Sign Design That Will Catch Your Customer’s Eye

Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Humans are visual creatures, and advertisers know it. Experts estimate that people see between 6,000-10,000 ads each day. This seems excessive, and it is, but the reason is that they work. The question is not whether to advertise, but rather how to stand out from the rest. Here are some suggestions for how to effectively design custom signs that will catch the customer’s eye. 

The Importance of Sign Design

There are design aspects in sign creation that are important to know and understand, especially if you want to create a custom sign or design it yourself. Before you dive into the weeds, it is important to capture the essential elements in effective signage. Other aspects may vary or carry less weight, but these four items are always a priority.

1. Less Is More

No matter what you advertise or who your audience is, this rule is a staple. Remember that people see 6,000-10,000 ads every day, so you need to communicate your message quickly and immediately, and it doesn’t take a lot of words or images to do that when done properly. Limiting your words and potential images draw the reader in and deliver your message at a glance. If they have to take time to discern what the sign says or take in all of its content, you’ve already lost them.

2. Make Use of Negative Space

Negative space is the space that is not covered with words or images. The more negative space you have in a sign, the more the eye is drawn to the actual content. This goes along with the first point about less being more, but don’t be mistaken. The objective isn’t to make a plain sign but rather to balance the use of space and words to create just the right mixture of simplicity and complexity: capture the customer’s attention, but deliver your message clearly and quickly.

3. Limit the Fonts

Using too many fonts looks messy and disjointed, and it’s also difficult to read. Limit your fonts to no more than two. The italicized font is difficult to read, as are complex fonts. Choose a bold font that captures the eye, select the proper size for the sign design, and ensure it aligns with your company brand guidelines

4. Always Remember: 3-4 Seconds

You have 3-4 seconds to capture your customer’s attention and communicate your message and brand. That’s it. Every time you create custom signs, you should remember this fact and create the most effective design to capture attention quickly and, ideally, have a call to action. 

Your call to action may be to come inside your store, it may be to increase your brand awareness, it may be to communicate an upcoming event or a promotion, or it could be something else. When you create a sign, you should identify your call to action and design it with this in mind. Whatever your call to action is, you have a short time to connect with your audience and draw them to the next step. 

Now that you understand the four most crucial elements of creating custom signs, you can move on to sign design aspects. Everything covered here is important, but the first four points are the foundation. Now, you can move on to building the house (or, in this case, the sign).

Questions To Ask To Prepare for Sign Design

As a business owner (small or otherwise), you probably asked these questions as you launched your business or created your business plan. If you have a solid marketing plan, these questions should come easy. However, many small business owners wear multiple hats, and they are not necessarily an expert in all of them. In either case, it’s helpful to review these questions.

1. Who Is My Audience?

The answer to this question was primarily answered in terms of demographics in the past: the answer might be midwestern women between the ages of 33-45. Today, personas reign, which is much more specific. A persona is a detailed description of a customer, and it may go something like this: Mary is a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom with three kids who live in an affluent neighborhood. Mary cares about her appearance, exercises regularly, and is active in her children’s school and social activities. Mary has a heart for important causes and donates to several organizations, especially those that deal with domestic violence.

A midwestern woman aged 33-45 could be 33, single, and career-minded. She may care about her appearance, but she prefers to focus on spending her money on companies that are vocal about political issues. This woman and Mary are very different, and the difference is only understood in the persona. See the difference? This is important because if you’re selling skincare products geared more toward middle-aged women and donate five percent of your profits towards domestic abuse shelters, you want to target Mary more than the other woman.

You can start broad and work toward a more granular understanding. For instance, you may understand your audience enough to know that you want to appeal to Millennials instead of Baby Boomers, and this high-level knowledge still impacts your decisions as to which fonts, colors, and more to use. Data collection around user behavior is becoming more entrenched, though, and your advertising will have to keep up to continue to appeal to your audience.

2. What Is My Purpose?

This isn’t an existential question. Signs are used for different reasons. Outdoor business signs can vary on their intent, whether they identify your location and presence or attempt to compel the customer to come inside for a sale. Depending on its purpose, your sign should have varying looks and messages. 

Additional Considerations

Three additional aspects are important in sign design. Although they’re covered last, they are still crucial to effective signage.

  1. Contrast. Your font and negative space should have just the right amount of contrast. Too much and it’s hard on the eye, too little and it’s not noticeable. 
  2. Logo. Adding your logo in the right place and size can be important, depending on how the sign’s rest is designed.
  3. Brand Consistency. Your colors should be consistent in all your marketing efforts. Part of the goal is to create brand awareness, which is done by effectively choosing your brand colors, guidelines, and remaining consistent with them. 

No matter your sign, it should carry the right balance of simplicity and complexity, draw in your customer quickly, and compel them to action. You must also understand who your audience is and what your sign will be to benefit fully. Finally, it is worth the time to determine brand guidelines and use them consistently in your signage and all marketing efforts. 
At Rush Flyers, we understand marketing and creating sign designs that work for you and your business. If you want to design your own sign, we are happy to print it and ship it to you. If you’d like some help, our designers can work with you to create the perfect design. Request a free quote to get the process started. 

Featured Image Credit: Alhovik / Shutterstock

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