to readability and impact, size does indeed matter. Basically, the more you want to say, the bigger your sign needs to be.

5.     Professional Design is Essential

If you think that you have the design chops to create a truly great business sign, then with all due respect, think again. Yes, you may be an Adobe Wizard and the resident graphic guru in your organization. But designing a business sign isn’t like putting together a slick website or a great newsletter. There are a variety of factors to consider that impact and influence design possibilities and strategies, such as materials, weight, digitization, and the list goes on. Do yourself and your business a favor: leave sign design to the experts.

The Bottom Line

Despite their importance and influence on the bottom line, most business signs are somewhere between wasted opportunities and outright eyesores. Thankfully, you’ve now armed with the core principles and best practices above and can use them to ensure that your business sign is an asset — not a liability.

Published by Kidal Delonix (1045 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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