The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Sign Design

In this article for Bristol Online, Bristol and Bath-based Signman head honcho, Joe Day discusses the big do’s and don’ts of commercial sign design.

Physical signage is a great way to promote your business, and it can provide an excellent return on investment.

Get it right, and your target audience will be engaged at a local level and your footfall will increase, bringing more potential customers into your business and potentially leading to greater conversions.

Get it wrong, however, and you’ll simply waste your marketing budget, fail to engage passers-by and would-be customers attempting to find your premises.

Signman Bristol & Bath

Below then, are my ten big do’s and don’ts of sign design.

1. Know your audience

When thinking about sign design you must keep in mind that you’re creating a piece of physical branding that will be associated with your business, across numerous physical and digital mediums, for years to come. So knowing your target audience and keep them in mind is essential. You will already have your brand, so ensure that your sign reinforces it. This will ensure that it engages your target audience and resonates with them.

2. Use a professional

If you’ve developed a brand for your business, then don’t risk diminishing your presentation and reputation with a sign that looks as though it has been created by an amateur. Use a professional sign design company or branding agency, who employ their own in-house graphic designers. They will be able to create an eye-catching, attractive and high-quality sign that resonates with your brand. Perhaps most importantly of all though is that it will look slick and professional, which is exactly the impression you want to be sending to future customers.

3. Avoid generics

Yes, you can buy generic signpost signs that simply post to your ‘hotel’, ‘cafe’ or ‘shop’ but say nothing about your business. Although they may be cheap and save you a few quid, they won’t really help your business and at worse could actually damage or slow your burgeoning reputation and brand presence. Get a customised sign from a professional company that is made with your specific brand colours, fonts and graphical elements.

4. Don’t blend in

A sign needs to be professional, but it shouldn’t be bland and generic. Make it unique and eye-catching and aim to have it stand out from other businesses around you. This will mean taking other factors into account such as signage position, size and lighting. Again, a professional designer and sign production company can help you to get this right.

5. Choose the right materials

Your sign should be made of high quality and robust materials, with a smart and attractive finish and rich colours which won’t fade. Again, consider position, size and lighting as part of the finished piece and make sure that your sign is professionally installed for finish and safety.

The Do's and Don'ts of Business Sign Design

6. Invest in quality

It’s all too easy to cut corners in the hope of saving a few pounds from your marketing budget. But doing so will risk your results. Signage is a permanent and highly visible marketing asset that will directly affect how people view your business so you don’t want a sign that will fade, bend or chip. Ask to see examples of other pieces produced by the company in which you are interested and ideally see some of their work that has been in situ for a number of years.

7. Include the right information

When you produce your sign you want to make sure that you include all the essential information that any customers will reasonably expect. Above and beyond your business name and logo, you may also include information such as your website, phone number and potentially social media account details. If there is space, an advertising strapline which explains who you are and what you do can also be valuable. How much you include will depend on the type of sign and where you will use it. A vehicle wrap may contain more info than your shop sign or facia for example, which should be aimed more at grabbing attention and boosting footfall.

8. Don’t overload with information

Don’t make the mistake of packing your sign with needless information. Things such as opening hours, contact email addresses and so forth will serve to cram your sign with too much detail and will lead to your sign looking busy, cluttered and unappealing. It may also require typography that is just too small to read from a distance. First and foremost, sign design is about creating a great first impression, not giving people every single bit of info on your business. Don’t risk putting your customers off; if you have a good sign, they will find out the other info by coming into your shop or visiting your website or social media pages.

9. Use colour and type wisely

Contrast is important with signage so that the typography is easy to read. Equally, the typography should be clean and simple and easy to read. Don’t use pastels together or overdo the use of complex script fonts which can simply be unreadable. The use of colour in sign design, and more widely in branding, is a huge subject and one I wish to return to at a later date on this blog.

10. Place it correctly

Don’t put the sign so high so that your potential customers can’t see it with ease. Equally, don’t have it so low that it’s invisible from key location points. Again, a professional sign production company will be able to offer you advice as to where the sign should be best placed for maximum impact. Once it’s up, it’s going to be a right faff to move it, so get it right first time.