A Sign Is Worth A Thousand Words—What Do Yours Say About You?

April 28, 2008 // Franchising.com // (Carrollton, Texas)—In a culture with an ever shrinking attention span, many businesses find that the opportunity to catch the eye of a customer is becoming more difficult. Within a matter of seconds, a passerby can look at an establishment and seemingly learn everything they need to know. In that quick blink of an eye you have either caught their attention or turned them away disinterested.

These crucial first impressions are often based on the way the business looks, and that includes the signage displayed. Signs and graphics communicate who a business is as well as what it does. Since signs are one of the first things a potential customer sees when he or she comes to your business, what do your signs say about you?

"Almost every business uses signs in some way, but most don't take the time to step back and assess their effectiveness," said Drue Townsend, senior vice president of marketing for FASTSIGNS International, Inc., a worldwide sign and graphics franchisor. "Companies—small and large, new and established—should critically evaluate their signs and graphics to make sure they are communicating as effectively as possible."

Many established businesses rely on sales from repeat customers and may not be concerned about their signs and graphics. However, as many as 35 percent of the people who pass your business each day could become first time customers based solely on your sign. Additionally, in a study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a large U.S. retailer discovered that 17 percent of its customers did not initially intend to stop there but did so after seeing the retailer's sign.

Morkes Chocolates has successfully survived decades of economic ups and downs. Two years ago when looking for ways to increase their customer base, the Chicago-area chocolatier decided it may be time to update its signage. Their all white vans now showcase a full-color montage of sweet products and two 16-foot, full-color vertical banners were installed on each side of the store-front. Five months after the signage makeover, Morkes reported a 34 percent sales increase in sales over the same time period the year before. Instead of plain, red letters displayed on a white building, Morkes' new signs and graphics gave customers and passersby a clear message, greeting them with vivid, mouth-watering illustrations of the treats offered.

Making changes to their signs and graphics not only helped ensure a more powerful first impression, but it also aided in increasing brand awareness and recognition. Like Morkes, many businesses and retailers utilize signs that aren't communicating effectively.

Consider these basic sign design elements when assessing your current sign and graphics program and what your signs say about your business:

-The message must be clear. Someone without any prior knowledge should be able to read your sign and get an idea of what your business does. According to the International Sign Association, passersby can comprehend messages related to a business within seconds based on the fonts and shapes used.

-Visibility is key. Keep in mind the distance between the actual sign and the person viewing it. For every 40' feet of viewing distance, letters should be at least 1" high.

-Maximize graphics. Well designed, colorful graphics are more likely to spark attention. Color emphasizes important points and improves reader retention by 82 percent. Utilizing a photo or image when creating your sign can help increase reader recall by 300 percent.

About FASTSIGNS®

FASTSIGNS® sign and graphics centers use innovation and technology to make the sign buying process simple by offering consulting, design, production, file transfer, delivery, installation for a full range of custom sign and graphic products, including high resolution exhibit and display graphics, wide format banners and POP, site signs, window and vehicle graphics, decals and labels, safety and identification signage and floor graphics for interior and exterior use. For more information, visit www.fastsigns.com.

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