How-To

Signage: Your Link To Sales

Businesses exist in a highly competitive environment. To succeed, a business must be able to communicate with customers quickly and effectively regarding the products or services it offers. For most businesses, the most cost-effective and efficient form of advertising to potential customers is on-premise signage.

Signage is a business’s basic link to customers.

This is true whether the sign’s purpose is to promote impulse “stop and shop,” to create awareness for the product or service for future reference, to reinforce other forms of media advertising, to influence purchasing decisions once the customer has stopped, or to physically mark the building site and location to aid motorist safety.

Caption 1:

Modern signs have evolved to meet every place-based commercial communication need. The most advanced form of signage is represented by the expansion of the old “false front” of early businesses to national franchise and chain identification signage systems, backed by major media advertising. Learning to use your sign skillfully will maximize your return on advertising dollars.

Functions of On-Premise Signage

On-premise signs serve six primary functions:

  • To develop brand equity by emphasizing words, graphics or symbols that are associated with the products or services offered by a business. Developing brand equity for a site includes the presentation of signage and architecture to create a unique awareness of the products or services offered at that site. Brand equity for a particular business is similar to the goodwill of an enterprise.

  • To aid in recall and reinforcement of other media advertising efforts. In addition to the business’s name, if the business has a trademark or logo, the symbol should also appear on the sign and as part of any other choice of advertising. Often, when a site is successfully “branded” in the local trade area, the need for other media advertising is significantly reduced.

  • To prompt a purchase, especially “impulse” purchases. As consumers drive by, they often see a sign, stop at that business, and buy on impulse. On-premise signs increase your business. They offer a method for point-of-sale advertising.

  • To change a purchasing decision or choice once the customer is on the premises or in the building. Temporary signage, whether exterior or interior, is very useful in this context, particularly to call attention to “specials.”

  • To promote traffic safety by notifying motorists where they are in relation to where they want to go, and assisting their entry to the premises, should they decide to stop. However, a sign cannot successfully perform this function unless it can be detected and read by a motorist in sufficient time to appropriately react in traffic.

  • To complement community “aesthetic” standards. Today’s sign design and production technology makes it possible for on-premise signage to reflect the character or architecture of its surroundings, without sacrificing any of its other primary communication functions. Well-designed signs certainly can be employed as land use and business panning tools to create a sense of place in central business districts, neighborhood commercial blocks or corners, urban commercial corridors, entertainment centers, and tourist destinations.

Caption 2:

Your sign performs many functions, from letting people know who you are and what you offer, to assisting safe driving decisions and wayfinding.

Caption 3:

The right sign can brand your site, even if you are not part of a national franchise or chain. Your sign should display a logo or trademark that identifies your business and develops memory of your location in the minds of potential customers.

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Most major media advertising is expensive. Your sign is an economical way to display and reinforce your message. Always use your logo or trademark in all television and print advertising efforts, including business cards and letterheads.

Americans live in a sophisticated, highly mobile, consumer-based society where billions of dollars are exchanged annually for goods, products, and services. The U.S. economy is no longer dominated by industrial or manufacturing commerce, but instead by retailing and service business activities. This change has elevated the role of commercial signage to one of paramount importance to both the individual business and the community at large. One example of increased awareness of this importance is reflected in the courts, both state and federal, where commercial signage has gained recognition as a form of protected speech under the First Amendment. (For the seminal case, see Virginia State Bd. Of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc. 425 U.S. 748 (1976))

Contributing to the growing recognition that on-premise signage is a valuable economic partner are two important trends: (1) the increasing reliance of consumers on their automobiles, and (2) the increasing number of people who are moving to unfamiliar geographic areas for new job opportunities, resulting in large shifts in population. These influences have fostered substantial changes in customer behavior, generating identification needs that businesses must recognize and address if they are to remain competitive. Nothing can meet these requirements as quickly, safely, and effectively as an on-premise sign that is appropriately designed and placed. In fact, the on-premise sign may well be the critical factor in a business’s success or failure.