The 4.5 Secrets of a Successful sign
“Almost any sign is better than no sign – but not always.”
A successful sign needs to follow some basic rules, the most important being:
Legibility, Contrast, Size, Color and Competition.
Regardless of the color used, the size and the beauty of your sign, if your sign is not legible, it is not likely to achieve it’s objective of attracting viewers and potential customers. Legibility is determined by a combination of factors including the TEXT SIZE, FONT, TEXT COLOR and CONTRAST.
If the text is too small or too large, it can make the sign difficult or impossible to read. Either way people will most likely not take the time to read or try understand the message, and the sign will not attract the necessary attention, and will fail in it’s objective of attracting prospective customers.
The font you use can have a massive impact the legibility and understanding of your sign and it’s message. The writer remembers a sign that he always believed was for a beer company as the legible part of the sign read BREW. Turns out when the signage was replaced it was a design company. Their sign was almost totally illegible, had too much ‘noise‘ and the font was exceptionally difficult to read, especially in the short time one had to read the sign while driving.
The color of the text relates to both the text itself and the contrast between the text and it’s surrounds.
If your sign has little contrast it may look fantastic ion paper and also be classy on small items – badges, folders and the like. The lack of contrast tends to become more of an issue when the sign is large, the time to read is limited and the contrast is so limited that it is not easy to IMMEDIATELY differentiate between the text and the background.
Successful signs need CONTRAST. The greatest contrast is between BLACK and YELLOW. It may not always be practical or possible to use black and yellow – for example if your logo is green or blue or red or a combination – but if your logo is red and you use the same or a slightly different shade of red for the backing, the chances are that if you placed that sign on a billboard, your message would be lost.
In signage, the general rule is BIGGER IS BETTER! While BIGGER IS BETTER is true in the vast majority of cases, it is not always so. The larger the sign the further away the reader can be. That is simple. The larger the sign the larger the text, hence it is more legible from a larger distance. However, if the text is TOO LARGE for signs that need to be read from close up, then size of the sign can distract from the intended message, and at worst end up with the sign looking gaudy and unprofessional – something which could negatively reflect on your brand.
The question of SIZE also impacts the distance the sign may be spaced off a wall or backing board.
Free Floating signage is great in that it enhances a 3D look, makes the sign look modern and professional and helps attract attention while making the business look GOOD. This positive effect can be reversed when a sign is spaced too far off a backing board. If for example, your text is 100 mm high, and you have it spaced 100 mm off the backing board, not only are all the fixings visible – which can look very untidy and unprofessional – the fixings being the same size as the sign (in this example) often makes it look like the owner skimped on the signage, which could have a negative impact on the brand.
As already stated color (colour) and contrast are essential for successful signs and signage. It is the writers view that the color you use in your signage should be as close as possible to the colour you use in your other promotional material. A little secret – most people will never see your letterhead close enough to your sign to do an accurate comparison. That said, our subconscious mind is an extremely powerful tool, and will pick up even slight variations that may look incorrect. If your subconscious sees or believes that a sign is incorrect, it is not uncommon for people to rather walk away and try an unknown brand than to use a brand that they know, they recognize and they trust, BUT not the fong kong LOOKING replica. This phenomena has been demonstrated to this writer on a number of occasions. (For more information on this phenomena you are welcome to contact the writer).
siBold colors work well in signs, especially when they contrast with the back ground. Because bold color works well with signage it is always recommended to remember that signs, like music, are not only about what one sees and hears, but about the SPACE around what one sees and the space between the musical notes.
Competition is not it’s own number as it may seem a little strange to think about when designing one’s signage, however, like most things in life, signage is SLEDOM seen in isolation.
If you are the only sign on a long road, with nothing else around for miles (kilometres for those on the metric measuring system), you can most likely get sway with almost ANY sign. A hand written board that is too small to generally get noticed could attract attention on a long open road as it is simply not the same as it’s surroundings, and could thus stand out enough to be seen. [Please remember that being seen does not necessarily equal being read or legible].
On the other hand, if you are looking to install a sign in an area that is almost overpopulated with a variety of signs that create sufficient visual pollution to give prospective viewers a head ache, if the sign does not have any ‘special features’ that make the sign stand out from the competition, the sign may not get seen at all.
Competition is a seldom considered factor in signage that has the potential to make a HUGE impact on the success of your sign.
For advise on signs that work contact SignForce now on firstname.lastname@example.org or call and ask for Arnold on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp Arnold on +27 (0)82 558 6413.
Find out more about SignForce by visiting http://www.signforce.co.za