Levelling Up Your Signage

  • Date19 March 2021
  • Reading time 6 mins read

Signage might seem like a fun, creative little project to tack onto the end of your business plan. However, lousy signage can really scupper your business! On the other hand, the difference between good and great signage is a quantum leap from being part of the noise to standing out from the crowd. 

While your business undoubtedly needs great signs to be successful, your patrons and staff also require exceptional signage. It's a crucial element in the experience you create for them! Signage determines the quality and navigability of their time on your premises and, consequently, impacts their desire to return. 

Signage, therefore, performs a variety of significant functions. From helping direct people to your business and assisting their navigation, to creating a visual and emotional connection that reassures patrons you are competent and unique, signage is everything! First impressions are critical and long-lasting: let's make sure you're getting them right. 

Your signage might be good, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make it great. Everything from your logo, design elements, environment, and audience impacts the success of your signs. It's also crucial to consider the specific function you want your sign to perform, as well as the message you want your audiences to receive. 

Let's take a deep dive into tips and tricks to level up your signage. You're doing good - let's make it great. 

Right on Brief

Right from the start, you need a clear brief, and you need to be on brief. Some elements to think about include:

  • how long your sign needs to last
  • who you are trying to reach
  • whether practical features like directional information, lists or special needs considerations need to be included
  • when your sign needs to be seen and read (weekdays, weekends, day, night) 
  • environmental factors (weather, light, heat)
  • any regulations you need to be aware of
  • Your exact purpose. Are you trying to advertise, identify, seel, warn, inform, inspire, direct, or impress?
  • integrating your sign with existing signage
  • maintenance and servicing 

Make sure everyone involved is aware of the brief and is interpreting it in the same way. This way, you'll achieve a cohesive and impactful signage campaign!

Legibility and Identity

Words aren't often considered a 'design element.' Nevertheless, the typefaces you use and how your text interacts with the rest of the sign are significant factors in its success. 

Colours Stories

Contrasting colours are the easiest way to make your text stand out, whether you place dark letters on a light background, or vice versa. Ideally, integrate this colour scheme across your branding to build a cohesive and impactful brand identity, and make yourself more recognisable.  

Choosing Typefaces

Clear typefaces with sufficient spacing between letters and words are the easiest to read from a distance. More importantly, typefaces speak volumes about the identity and personality of your business. Whether you're aiming for a friendly and casual vibe or a sophisticated and professional feel, the right font is half the battle won. 

In general, steer clear of script-style fonts, which are hard to read from a distance and create unnecessary clutter. Sans-serif fonts communicate strength and durability, and they can take up less space. On the other hand, serif fonts project more sophistication and refinement. They are also easy to read in large bodies of text. Try not to use more than two different letter styles, though, as this generates a confused, cluttered feeling which doesn't effectively translate your message. 

Love Negative Space

Avoiding visual clutters is key when designing signage. Negative space is an important design element that helps your text 'breathe' and avoids confusing the eye and mind. 

Bonus Tip: Borders

Adding a dark border around your sign increases average reading speed by 26%! It helps to regulate the reading space and focus the eye in the centre of the sign. 

Targetting Your Audience

Your message's effectiveness is determined by how your audiences receive it, which requires you to understand them very well. Your design needs to attract the desired patrons, and be read by them in a precise way. This might feel a bit more like psychology than signage design, but it's genuinely central to the process!

Spend some time thinking about who your message is aimed at, and how you want them to react to it. Now is the time to put on your psychologist hat! How can you elicit the desired reaction from your desired audience? What colours, font and vocabulary are most appropriate? It might help to carry out some surveys or focus groups amongst your target market to learn as much as you can about them. This depth of knowledge and understanding will help elevate your signs from good, to great. 

Instant Messaging

Brevity, accuracy and impact: these are the hallmarks of compelling and concise signage text. Don't forget, you have less than three and a half seconds to get your point across!

Ideally, communicate your message in less than seven words. However, make sure all the vital information is available (the type of business, product or service you offer, for example). 

Environmental Concerns

Knowing where your sign is going to be means you can design with the environment in mind. The ideal spot for your signage depends on a few factors:

  • Your audience's locations, paths and habits
  • The sign's function and purpose
  • Local regulations 

In situ, you can start to consider how your sign interacts with the nature and architecture around it, the feel of the location, and what weather conditions it will be exposed to. The way your signage engages with its surroundings is crucial to how it is received: is it jarring or shocking? Does it complement its surroundings? Does it stand out enough to be noticed? Have you shown sensitivity to the location? These elements also communicate a lot about your brand identity and personality, so don't leave them to the last minute! 

Ask the Experts!

Designing great signage is a creative challenge that can seriously impact your business, so don't leave it to chance! At Mesh Direct, we've got decades of experience helping companies boost their brand and improve their returns. Our expertise is at your service: feel free to reach out if you have any questions, queries or want to get a quote

We have some exciting projects going on! Keep up to date with us here. 


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