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Whether your business is on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare or tucked away in a quiet street, the right types of retail signs draw customers in and help them find their way around once inside.
Maybe you want to capture people’s attention with a quirky message. Perhaps you need to promote a temporary offer. Or maybe, you just need to hang signs around your space to help customers find a specific product.
A survey by FedEx found that “91 per cent of small business owners agreed that readable graphics are important to drive customers to their business.”
Let’s look at the different types of signage you can use, both inside and out, to improve the experience for customers visiting your business. And since your sign is only as good as its message, we’ll cover some handy writing tips too.
Simple tips for your shopfront signs
The banners, posters and signs you put around your shop are often your first opportunity to engage with the buying public. And first impressions are lasting impressions. This is your chance to project the image you want potential customers to have of your business. People will judge the inside of your shop by how it looks on the outside. So, the overall style and messaging on your shopfront signs will affect whether people come in for a look or walk past.
Define each sign’s purpose
Before ordering signage products, it’s a good idea to have a plan for each one. The purpose of an outdoor banner might be to advertise a sale, while a window decal could tell people walking by when you’re open. Creating effective messaging for each of your signs will be much easier once you define each one’s purpose.
Here are a few examples of common signage purposes:
Entice people in
People strolling past your business aren’t just pedestrians — they’re potential customers. The job of your shopfront is to attract them in to look around. A-frame signs are a popular choice as they’re two-sided and readable from both directions, while a chalkboard sign is ideal if you want to regularly update your message and add some of your own personality. Bars often decorate these with witty handwritten notes to draw people in from the street.
Make sure your sign is readable
When designing your shopfront, it’s important to consider how easy it will be to see your business from across the street or from a moving car or bike. So, the size of text on your shopfront signs must be readable from a distance.
Use contrasting colours
The contrast between the colour of the text that you use and the background, along with the font you choose, will affect your sign’s readability.
For example, a well-designed outdoor banner can reflect positively on your business, but be aware of the effects of glare from the sun as it makes it hard to read. If you plan to hang your banner in an area with lots of direct sunlight, make sure there’s plenty of contrast between the background colour and the text. Be aware that pairing similar colours can decrease a sign’s readability.
Many believe that you have only 3.5 seconds to appeal to potential customers driving by your shop. The job of your signage is to capture their attention. Dark text on a white or yellow background creates plenty of contrast.
According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, these are the five most legible colour combinations for retail signs:
- Black on Yellow
- Black on White
- Yellow on Black
- White on Blue
- Green on White
Make your message stick
Customers could potentially pass by your business up to 30 times a month if it’s near their home or on their commute. Your signage is always visible, even when you’re closed, giving you the perfect opportunity to support your brand building efforts 24/7.
Window decals help you to display practical information like hours of operation, accepted payment systems and you can use them to announce sales. These subtle details maintain a consistent look and feel of your graphics throughout the rest of your shop and online.
Less is definitely more when it comes to signage. While you might choose a patterned background for a business card or flyer, consider the reading distance of each product you design. When customers are reading your messages from further away, it pays to keep things simple and aim for a short message on a simple and clean background.
Signage writing tips
Now that you’ve decided each piece of signage’s purpose, it’s time to set your messaging goals for each piece.
Here are a few ideas:
From the curb to the counter, your signs should help customers throughout their experience with your business. You can communicate the type of products on offer inside or use a sign to show customers to the changing rooms.
NO NEED TO SHOUT
All caps are the written equivalent of raising your voice. If you’re warning of DANGER, then it makes perfect sense to write in all caps. But if you’re inviting someone to “Try our freshly-squeezed orange juice” stick to sentence case. It creates a more conversational tone.
Be brief but include benefits
Keep the message short and sweet. But offer the reader a reason to act. “Warm up cold hands with a homemade hot chocolate” is way more tempting than “hot chocolate sold here.”
Encourage customers to speak to you and your staff. Messages like “Ask about our gift-wrapping service” prompt conversation and create a friendly vibe.
You have limited space on most signs, so stick to the essentials. Including a call to action and a timeframe helps create a sense of urgency.
And if you offer repair services, before and after images make it easy for people to visualise the benefit of using your business.
Hopefully, these tips help you define the purpose of each sign you’re going to use to promote your business. The most important things to keep in mind are to maintain a consistent style and tone across all products and ensure they’re easy for your customers to read.