The Art of Big Signs

Large signs are everywhere we glance. At a normal viewing distance they appear to be small. Since signs are often surrounded by visual clutter, simplicity is the key to a good design. A simplistic approach such as one image, few words, and simple typefaces, works best.

The Art Of Big Signs

Edit your message. Keep it simple, so the sign is condensed to its essential minimum. A generous amount of white space (negative space) balances a sign with its surrounding elements and sets a clear stage for the message to be seen.

Start with a short headline. Think short and simple. One to three words is ideal. The fewer the words the larger the letter size can be. This allows for the message to be read and understood quickly.

Use clear images. Good signs have images that are clear objects with little detail and distinctive silhouettes.

Design for close-up reading. Most big signs will also be seen up-close. For this distance, signs can include smaller type and more complex graphics if needed. Informational signs are for up close reading, not for attention getting. They can be designed like simple over-sized pages.

Establish a look with a series of signs. A series of signs looks best when they all look alike. The size relationship doesn’t have to be psychically identical, but they must feel the same.

Sales signs or P.O.P. signs get attention and sell at the same time. Most sales or P.O.P. (Point of Purchase) signs are seen mid-distance and at close-up range. Such signs need to succeed in making the most effective use of space, color, images, and words. These signs must stimulate the buying instinct for shoppers. A good attention getting and visually harmonious design is critical for a successful sale or P.O.P. sign.

Announcement signs are designed for quick, brief attention, and are usually seen at mid-distance and up close. Use bold letters to establish a focal point with the headline.

Way-finding signs such as large highway signs or in-store directional signs are about giving directions. Highway signs are huge so they need to be simple with a clear typeface that has a larger percentage of letter spacing (see guidelines). This adds enough air between letters to easily distinguish one letter from the next.

Indoor signs must be read easily but can be more decorative and reflect its surroundings.

Why Offer Coupons
No one can resist a coupon! Coupons can be an enticing form of advertising. They are appropriate for all businesses, especially those with special promotions during the year. Restaurants use coupons to build traffic on a normally slow day, amusement parks use them to reduce the price of admission for people who buy their tickets in advance, and dry cleaners use them to lure business. They are versatile ads that entice people to take advantage of a sale, urge them to visit a new location, or reward them for shopping in your store at any time.

Coupons can be found in newspaper ads, stuffed into customer’s bags to give them an incentive to return, on a website for people to print out and redeem, or inserted into mailed publications. The disadvantage to coupon packs are that they can get lost in the pile. A bright and intriguing coupon can help avoid this.

Coupons are great to track advertising. Different offers or different designs, in various publications, will help track the ones that are working and which ones aren’t. Be creative and find a way to use coupons in any advertising mix that can help benefit your business. Include an expiration date on all coupons. Consider all possibilities in choosing a wise offer. A coupon that offers something for free will get the people in, but they may not return. It’s better to offer something free with an additional purchase or give a 50 percent discount on the purchase of one item.

Did You Know? The latest trend for large signs is solar powered LED signs. Improvements in efficiency of today’s solar panels, both in the amount of energy they can collect and the ability to store that energy, have led to an increasing number of sign related applications including solar powered LED signage which presents a greener choice for our environment.

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Banners and Your Message

Visit any trade show and you will most likely find signs, banners, posters and other forms of visual information striving to gain your attention. This type of information is the most important tool used to create awareness about anything. More specifically, banners are an excellent choice for this purpose because they can be any size, shape or color. Add to that the convenience of portability and you will see why banners are so popular at trade show events. Banners inform people at large that something is being launched or some event is going to happen. Quite often they look so stylish and colorful. If you are not able to find banners that can convey your message, then custom banners are meant to solve your problem. Custom banners will help you communicate your message in your own way.

Considerations When Designing Your Banner or Signage
Choose a typeface that is easily legible and one that fits your type of business. San serif fonts and open styles such as Verdana tend to be more legible. Make your message clear. Not every image can be translated onto a sign or banner, so keep it simple.

Because viewers have only seconds to read your message, some sign experts suggest that text should only be three to five words in length. Abbreviations should not be used unless they are popularly known. Whenever possible, text should be arranged horizontally rather than vertically.

Maintain white space. An industry guideline is 30%-40% of the sign area should be blank space. Too much clutter distracts potential customers.

There are certain color combinations that are more legible than others. However, the shade of the color is important, too. The most easily read combinations are black, dark blue or red text on a yellow or white background.

Also, know that 8% of U.S. males are color-blind. It’s important to use color combinations that retain contrast when viewed by color-blind people. Blue and yellow, for example, are a good combination, but blue-green or aqua on white or gray are difficult combinations for a color blind person to read.

Did You Know? A simple effect like adding a border around the viewing area is an economical way to dramatically improve your sign’s effectiveness. One study shows that viewers can read and comprehend a sign that has a border around its message 26% faster than a sign without one.

Keep In Mind: Even within your budget confines, or the legal limits of your sign code, an experienced sign design professional can help you create an attractive and effective sign.

Letter Style and Capitalization
As a general rule, capital letters are most easily recognized, but tend to be read individually. Lower case letters, on the other hand, are usually read as whole words or phrases.

Sign design research designates six type styles as the most basic: Roman, Gothic, Gothic Block, Text, Italic and Script.

 text_type

For the most part, reliance on the last four of these can be a problem. People are not used to reading these fonts for extended periods of time. Use them sparingly, if at all.

Capital and lower case letters, with the exception of script styles, are generally equally legible. As a rule, the width of a letter’s horizontal stroke should be approximately 1/5 of its height.

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More Than Just a Pretty Facade—Signs Part 2

Signs are Effective

Your signage is an integral part of your advertising program along with the other forms of commercial communication such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards. There are four basic criteria used to judge the effectiveness of these advertising media:

  • coverage of the trade area;
  • repetition of a message;
  • readership of a message;
  • cost per thousand exposures of a message.

Let’s see how signs measure to the above criteria.

Signs are oriented to your trade area. Signs do not waste your resources by requiring you to pay for wasted advertising coverage. The people who see your sign are the people who live in your trade area.

Signs are always on the job repeating your message to potential customers. Your on-premise sign communicates to potential customers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, week after week, month after month, year after year. Every time people pass your business establishment they see your sign. The mere repetition of the message will help them remember your business.

Nearly everyone reads signs. Signs are practical to use because nearly everyone is used to looking at them and using them, even small children. Studies have shown that people do read and remember what is on signs. When special items are displayed, sales increase for these particular items within the store.

Signs are inexpensive. When compared to the cost of advertising in some other media, the on-premise sign is very inexpensive. Table 1 indicates the cost-per-thousand-exposures for various media in a given type of community. Unless your trade area encompasses an entire city or region, where you must rely upon broad based media coverage, there is no better advertising dollar value than your on-premises sign.

chart2

A number of surveys have been conducted before and after installing signage to determine effectiveness. One of these, from late 1996, involved a Los Angeles auto dealership. Three previous auto dealers had failed at the location. The new owner, Aztec Motors, spent much time, energy and money improving the building and lot.

Once renovations were complete, the new owner invested $7,400 in replacement signage that entailed one wall and one double-faced pole sign.

A survey found the new signage, not the renovations or other advertising, was responsible for a minimum of ten new walk-in customers per week, resulting in at least six additional sales per week.

It took less than a month for the new signs to pay for themselves, and the owner was able to reduce his advertising budget from $16,000 to $4,000 per month an annual savings of $144,000.


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More Than Just a Pretty Facade—The Right Signage for Your Business

Successful signage involves more than creating an attractive arrangement of logos and slogans. It is also a blending of complex elements such as marketing, demographics, an understanding of visual acuity and conspicuity. Complicating the task is the fact that the reader is usually moving, and the sign must be seen, read and understood in an instant.

No matter how good your product or service is, if your sign does not make people stop and shop, you will not be able to compete. In our visually competitive and media-rich world, an investment in professional sign design is worthwhile. Trained designers understand how to get the consumer’s attention. Most importantly, they know how to get the consumer to respond.

Elements of Good Signage
How well a sign works for your business depends in large part on how easy it is for people driving by to see and read it. Following is a step-by-step guide for making sure your sign can be seen and read in time for potential customers to react and stop at your business.

Before displaying any new outdoor sign, you should always do a preliminary check of the location to see whether approaching drivers can see your sign in time to read it, react to it, and stop safely. This depends on the speed of traffic and the number of lanes in each direction.

The table below shows what researchers learned about how far a car at different speeds will travel from the time a driver first sees the sign until the car safely comes to a stop. This assumes the sign is mounted perpendicular to the roadway and includes the amount of distance needed to read a typical sign and make a decision to stop.

chart

If the sign is mounted on the front of the building parallel to the roadway, research shows it needs to be at least 70% larger than the sign mounted perpendicular to the roadway, or it cannot be read in time. Note that if a sign has unfamiliar words or lots of words, it will also take longer to read.

The figures in the table can help determine whether your prospective business site will be visible to customers. For example, if the speed of traffic in front of the site is 30 mph, and the street has two lanes in each direction so that a lane change is needed, your customers will need to be able to see and read your sign from 410 feet away. If your customers would not be able to see your business sign from that distance, you should consider another location.

Size of type
Experts recommend designing signs with letters a minimum of one-inch tall for every twenty-five feet of distance. This makes them readable for all legal drivers. For example, the smallest letters on a sign would be 16.4 inches in height if it were to be read from 410 feet away (assuming 30 mph traffic moving in two lanes in each direction). Note that if your sign is using fancy lettering that is more difficult to read, the minimum letter size must be increased significantly.

To figure out the smallest possible size your sign can be and still be readable at 410 feet, figure each letter in the message will take up one square—that would be 16.4 square inches, or 1.37 square feet, for each letter. That allows for space between lines and words. If the sign read, Lydia’s Beauty Supply, its 18 letters would need a minimum of 25 square feet just for the words. For optimum clarity, an additional 40% of empty or white space would be needed, for a total of 35 square feet. That would be the absolute minimum size for a perpendicularly mounted sign with no graphics and very plain, easy to read lettering.

Most businesses are not going to be well served by a small, plain sign with no graphics. The lettering style, the ability of graphics and logos to be easily recognized, whether or not the words on the sign are familiar and easy to read, the lighting methods used, and even the colors used all impact people’s ability to see and read a sign.


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Fresh and New


What better way to celebrate the spring season than to do some cleaning? With the warm weather arriving, now is the perfect time to freshen not only your closet but also, your business’ look. Whether it is inside or outside there are so many ways to give your business a spring-cleaning.

Revamp To Revive
After the harsh winter your outdoor signage is beginning to look outdated, faded, cracked, peeled or dirty. Instead of giving off the impression of rundown or careless, new signage will imply, fresh, pristine, and inviting. Revamping the outside look of your business will help to revive your business. With new outdoor signage helping to draw customers inside, new secondary signage will help sell your product once your customers are inside. Point of purchase displays, banners, and event signs are great ways to highlight your latest promotions. Another impressive way to generate an influx of business without breaking the bank is with new posters and cutouts. To get the most out of your new advertisements, keep in mind placing the signs in optimal viewing places with great light. Phenomenal signage plus amazing products equal guaranteed success.

Elements of an Exceptional Sign
An exceptional sign is an important part of a prosperous business. It will increase your company’s visibility, answer customers’ questions and provide cohesiveness with a sense of identity. Incorporating the important elements of a sign will improve business and most importantly make you more money. To successfully create an exceptional sign you must keep in mind these four different elements:

Message
Make sure your sign has a reason to exist and is not just taking up space. An exceptional sign only has one purpose: to deliver a message. This message can be anything meaningful but in some way it must inform, alert, or direct your customer.

Comprehension
Keeping the sign simple and direct will allow customers to easily understand an exceptional sign. A sign that reads, “50% Off All Items” immediately tells consumers that all goods in your store are half-priced. Another effective way of sending your message is adding imagery. A sign with a picture of a mouth-watering ice cream cone will signal to everyone that tasty frozen treats are available at your store.

Speed
An exceptional sign rapidly sends its message to customers. Humans lack patience; they don’t want to take time to study a sign with lots of words or pictures trying to figure out what is being said. Therefore, use just enough text and images to effectively communicate your message, in the shortest time possible.

Attention
People pass by hundreds of signs everyday but only exceptional signs will capture the attention of potential customers and cause them to stop and read your sign. It is important for your sign to stand out and make sure it is seen.

Did You Know?
Whether you’re opening a new business, or expanding a current one, it is important to be aware of the zoning ordinance that governs commercial signage. Compliance with these regulations will help ensure safety and appropriate aesthetics…and will ensure that the money you spend on your signs won’t be wasted in the case of violations that require the sign(s) to be taken down.

Don’t Forget!
For your next project, let sign professionals help with concept development, execution, and installation!

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Why Signage is So Important

At a minimum, your sign should, A) Attract new customers, B) Brand the business and C) Create impulse sales.

New Customers

Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business.  But according to the U. S. Census Bureau, 18.6% of the population relocates annually.  Which means every year you’’re losing customers that you must replace with new customers, just to break even.  Who’’s in business just to break even?

If you only want to sustain your business then just maintain your customer base.  But if you want to grow your business, you must increase your customer base.  The quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage. A 7% increase in sales can produce over 124% increase in profit.  It is for this reason that attracting the new customer is essential to your profitability.

Brand

When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called “top-of-mind awareness.“  Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition.

As mentioned, 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business.  When driving to and from work, school and shopping, they pass your location some 50 to 60 times a month.  Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass.

That’’s how signs help build top-of-mind awareness and brand your business. To further this effort, make sure your sign is included as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Impulse Sales

Even though many of today’’s consumers have the financial ability and desire to spend money, few have the time in which to do that spending.  They’’re certainly too busy to search for you or wander around comparison-shopping.  They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need.

Who hasn’’t been driving down the street, stopped at a store and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign? Best Buy discovered that about 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign*.

Contact

First and foremost, signage can no longer be an afterthought.  Businesses can’’t afford to just “hang up a shingle“ or throw up some plywood with painted letters. Let Graphic Communications help you with attracting new customers, branding and generating impulse sales. Contact us today.

*source:signs.org