What’s Your Sign?

Experiential Innovation

The right signage can help build your brand, attract new customers, increase sales, and even boost your business’s “hip” quotient.

In this age of digital everything, businesses that neglect tried-and-true marketing tools such as effective signage risk undermining their overall effort. “Signage plays the role of communication for the customer,” says retail consultant and entrepreneur Samantha Cohen. “It has a significant impact, especially in the area of in-store experience.”

To attract shoppers, please customers, and build your brand, use signs that project helpfulness, suggests consumer psychologist and retail consultant Bruce D. Sanders, author of Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers. “Good signage answers questions customers commonly have. Outside the store, the phone number and website address—in an easy-to-read size and font—facilitate the interested consumer getting in touch with you,” he says. “An easily understood tag line along with the name of your business on the sign answers the question, ‘What distinguishes this business?’”

Ideally, signage should perform at least three functions: attract new customers, reinforce your brand in the minds of consumers, and create impulse sales. A handbook created by the New York State Small Business Development Center (What’s Your Signage? How On-Premise Signs Help Small Businesses Tap into a Hidden Profit Center) refers to these functions as “the ABCs of signage,” and they can have a significant impact on any business’s success.

Signage is a cost-effective marketing tool relative to other forms of advertising. Consider these statistics:

  • The New York State Small Business Development Center handbook calculates the cost per 1,000 exposures for an on-premise sign at just 13 cents, versus $6.60 for a TV spot.
  • The actual cost of an on-premise sign varies depending on several factors, of course, including size, the materials used in construction, sophistication of design and graphics, and other variables, but it still can return a bigger bang for the buck than most other types of advertising.
  • According to a study cited in the handbook, one additional on-premise sign resulted in an average sales increase of 4.75 percent and a 3.94 percent average increase in annual number of transactions.

Purpose-built signage, from the ground up

A sign’s design and fabrication can play important roles in how effective it is, and that applies to both interior and exterior signs. Key factors to consider include:

  • Visibility/Conspicuity
  • Legibility/Readability
  • Size, Scale, and Location
  • Cone of Vision and Angle
  • Graphic Elements (Color, Contrast & White Space)
  • Contrast/Brightness
  • Letter Style and Capitalization
  • Letter Heights
  • Message Length
  • Illumination/Lighting

Signage also works outside your location, building recognition and awareness. Kari DePhillips, owner of The Content Factory, a digital PR agency, stresses the importance of having branded signage at events like trade shows and conventions to help your target audience recognize you. “That’s a topic I’ve been talking about with clients and blog readers for years,” she says.

One popular form of signage in this category is a step-and-repeat banner, which you may have seen hanging behind celebrities at various events. “Step and repeats” typically have multiple depictions of a company’s brand name, logo, and tag line. They hang as a backdrop for a booth or display table at conventions, trade shows, demos, grand openings, etc. With the popularity of digital photography and posting on social media, a well-placed step and repeat can deliver impressions far beyond the immediate event attendees.

“Step and repeats are an inexpensive way to increase brand awareness by getting your logo and company name featured in the backgrounds of images that’ll be used everywhere, from newspapers to Facebook profile pics,” DePhillips says. “A step-and-repeat banner also adds a distinctly hip factor to any event, and it gives off the impression that you represent a legit company. If you’ve got a step and repeat, your shindig is officially swanky—and worthy of generating Instagram selfies.”

Explore simple, effective ways to build your brand and business with graphics.

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