Elements of an Effective Sign Design


Elements of an Effective Sign Design Cover

When you are ready to purchase signage for your business, you need a clear, readable, and aesthetically-pleasing design. To ensure the successful promotion of your company and make the most out of your advertising dollars, keep these tips in mind for effective sign design:

Keep it simple. 

Effective sign design quickly and clearly displays a message using as few words as possible. Why? Because of the amount of time viewers have to decipher messages. Motorists, for instance, have only seconds to decipher a sign, making three to five word messages ideal. Point of sale signage, on the other hand, can tolerate slightly more informative content. Spend some time determining the message you want to convey and keep environment in mind when creating your signage.

Leave plenty of white space.

Along the lines of the keep it simple mantra, leave plenty of “white space” – that blank area around text and images. Thirty to forty percent white space is best. An overabundance of text and graphics overwhelms viewers. If you want to get wordy, save it for a press release. TMI is a known killer of effective sign design.

Choose clearly readable typefaces.

Fancy typefaces don’t make for better sign design. Unreadable typefaces are completely useless. Even if you own a lingerie store, script and other novelty typefaces are probably not your best bet. Neither is the use of multiple typefaces nor all caps – the human eye much more easily deciphers block letters and proper capitalization. Opt for clear, straight typefaces that are easily readable, using bold letters or slightly larger text for emphasis.

Make color work for you.

White text is very difficult to read. Extensive research shows black, dark blue, or red text on a background of yellow or white is the most readable combination. Added bonus? White and yellow contrast beautifully with many outdoor elements, such as the blue of the sky and green grass, helping your signage stand out. Using multiple signs in close proximity? Keep colors and design consistent to avoid a scattered, busy atmosphere.

Use images carefully.

Quizno’s disfigured rodent “sponge monkeys” didn’t have much to do with tasty sandwiches. Along those lines, make sure images and icons you choose are not only large enough to be easily discerned, but that they have a clear, immediate connection to your type of business, such as a logo.

Unsure? Let a seasoned design team help you discover your best option.

An experienced graphic design and marketing team can help you create the most effective sign design for optimum results. If you’re not sure what will work or look good – just ask. Designers are happy to explain how and why effective design works. Graphic artists love looking at a piece and knowing it encompasses great design – not just because their name is on it, but because they know it will work for you.

Thinking about design for your trade show booth? Check out our post on trade show booth graphics from last week!

7 comments on “Elements of an Effective Sign Design

  1. Deanna R. Jones on

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been trying to come up with a really good design for my business sign. I like the concept of what I’ve thought of so far, but I can’t seem to make it look the way that I want. You made a good point about leaving plenty of white space. Perhaps my business sign would look better if I would cool it with my use of colors and leave at least thirty to forty percent white space, as you’ve suggested in this post.

  2. Wendy Cartright on

    This is extremely good advice for effective sign design. I know I don’t like to see a ton of elements mashed together on a sign. I like your guideline to keep 30% to 40% of the sign in “white space.” It’s definitely more attractive than loading a paragraph into one sign. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Paul Pedrotii on

    A good signage work will always improve your business growth. Signs are the most effective inexpensive form of advertising, promoting your business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  4. Alex Trodder on

    My dad started his own civil engineering firm while I was growing up. Your business signage and logo can be essential aspects to your marketing efforts. You make a great point about how you will want to keep your signs and logos simple and easy to read. That way they will be quickly identifiable. I’ll keep your tips in mind. I hope to start my own business one day.

  5. Dee Francis on

    I liked what you had to say about using images with my business sign. It seems like people are more likely to recognize businesses by looking at signs that have a logo that’s clear to see from a distance. Logos that are easily distinguishable seems like they’re great to use for signs to help direct customers to your business. That must be why I’ve seen a number of signs that have icons and logos on them. Thanks for posting this!

  6. James Bergman on

    I’m really glad that you mentioned making sure that companies use readable type faces on their signs. I think most people understand this, but I still see unreadable signs all the time. Sometimes the sign will work even with a strange typeface, but I would steer clear of it myself. It is better to make the sign easy to read than fancy.


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