10 Tips for Creating Effective Outdoor Signs

Your business’s outdoor signage should be effectively branded to draw the customer in and help convey the nature of the experience inside. Your goal is to be seen, understood, and remembered. To elicit the desired response from consumers, both form and content are key. A sign’s design is arguably even more important than what the sign says—after all, if you can’t read it, you can’t respond to what the message is saying. A study says, a person driving 45 kms an hour in moderately busy traffic on a multi-lane highway sees a sign and reacts in 1.5 to 3 seconds. What should do to maximize your signage’s visibility and legibility? Some helpful tips to consider:

  1. The Perfect Location:Place your sign as close to the street as regulations allow. Make sure it stands out from its surroundings in terms of its shape, size, and color; is free of obstructions, such as trees; and is positioned at a suitable height for the type of traffic passing by. Drive past your business from all directions to determine the best location for your sign—aim for maximum exposure to your target audience—and road-test it by having someone impartial do a drive-by and tell you what your sign is all about.
  2. Size matters:In addition to being uncomplicated and easy to read, your font should be big enough to be easily legible to all age groups—this is where drive-by testing is important—and use mixed-case letters rather than all caps, which are harder to read due to their more uniform size and shape. Generally, you will need 1 inch of letter height for every 10 feet of viewing distance.
  3. Color theory: Make sure you choose contrasting colors, such as black on yellow or dark blue on white. High color contrast can improve outdoor advertising recall by 38%. Of course, you will also have to consider your brand’s existing colors as well as what type of response you’re going for physiologically and psychologically. “Hot colors” like orange, yellow, and red are generally considered high-response colors, for example, while blue, green, and purple are less stimulating but also more soothing. The proper amount of “white space” is also important; 30% to 40% of your sign’s area should be left bare to prevent visual clutter, which impairs readability.
  4. Keep it short:In general, the average adult reads about 250 words per minute, or approximately four words per second, so make your point succinctly. Think about what you want to say, say it in as few words as possible, then edit your copy down ruthlessly until the fluff is gone and the meaning remains. Aim for three to five words per headline with supporting info below if necessary. If you can, save the details for once the customer is inside. The exception to brevity: abbreviations. Studies show that abbreviations take 800 to 1,000 milliseconds to read—considerably slower than the non-abbreviated rate of 250 milliseconds per word. So avoid them unless they’re virtually universal or integral to your message.
  5. Provide context whenever possible:Whether it’s a familiar logo, an image, a graphic symbol like an emoticon, or the first part of a two-part dynamic message, context helps readers understand a message more quickly in order to react. Integrating audience-familiar words and phrases and using rhythm, rhymes, repetition (“Real food, real fast”), and/or alliteration also aid processing speed and memory. Even chat abbreviations like LOL, OMG, and BFF can be highly effective—as well as space-saving—when used with the right demographic.
  6. Be memorable and creative: Boring signs are, well, boring. Humor and clever wordplay are great ways to grab people’s attention and show them that you’re a fun place to shop. While not everyone will love every joke, customers appreciate it more often than not and may even give you free publicity by photographing your sign and posting it online.
  7. Create a sense of urgency:Given that impulse buys account for up to 55% of all retail sales, getting people to act and act now is vital. Time-sensitive specials compel people to stop and take a look—and hopefully buy: “3 Day Only Sale!” “Limited Space Available: Call Today!” “Buy One, Get One Free – While Supplies Last” Help customers find opportunities to save and make the most of their shopping experience.

Signage that really speaks to your customers can do wonders for your businesses, driving sales and dramatically increasing revenue. Take time to reevaluate your current outdoor sign strategy and see what you could be doing better—and then do it better, with TruePrint Signs.

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