Putting up a sign for everyone to see, especially in a high traffic area is a fantastic opportunity most business owners recognize and want to take full advantage of. But what will that sign look like?  It starts off pretty simple, with a name or logo and oh, how about a tagline? A few bullet points with products is a good idea. Wait, we really need to have our website on there and maybe the phone number. Product logos are important too since they are highly recognizable. Before you know it, your content looks like a copy of the Constitution and you cannot read any of it from more than 5 feet away.

When I see a sign that is overcrowded and difficult to read I assume the intent was to get as much on there as possible for everyone to see. Getting the most bang for your buck, however, requires some careful design. I have talked about effective sign design and this is exactly what I mean, a sign that actually does the job you intended for it. While it may seem counter-intuitive to leave some things off your sign, it will, in the end, make it more effective. 

Keep in mind that the average time your sign is viewed by drivers passing by is about 5 seconds and then take into account the need for negative space – that blank area around your content which should be at least 60% for maximum readability. This leaves you with 40% of your sign for your content. What you place in that area is really important so let’s break down some rules to help you decide what gets cut and what stays.

  1. What is your overall marketing plan? If you are spending a lot of money on branding and you have a recognizable brand you should use it on the sign as top priority. On the other hand, if your sign is your only form of branding, perhaps what you do should be top priority. Think barber pole here – “Sushi” “hardware” “used cars”, etc.
  2. Sign Placement. Signs that are intended to be viewed from the street follow the “keep it simple” rule whereas pedestrian viewed signs can bear a little more content.
  3. Secondary Signage. Window signs, secondary wall signage, and interior signs are great places to advertise products and continue to establish the character of your store.
  4. Action! What do you want your customers to do? If your product requires some education, then having them go to your website is a great option but if setting appointments is your priority then obviously you want phone calls. Placing both your website and phone number on the sign is poor use of space.
The USSC has a great study available on sign legibility and the importance of letter size. You can take a look at it here or simply give us a call and we will design your sign for you.