3 Things to Consider When Designing Your Business Signs

Designing your business signs

[Don’t miss the cool giveaway at the end.]

Everywhere you go, you see signs: billboards, road signs, aisle markers, window signs, and service and business signs.  They’re how we find our way through commercial and public places. Whether we’re just looking for a specific exhibit in a museum or for the cereal aisle in a grocery store, signs showcase where things are and they draw foot traffic.

That said, signs have to be clear and effective at conveying their message otherwise they stand the chance of being ignored or passed by in the search for the most easily accessible information.

There are many tips and tricks for designing your business signs and effective signage but if you simply follow basic design principles most of the problems disappear at the beginning.

So here are three things to consider when designing your sign before it’s sent off to print!

1. Too Many Good Things

At some point, every piece of media has to go through a cutting room.  Even something that had only a few ideas to begin with can blow up into a piece beyond its own scope.  The bright red text, green mascot, customer image, and product background may seem like a great way to show everything you offer at once but it’s too much too quickly. Remove some of it!

Pick your points and run with them.  Are you emphasizing a specific product? Then use the customer action shot with the product.  Use it only as a label and let the image speak for itself.  Is the sign a general piece for your brand or company? Then use the mascot and the letterhead or a logo.  Don’t bog things down with images of your products when a quick image, your name, and a tagline can carry the message quickly and cleanly!

Use basic color theory.  There’s limited real estate on your sign so stick with two or three colors that mesh well.  There are plenty of online resources that give advice on color theory and how to apply it.  If you want, look up a color wheel to check for complimentary colors.  You can also take your main color for the sign and look for specific color themes that match it to help your sign pop out among the crowd.

2. Tiny Text

This one is pretty commonly understood.  The smaller the text the harder it gets to read.  You don’t need all of the product information on your display banner.  That’s what the label, brochure, pamphlet, or website are for.  Your sign is meant to draw attention, to get people to come over and learn about what you’re doing.  Use big and bold text so that people at a distance can see it from a distance.  A good rule of thumb is that you get 10 feet of readability for every inch of height on your letters.

3. Placement versus Content

It seems obvious, a little text on a board with an eye catching image and you’re done.  Hang the sign and people will come through the door.  Then you step back and the sign is obscured, the lighting is bad, or all you can see is the image and the words “Free Toaster” can’t be seen.The sign is perfect from exactly one angle: the place you’re trying to draw attention to.

Designing a sign requires more than just careful selection of a design it requires consideration of where the sign is going and on what it’s being placed.  A dark-colored sign may look great on your computer, but once printed it will need very strong lighting to be seen at the back of your store.  Your sandwich board has a great font, but it’s the same font on all of the other boards outside the restaurants on your street. Pick a complimentary color that the other signs aren’t using to stand out on the street or lighten the colors on your sign so it can be seen on the back wall.

Like they say in construction, “Measure twice, and cut once.” Always double-check the location, make sure your sign is readable, and be concise with your content before sending your final design to the printer.

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Leave us a comment telling your favorite tip for business signs from above and win a pack of 250 custom-printed matte business cards by Signazon!

Winner will be announced on this page on the 30th of January 2013. So get commenting!

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Pooja is a Human Behavioral Specialist + a Writer and Editor of non-fiction books by the day and the night. Pooja lives in beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia.


  1. Cubicle on the 15th January

    I have also noticed that, for larger signs that are mostly or all type, a dark background and white characters works best.

  2. David on the 18th January

    I agree with number one, Too Many Good Things. I notice too many places that think that they need to fit every idea that they’ve ever had into one ad or small square of space. Get across the main point and leave them ready to ask you something!

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