Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Enhancing Business Visibility: Six Tips for Producing Effective Retail Signage

It is well know that visibility is a key factor to retail success. Quality signage can be an easy and effective tool to make sure passersby see (and perhaps enter) business establishments. An effective signage not only shows customers where businesses are, but it also communicates their brand and identity and can be a powerful tool shaping overall corridor and district perception.

While it’s clear that signage is an essential tool to operating a successful retail establishment, there are many factors that must be considered when developing an appropriate signage strategy. Below are six tips to have these in mind when working with local businesses in facade improvement or district beautification efforts.

Example of clear and visible signage (note that despite being on the window, the signage did not obstruct views to inside the store)

Tip 1: Focus on Customer Experience

At the most basic level, retail signage has one purpose: to communicate with the customer. Businesses should prioritize this goal above all others when developing retail signage. After all, what’s the point of a sign if the public can’t understand the message around it? There are several ways to improve the customer experience.

Make sure businesses signage have appropriate size and placement. If signs are too big your district might end up overwhelming customers. If wrongly placed, signage might not be seen or might block another business signage, generating conflict and visual confusion for customers.

Analyze the district with fresh eyes. One of the best ways is to walk your district like a customer. Be honest about what works and what doesn’t. What’s easy to find, and what is missing? Are the signs easy to understand, or are they jumbled or confusing?

Tip 2: Think About Location, Location, Location

Sign placement can seem deceptively simple, but there are many important elements to consider. Of course a sign needs to be placed in an appropriate location where it can be seen, interpreted and ultimately drive consumer action. But what else do you need to consider? For exterior signage, make sure businesses place it where it can be seen by as many passersby—on foot and in vehicles--as possible. Consider factors like glare, and what might block it (parked cars? Delivery trucks? Hot dog cart?) at different times of the day or week. Effectively placed, businesses will have a guaranteed presence worth far more than the cost of the sign installation. As an expert marketer put it: “You pay for your signs once, and they work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” (Bang 2011)

This creative signage spruces up the store entrance and reinforces the business identity as an antique store

Tip 3: Check out the Competition

Do your homework and check out other stores signage, especially the ones you admire. They don’t have to be in your district.  Pay attention and consider whether it’s a good model for the businesses in your district. By benchmarking other businesses (and districts), you just may discover something that you should do—or even not do—in your own district.

Tip 4: Get the Look Right

Once the type and placement of signage is established, it’s time to make sure the messaging looks professional and well-designed. There are some basic graphic design rules that should always be followed. “Be consistent with the feature lines, price, size, color, and fonts so the customer’s eyes can easily scan the sign. Allow for plenty of white space, keep the font simple, be sure the text is balanced and proportional and consider using bullets. Highlight words in bold or by using a different color. Avoid using all capital letters, which makes it difficult to read.” (DS 2006)

Color choices are also critical. Even a sign that looks nice and professionally designed from an aesthetic perspective may not be as readable as it needs to be in a retail environment. Using contrasting colors in the font and background is highly recommended. The most visible colors are black, white and red for the text, and these should be printed over backgrounds that are as opposite as possible. For example, white text on a black background, or red type over a yellow background can improve readability. Backgrounds that are nearly the same color as text can render signs nearly unreadable.

Tip 5: Be Clear and Keep it Simple

Clear, compelling messaging is what sets apart great signage from mediocre. Different signage has specific goals, and when a retailer can convey these distinct messages in a way that is clear, informative, and above all, still on brand, that business is going to be more competitive. Informative signage such as directional signage must be concise and readable to enable users to understand the message with a split-second glance.

Good quality signage doesn't require expensive materials. With simple paint is possible to have attractive and efficient signs.

Tip 6: Make Quality a Priority

Given that all business owners know how critical it is to inspire trust in their customers, it’s surprising how many stumble at producing well-made, error-free signage. And it doesn’t have to be this way. Creating quality signage is an easy and inexpensive way to cultivate that trust. “Signs will convey your authority and attention to detail. Make sure they are clear and accurate every time. Poorly printed signs, misspelled words and other inaccuracies can erode your credibility.” (Kinsella 2012)

Simplicity is key.  To be effective, signage must be easy to read. As some experts warn us: "Some signs are so full of tiny images, starbursts, exclamation marks, and small print, that you can’t take it all in.” (Inspire 2013).

Blade signs are a very effective way to capture pedestrians’ attention. The signs above are simple, straight to point and very effective in communicating what these businesses are about.

Works Cited/Referenced:
Business 2 Community. 5 Ways for Retailers to Drive Sales Using Digital Signage. 2012. Source Link
DS Marketing Solutions. Retail Signage…Tips for Increasing Sales & Service. 2006. Source Link
Foxfire. How to Start Using Retail Signage. Source Link
Inspire Retail Solutions. How to Create Effective Retail Signs. 2013. Source Link
John Kinsella. IGC Retailer. Powerful Signage Promotes Your Brand. 2012. Source Link
Kevin Johnston. Demand Media. Rules for Effective Retail Signage. Source Link
Bang Advertising. Why Exterior Signage Provides the Best ROI for Retailers. 2011. Source Link


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