3 Common Mistakes when Creating a Sign (and how you can avoid them)

  • Jul 14, 2021

Signage is a critical point of advertising. It is often your first impression on a potential new customer, and therefore important to ensure your design is doing what it should be: communicating your message efficiently and effectively to the right audience.


The intent of signage is two-fold. A good sign must be both visually appealing and easy to read. Consider that the average person driving by your sign has less than 3 seconds to read and absorb the information being presented to them. This means that in order for you to effectively get your message across, it should be as clear and concise as possible. 


Traditionally, the easiest text combination for your eye to read is black text on white background. This pairing provides maximum contrast between the dark text and light background, and therefore the message stands out and is clearly legible. Is this the most interesting colour combination for signage? Probably not, but there are ways of applying this using colours as well.


An often overlooked aspect of good signage are bold, high contrast colours. For a display piece to be most effective, your keywords (or most important information) should be what stands out most when viewed at a distance. Muted colours can have the effect of blending together when paired next to one another. Try to choose colours and tones that allow maximum contrast. An easy way to see if what you are creating has high contrast is to convert your artwork to greyscale (or print a small greyscale sample on a standard printer) and then step back to view from distance. Do your words stand out from the background? Is your information clear and concise, or do you need to make an adjustment? For example, a bright red sign with dark blue lettering may sound like a good combination, but flipping over to greyscale will quickly show you how similar the tones of these colours are when paired side by side.


Another key element of effective signage is choosing the right font. Similar to colour, fonts that are too lightweight or whimsical can be tough to read at a distance. The best fonts for display are typically sans serif, or straight edge fonts (for example, Helvetica or Arial). These types of fonts retain their weight when viewed at a distance. Try to avoid fonts that are lightweight (thin) and overly stylized, as these can be difficult to read and get lost in the background. Using a mixture of fonts can also be quite effective for creating emphasis on specific words or items. However, keep in mind that too many different fonts will start to look sloppy, so stick to no more than two complimentary fonts.


Finally, consider the content you are including on your display. Keep it short, clear and to the point. It may feel natural to want to fill the space with as much detail as possible, but on large display pieces less is definitely more. Again, consider the speed with which your clients will be consuming your information. Ensure you are not overloading your consumer with too much information. Ideally, you should be looking to include your logo, your website, and possibly a very short message (perhaps your business tagline). 


In conclusion, choosing the right design for your signage is key to delivering your message. Ensure you stand out with a bold layout that is eye-catching, simple, and easy to read. Simply remember the basics as mentioned above, and you’ll be way ahead of the game.


Still not sure where to start? Our graphic team is highly equipped and standing by to assist in creating the right sign for your business.

  • Category: Print Products
  • Tags: Signs, signage, sign printing, display, signage design, large format, outdoor signs, printing
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