4 Tips for Making an Impact with Your Business's Sign

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on November 30, 2011
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Can’t afford TV advertising to drive sales? Don’t fret: A recent survey of 100,000 American households shows that store signs rank second, beating other media, in determining where shoppers will buy. Here are four tips for making an impact with your business sign.

  1. Make it visible. The shopper study, conducted by the University of Cincinnati with BrandSpark and Better Homes and Gardens, found that 64 percent of women ages 18 to 24 reported “failing to find a business due to small, unclear signage.” If your sign is obstructed by trees, buildings, power lines, or other signs, you’re losing customers. Inspect the placement of your sign from every vantage point a potential customer might have. Consider adding lights or changing its position, colors, or typeface(s) to help it stand out.
  2. Less is more. A sign that is difficult to process may lead a customer to perceive your brand as unlikable, unbelievable, and untrustworthy on a subconscious level, says visual marketing expert James Kellaris in another UC study, “Signage as Marketing Communication: Research Perspectives and Next Steps.” Meanwhile, if your sign bears an easy-to-parse message in a high-contrast format, customers tend to perceive your brand as truthful and trustworthy. When choosing a design and copy, prioritize your message — and keep the word count to no more than seven. If your address is the most important aspect of the sign, feature it. If your service is unique, communicate that point above all else. Keep it simple: You can tell your customers more about your brand after you get them in the door.
  3. One size does not fit all. Kellaris’ study suggests that people can have different perceptions of the same sign, depending on how they view it (for example, if it’s mounted on the ground versus on a building). When passersby view a sign out of their right visual field, they respond more favorably to words rather than images, he notes. In contrast, people who see a sign out of their left visual field will respond most favorably to an image-based sign that’s mounted at a driver’s eye level.
  4. It’s part of your overall marketing strategy. Business signs are often one of the first pieces of marketing collateral a business produces. As your brand and messaging evolves, the look of your sign should, too. Customers remember signs just as they do jingles and ads they enjoy. In many cases, it’s your only chance to make a great first impression.
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