Sign Here!


Most businesses use signs of some kind. Good signage can make a big impression on customers, just as poor signage can communicate an unfavourable impression. Follow the tips here to help you plan a signage style for your business that will improve your brand recognition and your customer’s impression.

Words and colours

Give all your signage a consistent look by using the same colours and typeface for them. Where possible, link the look of your signs to all your other promotional and communications elements, including advertising.

A sign is there to be read, so make reading it easy. When you’re planning a sign, consider how far away it is from the person who’s going to be looking at it. This will be a critical factor in choosing the size of the lettering you use. Look at existing signage to help guide your decisions. For a viewer 30m away from a sign, the minimum readable letter size is 8cm.

Remember that words consisting wholly of capital letters are generally harder to read than a mix of upper and lower-case letters. And a simple typeface is much easier to read than a script or other fancy variety. Bold type is easier to read than thinner fonts.

A logo or other symbol can add visual appeal to a sign, but it’s always best to use only one graphic element so the viewer’s eye can be drawn to it and not hop around the sign’s area.

Be careful in your selection of colours for your signage. Black type on a white background (or white type on a black background) offers the maximum contrast and is the most visible. Yellow type on a white background doesn’t provide the same degree of contrast and consequently is harder to read. Keep the number of colours to a minimum and make sure the letters really stand out from the background.

There’s a ‘Seven Word Rule’ about signs that’s often quoted. It says that when people look at a sign they’ll be able to assimilate a maximum of seven words; any more are wasted and can detract from the value of the sign. Keep words to a minimum.

If possible, get your signs done by a professional. Homemade signs usually tend to look like exactly that!

External signs

Be sure any external signage complies with local legislation. Most municipalities have some sort of signage regulations and it could turn out to be an expensive mistake to ignore them. Signage professionals should be aware of the regulations that apply in your area.

The materials used for external signage have changed considerably in recent times. Gone is the old ‘paint and timber’ approach and in its place is a range of new and sophisticated materials that need to be carefully chosen according to your particular requirements. It’s worth paying a bit more to get a sign that will retain its appearance throughout its serviceable lifetime.

If your signage is meant to be read by people who are passing by in cars or buses, get the message across in as few words as possible. If it’s seen by people who have a lot of time to read it and are standing still you can put more information into it.

Its fine to have your name up in lights but your signs should also tell people what it is that you do. Signage that just offers a business name doesn’t really provide enough information unless you happen to be a household word brand. ‘Brent & Croft Watch Repairs’ says a lot more than just ‘Brent & Croft’.

For retail businesses

If you get the same question from customers over and over maybe you can put the answer on your sign. For example, if you’re selling a product that comes in a variety of colours and customers keep asking “What colours does it come in?” put up a sign that answers the question.

Another customer-centric approach is to have any signs carrying prices also show the features of each product. If one item costs more than another, similar item, tell customers what the features are that justifies the price differential.

If you advertise a product to bring customers into your business, show them where it is with a sign saying something like ‘As advertised on TV’. The same thing applies to items in catalogues or flyers.

Until next week,
Mike Reddy