7 Business Signage Tips for Maximum Impact

As much as we don’t want to admit it, signs work on us. A survey from Outdoor Signs America revealed that 8 in 10 customers report entering an unknown store or business for the first time based only on its sign.

Their effectiveness has seen more than a century fly by, as the Out of Home Advertising Association of America was created in 1891 and has followed how signage evolved across the decades.

But among a sea of bright colors and messages more enticing than the next ones, how can you make a difference to avoid missing your next customer?

The intrepid minds at Signs.com did their own set of experiments on drivers to test what qualities affect the impact of outdoor business signage. Text length, size, color, and levels of engagement were among the variables tested. Here are the key findings from their research:


Logo sign


High Color Contrast

Color matters. Signs with high color contrast between background and text had a 23% boost in responses. A high contrast will attract the eye more quickly, so also keep in mind where your sign will be located and how it can contrast with its surroundings.

To help you choose the color(s) matching your message, we suggest some reading on Visme to go through more details on the link between colors and marketing signage.

No Borders

As much as adding a border to your exterior signage can appear to be only a minor modification, it seems to distract drivers. It adds more noise to the picture that readers have to process, and it doesn’t give any more information than a borderless sign. In fact, signs without borders had 11% more engagement.




Short Messaging

People generally don’t take time to read signs in-depth (and motorists definitely can’t stop to read them), so the messaging on outdoor electronic signage, like a digital message center, must be as simple and direct as possible. You only have from the time viewers see the sign to the time they walk or drive past it to get your message across, about 5 - 10 seconds.

Viewers need to notice, read, process, and comprehend the sign in that window of time. That’s why short, simple messaging was found to be 20 times more effective. With this in mind, avoid writing full sentences on digital message centers; for example, "Are you tired?" can easily be shortened to: "Tired?".


Example of outdoor electron signage


Larger Signs

Bigger is better. Unsurprisingly, physically larger signs also drove more engagement. They are easier to notice and easier to read, which reduces the time needed to process and act on the sign, especially if your sign indicates the location of your store nearby. Larger signs had 75% more action than smaller signs tested. Keep this in mind when designing your pole signs or channel letter signs.


Outdoor channel letter sign


Low-Involvement Call to Action

The more you ask people to do, the less likely they are to do it. In the experiment, a sign that asked drivers to wave had 2.5x more engagement than asking them to honk their horn. This example shows us how the most effective messaging can be as simple as "Next Right". So be direct, but don’t ask too much from your readers when selecting messaging for your digital LED sign.

Simple Design

It’s normal to want your sign to feature graphics to boost engagement, but you don’t want those graphics to decrease readability. The most effective signs used concise text with a single-color background. Although a background image can draw attention, it can also reduce the contrast of the words, thus reducing readability. Signs with simple designs had up to 40% more responses.

Proper Illumination

Traffic around your sign doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, but if people can’t see your message, it’s the same as not having a sign. Consider investing in high-quality, energy-efficient lighting that will make your sign more visible at all times of day. Both internal and external lighting options are available, depending on the sign type. By adding sufficient lighting to your commercial sign, it effectively becomes 24-hour advertising.


Logo sign on building exterior


Bonus Tips: Location, Visibility and Quality

A key component to sign effectiveness is location. Of course, areas with more traffic are better for putting your sign, but there’s more to it. These considerations will all affect your outcomes:

  • Visibility - how easy is it to notice? Is it big enough? Does it require commercial lighting?
  • What font(s) are you using? Note that using CAPS does not necessarily equate to higher readability.
  • Are buildings, tree limbs, or other items covering it from view?
  • Does it need to be repaired or replaced?
  • How long will the average person spend looking at your sign?
  • Do drivers have enough time to act on your sign’s message safely?

Last number to remember: the aforementioned study from Outdoor Signs America also sheds light on the fact that more than 65% of consumers admit matching a product’s or service’s quality to the quality of the business signage; 50% of those surveyed said that poor signage would even deter them from entering a business completely.

Although this list of business signage tips should help you in planning your sign, far more goes into a successful production and installation. You can reach out to our team at Flexlume to get expertise and guidance in making the best, most effective sign for your business.


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