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How to Create Stellar Signage for Your Brick and Mortar Business

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It’s important for a business to stand out in a highly competitive retail marketplace. Battling competition from fellow retail stores and the Internet, brick and mortar businesses are wise to embrace captivating store design and visual graphics to help differentiate and further establish a memorable brand.

Signage is a great way to visually stand out, whether in the form of item descriptions, labeling aisles or providing captivating imagery on the outside storefront. Stellar signage goes a long way in providing customers with a more intimate feel, successfully separating from competition and avoiding a dreaded corporate feel. When retailers design signage with the customer experience in mind, they can elevate their brand and store design to make the store’s presence more inviting and organized.

Six factors that help define quality signage for brick and mortar businesses include:

Storefront Sign Design

 Every visitor to a brick and mortar business is met first by that business’ storefront design. A first impression can be pivotal in swaying consumer decisions and brand loyalty. As a result, devoting resources to some stellar signage for your storefront is a great decision.

A clear, readable sign is a must, so those seeking out the business can find it without any difficulty. The font should be uniform with the store’s general brand, inside and out.

There are some storefront sign types to choose from, including plywood, painted glass, metal and awning design. When choosing the material of your sign, consider your business type. An awning design will look suitable for a traditional cafe, while plywood can tout a rustic theme that works great for boutiques.

The awning sign above uses clear, readable font both in color and design, with the white text standing out. The example’s minimalist design of a green apple sits neatly in the center, while a concisely effective description of the store’s products — “health and local food” — tells customers what to expect.

Awnings are useful for both the store and the consumer. They provide shade from both hot and cold weather patterns for the consumer. They can also contribute to a 25 percent savings on energy bills since they can help keep hot sunshine out of a store’s interior. The eco-friendly benefit is very suitable for a business like Mosaic Market, which values health and local produce.

Interior Signs

 As customers enter a business after being greeted by a captivating storefront sign, they are likely to expect a similar theme on the inside. As a result, aim for consistency in color tone and font throughout.

Interior signs can aid the customer experience by removing potential confusion regarding layout. For example, if you also operate online and have customers come in for pick-ups, then devote a specific section to that and use a sign to denote as such. Distinguish the area from the regular “Check-Out” by using a sign for both.

Beyond aiding with layout navigation, signage can be a great way to provide product recommendations for those browsing the store. The bookstore above has simple and effective signage for recommendations, with a sign pointing to two books and emphasizing “Like this? Try these…

Any retail business can use this sign or those similar to provide product recommendations, whether it’s showing apparel with a similar aesthetic, kitchenware with similar practicalities or music records in a similar genre.

The goal of interior signage is to enhance the customer experience by eliminating layout-related clutter and providing relevant purchase recommendations, via the example above or a sign that says “Staff Pick!” Similarly, you can highlight sales with bold signage that promotes a certain percentage off or “Buy 2, Get 1 Free!”

Simple Message and Typography

 Stellar signage manages to hook in a potential customer without making them feel they’ve already seen what’s in store. Capturing an audience by divulging the store’s niche, rather than a list of products they’re selling, invokes more of a temptation to go inside and explore for themselves.

Whereas the storefront above could opt to list some items they sell, ranging from computers to headphones, they wisely opt for a more universally appealing message in listing themselves as “Your Tech Shop.” The signage combines sleek, futuristic typography and a high-tech logo to convey the store as on the cutting-edge of tech while personalizing it with a “Your” before “Tech Shop.” Concise and valuing personalization, the sign is likely to appeal to anyone in need of anything remotely technological.

Avoid Odd Color Contrasts 

One thing your signage should not do is force viewers to shield their eyes due to over-brightness, or squint because of the sign being too dark. As a result, it’s recommended to go with color combinations that have an easy view from a distance, including black and white, black and yellow, blue and white, blue and yellow, green and white, red and white and red and yellow.

Maintain a Universal Theme

Ideally, brick and mortar business’ signage will maintain consistency in tone, messaging and design. Consistency will be difficult to achieve if hiring someone different for each piece. You want the same team to work on your store’s in-store signage, point-of-purchase displays, window graphics and storefront design. Having a different team work on each aspect of signage may be quicker, though can result in a haphazard theme.

Determine the Sign Orientation 

Typically, store signage is horizontal, though depending on your building’s shape or space, a vertical or skewed orientation may work better. If you’re having difficulty deciding, create several paper mock-ups with a graphic designer if needed. Once your signage is complete with its installation process, it can be costly to remove or modify, so it’s best to verify that your sign’s orientation, typography and messaging are what you want.

Stellar signage for your brick and mortar business helps both bring in more customers and enhance the customer experience, improving the navigational ease of the store while providing a more personalized feel. From storefront signage that hooks passersby to in-store signage that provides product recommendations, signage can help brick and mortar business appeal to customers in many ways.

Lexie Lu

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Lexie Lu is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. Her ideal morning includes some logo sketches and a large cup of coffee. She owns Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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