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How to Create an Effective Business Sign

Sita Cole
Jul 21, 2013
Businesses with a physical location need signage. A business sign helps customers find your business and more. Not only does your sign identify your business, it helps shape first impressions as well as expresses who your business is, who it serves, and what it stands for. That's a tall order for a humble sign. That's also why planning, branding, and sign design are so important. Below are three of the most important considerations when creating an effective business sign. These three components work together to create a business sign that works.

Messaging and Branding

Though many business owners think of business signs as glorified business cards or even mini-billboards, avoid this temptation. While your business sign may be considered a form of advertising, its primary purpose is to let customers know that they've found your business. If your business is "Ye Olde General Store," the store's name may be all that's needed. Adding taglines such as "Your one-stop shop for old-fashioned wares and service" and "Open 7 days a week" could make your sign cluttered and ineffective.

That said, your sign can still convey a message through its design and materials. While you'll address these components shortly, it's important to first understand what your message is. In the example above, the brand message is one of old-fashioned products and services. A carved wooden sign with an old-fashioned font would be more appropriate than an elegant sandblasted sign with neon accents.

You have likely already defined your business's brand message, logo, and color scheme. If not, spend time defining these crucial elements now, before the sign design phase.???

Design

Once you have a solid understanding of the message you want to convey, it's time to think about the design itself. Is your logo highly visual, yet simple enough to place on a sign? Is it recognizable? In some cases, the logo alone is sufficient for your business sign - especially if it is immediately recognizable. For example, the "golden arches" of McDonald's are about as simple and recognizable as it gets. On the other hand, if your brand is not well known, a simple logo (despite its brilliant design) might not be useful to people who are unfamiliar with your business. Make it easy for people to understand your sign.

Experiment with different sign shapes and layouts. Consider any architectural requirements your shopping center, industrial park, city, or other business setting may impose and work within those requirements.

Materials

Finally, consider the materials of your sign. Numerous options are available including, but not limited to, glass, wood, acrylic, illuminated signage, and monuments. The material you choose may affect your design choices. Your business sign's materials can reinforce your brand message. For example, if you run a high tech manufacturing business, a modern illuminated sign or glass business sign can reinforce your cutting-edge image.

At this point, you should have a few ideas that you can take to your local sign shop for further refinement. By thinking through these three important elements, you can work together with your business sign company to create an effective business sign.
About the Author
Sita Cole, a creative marketing manager, is the author of this article about creating effective business signs. She gathered resources from Blue Pond Signs website and an infographic on "The Most Iconic Signs in the US," where she was inspired to write this article.
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