This article is taken from the website of the International Sign Association.
It deals with the importance of business signs in particular, but the main points could apply to all types of signage.
Signs are so widespread we hardly notice them. That is until we’re looking for one and then we only note that in passing. We don’t realize their effect on us, which is one reason why they’re so effective.
However, it is precisely because they are so commonplace that many merchants take them for granted. Obviously, most small business owners know they need a sign but they think of them as merely a marker identifying the business. As a result they are unaware of and underutilize the earning potential of signage.
The ABC’s of signage
At a minimum, your sign should attract new customers, Brand the business and Create impulse sales.
Attract New Customers
Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. But in the U.S. for example, over 18% of the population relocates annually.
Which means every year you’re losing customers that you must replace with new customers, just to break even. If you only want to grow your business, you must increase your customer base. The quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage.
Brand the Business
When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called “top-of-mind awareness.” Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition.
As mentioned, 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. When driving to and from work, school and shopping, they pass your location some 50 to 60 times a month. Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass.
Create Impulse Sales
Even though many of today’s consumers have the financial ability to spend money, few have the time in which to do that spending. They’re certainly too busy to search for you or wander around comparison-shopping. They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need.
Who hasn’t been driving down the street, stopped at a store and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign?
Best Buy discovered that about 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign.
Marketing to your Customers
Different types of businesses have different signage needs because they serve different purposes and reach out to different customers. To make sure your signage is specifically marketing to your customers you must first determine your category of business.
At one end of the business category spectrum are companies that satisfy specific and infrequent customer needs. At the other end are businesses that fulfil general and frequent needs.
Infrequent needs branding sites
Businesses that offer products or services that meet specialized or infrequent needs must develop top-of-mind awareness so people remember the business when those needs arise. Examples of this kind of business include veterinary practices, appliance and electronics stores, locksmiths, medical and dental offices, real estate offices, and accounting and bookkeeping firms.
These businesses must focus on branding their site. To reinforce this effort, the signage itself must be designed to project the right image for the business and have that image be recalled.
Frequent or Impulse Needs
Businesses designed to meet frequent or impulse needs must reach out and pull people in on the spot. Examples of these include grocery stores, petrol stations, hotels, video stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and car washes.
Many of these business’s customers need to make a quick decision to stop. Therefore, their signage should be eye-catching with a brief, simple message that can be read and understood quickly. The businesses must be noticed and recognized at precisely the right time by those ready to buy. If your sign is going to convince the impulse customer to stop at your business, it must be designed so that the important information is easily recognized at a glance. Because we read from the top down and left to right, the key word, graphic, or logo should be located at the top of the sign and read from left to right. Otherwise, the reader can get confused and take longer to understand the sign’s message. This delay can mean the person who is seeing the sign for the first time is unable to read and react to it before driving past your business.