The Sign You’ve Been Waiting For: A Guide to Building Signage

In an age of online marketing, where it is possible to quantify every impression and reach audiences around the world, it can be increasingly difficult for businesses to justify spending money on physical building signage. After all, the effects of your business or office signage can’t be measured in exact terms, and a physical sign will only be seen by people in your proximity.

But designing and investing in quality building signage is hugely important in establishing trust around your brand. Signs are a means of informing onlookers, and for businesses, this means informing them that you are serious, reputable, and proud of your brand.


Why are signs important for businesses?

Signs are a visual means of communicating with existing and potential customers. There are two central reasons why building signage is so important for businesses: discovery and reinforcement.

1. Discovery: Where You Are

Building signage helps put you on people’s radars. Compelling signage can convert both the commuters who drive by your business every day and the tourists who walk by on chance into paying customers. Your business sign is like an indicator on a map, letting potential customers know that you are there should they ever need anything that you offer.

But business signage isn’t there just for potential customers. It’s also there to help customers who already have every intention of giving you their business actually find you. All the digital marketing in the world is no good if people can’t find your business.

Aiding customers in locating your business can translate to big gains. A study by the San Diego School of Business found that among a sample of 162 restaurants in the area, each additional sign lead to a 4.75% increase in annual sales. For a business that does $500,000 in sales, that is almost $24,000 per year per sign.

2. Reinforcement: Who you Are

Your clients and customers subconsciously want to see physical reminders of your brand’s trustworthiness and repute when they come to your place of business. Beautiful signage is a way to reinforce to them that they are in good hands. Building signage conveys a sense of stability, if not permanence. It shows customers that you are proud of your brand and have invested in this space.

Designing attractive business signage

Creating beautiful building signage is first and foremost about design. Your business name and logo are two of the most important parts of your brand – in designing signage for your business, you want to be sure you do these two elements justice. You do that by ensuring that the following criteria of effective signage design are met:


1.   Colors that spark interest and foster familiarity

There are some misconceptions that colors have objective emotional associations. For example, blue equals calm and red equals passionate. These broad associations don’t necessarily hold true, as people have subjective preferences and personal experiences that they associate with colors. It is true, however, that 90% of snap judgements made about a brand are based mostly on color. It’s also true that color influences a brand’s likability and familiarity among its customers. In short: pick colors for your building signage that support the personality you envision for your brand.

2.   Legibility above complexity

Because quality signage can be a significant financial investment, many business owners are tempted to cram as much information and intricate design onto one sign as possible. We advise against this. Although signs are meant to be informative, sometimes information can be more effectively conveyed with brevity. Too much text or intricate detailing can be difficult to see from a distance, or be simply too much for an onlooker to ascertain with a single glance. Opt for something clear and legible over complicated.

3.   One size does not fit all

Signs come in infinite variations of shapes and sizes, and for good reason. Different sizes are required for different functions, and some designs look better at different dimensions. A huge, roadside or entryway sign can make a big, bold impression. But for businesses who are a bit more lowkey, smaller, more modest signage may be a better option. Consider the dimensions you intend for your sign during the design process to ensure aesthetic cohesiveness.

4.   Material considerations

The material that you choose for your sign will have a huge impact on the final look and feel of your design. Pick a sign material that is at once appropriate for the display environment (Indoors? Outdoors? Direct sunlight? Hanging? Mounted) and aesthetically aligned with your brand. From dibond to gatorboard, channel lettering to sintra, you have plentiful options to consider.

Installing business signage  

Where you put your sign, how you erect it, and whether or not you light it are all integral to creating an effective business or office sign. Think over these placement and display elements:

1.   Where will onlookers encounter your signage?

Is this sign meant to be seen by drivers on the road? Pedestrians on the side walk? Or only by customers on their way through the door? How close your intended onlookers are to the sign plays a huge role in determining how high the sign should be placed. For vehicles, higher is usually better. For pedestrians, an overhead sign is most likely to catch their eye. For those already walking in, eye-level may be best.

2.   Is the sign adequately illuminated?

If you are an office open during normal business hours, it may not be necessary to have a sign that can be seen at night time. But if you see most of your customers after the sun goes down, as with restaurants and bars, having signs that are self-illuminated is in your best interest. Backlit signs and channel lettering signs may be the best options for you. Otherwise, spotlights or track lighting can illuminate your building signage after sunset.

3.   Neighborhood regulations

It’s a good idea to look into rules and restrictions in your area regarding signage before you get too far along in creating a building sign. It would be a shame to draft up a design and placement plan only to realize your sign would be against neighborhood code.


Have you ever patronized a business thanks to its signage? What do you think every business owner should consider before designing signage for their building? Leave a comment and let us know!