an infographic about what makes a business sign effective

Creating Business Signs That Work: From Best Practices to Quick Design Tips

Running a successful business is all about getting noticed—and any smart business owner knows that it all starts with an effective business sign.

Quality signage is an essential marketing tool for businesses that seek to reach and attract the right customers, and drive the most profits. When designing your store, it’s through these signs that you turn heads, drive foot traffic, and communicate with your customers without saying a word. They don’t even have to flash in bright neon colours to be noticed; they just need to follow certain characteristics that will guarantee visibility.

Signs As Powerful Salespeople

Just as your web design should be simple yet visually appealing, your in-store signs should be clear and concise in order to communicate your brand and get your message across. Think of them as your quiet yet powerful salespeople: they help customers navigate your store without having to ask the staff basic questions.

And just as business owners set standards for their employees, the quality (colors, graphics, fonts), brevity (messages), and visibility (sizes) of your signs require careful planning, consideration, and development. And like real top salespeople, signs are so versatile, you can actually assign them different tasks—from special offers and sales information, to product specifications and instructions.

The 3 Simple Rules

Regardless of the type of business sign you choose, consider these best practices to help you come up with effective and engaging ones:

  • Keep things simple and specific. Keep your message short and refine it to its most basic elements. No excessive information, as that would only confuse the reader and make them want to stop reading altogether. Provide specific details like location of the business or relevant product information.
  • Write in headline text. Remember the first principle of print journalism? The punch line matters. Simplify your text; lead with the punch. Kick it up a notch by sticking to a message hierarchy: start with a headline, include a bit of explanatory text, and finally, craft an engaging call-to-action.
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA). A sign is not just meant to inform; it’s also meant to tell customers what you would like them to do. With calls-to-action, you get one shot to grab the customers’ attention and urge them to take the next step. Do you want them to “buy now” or visit your website? Let them know.

Let’s Talk About Design

Color is an essential element of any effective business sign. If you’re looking to create an attention-grabbing one, your best bet is to use bold colors; they work great especially when they complement one another. Text, on the other hand, must contrast sufficiently with the background colors to make the text easier to read and retain.

an infographic about effective business signs

Now let’s talk about the text itself. Your top priority should always be readability. There will be instances when you will want or need to use uppercase-only text. If you do, make sure to keep it to only a few words, or you’ll lose your reader. If not, it’s best to go for a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, as that usually results in words that are easier to read. Choose a simple typeface over fussy ones, and avoid using more than two different fonts. And while it’s not always an easy thing to do, the fewer words you use, the better.

To make your business sign even more memorable, select visuals that best support your brand and your message. This can be your company logo, industry-relevant graphics or photos—anything that relates really well to your products and services, and is understandable at a glance.

Business signs are not just for decoration, and creating effective ones are never just about throwing some information together on a banner and getting it printed out at a local printing store. There’s plenty of planning, effort, and attention to detail involved. And while that may come off as daunting, the whole process is actually both exciting and rewarding. Customers see your sign; they link it to something they want or need; they make a purchase. Do your homework today, and you’ll be well on your way to leveraging business signs to your advantage.

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