When you’re a small business with physical premises, you need to make sure that customers can find you and see you. Step forward the humble business sign, which still remains one of the most important pieces of physical marketing that you will ever invest in, whether it’s a sign above or inside a shop or next to a roadside to advertise your offer. Signage can be expensive, especially if you are investing in permanent outdoor signage which is of high quality and made to last.
So, the more time you spend planning it and getting it right, the better the results will be. Here are some of our top tips for success.
1. Remember the KISS principle
Keep It Simple, Stupid! The KISS principle informs so much in brand and marketing design. Billboard and locational signs need to be simple, clear and easy to read. Remember that they are not your marketing brochures. A location sign simply needs to show your business name, with some branding and perhaps some contact details if there is space. Outdoor business signage, in particular, is a marker and your customers may be driving. Even the flashiest sign will go unnoticed if it is filled with information.
For any outdoor advertising sign, if you are going to use an image, keep it to the one. Cut your copy right down. A professional copywriter can help you with this. The wording needs to generate interest and action and follow up with your intended call to action, such as a URL or phone number. Again, really focus on the fundamentals. A great hero image will anchor your overall presentation. Use a professional photographer and think about the colours and contrast. The hook of the message and overall presentation is also key and an advertising agency or professional can help with this and link it to any existing campaigns that you might be running.
2. Focus on your visuals
A great outdoor sign must have a fantastic design. Use a graphic designer to get the balance and composition of your sign right, as well as the text placement, contrasts, colours and so forth. A designer will use design ratios for visual appeal and to size text so that it can be read by your customers as they travel by foot or car. There are set signage design ratios which ensure readability and accessibility for your target audience, positioning and location. For advertising billboards, designers may use unusual elements to grab attention, such as optical illusions, visual humour or unusual design elements.
3. Craft that call to action
Customers need to know how to follow up on what they see. Add directional arrows if you are sending your customers to your location. Add a QR code, URL or app details for a digital follow up. Add social media handles or a phone number. Just remember not to add every single means of contact or discovery or your sign will become illegible! Focus on the methods which your customers most need. If you are using your sign to direct customers to your business premises and it is difficult to find, then consider installing more than one to appear on the route that leads to your office, shop or workshop (there are some other excellent design tips in this piece on entrepreneur.com).
4. Be consistent
Your sign is a great way to advertise to your target audience and to be creative and innovative. But it still needs to be consistent within the parameters of your brand and to support that brand. Use your guidelines to ensure that text, imagery and colourways are consistent and on-brand at all times so that customers become familiar with you and can instantly link your marketing and advertising materials together in their mind. Consistency greatly aids retention and will help customers recognise you and your brand even when they may not be able to read the words of your message.
5. Plan a suite of signs
If you can gather all of your signage needs together then it is often possible to get a better price on a batch order and to get advice from a signage production company about the right materials, sign types and installation. You might want a mix of print and digital signs, for example. Signage companies will also undertake a site visit for installation and to check factors such as health and safety and electricity needs for backlit signs, and the cost of this is typically taken off the ensuing order.
Print signage is extremely powerful in the digital age, so investing time and the right budget into your business sign is of paramount importance. As well as your physical premises, think about signs for events, trade shows, promo events, pop-ups, training, various offices or shops, directional signage, regulatory signage and so forth. A centrally commissioned suite of signs will be coherent and impactful, helping to create that overall strong impression that your business needs to delight customers.
Put these steps into place and you’ll get more from your signage – and see a return on that marketing budget.