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8 Keys to Success: Sign Design

All around the country people instantly recognize the golden arches on McDonald's® signs, and immediately identify Volkswagen's®, Wal–Mart's®, and even Ben and Jerry's® signs. By following a few easy tips, your business' sign can become highly visible and recognizable, and promote your business more than you may realize.

The power of a good sign

According to experts at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), signs are a terrific way to reach consumers on the go. The organization adds that case studies continually show that signs increase awareness, influence purchasing, and sell products.

To maximize the power of signs, experts recommend following these design guidelines:

Remember readability

Be sure your lettering is large enough to read from a distance. Gail Finke, a freelance writer who specializes in sign design, stresses, "if people can't see what the sign says then you've just wasted a lot of money."

Kathy Morrison, a sign designer, recommends the following industry standards:

Reading Distance Letter Height
100 ft. 1¾" to 2" or above
200 ft. 3½" and above
400 ft. 7" and above
600 ft. 10½" and above
800 ft. 14" and above
1000 ft. 17" and above
1300 ft. 22" and above

Use tried and true fonts

Sticking to simple fonts will make your sign easier to read. Finke suggests Times Roman, Sans Serif (not too much flare), Frutiger, and Universe fonts. OAAA also advises allowing for adequate spacing between letters and lines, as well as using both upper and lower characters.

Carefully choose colors

According to OAAA, "research demonstrates that high color contrast can improve outdoor advertising recall by 38 percent."


Best Combinations
Black on yellow
Black on white
Yellow on black
White on black
Blue on white

Simple messages

Experts agree that when it comes to signs, less is better. OAAA recommends brevity — seven words or fewer, and no more than three elements per sign.

Designers at Global Sign and Awning in Roseburg, Oregon say your sign should quickly and clearly state three important points:

  • Who you are — your company name and identity
  • What you do — this section usually highlights your industry or trade, and is given the greatest prominence
  • How well you do it — a short slogan or company motto might be used in this area

Think in pictures

Graphics and pictures are still worth a thousand words, according to Global Signs. A picture of a mouth–watering cake may make a greater impact on potential customers than any slogans about baking the best cakes in the county.

Now you can design signs right from your desktop with companies like MarkTheWorld.com that offer online, step–by–step sign templates.

Remove temporary signs

If you hang a vinyl banner to announce a sale or grand opening, take it down when the special period concludes. Perpetually posted signs will not make the impression you expect; people may begin to ignore the banner's message.

Check local laws

Your town or city may have ordinances restricting sign size, lighting, and spacing. Check with your municipality before beginning the design process.

Design a sign online

Plus, sign creation is easier and more convenient than ever. Now you can design signs right from your desktop with companies like MarkTheWorld.com that offer online, step–by–step sign templates. Design it online, then your sign is delivered to your door days later.


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