How’s your website these days? Have you tweaked your SEO? Got your linkbacks all sorted? Do you have a thriving social media following and a dedicated AdWords account? Are you optimized for mobile display?
Where are your restrooms?
In the stampede to collect likes and mentions and pins, many small businesses have overlooked the importance of their physical signage. Good signage is essential to driving new retail business, and it’s just as important as your website’s layout. Think of it as a real-life “Contact Us!” button.
You’ve probably heard of sales funnels, where visitors can find your site easily, are quickly qualified, followed-up with, and closed. If you use physical signage strategically, it works the same way.
Types of Signage
Outdoor signage is the first impression your potential customers have of you. It should tell them who you are, what you do, and why they should visit. Examples may include pylon signs at the entrance of your shopping center or business park, directional signs to guide people to your location, dedicated parking spaces, entrance designators, and window displays.
Also known as “wayfinding” signs, these pieces help your customers navigate through your store, locating items by department, finding assistance, and generally enjoying their experience much more. Savvy business owners can use these signs to move customers along a specific path to maximize sales.
While every sign should echo your corporate colors and theme, branding-specific signage can be used to tell your story, highlight how you help the local community, explain your mission, and more. They are a way to create a stronger relationship with your customers.
- Point of Purchase
Point of purchase (P.O.P.) signage is used to promote good deals, add-ons, impulse buys, and other specials. Studies have shown that as many as one in six retail purchases are directly influenced by a POP display.
Regardless of the type of signage you are using, quality design is the key to getting your message across. Follow these tips to ensure you don’t alienate your customers.
Best Practices to Sign Design
All of your signage should echo your brand colors and style. Fonts and logos should appear the same way every time. If you have multiple locations, try to arrange their physical layouts the same way, with your signage in roughly the same places.
Your signage should follow the “headline, explanation, call to action” hierarchy. Outdoor signs consisting of just your company name are headlines. Informational signs are explanatory, while POP signage should have all of these elements.
With the exception of POP displays and some of the more involved branding signage, your customers should be able to read and understand your signs in about five seconds. This is especially critical for your outdoor signage, where customers may be driving by. When you are choosing the fonts for your company’s style book, avoid complicated scripts that are hard to resolve at 65 miles per hour.
It may seem obvious, but if customers can’t see your signs, they won’t visit. This doesn’t just mean internal lighting or spotlights, but also posting informational signs where they are clearly visible throughout your business.
While the fundamentals of sign design have carried over into digital design, this is one area where the online world has influenced the real one. Information is being consumed faster than ever, but the tradeoff is that it has to be short bursts of information to even get attention. Keep your signage simple and to the point to ensure your potential customers don’t get bored and wander away.
In the 21st century, having a digital presence is crucial to cultivating new business, but physical signage is just as important. After all, no corporate web site will tell customers where the painting supplies are located, a social media feed can’t process a refund, and an app won’t tell people to keep off the grass.
Sandesh Joshi is the president and co-founder of Indovance Inc. Prior to founding Indovance, one of the leading CAD and drafting outsourcing service providers in the world, Sandesh worked at SolidWorks Corporation as a senior R&D member. He has a bachelor of mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India, and a Master of Science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, with a specialization in CAD.