What’s Your Sign? Top 5 Qualities of Effective Signage

Your store signage is an essential element of how well your store attracts customers and drives foot traffic. Without effective signage, it can be difficult for your business to advertise to potential customers and make them stop in front of your storefront.

But effective signage is more than just having a good-looking sign. As the leading signage and wayfinding consultants in Dubai point out, a lot of design elements must be considered carefully to ensure your store signs are readable (even from afar), attractive, and communicate the right message.


Why do you need signage?

As a key visual element, signage serves to promote your brand while informing and guiding potential customers to your store. Signage must also stand out from its surroundings to effectively convey certain information concisely and clearly.

Every business, whether it’s reputable bearing suppliers and pet stores or construction firms, requires effective signage. But unlike large enterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) lack the same type of brand recognition.

Signage is critical for companies like these to stand out amidst all the competition.

Still unconvinced that signage has the attraction power your business needs to increase your customer base and drive sales?

Here’s what the statistics have to say:

  • Almost 80 percent of consumers have entered a new store simply because of their signage
  • About three out of four consumers surveyed have told their network about a business because of their signs
  • Sixty-eight percent of consumers believe that signage is a reflection of the business’s quality
  • More than two in three consumers have stated that they have purchased a product or service because they were attracted to the signage
  • Sixty percent of consumers have ignored stores or businesses due to the absence of signs
  • One in two consumers refuse to enter a place of business due to poor signage

As statistics show, without a well-designed signage system, your business limits its ability to attract activity and encourage store visits.

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Five tips for creating effective signage

Signage is more than just a navigation mechanism. When used correctly, signage can serve as a strategic marketing tool. With this in mind, here are some essential characteristics to keep in mind when designing your business’s signage system.

 1 – Immediately noticeable

If a sign can’t attract the attention of potential customers, then it’s virtually worthless. For signs to be effective, they must be seen. Certain elements, such as size, height, color contrast, and font size, affect the visibility of your store signage.

Let’s take a look at font size, for example. In terms of adequate visibility, every inch of letter height adds ten feet of readability. Meaning, if your signage has a font size of three inches, it’s most effective at 30 feet.

Color contrasts can also significantly affect how visible your signage is. Specific variations, like white lettering on a black background or yellow lettering with a dark blue background, really complement each other.

If you’re unsure of what colors work best with one another, think of the color wheel. The colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel provide the best type of contrast on signs.

 2 – Illuminate your signs

Adding light to your signage, particularly on outdoor signs, can help increase the readability and visibility of your signage. No matter the weather or time of day, illuminated signs allow potential customers to always see your business.

This even works while your business is closed for the day.

There are numerous illumination methods available like external light fixtures oriented towards the sign, using reflective material for passive illumination, and neon-style tubing to illuminate the font and message of your sign.

Of the several options available, external light fixtures are the easiest way to add dynamic visual lighting to your storefront signage.

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 3 – Easy to comprehend

Consumers are always on the go. Very few will ever stop in their tracks to read what message your signage is trying to convey. Research indicates that most consumers only glance at displays and advertisements for 1.5 to 3 seconds.

To be at its most effective, your signage needs to convey the message it carries in that small window of time. Too much text can render your signage ineffective. This is particularly true for outdoor signs, as you still have to encourage store visits with your sign displays.

To ensure you get the most out of your signage, focus on the most critical messages. For example, if you operate a business like a convenience store or laundromat that’s open for 24 hours, the number of hours you are open may be the only text you need to include on your sign.

For other businesses (offices, hospitals, etc.) that provide directional signage, symbols are more effective than text at conveying the right message. Since people are just looking for navigational clues in their attempt to reach their destination, too much text can lead to confusion among readers.

 4 – Optimize placement

Just like design elements, you can’t haphazardly a guess as to where you should put your signage. Where your signs are positioned throughout your place of business can also significantly affect engagement with consumers.

Certain areas of your business are more impactful at ensuring your signs get read. When mounting indoor signage, consider displaying them in the following areas:

  • Storefront windows
  • Corners of high traffic areas
  • Entry and exit points
  • Areas where consumers congregate (lobby, reception desk, checkout lines, etc.)

Likewise, signs must also be placed at certain heights and angles to be at their most effective.

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To ensure your sign is well-placed, use the 20-10-foot rule.

From 20 feet away, your sign can be seen and stand out from its surroundings. At 10 feet, consumers must be able to identify the message of your sign. Using this rule will allow you to determine the effectiveness of your signage system.

 5 – Grab consumer attention

Most signage displays are used for one primary purpose: to serve as an advertising platform for business. No matter the text, font type, or color scheme, your signs are meant to drive traffic to your store or place of business.

To create familiarity and ensure customers associate your signs with your business, be consistent with your brand message. This will require your signs to reflect the same typography and color theme as the rest of your brand collateral.

Not only will this allow you to inject your business personality into your signage, but customers can also better identify your signage the next time they come to visit.


Now that you have a general idea of how to create an effective signage solution, it’s time to put this knowledge to the test. One of the best ways to ensure your signs are effective at their job is by collaborating with a signage consultancy firm.

Since there is a lot to consider when factoring in all these elements, a consultancy firm can work with you to brainstorm ideas and ensure your signs accomplish what they’re meant to do.


Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at dezigntechnic in Dubai who also previously worked as the company’s Graphic Designer and Art Director. Zak is a creative with work experience in multiple multinational agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. Signage design is a family business, making Zak’s personal experience with signage his longest professional commitment.