Effective Sign Design Benefits
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Effective Sign Design Benefits

Four ways to make your signs more powerful

By Kristy Theis

Marketers joke that "Half of all the money spent on advertising is wasted—but nobody knows which half." As we all may know, in this over-marketed society, it is important that every advertising dollar count.

Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

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  • An unconventional method of advertising that is on the rise is a well-coordinated signage program. From banners to site signs, window and vehicle graphics, even trade show exhibit graphic designs—if signs are a part of your advertising budget, then you’ll need to know the right tips to make sure that your signage dollars are never wasted.

    Get the basics right
    To do its job, your sign has to be highly visible and easy to read. Some of the questions that sign experts will ask are—where will your sign be displayed, and for how long? How far away will viewers be? Will they be walking or driving? How long will they have to read and react to your sign? If the sign is outdoors, does it need to be visible after dark?


    These are just a few of the points you and your sign consultant should consider in determining what material your sign should be made of, how large it should be, and the size of the lettering and graphics you'll use on it. If you get these basics right, you can ensure that your sign will be seen—but that's only the beginning.

    Send a clear message
    Whatever your sign says, you can enhance its effectiveness by choosing a typestyle, color combination, and graphic treatment that reflects the nature of your business, your product, and your setting.

    For example, if your sign will be seen from a distance, you'll need a typestyle with strong, simple strokes about one-fifth the full height of the letter—but if such a bold style doesn't suit your business, you can soften the look by using a more traditional "serif" typestyle (similar to that used for the text in books) rather than a stark "gothic," and by adding an elegant graphic or a graceful border.

    When distance isn't a factor, more options are open to you —but sign experts generally advise against very convoluted scripts and heavily ornamented typestyles, which can be difficult to read even close-up. A good compromise might be to use a novelty typestyle on a key word or initial as a focal point, then switch to a simpler, more readable typestyle for the rest of the text.

    Show your true colors
    Color is another powerful message-enhancer. If your company has an established color theme you can carry those colors through on all your signage to reinforce your image and identity—or you might choose your colors on the basis of the moods they evoke.

    For example, many restaurants are decorated in shades of red, because warm colors are known to enhance appetite. Deep blues and greens suggest dignity and stability, and are often favored by banks. Companies which want to appeal to the traditional feminine nature often use soft pink and yellow in their signage, while youth-oriented businesses tend toward bright lime, orange, and fuchsia.

    Whatever colors you choose, your sign consultant will want to be sure they provide sufficient contrast to make your sign easily legible. And because the eye perceives colors differently in natural light, incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, and other types of illumination, you'll want to view your selections under all the lighting conditions that may occur at your site.

    Use a time-honored trick
    Once you've made the best possible choices for all the elements of your sign, consider giving it one more advantage: a design trick that helps get your message across. Research has shown that certain added elements can improve the noticeability, readability, and memorability of your sign.

    For example, you might want to put the most important piece of text on your sign in a second color, because the special color helps people remember that information longer. Similarly, adding a border to your sign helps people focus on your message and read it more quickly. And a quality color photo or graphic will attract more attention to your sign, while also enhancing your professional image.

    About FASTSIGNS International, Inc.
    FASTSIGNS International is the franchisor of the worldwide network of FASTSIGNS® stores, which provide a full range of custom sign and graphics products. Headquartered in Carrollton, Texas, FASTSIGNS International has more than 435 franchised locations worldwide. For further information and directions to the store nearest you, please visit www.fastsigns.com or call 800-FASTSIGNS or 214-346-5797 or email at kristy.theis@fastsigns.com.

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