Well-Crafted Business Signs Draw More Customers

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on April 29, 2013
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A well-crafted business sign is critical to making a good first impression on potential customers — and building brand awareness. Whether it’s a sign on your retail storefront or a lawn sign advertising your contracting business, you either draw people in or push them away with your signage.

The most effective signs are both informative and attention-grabbing. They offer prospects a sense of expertise about your products or services, and they help passersby decide whether the business is professional (and thus worth their time and money). So it’s important to think about not only what your sign says, but also how it looks and where your potential clients are likely to see it.

Here are some tips for what details to include, which colors and designs to choose, and where to put your business sign.

Basic Information

A retail storefront should feature a clean, easy-to-read, well-lit, and well-maintained sign. It’s best to include what your business does in addition to its name. (“Jurgen’s Plumbing” is more informative than just “Jurgen’s.”) Proper placement is also critical. There should be no obstructions from power lines, trees or other buildings, and it’s a good idea to inspect its visibility from your customers’ perspective (walking by, standing on the corner, driving past in your car).

Signs displayed on billboards, the side of a van or truck or posted on a customer’s lawn should always include:

  • Business name and logo
  • Phone number — A no-brainer, right? But it’s frequently overlooked. Tip: Using a unique phone number enables you to track the number of leads a specific sign generates.
  • Address — Do you operate a retail storefront, too? Include its address on your sign.
  • Website URL — If your current address is too long, purchase an additional (and shorter) domain name that redirects to your company website.

Optional elements for mobile business signs or external special promotions:

  • Call to action — A sign shouldn’t just inform, it should tell people what you’d like them to do.
  • Slogan — A brief, snappy slogan that’s easy to recognize and remember can boost your brand.
  • Text or SMS code — This enables you to direct people to a particular landing page on your website.

Design Elements

Color is also a vital component of any effective business sign. Bold colors are the most visually appealing, as long as they complement one another. Text and background colors should contrast, making the text easier to read (and retain).

When it comes to the text itself, your first priority should be readability. A mix of upper- and lowercase letters is considered easier to read than words made up entirely of capital letters. Opt for a simple typeface over one that’s fussy or hard to read at a glance. Avoid using more than two different fonts. And, although it’s not always easy to do, considering the amount of information you’d like to convey, the fewer words you use, the better.

A carefully selected graphic also makes your business sign more memorable. This can be your business logo, an evocative photograph, or a drawing — something that’s both visually appealing and relates to your business, but which is understandable at a glance.

Size and Location

Placement is another crucial element. Outdoor signage should be large enough to be seen from some distance, but it should not require drivers to turn their heads to absorb. They should also be situated relatively close to the business’s actual location. Indoor signage for your retail store must be placed in the appropriate areas: Put sales signs near the sale items, customer service signs near the cash register or returns window, etc.

Don’t mistakenly assume that signs are just decorations or labels for your business. A great many retail sales are impulse buys. People see your sign, link it to something they need or want, and make a purchase. No small-business owner can afford to overlook this sales-generating resource.

Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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