Signs and awnings tell a story. It could be an overall message that identifies your business or, in the case of most interior signs, promotes something specific such as an event or product. But let’s concentrate on the big picture here – outdoor signs and awnings.
The essentials of good design are the same for both, resulting in visual impact that increases your visibility and establishes a sense of identity.
What’s your message?
A sign is a communications tool. Your awning is also a sign even though it can serve a practical purpose, too, such as protecting people from the elements. Optimizing your signs and awnings requires thoughtful attention to the graphic design, not just the functional design.
What do you want to say? Your goal is to attract people’s attention so you can inform or direct them. They may be walking by, or they may be driving or riding on a bike or the bus. How fast they’re moving determines how much time they’ll have to grasp your message.
Even mediocre signs and awnings can help people find you. But well-designed ones will attract new customers by showcasing your business or building. It’s that extra marketing benefit you want to capture.
More isn’t necessarily better.
The larger signs and awnings are, the more you can do with them. But realistically there are limitations to what looks good and works well. What sort of text or graphics you should use depends on your type of business, and it could be different for your sign and your awning.
You want signs and awnings to be eye-catching, not eye-watering, so follow these guidelines:
- They should look consistent and coordinated with all your other signage and marketing materials.
- Make them easy to read from a distance. The “seven word rule” says people cannot take in a message longer than that. Distance dictates lettering size, and the rule of thumb is at least three inches in height from 100 feet away.
- A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? Using graphics – your logo or even a photo – can give energize your signs and awnings. You want them to stand out, but they should also look appropriate and compatible with their surroundings. Don’t use more than one key graphic element, because people can’t focus on several things at once. They tend to look away instead, which is counter-productive. Keep the number of colors to a minimum, too.
- Don’t use all caps, as they’re harder to read and are often the visual equivalent of shouting. Bolder font is more readable, though, because it provides stronger contrast.
Light them up.
You may not be open for business 24 hours a day 7 days a week, but certainly you want people to see your signs and awnings all the time. Why pass up an opportunity to highlight who and what and where you are? That means you need lighting to make sure your signs and awnings are fully visible at all hours, even when it’s dusky or dark or the weather’s bad.
There are lots of lighting options, depending on the size and location of your sign or awning. You’ll want to consider:
- Whether it’s best to light from the front or the back.
- Whether there are any building codes or other regulations that restrict lighting.
- How much light you’ll actually need.
Major business signs and permanent awnings are a longer-term investment. They’ll need to last for several years and keep looking smart the entire time, so get the best you can. Working with a experienced expert will ensure your signs and awnings are properly designed, constructed and installed to reflect the quality and professionalism of your business.
Photo Credit: David Boyle via Flickr