Whether you’re planning on designing a sign for the front of your business, the side of your vehicle, or on the scale of a billboard, finding the perfect design for your signage can be a difficult process. Signs are usually the first impression that your business can make on a potential customer, and in a world where we are subjected to thousands of advertisements each day, it’s important to craft a sign that is memorable, concise, and easily visible. If fact, we see so many signs each day that some of them aren’t even consciously registered, meaning that they are not having the impact desired by the business owners.
As one might expect, there is no “one size fits all” approach to choosing and designing the perfect sign. Before beginning the design process, it’s important to decide what the intended goal of the sign ultimately is. Do you want to attract passersby? Do you want to promote a particular product or service? Do you want to inspire intrigue? Having a general goal for the purpose of your sign will give you a better idea of where to begin with its design, placement, and size.
For more permanent signs, especially signs featuring the business name, the purpose is often very obvious: to identify your business and to attract those who are walking/driving by. Unless you’re designing a sign with the purpose of ADA compliance or safety in mind, for the purposes of this article we will assume that the sign you’re designing is for commercial or promotional use.
Before you even begin the sign designing process, you need to determine what is allowed within your municipality. Here at RAM Signs, we have experience working within the confines of local laws all around the Four Corners, particularly in Farmington and Durango. Some municipalities have limits on areas such as size and color scheme. Billboards, in particular, are regulated heavily by local authorities.
One of the most difficult parts of the sign designing process is ultimately deciding what the sign is going to say. If you’re planning on using just your business logo, then the process will probably be much easier, but will still involve deciding on a myriad of other small details. If you’re starting fresh, then you face the challenge of coming up with a concise yet informative message that is appealing to passersby. On average, your sign only has about 3.5 seconds to make an impact on someone walking or driving by, and even less if it’s surrounded by signs from other businesses. For this very reason, your sign needs to be short, sweet, and to the point. In general, it is recommended that signs contain seven words or less, as any more can run the risk of being difficult to read or not read at all. While it’s important to be concise, signs that are too vague can also pose significant problems. If it’s not abundantly clear what your business is and what you provide, then your sign is not serving its intended purpose.
Once you’ve decided on what the sign will say, the next step is to choose a typeface and text spacing. When choosing the correct typeface, it’s important to consider how it will reflect on the image of your business. If you’re incorporating an existing logo, choose either a matching or complementary typeface to supplement the logo’s existing text. Wildly different typefaces could reflect poor judgment or business quality, and may even deter possible clientele. Different fonts go better with certain types of businesses, and it’s important to take a step back and see how you want to present your business to the public. More fun texts are better applied to businesses tending to cater to a younger, more energized audience and are great for businesses like restaurants or day cares. Other fonts can make your business appear more high quality, and focus on more of an upscale client base. Another common mistake that business owners make is choosing text in all caps. While this is certainly applicable to the style of some businesses, text in all caps doesn’t necessarily mean that people will find the text easier to read and will therefore gain more attention. On the contrary, studies have shown that signs with a mix of upper- and lowercase letters are actually easier to read.
Letter spacing, sometimes referred to as kerning, is another important factor to take into consideration. Letters that are spaced out can fill up any dead space very nicely, but can also appear difficult to read if too far spaced out. Different types of kerning can change the overall feel of your sign. Depending on your business style, over kerning, or the overlaying of letters, can also have an aesthetic effect on your signage.
If your logo incorporates and images or photographs, or if you wish to incorporate them anyways, be sure to take that into consideration when choosing your sign’s color scheme. For billboards, in particular, the general rule of thumb is to never choose a blue background, as it has a tendency to blend in with the blue color of the sky, especially in the more open landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona. If your municipality has any zoning ordinances about color scheme, make sure to take these into account as well. Some cities, like Sedona, AZ, are infamous for having strict zoning laws that limit color schemes to only a handful of options.
Color scheme is one of the cornerstones of the identity of your business and helps to reinforce the different marketing efforts of your organization. Choosing a color scheme that is consistent with the other parts of your business operations will help to reinforce your branding efforts, and will help make your business more recognizable in the long run. Certain color schemes are more visible from afar, so it’s imperative that you choose a color scheme that is both highly visible and reflective of your business identity.
Finally, once all of these factors are taken into consideration and accounted for, the final step is arranging the information on your sign. This is where your creative expertise, your business identity, and existing branding efforts will come into play. Don’t over think it! If you think the sign is too busy, chances are your customers will too.
Here at RAM Signs, we have over 26 years of experience designing, building, and repairing signs of all kinds. No matter what step you are on in the process of creating a sign, our team of knowledgeable experts is here to help you from our home base in Farmington, NM. We offer a wide range of channel letter, monument, pole, and digital signs, as well as vehicle wraps and billboards (and much, much more!). We’re here to walk you through the hassle-free crafting of your custom sign from start to finish!
It’s no secret that business signs are an effective way to identify your business name, location, and service offerings. However, not all signs are created equal. These days just having a sign may not necessarily be enough to stand out against the competition, and if your sign is poorly designed or outdated, may even negatively affect the perception of your business. Therefore it is essential for all business owners to understand what properties make up an effective business sign, and how signage affects the way that potential customers may view your business.
Starting with the basics
Signs are arguably the most important aspect to the branding your business. They are the first step in establishing name recognition, and help to set you apart from competitors and nearby businesses. Creating a sign also gives you a chance to introduce and logos, slogans, or other forms of branding to the public. In addition, a good sign can serve as a beacon to your business, drawing in regulars and passersby alike.
Creating a sign is your time to shine! The information and design of your signage should be creative and informative, and should use bold, legible text. Providing too little information may stop people from fully understanding your business offerings. Most experts agree that signs should be readable in 5 seconds or less. Too much information on a sign can be unattractive and disorienting, and can turn off potential customers. It is important to always check with your local municipality to see what regulations exist in your area regarding outdoor signage.
According to a study conducted by FedEx Office in 2012, roughly 76% of consumers said they visited a store they had never gone to before solely based on its signage. This is a behavior that all of us are probably guilty of, one way or another. We tend to be intrigued by objects that stand out. The same study also found that 60% of consumers were deterred from entering a store because it didn’t have a sign, demonstrating the importance of having a visible and legible sign.
Another important finding in the study was that over 2/3 of consumers feel that the signage of a business reflects the overall quality of its products or services. Signs are usually the first part of your business that a customer sees, and a sign with a cheap design or incorrect wording tends to make customers believe that the business inside is also lacking quality and integrity.
For businesses that are just getting started, or for many businesses in general, money for an intensive marketing campaign can be hard to come by. According to the Small Business Association, a government organization focused on providing support to small businesses and entrepreneurs, signs can provide some of the best returns on investments in terms of marketing costs. They have calculated that the cost-per-thousand on reaching a wide audience is much less for signs than for other types of advertising (i.e. radio spots).
Selecting a Sign
Choosing the right sign can also be a difficult task if you’re building a business at a new location. You’ll have to double check for any laws in your municipality that limit certain types of signage. These are some examples of work that we here at Ram Signs in Farmington have done over the last few years. This guide will help you make the right choice for your business.
Pylon Signs – pylon signs tend to be used in places like strip malls and shopping centers where there are multiple businesses in the same lot. These signs are lit from behind and are meant to be read from far away (usually from the road).
Pole Signs – Made to be seen from a distance while potential customers are driving by, these signs can stand several stories off the ground and can feature a single pole, double pole, concrete block, or archway. We’ve built these signs for Blue Diamond Auto Spa, Four Corners Community Bank, San Juan Plaza, Chapter Houses on the Navajo Nation, as well as many schools in the Four Corners.
Monument Signs – RAM Studios Signs offers monument signs for offices, strip malls, apartment complexes, city borders, community centers, and more. These signs are secured in the ground and are displayed near the front entrance, usually between 3 and 8 feet high. They can be simple rectangular shapes or cut to fit the theme of the property; made with brick, stone, concrete, metal or vinyl.
Channel Letters – Channel letter signs are the type you see on the outside of buildings that are large, 3D, lighted letters to make up the logo or company name. These can be made in any color and customized in the font and size you want. These may be one of the most important signs your business can have.
LED Signs – These signs feature moving images in digital frames. They can be stand-alone signs or part of other signs, such as pole signs. The use of LED lighting has replaced the use of neon in some applications, such as channel letters. Let us show you how this new lighting source can help light up your sign world with low maintenance, high visibility that can save you up to 90% of your energy costs!
Neon Signs – Neon signs tend to add a more retro feel to the exterior of your business. Although they can be a bit more expensive, they do add a very unique appeal to the exterior of your building, and tend to be strong beacons in nighttime hours.
Billboards – Billboards can be a great option for businesses that don’t maintain a traditional storefront. They are often placed in areas of town frequented by many passersby, and tend to be very attention grabbing. In addition, there are options available to add lighting so they can be viewed at night.
First blog post – watch for new content coming soon!