Signs take your message to the world around you, letting potential clients and customers know what you do and how it can help them. But they’re also a great way to connect with the community apart from straightforward plugging for your company. You can use them to display your interest in things that matter to the community, sharing its joys and sorrows.
On the joyful side, one possible way to connect your signage with things that impact the community is to celebrate the change of seasons. After all, seasonal transitions affect everyone, and some people find them exciting and enjoyable. So, in the spirit of tapping into what’s going on in the world around you, let’s explore some ways to make your signage seasonal without breaking the bank.
Bring things up to seasonal speed with Velcro
Admittedly, velcro is a bit of an outside-the-box solution here. But it could be the perfect option to make your interior signage reflect the changing seasons. For instance, let’s say you have a printed menu board with one column left blank for seasonal specials.
That column is the perfect place for a list of food or drink choices printed (or written) on small horizontal strips. Put adhesive-backed Velcro on these pieces and put more Velcro in proper position on the sign itself. Then you’re ready to go to town listing your new options for tasty seasonal celebration.
Menu items or just cheery extras
Note that this idea is still sound even if you simply want to decorate your sign to add some seasonal cheer. For this upcoming autumn season, spangling your sign with pumpkins and fall leaves is a natural option. But you could also use Velcro-backed pieces to display things like snowflakes or snowmen.
Drape or tie for extra impact
If you don’t want your seasonal extras to impact the surface of your sign, another idea is to drape or tie decor around your sign. Additionally, for something like a monument sign, you may be able to place seasonal items on the ground nearby (or even in the ground if there’s soil available).
Let’s say your business is in a downtown area with a lot of foot traffic. So, you use an A-frame sidewalk sign because it draws pedestrians into your storefront. To add some seasonality, try decorating around the sign instead of actually changing the sign’s face.
Accessories for the season
A garland that’s reflective of the seasons—whether it’s autumn leaves or spring daisies—could add some pizzazz to your display. Plus, adding some items around the base of the sign or even floating some aptly colored balloons from its frame could augment the display.
Note: Before you dive into this kind of decor, ensure you understand your locality’s ordinances for displays like these. Check whether you’re allowed to display on the sidewalk or if you need special permission to do so.
Design signs with change in mind
Sometimes, making your signage seasonal will be an afterthought. However, if you can catch this before the sign is manufactured, you may be able to set yourself up for seasonality. One option is a chalkboard or whiteboard sign.
Chalkboard or whiteboard signs provide you space that’s meant to change over time. With this kind of display option, your seasonal celebration abilities are limited only by your imagination and artistic talent. If you’re not into drawing yourself, try a partnership with a local artist. Collaboration for seasonal visuals is good for you and good for them at the same time because they can use it as part of their own marketing.
The best of both worlds
Actually, you don’t have to go full bore chalkboard or full bore whiteboard to reap some of these benefits. Instead, try creating a hybrid sign—one that has some elements and materials of a regular sign, but also has a whiteboard or chalkboard area.
Signs can do a million things
Seasonal signs are just one way to be relevant to what’s going on around you. Don’t forget that you can also celebrate community successes (like a Little League victory or a city centennial). In addition, sometimes it may be appropriate to commemorate losses or mourn tragedies.
Think it through
Naturally, you want all your signage to be tasteful, so put in some time to evaluate what the best options are for your particular situation. Also, remember that your signs could have double impact for you when use them on social media. Check out our 8 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Signs & Reuse Them On Social Media.
Safety should be at the top of any business’s list of priorities. But no more so than for restaurants. Any company that is in the food preparation services has quite a challenge ahead of them.
Installing safety signs are one of the measures they need to take to minimize the risk of harm for both their customers and their staff. These businesses need to follow guidelines set out by the relevant health and safety authorities.
If you own a restaurant, read below for our guide to complying with the requirements for safety signs.
Regulations for safety signs
Unfortunately, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong in a restaurant. Significantly, you need to follow specific regulations to maintain hygiene standards for food preparation. Therefore, you need safety signs to advise your staff on how to handle food correctly.
Posters are a fantastic way to help you enforce necessary rules and guidelines.
Generally, restaurants also own and use equipment that can be harmful. So you need to warn your customers and staff. In some cases, you need to put up signs with instructions on how to operate it correctly.
But not only that. Restaurants that do not comply will get into trouble with local authorities. They might issue your business with fines. Or even suspend your license and close the establishment.
Besides this, you need to protect your company from liability. Regrettably, people get hurt all the time, and it might even happen on your premises. Installing the right signs can help you to protect your business from legal action.
Note that there might be slightly different requirements depending on the specific state and location. For example, a useful resource for businesses in Michigan is the Michigan Food Safety website.
Remember to regularly check the relevant websites and publications to see if the guidelines have changed so that you can stay up to date.
Types of safety signs
For your convenience, we have divided the different types of safety signage into five categories. Each of them covers a range of signs related to specific hazards in your restaurant. They include most of the vital posters that you need.
But remember that every business and location is unique. So the requirements might be slightly different in each case.
1 – Hygiene signs
The first group we need to talk about are hygiene signs. Everyone needs reminders sometimes. These posters are necessary to help avoid unhygienic practices in aspects like food prep, food cooking, food washing, and food storage. It plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining a strict hygiene policy.
Besides this, it is an essential part of making your company compliant.
You will need to install the majority of signs in the kitchen as well as other applicable locations. All in all, restaurants need to place them wherever a hazard can be avoided adequately or reduced in another way.
You need to install signs to notify staff to wash their hands. They are necessary at every sink that your food employees use.
There are a variety of signs you can install to help keep your preparation areas hygienic. The posters include ones for:
- Chopping board and knives
- Defrosted food not refrozen
- Raw meat only
- All food must be covered
- Waste in bins provided
- Fish only
- Leave basin clean
- Hairnet reminders
Besides these signs, you also need to mark the sinks for specific uses. This is useful to maintain sanitary conditions and to prevent cross-contamination.
The main sinks are:
- Those for food wash
- Sink for utensil wash
- Those for hand-washing
Any restaurant owner knows how critical it is to store food safely. There are regulations to control the temperature at which you store the food. Plus it is mandatory to mark the date on which it was prepared. Signs can be a great way to to help enforce these guidelines.
2 – Chemical safety storage signs
Most businesses will have a variety of chemicals on location. These include substances that you can use in cleaning, operation of machinery, and even for first aid. More likely than not, some of these materials might be hazardous, meaning people need to take care when they use or store it.
That’s why you need to install signs to warn both your customers and employees. On top of this, they can provide information and instructions for safe use. And you can inform them of measures they can take if anything goes wrong like spills.
Businesses have to restrict and control access to potentially hazardous substances on your premises. At a restaurant, this will mostly involve cleaning materials.
Depending on the types of chemicals, you might need to install signs advising people to use protective clothing. It can include items like gloves or eye protection.
Cleaning in progress
Another safety sign that you need is one to notify people that “cleaning is in progress.” This can help you to restrict access to protect people from slipping or falling and from contact with chemicals.
Wash hands after
In some cases, people need to wash their hands immediately after using certain chemicals. To help prevent injury, you can benefit from installing a reminder to wash their hands after use.
As a restaurant owner, you need to make sure to install signs with symbols to warn people of flammable materials.
3 – Dangerous equipment
Another type of safety sign that you should consider are ones for potentially dangerous equipment. Once again, you have to provide warnings, as well as signs that give instructions and information for correct use.
These signs can help keep people safe. In the end, it is necessary to make your business compliant and to protect it from liability.
Signs with operating instructions are a common way that businesses help ensure operator safety. Sometimes these might even be mandated by regulating authorities. In a restaurant, for example, this might be necessary for cooking equipment like gas stoves.
Once again, you might need signs to advise the use of protective clothing like safety glasses.
4 – General safety signs
Besides all of the above, you need to commission signage for general health and safety rules. These are used for a wide variety of purposes, and you will need to place them throughout your restaurant.
Overall, the posters are there to help you create a safer environment by providing warnings and notifying people of safeguards.
Any establishment that sells alcohol needs to have a “no underage drinking sign.” If your restaurant has a bar area, this is the best place to install it.
You could also include a sign with a warning for pregnant women about drinking alcohol.
Some establishments might have a general age restriction like nightclubs. But these can also be very useful to restrict access to specific areas of your restaurant like the bar.
A few of the most important signs that you need to install in any business are exit signs. You need to clearly mark the doorway as well as the route to it. This is necessary for general emergency exits and fire exits.
Since 2010, smoking is prohibited in most public places in Michigan. These places include restaurants. Preferably you should install more than one depending on the size of your business like placing one outside and one inside.
According to the law, a food service establishment that sells solid food for on-premises consumption needs signs to help prevent asphyxiation.
It needs to have a diagram to explain anti-choking techniques that are safe for both adults and children. These need to be approved by the health department for dislodging foreign obstacles caught in a choking victim’s throat.
All businesses need to have signage to notify people of the location of your safety equipment. We recommend that you give some operating instructions too.
- First aid symbols
- Fire extinguisher
- Fire hose
Unfortunately, one of the biggest dangers of any food establishment is potential allergies. It is usual to warn your customers of common allergens in the food on the menu.
But you need to inform your staff too. On top of training, an allergy information sheet like this can be extremely useful. One of the best places to install this is usually the kitchen.
5 – Site based safety signs
The last category involves signage that is based on the specific requirements of your site. These posters contribute to the overall experience of clients and employees in your restaurant.
Therefore, they are important for risk management. But it can also help make the way your business functions more efficient.
Preventing slipping, tripping, bumping and falling
Any business has to try to prevent injuries on their premises. You need to install these warnings at any potential hazard. For example, use posters to warn people to mind their head, mind their step, or to be careful of slipping as in areas where the floor is wet.
Any business needs to create and install disclaimers to protect the company from liability. Overall, it can be helpful to tailor them to your restaurant to make sure it accounts for all possible risks. That’s why you might want to consult your lawyer on its content.
Another vital type of sign for a restaurant is “staff only” signs. These have more than one purpose.
First, they help you to keep some areas away from your customer’s eyes. Second, they can help you to keep people safe by preventing access to areas with dangerous equipment or materials.
Do you have CCTV surveillance on your premises?
If you do, remember to put up signs to notify people of this. You have to hang some of these on the outside as well as inside your restaurant.
Other important posters
Not everything you are required to display will necessarily come in the form of conventional signs. In the case of licensing, you might have to hang the actual certificate or license that was printed by the specific authority.
However, because they are such a crucial part of keeping and showing that your business is compliant, we will cover the basics.
In short, here are some of the vital certificates and licenses that should be on display somewhere in your restaurant:
- Sidewalk cafe license
- Certificate of occupancy
- Foodservice establishment permit
- Sales tax certificate of authority
- Place of assembly certificate of operation and permit and maximum occupancy
- Liquor license
- Permits for equipment use
Creating the signs
Now that you know what signs you need, you need to find out more about the fabrication process.
As with all signage, one of your first steps should be to reach out to sign companies. Luckily, because these signs are so common, you might be able to buy some ready-made. Of course, you may need some of your signs to be custom made.
One benefit of a professional company is that they will be able to give you solid advice on the types of signs you will need. It’s likely they’ve had experience in creating these products for other restaurants.
Overall, a sign company can make the process much easier and help you stay on top of things.
One area that they will be able to assist you in is making sure that the design and build of the signage are also compliant. This involves the following:
- Signs have to be clear and legible.
- In terms of content, every sign needs to identify prohibited actions, safeguards, warn of hazards, or direct towards safety measures such as fire exits or equipment for fire safety or first aid.
- All signage needs to have round or blunted corners.
- Different signs need different backgrounds. Red is for prohibition, yellow for caution, green for positive action, and blue for mandatory action.
- The shapes also differ, like discs for prohibitions and instructions, triangles for warnings, and squares and rectangles for emergency and information signs.
A complete package
No doubt signs are one of the crucial tools in any business owner’s toolbox. Part of their significance lies in their versatility and flexibility. As we’ve said, safety signs play a critical role in making any company, including a restaurant a safer and more effective space.
But this isn’t the only essential use of signage. Besides this, one of the most significant uses of these products is in advertising. You can use them for both on-site and off-site promotions.
If you are looking to update your promotional signs take a look at these tips & tricks to designing eye-catching business signs.
Advertising is, of course, a very common endeavor. With businesses small and large on every street corner and smartphones in every pocket, we encounter advertising often—even constantly. But not all advertising is created equal. Likely, you know this from personal experience as a consumer. Some companies have dull or even repulsive ads; other companies show creativity in advertising.
Creativity in advertising: who do you want to be like?
When it comes to creativity in advertising, what kind of company do you want to imitate—the boring type or the engaging type? Is it even a question? If you’re looking to position your products and services as the newest and best solution to your consumers’ problems, chances are you’d love some creative advertising ideas.
Draw inspiration from others
You may be a small business owner. But you’re also a consumer of goods and services yourself. And that puts you in a great position to gather a store of ideas you can put to work on your own company. Keep your eyes out for advertising that really jumps out at you—the kind that almost convinces you to make an impulse buy or to subscribe to a service you probably don’t need.
If you keep these great examples from slipping by unnoticed, you can actually analyze them. Be prepared to find them anywhere. It could be your own neighborhood or the area where you’re vacationing or even your social media feed. Once you’ve noted it (and maybe even saved it if you don’t have time when you encounter it), you can dwell on it and extract useful information.
Try to identify what it was that made it so appealing? Did the color and design play a large role? Was the ad copy fun to read or unique in some way? Maybe it was surprising in some way and grabbed your attention because of that startle factor.
Make their day!
Giving things away is a fun way to get consumers knowledgeable and invested in your company. And if you make it something useful for recipients that’s even better. Branded pens are ubiquitous, so we’re not necessarily suggesting those (though you can use branded pens if you want). But find an item that’s somehow representative of what your company does and get your key information on it.
Find other ways to give something to your target customers while at the same time getting something for yourself (their attention). If you’re a minor league baseball team and you give away free tickets to a few select winners, you may actually be getting your information out along the way to a lot more than just those few people.
Okay, we need to take a minute here to acknowledge that humor can backfire. So, you should absolutely tread thoughtfully here. However, who doesn’t like the feelings of happiness that accompany a good laugh?
If you can provide a laugh for your customers while at the same time communicating your offerings, hopefully, they’ll remember you in a positive way. A great example of this is the companies that crack business-related jokes or puns on their changeable message signs. (But don’t get carried away, a bad pun can be corny).
Turn it into a fun event
Let’s say you want customers to know about a new product or service you just started offering. Naturally, you can simply post on social media about it and hope that viewers will be convinced they should take a closer look.
But why be normal when you can do something outside-the-box? Instead of a run-of-the-mill social media post, announce a challenge like a scavenger hunt. This Virginia business got the community involved in a fun activity and promoted their company at the same time.
Upgrade your visuals
If you’re stuck in the dark ages with your print advertising, it’s definitely time to revamp. Unless your business type calls for you to project a traditionalist image (and some businesses may), why not break outside your box with creativity in advertising?
For companies with a lighthearted mission, try humorous, simple, minimalistic, or colorful ads. Snag people’s attention first. Then, ensure that your ad copy rewards them for taking the time to focus on you. Don’t be boring, be fascinating. Don’t be long-winded, be succinct.
Try new venues
Yes, you may have established channels of communication. Or, if you’re just getting starting, there may be channels that companies in your industry are just expected to use. Well, try something different!
Ask yourself where your ideal customer spends time. Maybe it’s a physical location or a place on the internet. Then, brainstorm the best methods for getting your information to that location. Maybe you’ll even discover free places to advertise that will reach the “right” customers directly.
For instance, if you’re trying to advertise your college’s foreign language club, hanging a poster on the message board of a local coffee shop could be a better idea than taking out an ad in the student newspaper. (Especially if no one even reads that newspaper).
Expand into new media
Let’s say you’re stuck in the stone age of advertisement. You do have a couple of social media accounts for your business, but you’ve never really used them. What better time than now to set up a social media strategy and reach out to people via the internet? And don’t do it alone, learn from books, articles, or podcasts to get you started in this field. Check out Sprout Social’s The complete guide to social media for small business.
Infuse all advertisements with quality
Look at it this way. You may already have established that advertising is important for your business or organization. (Why else would you want to know about creativity in advertising?) So while you’re at it, learn to do it well. Devour all the free information available via print and online media, and if you’re using a sign, check out 6 Elements You Must Include On Your Sign | Tips On Layout & Design.
Signs are critical to running a business for more than one reason. First, they are an essential part of marketing and getting your business noticed. Second, directional signs are crucial to help you run everything smoothly.
However, getting a grip on what you need, where it should go, and how to install it can feel like mission impossible.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a problem any longer. Below you’ll find our guide to installing signs around your business. We covered everything from figuring out which products you need to how to install them.
Which signs does your business need?
The main types of signage that a company needs are:
- Courtesy signs
To outfit your entire business, you will probably have to create several of each type. In the end, that can amount to quite a wide variety. So as always, the details matter.
You don’t want to forget about any of these. Missing signs can detract from the overall experience of your staff and your customers. Unfortunately, this means that you might lose loads of business in the long run.
If clients notice a gap in your signage, it will make your company appear unprofessional and perhaps even careless.
To avoid this situation, keep track of all your requirements. That’s why it can be useful to make a comprehensive list of the products that you need. You can then check off the items as you go along.
When making a list, it can be useful to do some research on the types of signs that similar businesses use. This is especially true when it comes to choosing advertisements. How many you need depends on your location, specific situation, and of course your budget.
But, all things considered, you will need to use a few different types. For example, for on-site promotional signs, most businesses use building signs in combination with others like banners.
In the case of safety and regulatory signs, you will need to check up on the latest standards set out by OSHA and ANSI. Here you will find guidelines on what types of safety signs specific businesses need but also on other features like their design.
Walkthrough of the signs in your business
A lot to think about right?
In this case, it can be useful to visualize your business’ environment. That’s why we are going to take you on a detailed walkthrough of a hypothetical company to help you get a clearer picture.
One of the most effective spots to place advertisements is around your business’ storefront or offices. It is a fantastic way to reach your most likely customers. As a matter of fact, this type of hyperlocal strategy has renewed importance thanks search functions on Google and other online sites.
An excellent spot to place promotional signs close to your business is in the parking lot. From here, you can attract potential customers who are in the lot or driving by. If your business isn’t located in a shopping center, you can mount it in the driveway or entrance.
Great options to use here are monument signs, banners, and pylons.
Another brilliant spot is the sidewalk or grass next to your offices. This is a great place for promotional signage as well as wayfinding signage. Good options are coroplast signs, A-frame sidewalk signs, and banners.
Building signs are also a fantastic way to advertise your business. You can use them to catch the eye of both pedestrians and road users.
Besides this, it is practical too. It can help customers to locate your business.
The following are some of the top choices for building signs:
- Channel letters
- Acrylic and aluminum panels
- Illuminated cabinets
- Dimensional letters
For maximum impact, you should install them above the windows of your storefront. This way, it will be more visible and legible.
Windows and doors
Next, we can move on up to the storefront of the business. We will specifically look at the windows and doors.
Here you want to install signs that convey trading information to your customers. For example, you can print window graphics with your contact details.
On top of this, you don’t want to forget to put up a sign to let people know whether you’re open or closed. You can use a flip-over sign that you hang on the door at eye level. But you should also display your trading hours on the windows or the door.
We recommend that you post a few basic rules here too like, “no pets in the store.” Be aware that you don’t want this to dominate the space, but it should still be visible.
And don’t forget that you can use signs like banners and window graphics as advertisements here as well. This is an excellent location to promote new products or sales.
The reception is the first thing that customers will see inside your business. So you need to use signs to help you make a favorable impression. Of course, not all companies will have this space.
Floor graphics can work well in the reception. You are almost guaranteed that all your customers will notice it here. That’s why it can be a very effective advertisement. We also recommend that you use it to help make you make your customers feel welcome.
Usually, you will also have to put up a few courtesy or customer services signs here. For example, print a sign inviting customers to take a seat while they wait.
Behind the reception desk is the ideal place for lobby signs. If well designed, this type of sign will certainly make your business appear more professional. It can help you strengthen your brand identity and the impact you have on your customers.
With all these signs, your lobby will already be a success. But there is one more you need to remember. You should place wayfinding signage in this room as well. This is necessary to help make your business more productive and to improve the customer’s experience.
The lobby is one of the most important spots for wayfinding signs. But it isn’t the only place you should consider.
It is a good idea to mount directions throughout your business. You should place one at every junction, room, and entrance. And if you are a store with aisles, you should hang one over each one.
For optimal visibility, you want to install these signs at eye level or higher. You can even hang them from the ceiling. Alternatively, you can use floor graphics in combination with wall or ceiling mounted signs.
You have to place signs right outside of your restrooms. In this case, it usually works best to put them right at eye level so that customers and staff have no doubt about what room they are entering.
You should also place some wayfinding signs for the restroom in several places in the offices or storefront. These signs are absolutely essential. You don’t want customers to feel like they are on a treasure hunt.
You might also want to consider putting up a few courtesy signs in the bathroom. For example, you can place a sign on the back of the stall door politely reminding customers to flush. Place other reminder signs where they are the most relevant, like at the sinks or hand dryer.
In the end, these types of signage will help make the environment more pleasant for everyone.
You also want to remember to put up public symbols as accessibility signs to show your customers which facilities are suited for individuals with disabilities.
Depending on the nature of the business, you will probably have regulatory signs scattered throughout the building. They are generally very specific to the particular hazard.
But some regulations stay the same no matter the company. Here are some of the basic safety signs that you need:
- You need to put up wayfinding signs for the emergency exits. These typically work well when you hang them from the ceiling.
- Put up informative signage at all your safety equipment like fire extinguishers.
- You need to place warning signs at any potentially dangerous equipment.
- Warn customers of any potentially hazardous materials.
- Put up a warning sign at unexpected steps or stairs and low hanging ceilings or fixtures.
How should you mount your signs?
You need to use different methods to install different types of signs.
Luckily, some of them are super easy to set. They require little to no skill or effort.
These you can mount by yourself. This means you can move and reinstall them easily as well.
A few of these are:
- Banners: you can hang them through ropes that you thread through their eyelets.
- Decals: sign companies make signs like window graphics with adhesive surfaces so that you can simply apply them.
- Acrylic and foam: you can attach light products like these to the wall with double-sided tape.
- Coroplast signs: you can easily install them by using adhesive products, or hanging it.
- Freestanding: Signs like A-frame sidewalk signs need no installation.
But unfortunately, that isn’t possible for all products. In some cases, we recommend that you consult your sign company.
- Illuminated signs: All the signage with lighting needs to be installed by an expert to make sure the electrical connections are in order.
- Aluminum panels: A handyman can install them with screw mounting and anchors.
- Monuments: The sign company needs to construct the base of brick, stone, and metal monument signs on location.
- Digital signage: Some electronic products can be tricky to install and require the skills of an electrician or a fabricator.
- Posts: A variety of products are best installed with posts. A handyman or expert can help you to properly secure the sign to the mounting as well as in the ground.
Tips on location for signs
Here are some general tips that will help you decide on the best placement for your signs:
- Check with local authorities to find out if there are any regulation or permits about signage in your area. You also need to consult with the managers and owners of your building.
- Signs that project from the ceiling needs to be at least 84 inches from the ground. You don’t want anyone bumping into it.
- Place indoor signs at eye level for maximum visibility. Or at other locations to which your eye is naturally drawn.
- Calculate the view distance for the sign. And make sure that it will be visible and legible from there.
- Make sure that obstacles like trees or street poles aren’t blocking any of your signs.
- Place the signage at the optimal height. Overall, the higher the placement, the more angles you should be able to view it from.
- A pro tip is to test the placement with a proof that is made to scale. Place it at the exact spot and at the right angle to check its legibility.
Getting the best for your business
Using signs the right way can revolutionize the way you do business. Significantly, it can play a critical role in increasing foot traffic and sales at your storefront. But just as important is how you can use it to streamline everyday functions.
So far, we focused on getting all the signs you need. However, remember that you don’t want to overwhelm and overstimulate people either.
Overall, this is one of the reasons why it’s vital to seek expert advice. Hiring a good signage company is essential to getting the best results for your business. To do this, you need to know what to look for from a sign making company + questions to ask.
Some signs and symbols are so common we simply take them for granted. For instance, the iconic red and white stop sign is everywhere—and we’re quite used to it. But have you ever thought about the fact that some signs may appear in one area while not in others? Similarly, some areas could have a higher concentration of one type of sign than other areas. Today, we thought it would be fun to explore some fascinating sign info you may never have considered!
Head south for stops and billboards
Florida is more than just a popular vacation spot. It’s also notable for having a lot of two types of signage, comparatively. But it does have to share some of the distinction with a non-contiguous US state. Read on for details.
What state has the most stop signs?
Since stop signs are so common and recognizable, let’s begin here. My Parking Sign and its affiliates used their sales data to come to some fascinating conclusions about stop signs. Their conclusion? “Hawaii has more stop signs per mile than any other state…” Next up was Florida, with Delaware coming in third.
Think your own area has too many stop signs? Well, maybe you should take some inspiration from the city of Paris—which has none.
What state has the most billboards?
We all know these popular outdoor message boards. They spangle America’s highways. Sometimes, they’re advertising luscious sandwiches available at a restaurant off an upcoming exit. Other times, they’re promising a drink to slake a traveler’s thirst. Still, other billboards promote community events like a 5K race or a play at a local theater.
These signs are a great way to reach consumers whether they live in your community or are simply passing through. So, which state has the most billboards?
According to BMedia, “Florida leads the pack with a whopping 11,109 active permits on file for billboards throughout the entire state.” Who knows? Maybe the rampant outdoor advertising has something to do with the fact that Florida is a popular tourist destination. Not to mention a common target for snowbirds.
Hit the curves in one New England State
Can you have too much of a good thing? Connecticut just might.
What location has so many curve signs that it sparked protest?
Curve signs can be useful, without a doubt. They alert drivers that they’re about to engage in some serious steering wheel cranking & braking action. And anyone who’s ever swung too far into the other lane because a curve caught them by surprise can imagine the accidents that curve signs are designed to prevent.
Still, if there’s such a thing as too many curve road signs, several Connecticut communities have that problem. At least according to certain residents. The News Times reported that “Officials in Sherman, New Milford and Ridgefield are now trying to remove some of [the signs], saying the number is excessive, especially in the bucolic areas. In New Milford, there were 339 signs installed on 14 roads and Ridgefield now has 86 signs on two roads.”
Even the mayor of New Milford had concerns. Speaking about a specific road, the News Times quoted him as saying, “‘Definitely, a few signs are needed on it, but there’s 52,’ he said. ‘To me it’s the number of the signs impacting the roadway. Residents want it scenic too.’”
Major midwest city needs cautionary cold weather signs
If you think about ice and snow as a problem for states like Alaska or Maine, think again. Don’t forget to count Midwest cities in as potential problem areas.
What major US city places “Caution, falling ice” warning signs in their downtown?
While there may be other major cities with the exact same problem, one city’s warning signs made the news earlier this year. It seems Chicago has placed these signs for quite a few years—since an ice-related tragedy. Check out the full story at the Chicago Tribune.
Don’t forget the non-contiguous US. Here’s an Alaska-specific sign.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of hazards you could confront while driving in many different areas of the US. But some dangers are a bit more location-specific than others. So, it would stand to reason that some signs might be unique.
And in Alaska, there’s one sign that the Anchorage Press called “the most unique of Alaskan signs, the rectangular one depicting a cow and calf crossing the road and a changing tally of how many moose have been killed by cars in that area so far that year.”
Alaska should surely get bonus points for that creativity. But it’s not exactly a sign idea they can share with the world. After all, we don’t think they’ll have much success convincing Florida or Texas that they too need a moose tally sign.
Zeroing in on Michigan
It wouldn’t be right to leave without taking a quick look at our home state. You don’t need us to tell you what Michigan winters are like, but you might be wondering how many ice warning signs for bridges our chilly state has.
Looks like you’re not the only one talking about this. Ice warning signs for bridges in Michigan became the subject of a discussion on Ask MetaFilter last year.
Here’s what one poster had to say, “Well, I was all set to do some napkin math, but while gathering the necessary facts I stumbled on this MDOT page that claims Michigan has “10,754 roadway bridges”. It isn’t entirely clear what counts as a bridge (are overpasses bridges?), but an estimate of 20,000 signs seems reasonable on this basis.”
While it’s certainly not an official statistic, it does prove that there are other curious minds out there wondering about Michigan road sign statistics.
More fun sign information
If you’re looking for more fun sign topics, check out our Is It Okay To Use An Emoji In Marketing? Can I Have One In My Logo? Plus, have fun looking at 3 Of The Most Creative Signs & Banners In And Around Detroit.
You know what they say. Change is the only constant. It can be hard to keep up with everything. And in the process of life of your businesses signs might fall along the wayside.
Depending on the specifics, a sign can last quite a while. You can benefit from a well-made sign for years to come before you need to replace it.
But damage and age aren’t the only reasons to make changes to your signage. Read on for our guide to things you need to update on your signs as soon as you can.
When is it time to update your signs?
Before we look at the updates you should make, we will help you find out when is the right time to make those changes.
Over the years, it is obvious that your business will change. It can be as small as a new office number or as significant as a new address or name. You need to update your signs to reflect these details to make sure you don’t lose out on any potential sales.
New brand identity
More likely than not, your company will grow and evolve. Because of this, your brand’s identity will probably change too. Your signs should reflect this. Consistency is a critical part of effective branding.
Your brand includes the following features:
- Business name
More than five years old
Even if nothing else is wrong, you might still want to update your signage. It can be helpful to use some kind of standard, like saying that you will change them after five years. The advertising industry and the general market is continually changing, and you want to stay ahead of the curve.
It will help you to get rid out outdated elements and also help you to keep up with current trends and styles.
After a few years, the sign will look a bit worn down and faded as well.
Not attracting customers
Overall, the primary goal of promotional signage is to gain new business. You want to increase your profits by increasing sales of your products or services. That’s why you have to make some changes if they are no longer serving this purpose.
It can happen if the signage becomes outdated, or perhaps it wasn’t impactful from the start.
Wear and tear
Signs are the face of your business. They are the first thing that most potential customers will see about your company. Therefore, as a direct representation of your business, you must keep it in tip-top shape. Or else it can reflect poorly on your business.
So if your signage has been damaged and even vandalized, it is time to replace it. And this is the perfect opportunity to make any necessary updates.
How should you update your signs?
The burning question for most businesses is probably, do you have to replace the entire sign?
If this is necessary, it will clearly require additional expenses, time, and effort. The answer will depend on the type of sign and the updates you need to make. It also depends on the condition of the signage.
You will probably need to replace it in the following cases completely:
- There has been severe damage to the product. Due to vandalism, weather, or age, parts of the sign might have torn off or broken off. Or the design of it might no longer be visible or legible.
- The updates that you need to make should last long term. They aren’t only for a short term events like a sale.
- You have rebranded your business, so you need to make extensive cosmetic changes.
- Your sign is not the type of sign which has parts that can be replaced. It is all or nothing.
If you are lucky, you don’t need to replace the entire sign. There are a few possible alternatives to this.
Some signs are made with panels that you can replace. For example, sign companies often make monument signs with slots into which you can slide new sections.
Another product that you can easily update is magnetic signs. This might not be the ideal solution, but you can put new magnet strips onto the board over the outdated sections, For example, this is an excellent option for restaurants that regularly change their menu.
One short term solution for making updates on your signage is to use stickers and decals. It won’t last long and probably won’t look as attractive. This can work well for once-off changes like advertising a sale. And it can be a good temporary fix until you can replace the entire sign.
Overall, the most flexible type of sign is digital signs. There are far fewer limits to making changes. You can usually update them with less effort and lower costs. So if you will need to make regular updates, we recommend looking into digital signage.
Without further ado, here are some of the updates you should consider making right away.
1. Outdated elements
What was in style five years ago, usually isn’t anymore today.
That’s why it can be a great idea to check over your designs every few years to see how it is holding up.
You also need to make sure that elements of your signs haven’t become cliched. Unfortunately, some features like fonts might become so overused that they lose all their impact.
2. New products or services
One of the things that often changes are the products or services that companies offer. It can be an excellent idea to change your signage to reflect this. These updates will be particularly impactful if the new item is high in demand.
Of course, this will also be an essential update for a business like a restaurant that might seasonally change most of their offerings.
3. Trading information
This next update is critical. No one can see into the future. So you might not have foreseen the upcoming changes to your business when you created your signs.
Two of the most common changes are to your trading hours or address. In both these cases, outdated information can directly cost you business. Therefore, you have to update this as soon as possible.
You can even create some hype for the changes like a new location by announcing them on your signs before they happen.
4. Be friendly and clear
In many ways, people have more access to your business than ever before. And your business should show that you are welcoming to everyone. Or, if you aren’t able to accommodate everyone, that should be clear as well – without being rude.
Check your signs for any unfriendly language or graphics.
If you cater to families and those with disabilities, say so. If your business (for example, a retirement facility) only serves senior citizens, make sure your signs say so clearly, but in a friendly manner.
5. Your contact information
In the super-competitive world of business, the smallest detail can cost you. One example is having outdated contact information on your signage. Customers are unlikely to follow up if they struggle to reach you.
So you must update your signs if any of your communication channels aren’t in use anymore.
But you should also make changes if you’ve added some new ones. For example, did you create a Facebook page? Does your business have a new online store?
There are more and more opportunities to communicate with existing and potential clients. And it can lead to a significant increase in business if you give them different ways to engage with you.
As we’ve said, one of the key reasons to update your signs is if you have updated your business’ visual brand identity. You need to keep your branding consistent across all your platforms.
Overall, it will make your company and your promotions much more memorable. And your customers will be able to recognize your signs at a glance.
In the end, your signs will usually be more attractive and eye-catching, thanks to the rebrand.
Remember that this needs to include all the aspects of your branding like the color scheme, logo, slogan, etc.
7. More languages
While English is the official language of the United States, it by no means has to be the only one that you use on your signage.
People speak more or less five hundred languages in the country. This is pretty extraordinary. Significantly, the second most spoken language is Spanish.
You might want to consider updating your signage if you cater to more than English-only speaking customers. This can be helpful, especially if most of your customers speak a different language. On top of this, you might want to try this out if your business is popular among tourists.
8. Stay current
Some days it seems that the world is changing at a rapidly increasing pace. It is all you can do to keep up. But it’s crucial for your business that you try to stay on track. This counts for your signs too.
One update you need to make involves smoking and vaping. Your business will probably have the appropriate signs to prevent smoking in certain areas. However, you may need to change them to refer to vaping and e-cigarettes specifically.
9. Correct spelling mistakes
Mistakes happen. The key is to address them by fixing it. In the case of signage, if you don’t, it is almost as if the mistake keeps on happening as every new person sees it. So you should update your signs to get rid of any grammatical or spelling errors.
It can happen to everyone. Even big corporations aren’t immune. Just take a look at these examples if you don’t believe us.
These mistakes can slip in at any stage of the process, brainstorming, design, or fabrication. That’s why you need to proofread the content of the signs every step along the way — next time double or even triple check to prevent issues.
10. The size
An essential part of the design is deciding on its size and dimensions. You have to make sure that it is large enough for people to see and read it.
You need to do some careful planning to get it right. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out the way you want it too.
Once the fabricators have made the sign and you have mounted it, you might find that it is just too small. The fault might lie with the font, the graphics, or the sign as a whole. You don’t want to lose out on advertising just because people can’t read it,
Pro tip: Print out the design in the right dimensions on paper. Test whether the size is suitable by holding it where you will place the sign.
Another crucial thing that you should think about updating is lighting.
First, the light bulbs might have faded, or some of them might no longer be working. Unfortunately, this will mean that your sign will be less visible. But it can also seriously detract from its overall appeal.
Secondly, you might want to change the type of illumination that you use. In the past, most fabricators made their products with neon tubing. However, now they mostly use LED bulbs. They are more energy-efficient and require less maintenance. So you might want to make the switch.
On the other hand, your signage might not have any illumination at all. In this case, you might want to add some lighting. It will not only help you attract more attention throughout the day and night but can help enhance its appearance too.
12. Highlight events or milestones
Special events and milestones like company anniversaries can offer you brilliant opportunities to promote your business. Therefore, you should consider including them as updates on your signage.
Showing off can help you draw in new customers but also boost your sales among existing ones.
Optimize your signage
The point of all these updates is to get the best out of your signs. You want them to be as effective as possible. They should help you get more business, not lose any.
That’s why you want to build and maintain a good working relationship with your signage company. Undoubtedly, they can help you keep your signage in tip-top shape.
For more advice on making the best out of a sign, check out these tips and tricks to creating the most effective signs for marketing.
We all know the phrase “what people don’t know won’t hurt them.” And we may even quote or laugh about it from time to time. But as a business owner, you may suspect that that idea is a bit antithetical to your goals as it might undermine the importance of advertisement. You have great products or services and you need customers and clients to know about them. Customers who don’t know about them are missing out on a great thing—obviously.
The importance of advertisement
We can think of the goal of advertising as pushing back against this state of “not knowing” in potential customers or clients. It’s as though your advertising is a way of fighting to inform people about ways you can help them fulfill their needs and wants. What people don’t know might hurt them. And if you have something they need to know about, then, by all means, take your information to the streets.
Advertising statistics to get you excited
Let’s start with some numbers to lay the foundation for the importance of advertisement.
According to Statista:
- “In 2016, more than 190 billion U.S. dollars were spent in advertising in the United States.”
Obviously, a lot of money is changing hands here. But a major question to ask — is advertising making money for advertisers? That calls for a look at ROAS, which stands for return on ad spend. It measures how much you get back compared to how much you put out when it comes to advertising.
Let’s start with out-of-home advertising or advertising that your customers will see when they’re not at home (i.e. it won’t be on their TVs or smartphones). According to Statista, in 2018,
- “For each dollar invested in OOH advertising, U.S. advertisers gained 5.97 U.S. dollars.”
But that’s not to say that advertising on TVs or smartphones isn’t a good idea. As far as TV goes,
- “In 2018, it has been projected that U.S. television advertising revenue will total 71 billion U.S. dollars, while by 2022 the forecasts see a modest increase to 74.9 billion U.S. dollars.” (Source: Statista)
Smartphones have their own role to play in modern marketing. According to eMarketer,
- “By 2019, mobile ad spending will rise to $65.87 billion, or 72.2% of total digital ad spend.”
Big picture advertisement thinking
So, it’s easy to see that if you have something that someone else needs or wants, you’ll have to find a way to get it to them. And how would you do that without using some form of communication?
A communication spectrum
If we think of communication as ranging from the subtle to the overt, then plenty of advertisements would fall at the overt end of the spectrum. If you’re the CEO of a multimillion-dollar breakfast cereal company, then eating your favorite cereal in front of guests could be a subtle kind of communication—they’ll get the message that you like the cereal. We’ll class that as subtle communication.
On the other hand, a more overt kind of communication could look like a major sports star’s face splashed across a billboard featuring your new cereal. Alongside the star’s name there’s the copy:
He loves Wonder-O’s. So will you.
That sends a pretty obvious message.
The nitty-gritty importance of advertisement
Thus, advertising is simply a way to communicate. You have something great that you think customers/clients will want. By letting them know about it, you’re connecting them with products and services they desire.
Naturally, some products and services will require more advertising than others. If you’re rolling out a new soda and you have plenty of competition, you might have to work hard to get consumers to purchase. On the other hand, let’s say you’re a hospital, and you’re the only one within a 100-mile radius. Then, you’re probably not going to have to plug too hard for your emergency department. People will come when they need you.
Questions to ask
As you get started on your advertising journey, stimulate your thought process with these questions.
- What product or service am I offering?
- Do consumers already know about it?
- Will they buy it whether or not they see an advertisement for it?
- What media will most effectively get the product in front of consumers and convince or remind them to buy?
Once you’re convinced of the importance of advertisement, the work doesn’t stop there. In fact, it might be only the beginning of great projects and campaigns to come. You might decide to dig deeper into the psychology of advertising. Or you could elect to increase your advertising knowledge by studying other successful advertising campaigns. On the other hand, if you’re planning a sign for your advertising, you can always learn from our 6 Elements You Must Include On Your Sign | Tips On Layout & Design.
All kinds of organizations need to advertise. This is true whether they are trying to make profits or are trying to raise money and working for a cause.
That’s why for this year’s International Day of Charity on September 5th, we are looking at how to create signs for nonprofits & charitable organizations.
To create signs for an NPO or charity, you need to know about working on a budget, choosing the right products, and designing the images. We will cover all of these and more in our ultimate sign guide.
Working on a budget
Clearly, one of the most important goals of any charitable organization is to save as much money as possible. However, you still need to find a way to gather the resources needed for your cause.
That’s why the core parts of your business model are usually to raise money, raise awareness, or both. This means you always need to spend as little as possible while getting the results you want. This mindset needs to extend to making signage.
You don’t want to spend unnecessarily. So don’t ever be hasty. Take your time to make sure you make the best decisions for your organization.
To do this, you need to figure out how much you can or want to spend. It will, of course, depend on the state of your accounts. If you are unsure what a reasonable amount is, it can help to do some research.
Try to find out what similar nonprofits and charitable organizations have spent on their signage. Overall, this will give you the ideal starting point. You can also check out what the costs are for the type of products you want.
Next, once you have calculated your budget, you have to find ways to stick to it. The key is to thoroughly investigate all your options as you go through the process.
We will discuss how you can save some money along each step of the way.
Getting a sponsor
As you might know, one of the essential ways you can save on the expenses is by getting a sponsor. There are always businesses who are willing to help out for a cause. Corporate social responsibility is now viewed as a central part of how companies work.
Typically, the public believes that businesses should not only focus on profits. They must try to have some positive impact on society. Consumers might even stop supporting a company if they feel they don’t care.
That’s why cause-related marketing is now more popular than ever. Corporations have an interest in showing off their contributions.
All of this is excellent news for charities and nonprofits that are looking for sponsorships. It gives both of the parties a chance to win.
Today larger NPO’s often have a whole team to focus on cause-related marketing. But don’t fear, a smaller organization can still manage.
Here are some tips for getting the sponsors for your signage:
- First, go to companies who have supported your charity in the past. They might be willing to continue with the partnership.
- Look for a business whose owners you know. It can help you in the initial stages of arranging a meeting.
- Don’t rely on a single method of communication. Try to use email, calls, and visits to reach companies that might be interested.
- Find a business whose target audience might overlap with yours. Both of you will then benefit more from the relationship. And they will probably be more willing to lend you their support.
- To show your gratitude, print their names on the signage, send them documents to prove their contribution, or thank them in the media.
Take a look at this article to learn more about corporate sponsorships.
Different signs for different purposes
One of the critical decisions you need to make involves which signs you want to make. It’s important to remember that some signs will be better suited for specific goals than others. Once again, you need to do some detective work.
The following are some of the best signs that nonprofits and charitable organization can use for their campaign.
Most organizations will have at least one physical location from which they operate. This is an ideal place that you can use to promote your cause. You probably won’t need to pay additional fees to put up the signs. And it serves practical purposes too.
There are several options to consider, depending on your budget, location, and so on.
Do your offices or workspace have windows facing pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic?
Then window graphics can be an excellent option for you. These signs can be a real eye-catcher, especially if the surrounding businesses don’t have any. You can make your organization stand out even more if you design them with bright colors and images.
That’s one reason why they can work well as advertisements. But they have practical utility too. For example, they are most commonly used to display useful information like your name, trading hours, and contact information.
The price of window graphics will depend on the size and design. However, what makes them cost-effective is the fact that they are low maintenance and long-lasting.
Channel letters are a perfect solution to display your organization’s name, especially if you use them in combination with window graphics that provide more information.
These signs are highly customizable. So you have a lot of flexibility. Thanks to this you might have some leeway to choose a less expensive design.
Besides this, fabricators typically make them with LED lighting. Therefore you can even get some exposure at night.
Long term advertisements:
Like any other business, you could benefit from more extensive general advertising. Signs can be an excellent long term solution for this.
One sign you can use is vehicle graphics. These are decals or wraps that you can place on any automobile.
What makes them unique is their mobility. You can gain exposure wherever the car, truck, or bus goes. In the end, this can save you a lot of money. If you’re on a budget, you can replace some of your rented sign spaces with vehicle graphics.
Another fantastic long term option is digital signs. These screens have become more and more popular thanks to their effectiveness as an advertising medium.
One benefit of digital signs is that they give you much more space for potential content. You can run several ads on a loop and even play videos on them. Another good idea is to show some footage, photos, or statistics about the effect your organization has had.
In addition to this, you have the freedom to change the content of the sign if you need to. For example, if you want to promote an upcoming event or fundraiser.
Overall, this is an excellent platform to give more information about your cause. For this reason, you should consider placing it in an area where people can spend more time looking at it. An example of this is the checkout line of a local store or a queuing area at a bank.
Initially, it can be more expensive than some of the alternatives. But it will pay off in the end.
Signs for events and fundraisers:
Long-term advertisements should undoubtedly play a key role in your advertising strategy. But you will also need temporary signs.
Core tools of any nonprofit and charitable organization are events and fundraisers. These are fantastic ways to get more exposure and support for your cause.
So you will need signs to advertise before the events. However, you will also need some at the event.
Banners are a lightweight and very inexpensive signage product. Fabricators usually need less time to make them.
That is why you should always keep these in mind for temporary signs. You can use them as a promotion for the event. But you can also use them at the event to encourage people to make contributions.
Tradeshow displays and exhibits
Any charitable organization or NPO needs to know about the different trade show displays and exhibits. There are many types available depending on your needs and what your sign company can offer. Some examples are pop-up displays, specialized banners, and multimedia displays.
As you might guess, these are specifically made to use at events.
They will work well if there is more than one exhibitor or organization present. You can really make your booth stand out.
But they can also be handy at events that focus on your cause.
How to get people to support your cause with design
The end goal is to create signs that create awareness and also get support for your cause. To achieve this, you need to look at the design of your signage as well.
Let’s look at some of the critical design elements and principles to keep in mind.
Use photos of people, animals, or whatever else you are supporting with your organization. This is a great way to catch your audience’s eye and will make the sign more memorable.
But most importantly, it will make it more impactful. The cause will feel more real to them.
Call to action
You need to let people know what actions they can take to support your nonprofit or charity. This should be a central consideration in your design. You can emphasize it by using bright colors, contrasts, bold letters, or large font sizes.
Having this will help improve the chances that they will not only see the sign but act on it too.
If a sponsor supports your organization, it is essential to say this on your signs. Doing this will help maintain a good relationship with them. But it will also lend legitimacy to your cause.
You can include this by saying “sponsored by” and then giving the logos of the business. It doesn’t have to be at the center of the sign. However, it shouldn’t be almost invisible either.
Working with a sign company
The success of your signs relies in large part on the work of your sign company. So you must establish a fruitful relationship with them. This is true for any business venture. But even more so for charities and NPO’s with limited resources.
You want to get it right the first time.
Hire the right company
Choosing a good sign company can mean the difference between overwhelming success and complete failure.
To help you decide, make a list of fabricators in your area. Contact them and find out as much as you can so that you can compare them.
A few things that you should consider are:
- Their pricing
- Range of products and services
- Track record and reviews
- Quality of their work
- Their manufacturing process
- How long it will take
In the end, it boils down to finding a company you trust to produce high-quality work at a reasonable price.
Discuss your options
You should always discuss all your options with the fabricator of your choice, especially when it comes to pricing. Be upfront from the start. Tell them that you are an NPO or charity and let them know what your budget is.
More likely than not, they will be able to work out what the most cost-effective solution will be.
You might be surprised to find that they might have packages that can help you save a few bucks.
A pro tip is to ask about the different materials they use. The fabricators might be able to print the same sign, of the same type at a lower cost depending on the material.
It can be helpful to always keep in mind who the experts are. Your sign company will know the industry much better than you do. So take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.
Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you might have. As long as you have chosen a suitable company, they should be able to give you sterling advice.
If their recommendations go against what you want, take a second before making your decision. You don’t want to dismiss their guidance offhand. They will usually have a good reason behind it that can help your organization.
Ask about sponsorships
We’ve already talked about the importance of getting a sponsor. What we didn’t mention was that you could often ask your sign company about this too. They may be willing to partially or fully sponsor your signage.
Or else they might at least give you some discounts on the signs. It never hurts to ask, so don’t miss this potential opportunity.
For a good cause
Hopefully, this guide will help you to create effective signs for your nonprofit or charitable organization. In the right hands, signage can help you increase awareness and also raise support. Don’t forget that they can be valuable as long-term advertisements as well as short-term for fundraisers.
Many people are surprised to find that advertising has a rich and fascinating history. You can trace its origins back to ancient times. But the industry of today is almost unrecognizable from the promotions of the past.
In this article, we are going to tell you all you need to know about the history of advertising. On top of this, we look at how signs developed as a part of this industry.
What is advertising?
Before we delve into its past, let’s take a look at what the word means.
Advertising is, in essence, a means of communicating with a specific audience. These are usually either current users or potential users of certain products and services. The goal is usually to influence people to take a particular action, most often to buy a product or service from a business.
The messages are called advertisements or ads for short and can come in a multitude of forms like:
- Printed signs
- Digital signs
- Audio clips
- Magazine spreads
It’s an exciting and ever-changing field. You never know what’s coming next. But thanks to this it can also get pretty complicated.
Nowadays, the industry consists of a variety of different types of companies and careers like copywriting to sign fabricators. Each works on different parts of the process of creating promotional materials.
To get a hold on the present and future of advertising, it can help to learn more about the history of advertising.
The early history of advertising
Once upon a time in a place far, far away…
Just kidding. But in a way, the story of how advertising started can almost sound like a myth or a legend.
We have to go back to ancient Egypt in 2000 BC. In the land of pyramids, people carved promotional materials into stone and steel. They also painted on walls and rock.
It soon evolved. Later on, papyrus became a popular advertising medium in Egypt. People often used it for public notices and political campaign.
These scrolls were also commonly used by the Romans and Greeks. Archaeologists have even found ancients Grecian urns with advertisements painted on them. Here they were also used for political messages as well as commercial entities like drinking establishments and fabric sellers.
Sometimes you have to see something to believe. Take a peek at these examples of old advertisements.
Throughout the centuries, people promoted different products and services verbally. It continued through the middle ages via town criers, etc.
Interestingly, advertising developed independently in different countries throughout the world. For example, people have found printed advertisements that date back to the Song dynasty in China.
The era of printed advertisements
Things dramatically changed with the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century. Not only with promotions but in all spheres of life. The press has undoubtedly turned out to be one of the most influential technological advancements.
Thanks to the spread of this invention, people gradually gained access to a way to reproduce written works more quickly and efficiently than ever before.
In the Western world, the first printed ad was created by William Caxton for a book in 1476 or 1477.
Over the next few centuries, printed advertisements became more and more prolific. When the 1700s came around, the first ad was published in a newspaper. Posters became widespread and were, for example, in the United States widely used for enlistment campaigns.
This brings us to the year 1840 when Volney Palmer founded the world’s first advertising agency. At the same time, big brands like Kodak began to look for ways to promote their products.
Yes, printed advertisements dominated this period, but this wasn’t the only popular platform. Electric signs were popping up all over the place. And we can’t forget the invention of the radio which opened eventually opened up a whole new medium for potential advertisements.
On top of this, the very first television advertisement was aired by NBC on 1 July 1941. And since then video adverts have formed a vital part of the advertiser’s repertoire in conjunction with more traditional platforms.
The ‘Golden Age’
In the end, all of these developments led to what has been called the Golden Age of advertising. It reached its peak in the years from the 1960s to the 1980s. We remember the era for its big personalities and flourishing ad agencies like the ones you can see in TV series like Mad Men.
Companies had to become more and more creative to compete and to stand out from the crowd.
Overall, one of the defining features of this period was how advertisers aimed at getting an emotional response. Brands wanted to create a connection with consumers. Therefore, brand identity became more important. And it continues to play a crucial part in any business.
People began to pay increasing attention to the different elements that make an ad successful. On top of this, agencies began to use psychological research and principles to help them improve their work.
Finally, we can begin to talk about contemporary advertisements. Once again, the whole industry was revolutionized. The internet added a whole new dimension to promotional materials.
Some of the most widely used online advertisements today are pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, keyword ads, banner ads, and mobile advertising. This is only to name a few.
A few of the essential innovations and principles of this period were:
- Targeted promotions: One of the ways to beat the competition is to direct your ads toward a particular audience. With social media sites, positioning, and so on you can increase your chances of reaching the specific people you need.
- Interactive adverts: Nowadays, one of the most effective ways to influence people is through interaction. Adding interactive elements to ads of any kind is a way for you to make it more memorable and influential.
- Research: Overall, more thought goes into creating adverts than ever before. User research is one of the essential parts of the whole process. Thanks to technological advancements, you can track everything from how many people see an ad to how much time they spend looking.
- Design: Advertisers use all of this research to create thoughtful and impactful promotions. The process of designing ads has been refined to an art form.
What counts as signs?
Now we can look at signs. Yes, signage is a vital aspect of advertising. It has been part of this industry from the very start. However, you should know they aren’t limited to this. There is much more to it.
When you boil it down to its essential elements, signage is a variety of symbols that you can use to communicate a message. Therefore, this means that signs can be almost anything that you can refer to something else.
But in this case, we are talking about signage products. These are visual displays that people use to convey information to your audience. Sometimes they are purely informative. On the other hand, you can use them to promote a business, product, service, etc. like the types we will focus on.
Fabricators can create products in an endless number of shapes and sizes. And you can use these on a variety of platforms.
Some of the critical types of signs you should know about are:
- LED message centers
- Yard signs
- Floor graphics
- Real estate signs
- Point of purchase displays
- Post and panel signs
Where did signs get started?
So where can we find the roots of signs?
The first types of signs that we know about are cave paintings. Archaeologists believe that people used them for ritual and symbolic purposes. However, one of the critical roles of these paintings was to communicate with other human groups.
For all the thousands of years since then, there have been examples throughout the world of different types of signs from Sumerian cuneiforms to Egyptian hieroglyphics. You can find ones for all kinds of purposes.
But it seems that modern signage started with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Most people were illiterate in those days. So they made signs that mainly featured images. They usually created these by painting pieces of stone or terracotta.
By then, people already used signs to promote and mark certain businesses like vendors, workshops, and even taverns. Besides this, they used wooden symbols like a cross to point out churches.
Growth of signage
As time progressed, people began to use signs for businesses and organizations increasingly. Overall, this is because trade, commerce, and wealth began to increase at a rapid pace. Therefore, there was already more competition for attracting customers.
As a matter of fact, King Richard II even passed an act in 1389 that every tavern needs to post a sign on its exterior. This was the first law regarding signage.
Over time people made the visuals on their boards more elaborate to catch potential customers’ eyes. In many ways, this trend is still continuing.
Evolution of signs
Similar to the huge leaps and bounds we saw in advertising in the 1800s, signage also kept on evolving. During this time, gaslighting and electric bulbs were invented. Once again, a whole new world of possibilities had opened up in the world of advertisements and signage.
People began to light up their signs with these lights. Finally, businesses could create boards that could be read at night. Therefore, as you might guess, these were particularly popular for companies like early cinemas, casinos, and restaurants which operated in the dark.
A few decades later, in 1915, George Claude patented the first neon lamp. One of the Packard car dealerships in the United States was the first company to commission a neon sign. For a long time, these types of illuminated signs dominated the industry.
Today, we can still see the importance of illuminated signage. It is still an indispensable form of advertising. Only the methods and process has changed.
Contemporary sign fabricators prefer to use LED bulbs. They are cost-, time-, and energy-efficient.
The next big thing was plastic. Nowadays, we can hardly imagine life without this material. But in the 1950s it was still brand new. Leo Hendrik Baekeland first invented it in 1907. However, it was several decades before it became more widespread.
Production sped up during the Industrial Revolution. The years around World War II led to huge improvements in plastics. So it was in the 50s that mass-produced goods really took off. Thankfully, manufacturers could now make signs much cheaper and more quickly.
These types of signs became visible wherever you went. Even now, most signs are still plastic. It is still cheap and easy to make.
The rise of digital signage
Life never stands still. At the end of the 20th century, something new was on the horizon, namely personal computers. They led to several significant changes in the sign industry.
Firstly, people began to develop software that you could use for graphic design. In other words, you could use it to create digital images to print on signs.
Secondly, programmers also began to code software to control signage. You could now manage your signs in ways never seen before by changing the images they displayed, changing the lighting, etc.
The earliest digital signs were scrolling marquees. Overall, they were less complex, and people used them to display less detailed images.
Now, the most widespread digital signs consist of LCD screens. The resolution, quality, and production speed of these are increasing by the day.
Who can say where the future will take us?
But if we keep an eye on current trends, we can make a good guess. Interactive signage is starting to pick up, especially with the introduction of touch screens. We can predict that these will become even more important.
Besides this, thanks to technological advancements, holograms are a reality. This will probably be one of the most significant signage products in a couple of years.
Signs of the future
The history of advertising shows us this is an industry that is always moving forward. And as a crucial part of this market, signs are too.
As a business owner, it’s essential to keep up to date to the latest developments. You must make sure to find the solution that best serves your company and its needs at the time.
If you want to learn more about signs, take a look at a glossary of sign definitions & the distinctive features of each as well as the importance of good signage & the psychology behind how it works.