design effective sign

How to Design an Effective Sign for Your Business

By Jim Blackburn

Effective sign design is a critical component of keeping your business visible in the physical world. The right sign can draw in potential customers from the sidewalk or the streets, and they can be used indoors at your next trade show to impress fellow business owners.

There are several elements involved in crafting the perfect business signage, from the initial design to the decision of where to place it. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can design an effective sign that will draw prospects your way and increase your brand visibility. So, let’s get to designing the perfect sign!

Choosing Your Sign Format

The first step in this process is to decide the format of your sign. This means figuring out the general dimensions you’d like, whether you want it to be portable or fixed, and where you’d like to see it placed. Will your sign be read from twenty feet away, or will it be right in front of the prospect’s nose?

If you want a small sign for your storefront, your design will be different than if you’re looking to decorate the side of a skyscraper. If you’re looking for something reusable, durable and portable, a banner may be more appropriate. Magnetic car signs, posters and decals are other options you can consider to meet your promotional needs.

Once you’ve settled on the format for this project, you can move on to implementing effective design features. Your canvas is all ready to go — now it’s time to add the art.

Selecting Your Content and Design Options

Now that the size and shape of your sign is all squared away, it’s time to take a look at some design and content options you can use to make your business sign shine:

  • Typeface: Choose a font that is legible and bold — it should be easy to read even at a distance. Cursive-like fonts that are thin, however elegant and attractive they may be, can be too hard to decipher. When someone looks at your sign, they should be able to understand the message almost instantaneously. Clarity is king here.
  • Colors: A little color theory can go a long way here. You want the text of your sign to contrast with the background so that it really ‘pops’. If you have a logo that is dark, use a light background, and vice-versa. Utilize contrast to help your message get across in an effective way.
  • Content: The message on your sign should be clear and concise. Don’t overload the viewer with information, as they only have a few seconds to soak in your sign. Choose a simple set of words that convey your message quickly and effectively while using the tone that you want your brand image to have. If you’re aiming to include a logo, make sure your logo follows the same rules — it should be simple and easily recognizable. An overly complicated sign may intrigue the occasional passerby into taking the time to decipher it, but by and large, such complex advertisements are ignored.

Work with a Reputable Print Shop

Though it may be tempting to attempt to design and print your banner or sign at your home or office, it’s highly recommended to work with a professional print shop. A pro print shop can help you get the job done right the first time, so you can avoid the costly revisions that can plague amateur attempts. Plus, you’ll have many more options when it comes to signage size and materials.

Many shops can also help you with graphic design in case your layout needs to be perfected, and have the experience necessary to offer feedback on what works or doesn’t work. While it’s good to do as much planning and brainstorming that you can prior to putting your project into print, when it comes to the final product, it’s wise to work with a pro.

We hope these tips have pointed you in the right direction when it comes to designing an effective sign for your business. It’s worth taking the time to perfect the details — after all, this will be your brand’s first impression on many new prospects. Once you have an effective sign, you can show it off on the sidewalks, the streets or the skies (perhaps an airplane tow-behind?).

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Jim Blackburn
Jim brings more than 34 years of Information Technology (IT) and small business experience to his position with Instant Imprints. Prior to joining Instant Imprints, he was Operations Manager for Concerto Networks and Director of IT at Image Arts, Etc. Mr. Blackburn has held management positions with Fox Photo, Fotomat Corporation, Warp Nine Imaging and several other imaging companies.
  1. I agree, when creating a business sign your message needs to be as clear and concise as possible. This is especially important if you are planning to put your sign up on the side of the road or something like that. Your message will need to be able to be easily understood when people glance at it when driving by.

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