From Lightboxes to LED: A Guide to Business Signage

Whether you opt for traditional or digital signage, research shows that signage is still one of the most effective ways to draw in customers, increase sales, and strengthen brand recall.

As technology evolves, more options become available for businesses to create bolder and ever more sophisticated signs—from LED lightboxes to interactive digital touchscreens and visually-captivating see-through LED digital mesh.

There are, however, several pointers you need to execute well to get a positive ROI.

Planning Phase

Competition is cutthroat these days, and chances are, someone is already offering the same products or services that you have. Creating unique signage will help tilt the balance towards your side.

As with any marketing campaign, planning is the crucial first step as this will ensure that your sign will resonate with your target market. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. How will you introduce your business?

There are three ways you can introduce your business via signage:

  • Include your slogan to briefly tell them what you have to offer
  • Include your product or service symbols to give them a hint of what’s in store for them
  • Combine product and service symbols

2. Which elements are you going to include?

Unless you’re already in the big leagues with a recognisable logo (e.g. Apple), it’s generally advisable to include both your name and your logo on your signage. This will help customers associate one with the other in the long run.

If applicable, you should also include trust signals like trademarks or titles of the top people in the company (e.g. Dr., Engr., Atty., etc).

3. What’s your CTA?

Of course, without a call-to-action, no one will know what to do after seeing your sign. You can lead them to visit your store or sign up to your email list. You can even offer a discount or a freebie to entice them!

4. Which type of sign are you going to use?

If you’re undecided between traditional or digital signage, consider:

  • The pros and cons of each (e.g. traditional signs are the cheaper option, but they can’t be changed and can be more expensive in the long run; digital signs have more flexibility creative-wise and can be updated anytime, but it can be costly upfront)
  • The durability of the sign, as the material you’ll pick will allow it to last years and withstand the elements, vandalism, and sunlight
  • Your budget, since signage (depending on the type) may come with a hefty cost

Designing Phase

The bulk of the work goes into the designing phase. The end product should be equally eye-catching and complementary to your marketing message. Start with the following:

1. Pick the right design elements

Your signage also represent your company, and as such, should stay on brand, particularly with:

  • Colours — Customers base their judgement on colour 60% to 90% of the time. Brush up on your colour theory, as this will tell you which colour schemes will trigger the emotion you’re aiming for. Also, pick strong colours with maximum contrast (like with Coca-Cola). This will help your sign jump out among competing signs and be easily recognised.
  • TypefaceThe typeface you pick should reflect your brand’s personality without making the sign hard to read. Sans serif fonts are the cleanest, which makes them ideal to be seen from a distance. When using script fonts, pick those with fewer embellishments, so your customers can read them easily.

2. Make sure the words are legible

Signage legibility is a huge problem if not done right, as it can cause frustration among your customers.

Generally, you shouldn’t put a lot of words on a sign, because that would mean smaller font sizes that are harder to read. On the flip side, font sizes that are too big will require customers to walk back a few feet just to read your it. Either way will make your sign illegible and cause customer friction.

A good rule of thumb is to have proper character spacing, especially in your headlines, to help with readability.

3. Consider the sign’s dimensions

Signs come in all shapes and sizes. It all depends on where they will be installed, how they will be mounted, and their function.

When creating your signage, keep in mind the dimensions as it can drastically affect the design. You wouldn’t want to end up with an outdoor sign by the road with barely legible text due to wrong letter sizes. Know your sign’s dimensions and pick the corresponding letter sizes (refer to image above).

4. Consult with the experts

You don’t have to know everything about graphic design to create your signage. You can consult with professionals who specialise in this service. Stay away from cheap firms, as they might not be able to give you the quality and design that you need.

Installation Phase

When choosing a location, keep these in mind:

  • Will your target audience see it? — Where you’ll place the sign depends on how close your target audience will be to it. For instance, if it’s for vehicles, higher is generally better, while eye-level is best for pedestrians.
  • Is it adequately illuminated? — Signs meant for businesses that are open during the night should be self-illuminated (e.g. backlit, channel letters). You can also shine spotlights on the signage as an alternative.
  • Are there any regulations you need to be aware of? — Some areas have codes as to which signage they will allow in their neighbourhoods. These will often cover illumination, message, size, design, and placement. Look into the legalities involved so you can stay compliant.

Standing out among a sea of competitors is a great challenge for businesses, especially since customers are already tired of seeing multiple ads within the day. With unique and creative signage, however, you’ll be able to break through that noise and entice customers to get to know your brand better.

Remember that amateur-looking signage will speak volumes about your business even before customers walk through your doors, so follow the steps we included here.