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Why Outdoor Signs Are Important In the Digital Age

Over the last century, the importance of physical signs as a medium of advertising and business promotion has significantly shrunk. First, there were radio commercials that informed listeners about products and services. Then came the television which added visual depictions to audio. And today we have the internet which combines audio and video and provides an interactive experience which makes the decision to purchase a simple one that requires just a click of the button to execute. While this is all true, the fact remains that brick and mortar businesses still play a huge role in commerce and experts agree that they can never be replaced by the web. For the brick and mortar business, informing the market about its location and what it has to offer, are the basis of its growth. Digital marketing and advertising are important, but signage can never be replaced. Signage is, and will remain, one of the critical marketing tools for local businesses, both for advertising as well as for creating a brand. When planning the use of signage, there are 3 simple rules to keep in mind.

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1. Location

Location is of immense importance. Off premises signs need to be placed where they will attract the maximum attention. Ideally, it should be where viewers will get repeated exposure so that the message remains etched in memory. On premises signage will inform the customer about what is on offer. A study by the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati had this to report- “Signs are among the most important elements of visual communication.The visual communication provided by on-premises business signage is essential for the efficient functioning of our system of commerce and the success of many businesses.” FedEx conducted a similar study and found that 76% of customers made first time visits to a store based on what they had seen on a sign. The study also found that signs play a major role in promoting word of mouth publicity.

2. Size

Bigger is not always better. A sign that looks out of place in its surroundings will only make the viewer dwell on its negative aspects, not the message it wants to convey. A smaller sign placed where it can be easily seen without the distraction of sticking out like a sore thumb because of its size, will always be effective. It is the message that must be remembered, not the sign itself.

3. Style

Digital signage is growing rapidly because of the flexibility it offers in terms of content and the message and the images it conveys.  Changing the content of a digital sign takes just a few minutes. However, there are places where digital signs are a distraction and often procure the viewers’ resentment by interrupting their stream of thought and causing them to lose focus. It is necessary to ensure that the style of the sign is right for its location and serves its primary objective.

The creation of effective signage is a far more complex subject than most people realize. To maximize the benefits a business will derive from the use of signs, it is best if the concept and the manufacture of the sign are done by a professional signage company which has the ability to produce quality signs and which also has a track record of providing customers with signs that bring in business.

Importance of Logos

Imagine this scenario. You are embarking on a new business venture. You have done your homework thoroughly: the finance required, the market conditions, the legal formalities and the staffing. Amidst this entire hullabaloo, the one thing that you miss out on is designing a logo for your company. This might seem insignificant compared to all the groundwork that you have done, but it is not.

A logo is important because it has the ability to connect with a potential customer and convey in a matter of seconds what your business/product is about. First impressions are the best and hence your logo has the ability to stamp a good impression on the prospective client’s mind. Starting any new venture is tough; you need to attract customers and a well designed logo goes a long way towards achieving this objective.

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It also helps in building brand loyalty. Once people start using your product, your logo stays in their minds. As a result, when you launch another new product, your existing customers will automatically reach out to your now familiar logo that they recognize and trust.

Logos give the impression that you are serious about your business. A logo subconsciously conveys to a customer a feeling that your business is reliable. As important as logos are, designing a good logo is even more so. Indeed, while a good logo has the ability to attract customers, a badly designed logo will have no problem in turning them away.

Here are a few factors that have to be considered while designing a logo:

· A good logo is effective irrespective of its setting. For example, be it a billboard or a notepad, your logo should look impressive and attractive.

· Fonts play a major role in giving your business the image it desires. For instance, using comic font for a hospital logo would just be inappropriate. Not only the font, but the images used in the logo should also be in tune with the message the logo conveys.

· Black and white and coloured logos both can be equally effective, what matters is the design. The design should be simple yet striking.

· The choice of colors too has a role to play in effective logo design. A baby pink or blue would be best suited for a kids’ clothing line while green would be great for an outdoor recreational company. Red is usually associated with aggression while yellow conveys comfort and optimism.

Logos are important because people’s memories have a tendency to retain images more effectively than words or names. Thus even if the name of your service is forgotten, the logo will endure. Hence it would be best to hand over the design of your logo to a professional logo designing company which has the experience and expertise to come up with an effective logo.

Should You Make Your Own Business Signs?

Unlike large retail establishments that have dedicated business promotion budgets, small retail businesses do not. While business promotion is equally, if not more important to them, they have to carefully balance the priorities behind each dollar spent and the return expected from that expenditure. For that reason the Do-It-Yourself trap does seem tempting. DIY is great for homes and for business related activities that do not require specialized knowledge or skills. No one person or small group can possess all the skills and abilities to excel at every business specialization. When the store or small business owner try to do things beyond their scope, the results are not just bad but they could possibly have a negative impact on the other things that have been done well. Sign making is one such area.

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Signs Are Not Just Words and Images

Every business and store owner knows the importance of signs in bringing people into the establishment and promoting sales. The mistake they make is in thinking that a few words or pictures are all that make up a sign. It is this over simplification of what makes for an effective sign that leads to the loss of not just potential business from new customers but also leads to the loss of existing business.

Making your own signs appears to be easy.  A board on which to write, paint or draw, a pole on which to mount the sign and a place to put it up are all that seems to be   needed to put up a sign and bring in customers and increase sales. Go online and there are a number of websites that tell you how simple it is:

o   Find out the local regulations on signs and abide by them

o   Get your friends together and design the signs you need

o   Buy the wood, paint and nails you need

o   Make the sign

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. There are many types of signs and each has a definite purpose. For example, a sign in a store window can be about a specific feature or price since the window itself tells the viewer what the store is all about. On the other hand, to attract the interest of a car driver, a sign must convey only as much as can be absorbed in a quick glance. It should also be presented in a manner that stays in the driver’s memory after the drive is over. To create an effective sign, you need to know:

·  The type of signage that works well for a specific product

·  The right size

·  The material that the sign should be made of and the extra features required to draw attention to it

·  The design and fonts that will make it effective

·  The location which will attract the maximum attention

·  And much more.

On the other hand, a badly made or wrong type of sign will:

·  Confuse the viewer

·  Get noticed for being badly made or other negative aspects

·  Cause the business to be associated with the message of the sign and detract from its image

·  The defects in the sign will be associated with the quality of products, feature or business the sign is promoting.

Making your own signs will not save you money. It will only cost you, both in terms of the time you wasted in making it and the loss of business that it will cause. An effective sign from a professional sign making company may not be as cheap as a DIY one, but the marginal increase in cost will be made up by the business that the sign generates.

Effective Signs 101

Signs are the most cost-effective way of advertising. Whether it is a business, a retail outlet or any other dealing that is looking to increase its patronage, signage is a very effective way of doing so. However, signs are not just placards on sticks stuck in the ground that say, “Buy this” or “Contact Us”. For signs to really work and be effective there are some basic signage principles that need to be followed:

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Less Is More: A sign is glanced at for just a second or two. Long messages are seldom read, neither do they make the required impression on people. No matter how big the sign, the content in it should be short and to the point.

Avoid Clutter: People who are professionals at making signs were aware of the need to avoid clutter long before Marie Kondo and her books on tidying up. The usage of more words, colors, patterns and graphics on a sign will result in the message losing its focus. Just because a signboard is large it does not mean that every inch of its area needs to be filled up –blank spaces can often add emphasis to the matter around them.

Fonts: The fonts used in the sign should be crisp, clean and easy to read. Artistic and fancy fonts may look nice, but they take longer to focus on and absorb. Remember, the viewer has only a second to internalize what your sign has to say. Another factor to keep in mind is that having the entire sign in bold does not add emphasis. All that it does is give the reader an impression that he is being yelled at. Choose the fonts and sizes carefully.

Colors: The colors used in a sign should not clash, neither should they be so bright that they take the focus away from the message the sign conveys. The background and foreground (text) colors should be such that the contrast makes reading the message easy.

Use Borders: Including a border around the edges of a sign may appear to be a waste of space, but studies show that borders increase the focus on the material within them and enhance reading speed.

Location: Location is critical to a sign’s effectiveness. A sign must be tailored to the people who will see it. A roadside sign must be so easy to read that a driver whose main attention is on traffic is still able to read it and absorb its content. A sign on a sidewalk is read at a more leisurely pace, but it should be relevant to the surroundings – the reader may walk to the business the sign promotes, but he will not go through the trouble of going home, getting his car and driving there.

Professionally Created Signs Are the Best

Knowing what should be done is one thing, implementing these concepts to create effective signs is another.For a sign to create a positive impact in the viewer's mind and to motivate him to find out more, experience, skill, artistic ability and detailed knowledge of the various types of signs are required. It is also necessary to know which sign is best suited for a specific purpose. This means that the best signs, those that bring in the most footfalls, can only be made by a professional sign making company.If your signs are made by a company like this, which has a reputation of delivering what the clients want and need to produce results, they can have a massive positive impact on your business.

Using Signs to Boost Retail Sales

Store owners and managers often wonder why the new signs that they put up have not resulted in the increase in sales that they expected. They look around their establishments and see big signs everywhere giving customers tons of information. That may be the problem – the excess of uncoordinated information leads to clutter, loss of customer focus and attention fatigue. So the intent to buy does not translate into actual purchase. Signs are still the most effective selling tool in the brick and mortar retail trade, but they have to be used in the right way. When using signs to improve retail sales, keep these factors in mind:

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Branding

Whatever the type of sign or the purpose, one common thread should run through them all – branding. The images, fonts and colors should all work to increase awareness of the store and what it offers customers. Brand recall is not only for large corporates – it is important to every store that wants its customers to keep coming back.

 

Attention

Attracting attention serves two purposes. It informs the customer of something he did not know before – such as an upgraded or new product. Being reminded that a product is available may trigger the recall of the need to buy which had been forgotten.

 

Promotions

Discounts, special offers and other product promotions can be very tempting, but customers need to be informed of them and not just in general terms. Customers need to be reminded  that the special offer is right there, just a few steps away. This will capture their interest and bring them in contact with the product which is the basis of a sale.

 

Loyalty

Using signs, typically easily changeable digital ones, to provide customers with information that may not be directly sales related but is of interest to them can build loyalty. For example, a sign announcing that the store has been around for ten years will create a bond with a customer who has been shopping there for even a year or two.

 

Quality Signs = Quality Sales

As important as what a sign conveys is how it does so. The sign must catch the attention of the shopper, give him (in the second or two that he looks at it) enough information to make him want to know more and be such that it stays in his memory so that he can follow up on the interest that has been created.The different signs in a store must all work together towards a single purpose – providing customers with the inputs that they need to make purchase decisions. To create effective signs requires a combination of skill, experience, artistic ability, technology and an in-depth understanding of how signs work. If all these attributes are present, the money spent on signage will more than pay for itself and the pick up in sales will be tangible. The only way to ensure that the signs you use are going to do what you expect of them is to have the signs conceptualized, designed and made by a professional signage company.

An introduction to digital signage - Part 3

Competition is increasing in every area of business and retail, and the market continually expects more from those whom they do business with.  Product innovation, pricing and marketing are, of course, vital to this effort. However, a key factor that is often overlooked is engagement, both with customers and employees. The importance of customer engagement is obvious; it is the way to build loyalty and establish the potential for repeated business.  With customer loyalty in place, minor issues with pricing or marketing can often be papered over. Employee engagement is critical because it is the quickest and most cost-effective way to boost productivity. When employees are in sync with the mission, methods and business objectives of the organization, they are able to focus their efforts towards the common goal. Digital signs can play a major role in this integration. For both customers and employees, digital signs, with up to date and easily accessible information, provide the feeling of being part of an ongoing course of action and result in involvement and participation. Digital signs remove the limitation of one-way information flow. They now allow users to explore experiences, products and opportunities that are of specific interest to them.

Is digital signage for small businesses and shops?

Advances in digital signage technology mean that they are no longer prohibitively expensive, complicated to use or difficult to manage. Today even small organizations with limited financial and staff resources can afford to use digital signs to build their businesses and market share. In fact, the smaller the customer base, the more important it is to keep the engagement alive and proactive and this is what digital signs do. For small work forces, they offer an unobtrusive way for the management to interact with the staff and promote positive engagement.

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Digital signs – The bottom line

For most small organizations, the decision to go in for digital signage is based on the answer to the question – “What specifically does it have in store for me?” Here are just a few of the answers:

Information: Relevant content can be conveyed to the target audience quickly. An engaging channel of communication can be established with customers, employees and those who may become customers in the future.

Relevance: The content on digital signs can be changed and updated as and when required with no additional cost.

Simplicity: Content for all signs can be controlled from a central platform so that changes can be made quickly without the need to divert manpower to the job.

Brand development: Because of the attention that digital signs attract, the visibility of a business and its unique brand can be quickly established and then, due to the repeated exposure, continually reinforced.

Engagement: Digital signs are not limited to direct business promotion. They can give the audience news, videos, interactive content and anything else that will engage their interest and keep them coming back for more.

 Do not get left behind

 Digital signage is a big and rapidly evolving factor in the growth and profitability of a business, large or small. Those who are able to leverage this opportunity to their advantage will reap the maximum benefits and those who do not get on-board will be left behind. To know more about digital signs and how they can help your business, contact a professional signage company that specializes in digital signs.

An introduction to digital signage - Part 2


The first part of this blog looked at what digital signage is and where it stands today. To be able to effectively incorporate the use of digital signage in business promotion plans, a business must understand what the future of digital signage holds in store. The future is always unknown but going by current trends, this is how digital signage may evolve.

Personalization

The more directly a sign addresses a viewer, the greater the positive impact it makes. Real-time automated content could be received from external sensors or centralized information storages, to provide information that mirrors the conditions and situation viewers are in. For example, if it rains suddenly, a digital sign could immediately show where umbrellas or raincoats are being sold. Demographics and location will also provide inputs. A sign in the central business district could change at the right time, to show information that will interest office workers returning home.

Interaction

Built-incameras, sensors and voice/face recognition could take personalization even further. Regular customers can be greeted by name and can be asked about items from their regular shopping list they want at that time. Customers in a supermarket looking at flour, could be shown cake or pie recipes that may interest them and prompt their decision to buy. It is not as far-fetched as it may sound. Online shopping portals already offer customers, products based on their previous purchases as soon as they log in. Digital signage will bring the same experience to the real world.

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Is it worth the cost?

That digital signage is prohibitively expensive is a common misconception. As with everything else, technological advances are making digital signs more affordable and accessible.Whether it is with customers or co-workers/employees, interactive signs promote a two-way flow of information in real time and in clearly defined locations. No longer will a customer be told to “BUY XYZ.” An employee will not be told to “Be more productive.” Instead, the signs will provide information that is relevant to the viewer based on inputs like identity, time, specific location, previous interaction history and so on. This will make the viewer feel far more empowered and by doing so, it will make the viewer – sign interaction relationship a more positive one and will generate a desire to make a purchase or to be more pro-active at work.

The future is already here

There is a great deal that digital signs can do to promote business and increase profits. Not understanding the massive potential that exists, and how digital signage will impact marketing and sales, could leave a business in the same situation as one that did not understand the might of the internet a generation ago. Maximizing the use of digital signage requires creating and using the right signs, planning and budgeting. Working with a company that has expertise in signage, including digital options, is the best way to ensure that digital signage is used in a way that maximizes the return and produces tangible business results.

An Introduction To Digital Signage - Part 1

Digital signage can open a whole new world of publicity and advertisement avenues for a business, especially a small one that cannot afford to pay huge amounts for print and electronic publicity and which has its market in a well-defined geographical area. It is such an effective communication medium that digital signage has grown to become a $20 billion industry. Projections are that it will grow even more rapidly in the coming years. If you are a small or a medium business owner, digital signage is an aspect of business which you cannot afford to ignore. To be able to use it to grow a business, it is important to understand what digital signage is.

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 What is digital signage?

To put it very simply, digital signage is a screen or set of screens that display information and content to the market. The content can be repeated or varied as much as is required. If digital signs are placed at multiple locations, the content can be controlled centrally. The essence of digital signage is that, it must be flexible so that the content can be changed when required, and also catch the attention of those who see it. The content must be such that it stays in the memory, to be recalled when the need for the advertised product or service arises, and also strong and durable enough to withstand continuous outdoor use.

 How it began

Signs have been around since the first humanoids learned how to draw pictures on cave walls to convey information. Digital signs, as we know them today, have been around since the early 1990s. The first digital signs were video walls made with old CRT TVs to create a platform on which continually variable and animated content could be displayed. The advent of the flat screen a few years later meant that content could be better displayed with signage taking up less space. The next stage in the evolution of digital signs was the arrival of computer-generated media which could quickly churn out varied content at low cost and directly place the material on the digital signs. Soon content management software was developed to automate the process and make it even more efficient.

 How it is used today

Digital signage has become the way for a business to communicate directly with the market at a defined location in a dynamic and positive manner. The concept of digital signs is today moving away from the idea of huge towering signage as is seen in New York, in Times Square, to more focused smaller signs that target specific potential buyers with variations and cater to precise marketing needs. For example, a digital sign in a busy commercial area could remind those going to work in the morning that coffee and donuts are available nearby. In the evening it could remind passersby that a convenience store is around the corner where they could pick up their essential shopping.

 Part 2 of this blog will look at other things you need to know about digital signs.

How Marketing and Technology Trends are Shaping Signage

Signage has evolved rapidly since the 1990s in lockstep with advances in technology and business models. Newer business models and more companies entering the fray automatically call for more aggressive, unique and insightful marketing. Signage has evolved from a mere necessity around the premises, to an important component in the advertising story. Various influences from technology and marketing trends are shaping modern day signage..

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Marketing trends shaping signage

  • Simple designs: Clunky signage with a lot of messages crammed into it is becoming extinct. Simple and short messages in unique, elegant and modern fonts are the rage. They stand out from the clutter and scream “class” from a distance. Backgrounds and borders are also more refined to help the text and imagery stand out.

  • Vintage designs: Vintage designs from the world war era have an antique value and bring a smile on viewers’ faces. This is being exploited cleverly by advertisers in industries where the offerings are simple, and trust is important while buying. Hand-lettering, aged timber, the worn-out look and various other techniques help recreate the vintage look.

  • Newer printing techniques: Wide-format printers, flatbed printers and UV-resistant ink have all made it easy to generate attractive and long-lasting signage, that can be used for outdoor advertising such as banners, hoardings, vehicle wraps and signage at event venues.

  • 3D Printing: 3D Printing has come a long way from being merely used to create models for architects and medical institutions since the 70s. Today, it is revolutionizing signage with its ease of generating unique, odd-shaped and intricate designs that hugely differentiate advertisers from their competititors!

Technology trends shaping signage

  • LEDs for Neon lighting:  Neon lighting which so far has been using gas tubes at its core, is now being replaced by LED lights. The LED lights give Neon signs more flexibility, making it easy to generate signage that is unique in their look and feel. LEDs are also less expensive and more energy-efficient compared to Neon-gas cores, thereby reducing the overall cost to advertisers.

  • Digital signage: Digital signage maximizes the space available and capital invested in the signage space by allowing messages to change constantly. This alone is driving many advertisers to migrate to digital signage. Further, digital signage is evolving rapidly by incorporating newer technologies that makes it more effective. Some of them are interactive and self-service screens, touch screens, data analytics, 3D screens etc.

  • Programmable DOOH: Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising which includes digital signage, radio and TV advertising has also evolved with time. Unlike traditional DOOH which requires a lot of human intervention and management, programmatic DOOH uses advances in wireless communication, data analytics, smart software and special screens to program the content to be displayed from time to time. This helps advertisers push messages with considerable insight while reducing the overall cost and hassle.

  • Responsive and dynamic content: Interactivity is the buzzword everywhere. Touch screens which display actionable messages help consumers make bookings or download information such as brochures and data sheets. They can also choose to view more details on the screen, play a different video, or listen to a testimonial in the background. All of these help shorten the time to purchase.

Conclusion

Signage will keep evolving with time in order to stay relevant and reflect contemporary trends. This opens up a world of possibilities for advertisers and helps them maximize returns from their advertising spend. It helps achieve what marketing and advertising Guru Peter Drucker hinted at, when he said “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”.

Creating Signs That Attract Customers

The world we live in is increasingly dominated by technology and when it comes to marketing and advertising, people tend to look at online and mobile publicity avenues as the way to go. However, while electronic media does play a major role in business promotion, the signboard is still a key factor in attracting customers.This is something that all business people have discovered. While the type of sign may vary, its importance cannot be disputed. According to a recent survey, over 60% of small business owners in the age group of 18 to 34 place value on creativity and uniqueness whereas those of the older age group give more value to the content of the sign. Either way, the importance of creating signs that attract attention to a business cannot be argued upon. There are 3 key factors that need to be taken into account when creating signs.

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Color

Color is a critical ingredient in a sign. Think of any well-known company and there is a color associated with it – “McDonald’s yellow” is a good example. The continued use of a pattern of colors will, over a period of time, make those hues part of a business’s identity. If a hardware store uses black and gold for its signage, both outdoor and indoor, these colors will become part of its identity and customers will be reminded of it when they see this color combination – black and gold means hardware. However, choosing the colors is something that requires careful planning. It may be tempting to use “trendy” colors but trends do not last and a color scheme that is trending today could be old fashioned tomorrow.

Readability

A sign conveys information and this means that there will be text. Choosing the right font is important. A flowing, artistic style of lettering will not convey the image that a security company wants to convey. For this business, the font should be strong and clear. Color plays a role here too. The contrast between the background colors and that of the text must be such that the text is clearly visible, while at the same time not clashing with the background. A sign with a green background and light blue lettering will not be easy to read. Size is the third factor to consider. The text must be large enough to be easily read while not overwhelming the total image that the sign aims to create.

Size

Size matters, but bigger is not always better. A sign must be large enough to catch the eye of those passing by, but not so big that it stands out like a sore thumb and dominates the place in which it is located. This will create a negative impact with people thinking that the sign, irrespective of how good it is, is ugly and out of place.

Combining these elements to create signs that work, requires expertise in design and knowledge as to what type of sign should be used for which application. That is why the process of designing, fabricating and installing a sign is best left to a professional sign making companywhich will be able to strike the right balance and produce signs that work in terms of bringing in customers.