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The Right Sign For You

Virtually all businesses need signage, whether they have a physical shop-front to promote, premises on an industrial estate to highlight or a marketing campaign to advertise. But what type of sign is right for your needs? In this blog, we'll look at the various options on offer and the key decisions involved in the final selection.

Virtually all businesses need signage, whether they have a physical shop-front to promote, premises on an industrial estate to highlight or a marketing campaign to advertise. But what type of sign is right for your needs? In this blog, we'll look at the various options on offer and the key decisions involved in the final selection.


Outdoor signs


Outdoor signage tends to be used to direct visitors or for marketing purposes. You'll see outdoor signs on walls, rooftops, awnings, next to buildings, as banners on rails and as signs on the side of vans and fleet cars.


Indoor signs


These tend to be attached to walls or hung from ceilings. They are most commonly used to direct visitors, to brand a business in a reception area or to provide important information such as health and safety advice. They are also used for trade displays and other events where permanent signage isn't an option. Pop-up or pull-up framework signs are common in this situation.


What sorts of materials are used for signs?

There are plenty of different materials to consider for your signage. A sign-maker will usually work with the client to understand factors such as their lettering preferences, budget, placement, planned lifespan of the sign and any regulatory requirements (for example, where health and safety signs are involved).
Basic sign lettering could be as quick and easy as neon or adhesive vinyl. Other types of lettering can be finished in plastic, wood, metal and foamcore. Some signs are engraved, for example, to denote a company or office at a reception space.
The backing for the lettering is known as the substrate. Common materials include paper, vinyl, cloth, plastic, glass, aluminium and foamcore. Again, the choice will depend on the needs for your signage, your budget and the type of finish you are looking to achieve. A temporary banner for an event might be produced on vinyl with ties to attach to railings. A large aluminium sign might be produced to advertise physical premises for the longer term.
Digital signage is another approach that is also rapidly gaining traction in the business world. Companies purchase or lease digital signage hardware, such as screens with accompanying programming software. Graphics can be produced to a template size and shown flexibly and interchangeably.
This type of signage is now seen commonly in retail, leisure and entertainment spaces, by the side of roads and in business physical spaces where news, advertising or information is being shared. Digital signs are also useful in reception spaces and lobbies, where daily information may change.


What to think about when designing a sign


There are various considerations to take into account. For example:


  • What is the sign being used for and how long does it need to last?
  • Where will it be placed?
  • Will viewers be seeing it from the road, inside a building or when driving?
  • What graphics and messages do you need to share?
  • How big do letters need to be?
  • Are there any regulatory or compliance issues that need to be factored in? For example, health and safety signage must adhere to strict rules.


Tips for success


1. Use a graphic designer
A good graphic designer with experience of signage will know how to apply equations that denote how large lettering needs to be for traffic visibility. They will be able to choose the right fonts for readability and choose colour palettes which aid this.

2. Consider the long-term
If your signage needs are likely to evolve over time, look for a method that can be changed or updated. A digital sign can be a good option here.

3. Use stock signs
it is invariably cheaper to buy in a stock sign than opt for a custom made alternative. Look for stock signs that provide vital information for shops, warehouses, restaurants, offices, leisure facilities, car parks and more.

4. Think about a suite of signs
You'll get a better deal on a suite of signs if you are using a signmaker to custom produce pieces. Don't pay a premium for one-off signs which have a set-up cost applied. Instead, plan your full suite of needs and shop around for the best cost.

5. Speak to your signmaker
Your signmaker will have years of experience in organising the right signage, so consult them for advice if you are uncertain as to your needs. They will be able to advise on factors such as placement, material, installation and visibility.

6. Expect to pay for a site visit
If you are looking to install physical signage for permanent placement, then expect to pay a site visit fee for measurement, a health and safety assessment, any lighting needs, access requirements and so forth. This tends to be redeemable against the subsequent order.

7. Order off season
Many businesses order signs over the summer period when they have plenty of promotional activity booked in. This can lead to delays as demand is high. If you can plan ahead, you may find that the production process is faster and costs are lower if you order your signage off-season.

8. Keep the design clean
Readability is key to the effectiveness of any good piece of signage. Don't run the risk of cluttering your sign with too much information. Keep it clean and minimal so that customers can see what you are really saying. For example, for shopfront signage, just include the name and your branding with a phone number and social media handles. Don't start adding straplines or other messages which clutter the visuals. Again, an experienced signage designer can help you to produce the right results. 


These tips will ensure that you get the most from your signage efforts and that your budget is leveraged for the best results; namely, informed, educated, engaged and brand-aware customers who are ready to use your business.

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