Simple is Better: Part II - The Online Magazine for the Sign Trade.
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Estimate Software- Printing software that helps you find the hidden treasure in your business.

Simple is Better: Part II

This is part two of a three-part series helping you to better help your customer.

By James Mayes

Sometimes the customer wants a flashier, more exotic sign than what is required to get the results they want and need. Learn what works and what doesnít so you can better serve your customer and create repeat business.

Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

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  • When it comes to advertising, one of the main keys is catching the attention of a potential customer. If, for only a brief second, an advertisement can catch someone's eye, then half the battle is won. However, most businesses fail to realize, that catching the customerís eye doesn't necessarily mean the customer will come into the place of business. This means that the business will loose the second half of the battle: getting the customer in the store. The person, who glances over at an elaborate sign, doesn't always read everything on the sign, because they don't usually have time. Add that in with fancy font and multiple colors and the chances are even slimmer that they will read it all.

    Does it really work?
    Take a look at billboards. They are everywhere, one right in front of another. They are bigger, taller and wider. More and more colors are added, giant words, little words and multiple pictures. They are all after the same thing, which is to catch the customer's eye, when in fact it should be to get customers into their place of business. For example, on I-635 going from Mesquite, Texas to Dallas, there is an electric billboard that can be seen nearly a mile away, especially at night. It flashes bright, neon pink colored letters, then changes to blue, then purple. The words scroll, blink and jump all over the place. I can't remember what the sign was about, or what it was advertising, but it sure was eye catching. Unfortunately, for the ones who bought the sign, there probably weren't too many other people who know either. However, I do recall the little banner below it. The one that said, "Mattress Giant is having a Ĺ price sale on all mattresses now through Saturday."

    Wow! A half-price sale!

    My wife and I bought a new mattress that day. We parked right next to the giant, flashing sign, (I think because of the great shade it provided) and bought a mattress at Mattress Giant. Why? Because it was a good deal. Also, it was an easy to read sign, so that we would know it was a good deal. More than likely, I would have never even looked over at their banner, if it hadn't been for the tall, flashing sign above it. It makes a person wonder if Mattress Giant planned it all along; placing their simple, ninety percent less sign, underneath the high dollar sign, knowing that people would be looking that way.

    Why was the neon sign not working? First of all, most of the people who see it are driving down the road at sixty miles an hour. When they look over at the sign, their minds try to remember the first few words while they look back at the road and read the rest of it when they look back again. If the words change, then they have to start reading the sign all over again. A couple of times of this, and they are pass the sign without ever realizing what the advertisement was.

    Another problem is the changing colors. When a person sees one color, and looks away, and then look back, their mind is expecting that same color. If the color is changed, then they have to relocate the sign, refocus on it and start reading again. By this time, they may need to look at the road again, and once again never know what the sign was advertising. Over all, the way the sign is designed is a bad idea. The bright color was a good idea, but everything else should go. If the words need to change, just have two phrases, for easy reading.

    Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

    On other signs, such as banners, magnetic signs or standard billboards, too many colors can also cause problems the same way. The mind has to reprocess each color then begin reading again. The easiest way to read words is with a light background and dark letters. The reason why is because that is the way nearly every child in the world grows up learning to read by; black letters on a white background. Books, most magazines and newspapers all print in this manner. It's the easiest for the mind to register, and the fastest. Thus it would make sense for signs to be the same in most cases. A light colored background with one or two different colors of dark words. Explaining this to a person wanting to have a sign created can be helpful.

    Fancy vs. old school
    One more problem with signs is legibility. Sometimes, the person wanting the sign created wants the words to be in a fancy or exotic type font. They think that it looks classy and eye catching, which it is. However, it is very hard to read.

    It may look very pretty up close, but can it be read at 60 miles an hour? Or in two seconds or less?

    Of course, customers sometimes have a picture in their minds of what they want the sign to look like, and if they canít get one created to that specification, then they will go somewhere else. The best thing to do is to try and explain to them about why keeping certain types of signs simple, may be more profitable for them in the long run. In a many situations, the customer is usually right. When it comes to creating signs the right way, they are not the professionals, you are.

    The primary reason someone has a sign created is to attract new business. If the money they spend on the banners, billboards and other signs doesn't pay off, the customer probably will not try it again. If they can put their signs out in a proper place, (and there are a lot of improper places, which we'll discuss later), and they can get good traffic from the signs, then they will come back for more. Not to mention, they will be recommending the sign company that helped them increase their business because they explained why sometime, simple is better.

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