See the signs

It's Friday again, and I'm on my way home for the afternoon. On the way back, down the A17 to King's Lynn there is a place called Fleet Hargate, just outside of Holbeach. On the map it looks like an un-remarkable villiage. However, when you drive through it, the place is filled with huge signs all fighting for your attention! These are the Fleet Hargate truck stops, a place like no-where else I have seen. Every sign and board has a different message and style, all packed with directions and offers. It feels like walking through a market with traders yelling, singing and shouting at you come come and see their stalls.

As I was driving through around lunchtime today, I stopped for a coffee and got thinking. A lot of places you see have all sorts of weird and wonderful signs, but they may not be doing what they need to. How can you ensure your signage is working for your business or event? Before I get back on the road to home, here are five tips to improve your signage. 


Keep it Simple

The point of a sign is to illustrate a direction, a piece of information or an area. Usually the objective of the sign is to do one of a select number of things, which is why the simpler the sign is, the more effective it is.

If you find yourself needing a large quantity of information on a sign, consider its purpose and audience. If you need to have a lot of information on the sign, have you placed it in the best possible area? Is your branding conveying the right message? If a sign has a clear action or simple message you will get far more out of it as the viewer will understand the intention immediately.


The price is right

How much are you willing to spend on your sign? Are you wanting to do it on the cheap or do you have money to burn? Making sure you get the correct type of sign for the job is important. Going cheap on a prominent sign will not be good if it will be the first thing the customers see about your business. It may not last, or may leave a bad impression by looking cheap. Equally, spending a lot of money on an engraved brushed aluminium sign for the sake of it may impact the legibility or purpose of the sign, or not be representative of your brand.

Picking the right quality of sign for the job will maximise the impact of the message. Do your customers pass by your shopfront? Then you may need a bigger sign or structure. Do your customers mainly look for you after dark? Than you may need an illuminated sign. You may even need to consider a more cost-effective sign if the message it conveys changes frequently.


Branding

It is important for the signage around your business to reflect your brand. Keeping the communication and design consistent helps potential customers identify with you. If all the signs share the same look/feel and typography it's already communicating your brands values without needing to say anything. 


The Audience

Make sure you consider your audience when creating your signage. This may include placement to cater for elderly or disabled customers, braille or audio cues for the deaf or blind. As mentioned previously, if you are intending for your signs to be visible at night, do they need to be lit or reflective?

The better you consider your target audience, the better your sign will communicate with them. This will mean your business or event leaves a better impression on the audience, and the intended purpose of the sign will reach even more people.


Location

Making sure the placement of your sign works is also important to communicating the right message. Ambiguously placed arrows are even worse than no arrows at all, as it will cause people to either think negatively of your organisation, or ignore all other signs placed around for fear of being misled. 

If your sign is placed by the road, is the road high or low speed? This will affect the amount of information people will be able to digest when passing the sign. The size is also important in this case, as faster roads will need larger signs.

At the very least you need to make sure the sign is in a place where it can be seen, and that is relevant for its content. Special offer signs in the car park may not be the best place to communicate that particular message for example.


Bonus round: Keep it clean!

I have time for one more before I need to be going. Make sure you regularly clean and maintain your signage! The worst thing I see around are signs that are worn and faded, or dirty. It leaves a bad impression about the quality of your business if your signs are illegible or just dirty, and it stops the signs from performing their function.

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in any of the issues discussed or work shown, and would like to speak to me, please feel free to get in touch. You can comment below, email luke@blackwolfcreative.com or even give me a call on 07742 990524.