What’s the first thing that prospective customers see when they approach your business? Your signage tells them where you are, draws their attention and attracts them into your business (or possibly drives them away). Summing up your business brand for the world to see, your business signage creates that all-important first impression. How can you ensure it’s a good one? Whether you’re developing signage for a new business, or updating signage for an existing business, here are some things to consider.
- What are the constraints affecting signage in your area? Your city’s local zoning ordinances will typically govern the type of signage a business can have. For instance, there may be restrictions on the size of a sign, how it can be lighted and even the colors used. Your business location (such as a strip center, mall or downtown pedestrian area) may have its own restrictions. For instance, in one shopping center near my home, all businesses’ signs have to use the same font and a limited palette of colors to create a more uniform look.
- What do you want to include in your sign? Your sign is a 24/7 branding tool, so ideally, you want to include your business logo and use your business’s color palette so that your signage harmonizes with the other visual aspects of your brand. However, if you have a complex logo or can’t use it for other reasons (such as zoning restrictions), try to at least use fonts and colors that tie in with your brand.
- Think practical. We’ve all seen examples of the business whose store sign is in a beautiful script that looks pretty, but is impossible to read—especially if you’re whizzing by in a car going 45 miles an hour. Always remember that the purpose of your sign is 1) to help customers find you and 2) to get prospects to notice you. A hard-to-read sign might attract attention of prospects with time on their hands (“What’s that say?”), but it will only frustrate customers trying to find you. Make sure your business signage is large enough, contrasting enough and the font clear enough to be easily readable from across the street, across the parking lot or wherever else your customers may be coming from.
- Consider placement. Where your signage is placed has a big effect, too. A sign that’s easy to read when lit at night may be hard to see in the bright light of day, when there’s a lot of glare or when the sun hits it from a certain direction. Before investing in a permanent sign, try testing a banner with the same colors, fonts and font sizes in different places on your building. You may discover that you need signs on two sides of your building; that tall trucks parked nearby block the view of your sign; or that a neighbor’s awning obstructs it from the street. Best to learn this now before you spend money on permanent installation.
- Investigate additional signage options. Talk to your property landlord about options for additional signage to help attract more attention to your business. For instance, if your business is far off the street in the back of a big shopping center or office park, it may be impossible for customers to see from the road. In this case, see if the center will consider putting up directional signs at the center entrances listing which businesses are where. Strengthen your case by getting other businesses to ask for the same thing.
- Keep it up. Once your sign is up, spend the time and money to maintain it. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly and keep it clean. Nothing turns prospective customers off like a broken or partially burned-out sign. It tells people you don’t care—and when they see that, they won’t care to do business with you.