Checklist for Ordering Outdoor Signage
Before you select a sign for your business there are several things you need to consider. A competent sign company can help you with the answers to some of these questions if you are unsure how to obtain them.
1) Who are your customers?
Potential customers for your business are people who reside in your trade area. Most of your customers come from the immediate area within a half mile to a mile of your business location. Trade areas come in assorted shapes and sizes depending upon the business.
2) How do you get information on potential customers?
Plot a dot map of your customers as soon as you begin business. This is easily done by plotting the addresses of people who stop in your store (and particularly of those who purchase) as a dot on a street map of your city. Within a few months time you will have a fairly clear idea of the trade area from which you are drawing your customers. You will then be able to decide what type of sign would best meet the needs of the people in that trade area. For example, if your customers can only reach you by automobile or you are located on a very busy street, the type of sign that you use will be very different than if you have a shopping center location and people must walk to your store from parking lots.
Obtain your street profile from a city traffic engineer. Since your sign communicates to people who pass your business establishment, you can direct your message to potential customers if you know what type of traffic passes your door. Your city traffic engineer can provide information which will tell you: where people begin and end their trips, how people travel, when people travel by time of day, why people travel, and where they park when they reach a destination. Even small cities and towns have traffic volume maps available to tell you how many people pass by your business every day.
Know how many new people move to your area each year. This is a potential market for your business. This type of information can be obtained from any board of realtors, chamber of commerce or police department.
3) How are you going to communicate with the customers?
In order to communicate effectively, a sign must be noticeable and readable.
A sign must be noticeable. After a while a sign becomes part of the landscape. It loses some of its ability to attract attention. By periodically changing some small design element or by using changeable copy, a sign can continue to attract interest. Time and temperature devices or rotating and moving parts can be used to maintain interest in a commercial message. Time and temperature devices or rotating and moving parts can be used to maintain interest in a commercial message. Time and temperature units also provide a needed public service.
A sign must be readable. A sign needs to be large enough to read. You need to know how far a person if from your store when he first sees your sign and the real speed of traffic on your street. With this information, a competent sign company can use a formula to calculate the necessary size for your design and build you an effective sign.
4) What are you trying to say?
Decide on a message that is clear and simple.
Focus on key words. Choose one or two words which describe your business. Clever or strange names may only attract certain customers.
Be Brief. The cleaner and clearer the message, the more impact it has. Listing or names or unclear symbols confuse rather than communicate.
5) What image are you trying to portray?
Design of your sign is very important. Your sign tells people a lot about your business. Stark simple design and materials may suggest discount prices and no frills. Elegant and expensive sign materials may suggest luxury goods and services. Two basic design considerations are important when ordering a sign.
Physical elements of sign design. These include considerations such as size, placement, materials and structure. The size of the sign is an important consideration for your business. The biggest sign that you can afford may not necessarily be the best one for your needs. A sign which is either too big or too small will not communicate your message effectively. The number of signs is also important. Too many signs compete with one another and reduce the effectiveness of your message by presenting an image of confusion to potential customers.
The materials used for your sign determine its appearance and performance. For example, differences in cost, appearance, color, durability, flexibility and reaction to extreme weather conditions can be found in the many types of plastics available. The structure of a sign also contributes to its effectiveness. Pole covers and cantilevered construction help portray an attractive message.
Graphic elements of sign design. Graphic elements of design include layout of the message, colors, lettering, shape symbolism, harmony, and daytime versus nighttime lighting conditions.
Legibility is a test of good design. If your sign is well designed, it will be easy to read. Legibility means that the letters or characters on the sign are distinct from one another. Some color combinations of background and letters give excellent legibility while others are very poor. To test your sign's legibility, drive past your business and see if you can read it from a distance. Look at it both day and night. Some signs are difficult to read because of illumination problems such as glare from street lights, signs on nearby business establishments, or shadows caused by buildings. A well-designed sign blends with the environment, has a message impact and overcomes viewing problems.
6. How much should your sign cost?
You should consider several factors when determining the cost of your on-premise sign.
A sign is an investment. Your sign is one of the most permanent parts of your business and is exposed to weather and constant use. The average life of signs varies from five to eleven years, depending on type of materials used, construction and other factors. Find out how many years of service to expect from your sign. It pays to purchase good materials if you intend to use the sign over a period of years.
Maintenance costs. No business can afford to have its sign fall into disrepair. A dilapidated sign tells the public that you are not concerned with your business image or their visual environment. Some types of signs are virtually maintenance free while other require more attention. Find out how to replace burnt out bulbs or tubes in your sign.
Energy consumption. New technological developments now enable some types of signs to achieve energy savings without sacrificing effects. Inquire about new energy saving bulbs and internal materials.
Owning or leasing. This may be more economical for a new business, especially if there is any chance that logos or names may change in the first few years of operation. Statistics show that if a small business fails, it will happen somewhere between the first and second year of operation. Leasing a sign during this period of time might help save some of the initial capital needed for operating expenses.
Custom or standardized. Some large companies offer standardized types of signs which are cheaper than signs which are custom designed and constructed. Many of these standardized units can utilize ingenious design techniques to bring forth creativity and individuality. Often the standardized units can be arranged in different configurations depending on your needs. Some standardized sign units use the highest quality materials and are designed to be relatively maintenance free. Mass production enables these units to be sold much cheaper than if designed and produced from scratch.
7) Signs communicate in a shared environment.
A sign's ability to send its message beyond its locations requires that you be sensitive to the effects of your message on others. Since you share your space with others, consider their rights and sensibilities too. They are potential customers.
Consider city or town planning goals and regulation when ordering a sign. Some types of signs are not permitted. Determine what the regulations are in your community before you discuss design with a sign designer. Most sign companies are well aware of the regulation in any given community and can guide you in selecting a sign which is not in violation of the law.
For further information or if you have any questions, please contact The Sign Studio at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org