Professional Business Signs for Your Company
Taken from ISA (International
Sign Association) site...
Your professional business
sign is your voice on the street. It communicates with passing
pedestrians and motorists. It convinces them to come through your doors and do business with you. Imagine you're
you own a fast food restaurant on High Street or Sawmill Road in Columbus, Ohio---you sit back in a small strip
center and you don't have a sign. Most likely you don't have a chance...
* Professional Business Signage is the least
expensive but most effective form of advertising.
* Professional Business Signage can be responsible for half of your customers
- that’s right, 50
* Professional Business Signage is so important that without it you may not
get a loan for your
* Signs are an investment that will pay a return many times over.
* A well-designed, well-placed custom business sign can generate huge profits,
part of an overall marketing strategy.
Signage can no longer be an afterthought. Businesses can no
longer afford to just "hang up a shingle" or throw up some plywood with painted letters. In order to compete in
today's competitive marketplace, you must think of your sign as a sophisticated, powerful marketing tool. It should
work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, creating the first impression of your business,
telling people who you are, where you are and what you offer.
Don't Just Mark Your Business...Market Your Business with Professional
Signs are sometimes so widespread we hardly notice them.
That is until we're looking for one and then we only note that in passing. We don't realize their effect on us,
which is one reason why they're so effective.
However, it is precisely because they are so commonplace
that many merchants take them for granted. Obviously, most small business owners know they need a sign but they
think of them as merely a marker identifying the business. As a result they are unaware of and underutilize the
earning potential of signage.
In order for the independent merchant to fully realize the
potential earnings of signage, he or she must look at signage not just as a way of marking the business but also as
a way of marketing the business.
Your on-premise sign should identify your business, mark its
location, and convey the right image of your company. But, the most important thing it should communicate is what
you are selling.
The ABCs of Signage
At a minimum, your sign should Attract new customers, Brand
the business and Create impulse sales.
Attract New Customers
Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work
within a five-mile radius of your business. But according to the U. S. Census Bureau, 18.6% of the population
Which means every year you're losing customers that you must
replace with new customers, just to break even. Who's in business just to break even?
If you only want to sustain your business then just maintain
your customer base. But if you want to grow your business, you must increase your customer base. The quickest,
easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage.
If you'll recall from the previous section a small, 7%
increase in sales produced over 124% increase in profit. It is for this reason that attracting the new customer is
essential to your profitability.
Brand Your Business with Custom Signs
When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a
place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called "top-of-mind awareness." Top-of-mind awareness
is built and reinforced through repetition.
As mentioned, 85% of your customers live or work within a
five-mile radius of your business. When driving to and from work, school and shopping, they pass your location some
50 to 60 times a month. Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they
That's how signs help build top-of-mind awareness and brand
your business. To further this effort, make sure your sign is included as part of your overall marketing
For example, a Volvo dealership in Portland, Oregon always
includes in its radio ads its address, followed by the phrase "under the big blue Volvo sign." When people see the
big blue Volvo sign they remember the commercial.
Additionally, the name of your business, your logo, company
colors, catch phrase, etc., should be consistent on your sign, your letterhead, business cards and print
All these coordinated efforts build recall and recognition
and help brand your business in the mind of the consumer.
Professional Signs can Create Impulse Sales
Just Like the Big Guys
Even though many of today's consumers have the financial ability to spent money,
few have the time in which to do that spending. They're certainly too busy to search for you or wander around
comparison-shopping. They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be
selling what they need.
Who hasn't been driving down the street, stopped at a store
and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign?
Best Buy discovered that about 17% of its customers were
people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign.
Another example of how signs can be very effective at
influencing a customer's buying habits is the Belmont Auto Spa in southern California.
The business was profitable but not as much as expected.
Unfortunately, the original sign, although expensive and well placed, was poorly designed. Its lack of color
contrast prevented it from standing out from the background and it couldn't be seen or read at a distance. Further,
since the sign didn't have any of the characteristic visual features one would expect for a car wash, drivers
didn't recognize it as one and drove right on by.
The owner invested $15,000 in a new pole sign that was
well-designed. The strong, first-read pictorial graphic immediately identified Belmont as a car wash and the colors
were contrasting and lively. A reader board was also added to highlight specials such as
In its first year, the new sign produced a 15% increase in
overall business, which translated into an additional $135,000.00 – nearly nine times the cost of the
Marketing to your Customers
Different types of businesses have different signage needs
because they serve different purposes and reach out to different customers. To make sure your signage is
specifically marketing to your customers you must first determine your category of business.
At one end of the business category spectrum are companies
that satisfy specific and infrequent customer needs. At the other end are businesses that fulfill general and
An effective sign will employ different marketing strategies
depending on the type of business and the needs of its customers. When businesses fall in between the two extremes,
they will need to use a combination of methods.
Infrequent Shoppers... Show Them Your Brand!
Businesses that offer products or services that meet
specialized or infrequent needs must develop top-of-mind awareness so people remember the business when those needs
arise. Examples of this kind of business include veterinarians, , appliance and electronics stores, locksmiths,
medical and dental offices, real estate offices, and accounting and bookkeeping firms. This is where a professional
sign can make a big difference. Especially when the business is new and starting out.
These businesses must focus on branding their site. To
reinforce this effort, the signage itself must be designed to project the right image for the business and have
that image be recalled.
When a customer walks through the door of one of these
businesses, it is likely he or she has already noticed the business's sign, developed an opinion about the
business, and remembered the business when it was needed.
Studies show that electronic message centers and variable
message displays increase memory of a business. People are curious to see what the sign will say each time they
pass it, so they keep looking at it. When a sign is a source of information people want, it takes on more
significance in their memory, branding your site.
Frequent or Impulse Needs
Businesses designed to meet frequent or impulse needs must
reach out and pull people in on the spot. Examples of these include grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, video
stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and car washes.
Many of these business's customers need to make a quick
decision to stop. Therefore, their signage should be eye-catching with a brief, simple message that can be read and
understood quickly. The businesses must be noticed and recognized at precisely the right time by those ready to
buy. Often these businesses rely heavily on attracting tourists and need to be sure those unfamiliar with the
business can tell right away what is sold there.
The typical McDonald's is a good example. The "golden
arches" are such familiar icons that the McDonald's sign can be easily recognized long before the sign's lettering
can be read. This gives a driver plenty of time to notice the sign, make a decision to stop, and safely maneuver
through traffic. An independent fast food restaurant with a poorly-designed sign that is hard to see, hard to read,
and hard to understand, will have great difficulty competing for the frequent need
customer even if the food, service, and pricing are superior.
If your sign is going to
convince the impulse customer to stop at your business, it must be designed so that the important
information is easily recognized at a glance. People driving down the street can take in a great deal of
information. Seventy-five percent will pick out the key word on a sign the first time they pass it. Make sure the
first time someone reads your sign they immediately understand the most important information – what you are
selling. Any additional information should be designed to keep your repeat customers interested in your sign and
your business so they remember to come see you again.
Because we read from the top down and left to right, the key
word, graphic, or logo should be located at the top of the sign and read from left to right. Otherwise, the reader
can get confused and take longer to understand the sign's message. This delay can mean the person who is seeing the
sign for the first time is unable to read and react to it before driving past your business.
Reprinted from International Sign Association
6185 M Huntley Road
Columbus, Ohio 43229f
way to grow your business.