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After thirty years as a signmaker in Dundee, I’m happy to share my process for creating effective signage.
Signs are vital for displaying messages succinctly. Words, legibility, images, and colour are all important elements. As well as location. A sign can be the face of your business or the only method of communicating to your audience. Ideally, it should also convey your visual style and support your brand.
With so many types of signs to choose from, which product should you choose?
Understanding your objectives is a good place to start
- What is the sign’s purpose?
- Who is your message for?
- How can your message be clearly communicated with as few words as possible?
The sign may be for advertising or persuasion; information or direction; safety, or simply decoration. What you expect the sign to do for you will then determine the design, materials, fabrication and cost.
Your sign is an investment
An effective sign will promote your service or product and engage with your market every day. Therefore, it’s wise to establish a budget and create a sign which will not only last, but also succeed in achieving your objectives.
I’ll explain how to gain the most from your investment and present insights to save you money.
Location and size
This may seem obvious however, determining the size and positioning of a sign is the important first step for successful exposure.
Walk or drive past the sign’s site and decide where the most appropriate position would be.
- How far away are passers-by when reading the information?
- How long will they have to read it?
- Which height will be suitable for viewing the sign?
- Are there any obstructions in the readers’ view?
- Will the sun’s glare hinder readability?
- Can you use a double-sided sign on or around your premises?
- Is there an opportunity for pavement or freestanding signs?
- Is there a sound surface to fix the sign to?
- Can you use windows to display your message?
- Does your sign require panning consent?
Once you’ve decided on the most suitable location and viewing angle, you can determine the size. Think about the information which you want to display. And how large the information will have to be in relation to readability.
Make a sample sign from a cardboard box and a fat marker pen to gauge the lettering height.
Planning consent for signage
In most circumstances, replacing like for like signage on your premises does not require planning permission. If you’re unsure, always seek advice from your landlord or local authority.
Signage in or around newly built properties, on pavements and roadsides, freestanding and fixed to poles or framework, or within a conservation area, may require planning consent. Illuminated or dimensional signs and structural signage may also require permission.
Get in touch to discuss scaled artwork, diagrams, installation methods and samples of materials.
Use the least amount of words or images to transmit your message. Think how billboards grab your attention and the brief time you may have to read your sign.
Summarising what you want to advertise, or how you wish to connect with your audience is vital in busy environments. If you feel that listing services or products is essential, use a short amount of bullet points.
Consider the most important and profitable information which will attract attention.
Tell your audience to visit your website or social channels. This enables a broader platform for you to explain what you have to offer.
Make your words or image enticing to the reader.
Once you know the location, dimensions, quantity and message, you’ve already saved costs attached to your signage project. Now you require a design.
If your audience knows your brand and you have an established visual identity, your sign design should convey this.
Perhaps you or your designer have created the design. By providing the signmaker with scaled artwork in their preferred format, more time is deducted from the signmakers involvement.
If you don’t have a visual identity for your business and don’t wish to hire a designer, there are several decisions you must make.
- Consider how to implement consistency throughout your signage and marketing.
- Research the style, theme, or mood that you wish to portray.
- Choose a colour palette.
- Establish a realistic budget for the return you expect from your investment.
- Choose a reputable and experienced, local signmaker.
Be objective. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer and think about how the design will be perceived. Is the design portraying the look and feel that you want for your message?
- Is the layout cluttered?
- Is the type legible?
- Do the colours or content hinder readability?
Ask your signmaker for a simplified revision of the design if you’ve answered yes to any of the above.
You can also consider dimensional features as well as the shape of your sign. Extra ordinary helps in making the sign more prominent and adds impact.
There are a multitude of materials, sheet sizes and thicknesses, colours and finishes to choose from.
Ask your signmaker for the most appropriate material for your project.
3mm thick aluminium composite is the most widely used and cost efficient rigid substrate for exterior signage and display.
The material is manufactured in sheet sizes at 2440mm by 1220mm, 2550mm by 1250mm, 3050mm by 1500mm, 3050mm by 2m, and 4m by 2m (the latter is not as widely available).
Wherever possible, try to keep your sign panel(s) size within sheet material sizes.
For example; if you decide to make two wall signs at 1300mm by 1300mm, you will require one 3050mm by 1500mm sheet. If you can reduce the wall signs to 1250mm by 1250mm without any detrimental effect to the signs’ impact, you can purchase a smaller sheet for slightly less cost.
When you seek larger quantities of sign panels, working within sheet material sizes can significantly reduce costs as well as excess offcuts.
Help your signmaker help you
Accurate information and artwork will avoid additional labour from your signmaker and inevitably lessen the overall cost of your project.
Ask your signmaker questions about the efficacy of the product; the installation method; the longevity; the re-use possibilities and lead time for your project.
The answers may help you choose which is the best option for your objectives and your budget.
Maintain your signs
Plan for maintenance of your newly purchased signs. Exterior signage will require regular cleaning, especially in busy traffic environments. Regular cleaning will help to keep the sign looking newer for longer.
Ask your local window cleaner if they can wash your signs too.
A sign is an investment. It can keep people safe, save them some shoe leather and help our environment. In addition to earning you income, an effective sign can also make your business look better and make your customers smile.
Learn more by visiting the products page.
Looking for a signmaker in Dundee who will help you attract your audience? Get in touch to find out more.