There is no doubt that commercial signs really do work, even in the digital age. Signage has great power, and it’s possible for the right custom sign design to generate as much as 75% greater growth in your customer base. For a start-up business, signs are what attract half of all new customers. As much as 85% of the average company’s customers live within 5 miles of that business. These customers typically see outdoor signs as much as 50 times a week. And lest you think that you’ve already covered all of your customer base after your commercial signs have been out for a few months, know that 13% to 20% of America’s population is moving every year.
It’s also crucial to note that customers look to commercial signs to tell them something about the business they are patronizing. When consumers are asked what they think of the quality of a business sign, 70% of them say the quality of the sign reflects the quality of the business. And 60% of consumers have said that the lack of signage kept them from coming into a business. Since it is so important to have the right commercial signs, what can you do to make sure that your signs follow best practices and say good things about your business to everyone who sees them?
- Write as if you were composing a newspaper headline. When you were writing essays for your English class in college, you had to carefully follow all of the rules of grammar and syntax. You may have noticed that in print journalism, newspaper writers compose headlines that are simplified. Prepositions and other extra words are removed. This enables a headline to convey the heart of a matter with punch. (That’s why it’s called a “punch line!”) Follow the same practice when you write text for your commercial signs. Have a headline, give a little bit of text to explain, and then include whatever information is necessary to get your reader to act.
- Be as specific as you can. If your sign is too general, people won’t know what they’re supposed to do with it. Your commercial signs should focus narrowly on precisely what you want to convey. Do you want to make sure they know about a particular event? Focus on that. Is there a particular product or service you want to highlight? Focus on that. Are you most concerned that the reader understands exactly where to find your business? Focus on that. Don’t try to convey all of this information in one sign.
- Keep your brand consistent. Everyone recognizes those golden arches. We don’t even have to say the company name. The arches are incorporated into absolutely everything the company prints, and in every type of media the company utilizes. Your signs need to do the same thing. Choose something and stick to it across your brand. It could be a simplified version of your logo, it could be a tagline, it could be a picture: it can even be a joke. But make sure that every time someone sees it they think of your brand first.
- Remember the five second rule. You only have about five seconds of a person’s attention when they look at your sign. Everything that’s important needs to come across in those five seconds. Test this, and if it takes longer than five seconds for someone to absorb the information on your sign, go back to the drawing board and shorten the message.
- Never forget your call to action. This is one of the Golden rules of advertising, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about posts on a website or commercial signs: always include a call to action. You want the customer to do something, so tell them what you want them to do. Of course, not everyone will respond to your call, but those who are inclined to will know just what direction to go.
Your commercial signs are some of the most crucial advertising your business will invest in. Make sure that your investment is producing a good return.