A Good Sign

Some time back BBC news ran an article about road signs entitled: 'What makes a good sign?' The article revealed that, 'out of 500 drivers surveyed last year none was able to identify 12 and only one sign - the speed camera - was known to all.'

If you are thinking about road facing signage - either shop front signs, road side panel and post signs, or bill board advertising, this is a note worthy statistic.

When you think about the sheer volume of audio and visual material competing for the attention of the average motorist driving past your sign: the traffic, the car stereo, mobile phone, kids, sat nav instructions, it becomes really clear that your sign really has its work cut out.

So, what makes a really great sign?

1. A great sign, like any other peice of business communication,  has an objective. So are you clear about your objective? Is your sign about a specific call to action? Is it about enticing passing trade into your store? Is about brand enhancement and awareness building? Is your sign designed with best achieving your particular objective in mind?

2. Is your sign visible? Okay, this might sound completely obvious, but consider the position of your sign. What other signs are competing for attention with it? Is it obscured by anything? What direction is it facing? This will effect the way it is lit by natural light during specific times of the day - when do you expect your target market to see? What artificial lighting are you planning on using?

1. Clarity, Consistency and Simplicity make for a great sign. The unity of these three virtues helps create a high impact, bold sign.

2. Think about the size and shape of your sign. Do the proportions sit well with other signs and street architecture it will be in the midst of?

3. Lay out - do not crowd your sign. Space around the edges makes it easier to read our message.

4. Font. Using too many fonts can look confusing. It is far better to stick to no more than two easy to read fonts. Here are some useful numbers care of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) in relation to font sizes and distances at which they can be read. 

Letter Hieght      Max Distance    Best Impact Distance
3"                     100'                30'
4"                     150'                40'
6"                     200'                60'
8"                     350'                80'
9"                     400'                90'
10"                   450'                100'
12"                   525'                120'

5. Think about how best you can use contrasts to draw attention to your key message. The following colours have proven to be the most impactful when used together. (OAAA reserach)

Black on Yellow
Black on White
Yellow on Black
White on Blue
Green on White
Blue on Yellow
White on Green
White on Brown
Brown on Yellow
Brown on White
Yellow on Brown
Red on White
Yellow on Red
Red on Yellow
White on Red

Whilst clearly these combination are not to be taken as a ready prescription, they do give a sense of what works.

5. If you are using images, make sure the composition of your picture works at the size in which it will appear on the sign. Again, bold, clear and simple are a good benchmark.

Your signage really does some 'serious' work for your business. So once you've got it designed, produced and installed, don't forget to show it some 'serious' love; a well maintained sign, will look good and stop traffic for much longer!


Posted on April 11th 2012

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