You don’t have to be a genius or a specialist to know that the field of communications is a rapidly changing one. We use forms of communication today that didn’t even exist in our grandparents’ era (or our own parents’ earlier lives, for that matter).
Yes, the way that we communicate is often subject to trends—cultural elements that experience dramatic shifts in popularity over time. So, let’s take a look at changes that may affect digital signage and explore ways you can tap into these changes for your business, nonprofit, or organization.
1 – “Smarter” signage
There’s a lot of talk these days about artificial intelligence (AI). But exactly what artificial intelligence is—that’s not always well understood. When it comes to digital signage, artificial intelligence may have a role to play.
However, it’s important to realize that this does not mean you should anticipate human-like digital billboards that are equipped to take over the world. No, not all. If you’re thinking full-size cutout signs are going to evolve into humanoid robots and take over the world, then we can see why you might panic. But that’s not actually what we’re talking about.
Instead, we’re talking about what Lamasa Tech meant when they wrote, “AI will decide whether certain content should be shown to a specific customer after analysing many databases and indicators. It will analyse a person’s goal when he or she is in front of the screen and determine the appropriate advertisement for that particular moment.”
And we also find the same idea in this statement from Digital Signage Today, “Luckily better analytics are now on the way thanks to new technologies like AI. Deployers can now use AI to analyze historical customer data to deliver more effective, personalized content.”
Pull those two ideas together and what you do you get? The idea of leveraging computing power to help spread the right message at the right time. In other words—let computers do what computers do best to help signs do what signs do best. Head over to Digital Signage Today to learn 4 ways AI is transforming digital signage.
Tap into it
If this is the wave of the future, then you surely want to be a part of it, right? However, you might be wondering how to go about taking AI-inspired action for your own digital signage. Here are a few ideas.
- Educate yourself – Learn all you can about artificial intelligence and how it may relate to your business or organization.
- Talk with others – Begin polling others in your industry for advice and ideas about using artificial intelligence. Are they tapping into it already for their business or organization? If so, how are they using it and what kind of results are they seeing?
- Consult the experts – Talking with experts in the field could get you started on an effective partnership—you know your business and experts know theirs. Find a way to combine these two deep wells of knowledge to take your business to the next level.
In this vein, you can always think of hiring a consultant. But if money is tight, consider reaching out to a local university to learn if a partnership is a possibility. The school may have information technology students who would be happy to use your real-world business as part of their final project—a win for both of you.
2 – Better-looking signage
Now, let’s pivot and look at a trend that isn’t necessarily backed up by external data. Instead, it’s a personal perspective on what we think should be a trend in digital signage. Will it grow in popularity? We certainly hope so!
Why do so many digital signs look B-grade? Sure, you’ve seen them as you pass by schools, churches, fire stations, and business. Signs that are simply lackluster or visually unappealing. We can call it the “scourge of ugly digital signs.”
So just what are we talking about here? Well, for one thing, digital signs with garish colors can sometimes look less-than. Otherworldly turquoise on a flaming yellow background—not the greatest idea. Radiant ruby and glowing evergreen—those colors may be a little more appropriate for a holiday display than for year-round digital messages.
Of course, dead pixels are another culprit. So are fonts and sizes of text that are difficult to read. And, certainly, another bad strategy is digitizing any marketing image—text, photos, or a combination—that was poorly designed to begin with. Let’s face it, not all visuals are created equal. And there can be a vast chasm between “good enough” marketing visuals and stellar ones.
Tap into the power of well-designed signage
Begin your journey toward a top-level brand image by using only the best visuals to represent your company, nonprofit, or organization. Here are several ways to get started.
Ask yourself what you want people to think about your company, not just now but also five years from now. If you want to be viewed as professional, expert, and trustworthy, craft your signage with those values in mind.
Sure, some signs are cheaper than others. But remember that in most industries, you get what you pay for.
Get expert assistance
Experts can weigh in on more than sign construction and installation. Some even offer design services. Ask to see any expert’s portfolio so you know if partnership will be a good fit.
The internet offers a vast array of resources for learning about how you can best reach your customers. Try out free classes about marketing, advertising, and graphic design. Plus, read all you can. And watch videos too. Take a look at our Tips & Tricks To Designing Eye Catching Business Signs and browse 10 Professional Sign Fonts + The Meanings Behind Them.
Digital signs are one of the newest kids on the block. If you start looking into advertising, you will hear about these products everywhere. And for good reasons. These boards highlight many of the best features of signage.
Whenever you’re making any type of sign, you must weigh the pros and cons and decide what works for you. So before you start creating, read below for the most important benefits of using digital signage for your business.
1 – Plenty of content
Digital signs are fantastic tools for communication. You can use them to communicate with both your customers and staff effectively.
Standard printed signs hold a central position in promotional and other types of signage. However, they are generally limited to one static design that you choose to print on the surface. The same doesn’t hold for digital signs.
Their medium allows you to use content in a variety of formats. They include the following:
- Social media feeds
Sometimes you need more than just a static image to get your message across. You can say much more by combining the different formats.
All in all, digital signs are one of the most customizable products in the industry, although note that different ones have different capabilities.
2 – Grabbing attention
Overall, digital signs are brilliant tools to catch a potential customer’s eye. There is a sense of novelty that comes inherent in these products that people are drawn to.
Aside from this, the screens usually score very highly on visual appeal. The colors are often much more vibrant and bright than they would be on printed signs. So much so that you can’t help noticing.
Moreover, because you have so many choices when it comes to content and its format, you have plenty of ways to draw attention. Movement and animations can be particularly useful. Our eyes can quickly spot moving objects and changes in the environment.
These effects can help showcase the sign as a whole. On the other hand, you can also use it to highlight specific items. For example, you can use moving graphics to point to your star product.
3 – More environmentally friendly than ever
Do you want your business to be eco-friendly?
In this case, digital signs could be the way to go.
First, you can use these products to replace much of the paper communication in your business. Just one sheet of A4 paper requires 10 liters of water.
Second, thanks to continuous innovations, digital signs are becoming greener. LED’s are one of the biggest roleplayers. They are mostly more energy-efficient than compact fluorescent, or incandescent light sources, or LCD screens.
Third, many of the components in digital signs can be recycled if disposed of properly. Recyclable materials include glass, plastic, and electronics. Not only does this reduce waste, but it reduces the need to produce new materials.
Significantly, these aren’t the only ways digital signs can be environmentally friendly.
4 – Save on replacement costs
One downside of standard printed signs is that it can be very challenging and even impossible to make specific changes. Your hands will often be tied, particularly if you want it to look as good as before.
However, making changes is often unavoidable. There are some reasons why it’s critical to update your signs.
For example, here are a few factors that would necessitate alterations to your sign:
- Changes to your contact information
- Showcasing new products and services
- Faded graphics
These are details that can make or break a sign. Therefore, if you can’t change them, you’ll need to replace the entire sign eventually.
But this change can be significantly lessened with digital signs. While digital signs will still need to be replaced, this is usually only the case when they’ve been damaged, or the technology is too outdated.
In all other cases, you can make the changes by simply changing the design of your digital sign. Thanks to the use of software, you can upload new content for the board whenever you want.
Doing this will not only save you some money but probably some time and effort too. Depending on the type, you can update your digital signs in a matter of hours where in other cases, it can take weeks.
Another pro of this is that you can quickly analyze the success of your advertising strategies and adapt your signs accordingly.
Although digital signs often need quite a steep initial investment, they are often more cost-effective in the end.
5 – Control remotely
All types of digital signs need to be operated using some kind of software. This will allow you to perform a variety of actions, including uploading content, scheduling, and monitoring.
Luckily, due to the growth in digital signage, there’s a massive range of programs to choose from to suit your needs.
Nowadays, most software has some kind of cloud-based content management system. This feature is a real game-changer. It gives you the ability to remotely control a single or even an entire network of screens.
If you have several signs, you can keep the design consistent on each of them at the same time. Or show different content on each of them.
Overall, this can be super convenient and will help you save time, money, and effort.
6 – Daily scheduling
One of the key benefits of digital signs is that, in general, they are very versatile and flexible. As we’ve said, this can help you make annual or irregular updates. Aside from this, many businesses use these products to make much more regular changes.
You can change the content several times a day if you want to or even several times a minute. Thanks to this, you can display more content than you could with a standard sign and make it more relevant.
For example, a school can use one of their electronic boards to greet students and their parents in the morning and display drop off rules. Then in the afternoon, they can put up reminders for extramural events or schedule changes for the next day.
Furthermore, you don’t have to do this manually each time. If you use rule-based software, you can program the signs to change the content automatically at pre-programmed times.
7 – Time-sensitive content
Everyone loves signs with a seasonal message. However, most businesses simply can’t afford or go through the hassle needed to do this. Once again, digital signs stand out in this regard. They are the ideal products if you want to display time-sensitive content.
Besides seasonal greetings, there are many more reasons to take advantage of digital signs’ flexibility. Some of the crucial ones are:
- Limited sales or promotions
- Temporary changes to your operating hours
- New products or services
- Upcoming events
- Contextual content like congratulating your local sports team on a win
Typically, if you use this feature well, you can improve your business by keeping your message fresh, and clients and staff informed.
8 – Boost in sales
Digital signage has been shown to boost sales by up to 30 to 32%. Of course, an increase in sales results in a rise in profits, which is excellent for any business.
The impact can be further enhanced if you use them in-store or onsite. Marketers have found that these signs can be brilliant for encouraging impulse buys.
One way to do this is to draw customers’ attention to important messages, like promotions, while they are trying to make purchasing decisions. Significantly, 8 out of 10 impulse purchases are made in brick and mortar stores and most of these are at, or close to, checkout points.
Don’t forget that many of the other benefits of digital signs play into this aspect as well.
9 – Increased recall and retention rate
In some cases, you want signs to encourage clients to take immediate action. However, many times this won’t be your goal. Besides grabbing attention, you also want people to remember the sign and its content.
Digital signage can be extremely handy here. One study on electronic billboards showed that 83% of people recalled at least one ad they were shown after 30 days. On top of this, 65% of them could recall two ads, and 47% were able to recall three.
Therefore, it’s a good way to encourage new customers to visit your store later, to talk about your ad with their friends, or come back again. And much, much more.
10 – Interactive solutions
Technology can open up whole new worlds of possibilities. This applies to digital signs as well. With them, you can get your creative juices flowing and build new experiences for your clients.
No doubt, one of the critical benefits of digital signage is that you could design them with interaction in mind.
People often enjoy using technology in-store, making for an interesting experience. Plus, you can delegate tasks to these boards and therefore help the flow of your business and relieve some of your staff’s workload.
For instance, you can use signage for:
- Self-service checkout
- Product information
- Gift card sales or refills
- Wayfinding systems
- Self-service applications
- Product locators
- Gift registries
- Checking prices
- Product requests and orders
- For queuing tickets
- Self-service check-in
- Customer service surveys
Ultimately you can use them to bring some of the convenience of online shopping to your office or storefront.
11 – Improved visibility
One potential drawback of standard printed signs is the extent of their visibility. Unfortunately, if you don’t illuminate them, they will only be readable during the day. Clearly, this means that you can lose out on a lot of exposure.
The amount of time you lose increases even more during winter, when the days are shorter.
Digital signs literally shine in this respect. Typically, manufacturers produce the screens with LCDs, LEDs, or plasma cells, which light up the display.
Therefore, you will be able to see the content more clearly throughout the night and day. Undoubtedly, this will improve the exposure of the sign and increase the chance of reaching potential clients.
Best of all, with high-quality software, you can control and regulate the brightness of the sign. You could even use sensors to adjust it based on current light conditions automatically.
For example, the lighter it is outside, the brighter you need to set the screen for optimal visibility and vice versa.
12 – Long lines, no problem
Did you know that one of the key ways businesses are using digital signs is lower perceived wait times?
We’re sure you’ve come across one of these screens at your local doctor’s office showing news headlines or the weather. This is no accident.
Long wait times are a big-no-no for many customers and can certainly cause you to lose business. Potential clients might simply walk out the door and take their business elsewhere.
In one survey, 69% of consumers said that long checkout lines were the most irritating part of shopping.
Unfortunately, queues are often unavoidable. That’s why it’s a great idea to provide a distraction while customers wait. By using digital signs, you can keep your customers occupied and happy while they stand in line. And in the end, the perceived wait time would have felt much shorter and have been a pleasant experience.
13 – Additional opportunities
There seems to be no end to the possibilities with digital signs. Generally, you have much more options to experiment with. One of these is that you can potentially use them to generate a bit of income from third-party advertisers.
In short, the third-party company pays you a fee to display their ads on your signs. The money can help cover the initial investment and running costs.
This arrangement usually works best in the following situations:
- Shopping center
- Office park
- Health center
You could even work with other small business owners to commission a shared sign dividing the costs. In this case, everybody usually wins.
Make signs work for you
Digital signs, and signs in general, can revolutionize the way you promote your business. These premium products, in particular, allow you much more freedom and possibilities and can be an incredibly powerful communication tool.
But even the best signs need great designs to be effective. That’s why it can be useful to check out how to create LED message signs that convey the right message as well as electronic signs for schools: a list of dos & don’ts.
Just what is the difference between a custom capsule and channel letters? As is often the case, it’s easier to demonstrate than to describe. So, let’s take a quick look at the two different sign types.
First, let’s take a look at a great example of a custom capsule for a T-Shirt company.
Notice how the sign is composed of a mostly flat sign face and the content is for the most part flush with that face?
Now take a look at this channel letter job to illustrate the difference between the two.
See how the letters are 3D and not at all flush with a flat sign face? Now that you’re getting a feel for the difference, let’s take a quick moment to note that the custom capsule vs channel letters question doesn’t require an all or nothing answer. In fact, you can actually have both at the same time.
A hybrid—the best of both worlds
That’s right, you can have channel letters combined with a custom capsule. While you can choose all one type or all the other, sometimes you might decide that selecting both is actually the best way to get your message across. Case in point? Advantage Financial Cash Advance—take a look at how our job for them represents the best of both worlds when it comes to custom capsules and channel letters.
Custom capsule or channel letters?
So, which is a better choice for your business, a custom capsule or channel letters? Or does your best bet stem from some combination of the two? Either way, you may find yourself wondering how you should choose among the options. Let’s explore some factors to help aid your decision making.
You may want to choose a custom capsule if…
Here are some scenarios that might mean a custom capsule makes sense for you. Be sure to talk it out with your sign specialist to get an expert’s perspective tailored to your particular situation.
1 – You have a lot of words and content
Yes, some companies have names with just one word. You saw one above when we profiled Huf as an example of a business with a channel letter sign. However, plenty of companies need more than one word to reflect what their business does and offers. Take, for instance, Blue Apron Baking Company.
They’re a perfect example of a company with plenty to say on their sign—and they provide a great glimpse into part of the rationale behind custom capsules, too. Custom capsules offer additional space for your message without taking up all the space that channel letters could. Plus in this case, the smaller font used on the custom capsule provides a great balance to the sign. It’s quite clear the message wouldn’t have looked nearly this good constructed from only channel letters in only one size.
2 – You’re working with a particular budget
Custom capsules can actually help keep your sign cost on budget. Take the case of Kim’s Alterations. Aiming to stay within the set budget, our sign team put channel letters and a custom capsule together to reconcile cost and aesthetic considerations all at once.
3 – Your sign needs contrast
While uniformity is often a great thing, sometimes you need a little contrast to provide eye-catching appeal. In the case of signs, you can provide contrast by varying font type, sign color, or text size. And custom capsules can help you make this happen. For instance, check out how both the phone number and the word Canal are set off in this combination sign for Canal Pharmacy.
4 – You’re aiming to make the best use of your space
Imagine you want to fit all of your sign content in the limited space you have, but you’re worried about overfilling. You don’t want viewers to feel like they’re being overwhelmed with information. Plus, you know you need to keep the overall appearance visually appealing instead of information overloading. Check out how Star Nails and their custom capsule combined with channel letters fits two words into the available space by stacking one word on top of the other. There’s even plenty of open space leftover on all sides, too.
5 – You want to say it all—in every color, too
Some companies want their signs to be more than their name alone. And we could see that above with some of the combination custom capsule and channel letter signs. Additional words and even a logo could be natural additions to a sign.
While combinations are great, sometimes a custom capsule alone can fulfill all of a company’s building sign needs. Take, for instance, the first sign we showed you earlier. For I’m Just Say’n a custom capsule was the perfect match for their needs—providing plenty of space for all of their words and enough flexibility to accommodate the wide range of colors.
A sign for every need
When it comes to the question of custom capsule vs channel letters, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, take stock of your own needs, preferences, and budget and discuss your options with a sign professional. And don’t forget to check out our Tips & Tricks To Designing Eye Catching Business Signs. Plus, you can also begin collecting ideas for displaying your sign’s text with our 10 Professional Sign Fonts + The Meanings Behind Them.
Undoubtedly, the cost is one of the key concerns when it comes to creating signs for your business. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Those money headaches can be a thing of the past with a bit of planning and preparation.
If you’re worried about the financial side of signage, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll guide you through critical aspects of calculating a budget with several examples to make it clear.
Why are sign budgets so important?
All types of marketing can potentially be a bottomless pit. Typically, there seems to be no end of products, projects, and strategies you can try to promote your business, products, or services. However, most owners won’t be able to afford it all. Nor is it always necessary.
So don’t blow all your money on signs. Yes, they can work miracles for your advertising and hence your business. But their impact doesn’t necessarily scale up with their price. It’s all about using and choosing them strategically.
No one will benefit if you spend more on your signs than you would get in return. Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on the average return on investment of each product. In short, this is a measure of the efficiency of any investment.
Generally, in the case of signs, it refers to the amount of exposure or business you generate as a result of each one.
Another reason to work out a detailed budget is that it helps you with your long term planning. Now you will be able to keep track of exactly how much you spend during a period on which products.
You can then assess your expenditure and make informed decisions next time you need to commission signs. This will clearly help you plan ahead and save some cash for the purpose.
Overall, one of the primary reasons to work with a budget is to reduce risk. Each time you forego this blueprint, you’re taking a leap of faith. You might accidentally spend more than you can afford to.
Unfortunately, this could result in you not being able to pay your bills or having to cut costs elsewhere. Particularly if you run a small business, you want to avoid this at all costs.
Calculating a sign budget
Above all else, don’t just pick a number out of the blue. Generally, this will defeat the purpose. Instead, you should take some time to calculate the figures carefully. Doing this could potentially help you cut down on costs, but make sure you still get decent products at the end.
It’s all about getting your money’s worth.
There are a handful of factors you need to include in your considerations and calculations.
Percentage of revenue
First, you should decide how much of your turnover you can or want to spend on marketing. On average small business owners spend around 1% while larger companies often spend between 7% to 11%. The costs scale up according to the business’ size and industry.
Remember that although they are critical, signs are only one part of marketing. You also need to allocate funds for social media marketing, events, and so on. Therefore, you should make sure that you divide this number proportionately.
The longevity of the sign or campaign
Besides your marketing cost, you should decide how long you would ideally use the sign. Do you want to use it mainly for seasonal content? Or do you want to use it for years to come?
If you’re going to replace it several times a year, your budget should accommodate this. In cases like this, you want to spend less on each individual product. But for long-lasting signs, you should typically consider the higher quality and higher-priced options.
Types of products
Another key factor is what signs you want to create and how many of each. All of the different products are available at different price ranges.
Usually, there will be some back and forth on this issue. You might need to adjust your ideas based on the money you have available and vice versa.
Content and design
Preferably, you want your signs to be unique and stand out from the crowd. This way, you can really get a one-up on your competitors. But sometimes these customizations come at a cost. The final price of a product could be affected by its design, for example, the color scheme.
So feel free to ask your sign company about this. Once you have more information, you can work this into your budget and decide on the best course of action.
Doing the math
All in all, then, you need to take multiple considerations into account to work out a suitable budget.
In the end, it will be the sum total of the following:
- Fabrication costs
- Possible design fees
- Installation costs
- Rent for an advertising space
- Any other additional services
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to allow for some flexibility in the case of unforeseen expenses.
Keep in mind that sign companies differ in the ways they calculate and structure their prices.
What can you get for your budget?
In the end, a budget can help you simplify things. But if you are still new to the sign industry, it will undoubtedly be more challenging to come up with a realistic one. Moreover, it could be quite a challenge to envision the results.
So to give you some guidance, here are examples of the types of signs we offer at different price ranges. However, keep in mind that you can get the same kind of product (such as banners) at different price ranges depending on the design, size, and material.
$100 – $400
Don’t fear if you only have a relatively small budget to work with. There are plenty of options for signs that you can commission between the price of $100 and $400.
For instance, for $100, we made these full-color vehicle magnets. The clients were two students from Avondale High School who were members of the homecoming court. They were looking for a way to arrive at the homecoming parade in style.
But what if you are looking for an advertisement that you can send home with your client?
One of the best options for this is fridge magnets. These nifty cards can double up as business cards as they are the perfect size for a wallet. For $200, we printed some for the owner of I Buy Houses… All Cash.
You could also invest in a banner at this price range. Just check out this sign for Ealain Ceime Irish Dance School that cost $300. They took the banner with them to any events in which they participated and even carried it in parades.
$500 – $900
In the intermediate range, you can typically create signs that are larger, more durable, and with more design options. But for the most part, you won’t be getting a sign with electronic or illuminated features.
If you have a slightly bigger budget, you could opt for vehicle graphics like these instead of magnetic signs. This sign was commissioned by Arctic Air, Inc. in Royal Oak. For $650, we applied vinyl to the sides and the back of the van in a minimalist yet eye-catching color scheme.
If you want a sign for your storefront instead of your vehicle, window graphics can be the ideal choice. One example is this stylish promotion of Breitling watches that we installed for Lucido Jewelers.
What you are seeing is Window Perf, which is 50% vinyl and 50% holes. Thanks to the way the light reflects, you only see a solid image from outside. And see nothing at all from inside.
In this price range, you’ll find more complex and three-dimensional signs. On top of this, it is also more likely that you will be able to afford illuminated options.
This next example is a fun take on old-school neon signs while using modern energy-efficient LED bulbs. To achieve this, we used the business’ existing channel letters and transformed them into a complete product. This cost UDetroit $1000.
The owner of Nafas Fitness was looking for exterior signs for their building.
Using their logo and other details that they provided, we came up with this design. The result was a dimensional routed board made from a metal composite Dibond, which is known for its durability. It cost $2700.
Aperam, a global player in the steel industry, commissioned this set of dimensional letters for $5000. We fabricated each figure using 18 gauge and 22 gauge steel with a satin finish.
Afterward, we printed and adhered vinyl graphic overlays to the board to create that fantastic color spectrum.
$6,000 – $10,000
Now we’re getting to the more premium products. Once again, these products are a step up in terms of several factors. It includes their size, content, durability, and the technology used too.
At this budget, you could also get quite an extensive package of different signs.
Generally, in this price bracket, you get a much more extensive range of customization options to choose from. For example, take a look at these channel letters for the small family microbrewery, Witch’s Hat Brewing Company.
You can easily see that this sign is a pretty high-end product that was made with high-quality materials, including LED bulbs.
Finally, we will now look at an example of how you can commission more than one sign in this price bracket. Mor-Tech Design, Inc was looking for ground signs for two of their new physical locations.
They wanted the boards to feature a relatively consistent design. Therefore, we fabricated one 4′(h) x 8′(w) x 9″(d) double-sided monument sign and another 3′(h) x 6′(w) x 9″(d) single-sided monument sign. Both signs were made from an aluminum extrusion kit and Dibond and without lighting.
In total, the two signs cost them $8000.
The next example is another type of board with lighting, which is known as an illuminated sign cabinet.
We fabricated one of these for Vito Anthony Homes in Rochester Hills for $10,000. They wanted the board to be a ground unit similar to a monument sign. And they wanted to use the product for years to come. To meet their needs, we built the sign with replaceable panels so that they could switch out the names of their tenants.
Tips on sticking to your guns
The following are several tips that can help you stick to your budget:
- Communicate your budget clearly and unambiguously with your sign company from the start. Let them know if there is any leeway or not. And whether it’s negotiable at all. Doing this will get them on board to assist you in sticking with your plan.
- Ask the sign company if they have any promotions or sales that you’re eligible for. This could be, for example, a seasonal special, or discounts on bulk or price cuts on certain products. You might just be able to save a buck or two.
- Check whether you’ll have to pay any additional fees. In some cases, you might have to pay for the installation, labor, etc. If you don’t include this, it can completely break your budget later on.
- Investigate the prices of different types of signs that you can use for the same purpose. For example, if you are looking for a building sign, you could use channel letters, dimensional letters, or lightboxes, to name a few.
Overall, the most crucial part is to choose and hire a professional and reputable sign company. At Signarama, we value your budget as much as you do and will do everything we can to help you stick to it.
New year, new signage
2020 is finally here. The new year is often the ideal time to turn a leaf on your signage and other advertising strategies. Kick things off right by commissioning new signs for your business while sticking to your budget.
But remember that winter is in full swing now. Believe it or not, this can take a toll on your signage. So check out how to protect your signs in cold, harsh weather and keep them in tip-top shape.
Whether you’re a restaurant, cafe, pizzeria, or other foodservice establishment, you may be looking for ways to fill your space with holiday cheer. Naturally, your menu boards are one possible canvas. That’s why we’re going to explore the intersection of the holidays and your business’ menu boards.
First up—some tips for advertising your holiday specials for any type of menu board. Then, we’ll dig into the different type of menu boards you might be using this holiday season (and all year round).
Play with puns for your holiday specials
That’s right, whatever your restaurant’s special is for the season, see if you can come up with a fun, catchy name or way to describe it. Even something that will make your customers laugh. You can actually get the whole team in on this by holding a contest for the best names for holiday specials.
Put on a festive air
You can use great colors and even strings of lights to make your menu boards advertise your specials in a sparkly and colorful way. For instance, a string of battery-powered lights could help draw attention to the seasonal treat advertised on your A-frame sidewalk sign.
Match with your vibe
Of course, as much as we might recommend a joyous, festive look, do remember to link your restaurant’s overall look with your signage. So, if you mostly have a black and white aesthetic (with metal like wrought iron, perhaps), then you’ll want to make selections accordingly.
Now let’s take a look at some of the menu boards you might be using this holiday season.
Static printed menu boards
For this type of board, while you don’t change the messaging on the board itself, you can swap the boards in and out. At least, you can if you choose a menu board with a snap frame. This means, that for your holiday specials, you’ll likely need a new board face that you can place in the frame. And the advantage to that is that it forces you to be intentional and to think in advance.
Reach out to your sign specialist ahead of time to get the ball rolling. Of course, it may be you’re only aiming to make your menu board look special and you aren’t actually changing your menu offerings. In that case, you may not need a whole new board. Instead, try dressing up what you have.
Fill in the board’s open spaces with festive extras. Attach snowflakes, winter scenes, or sparkles. Or simply twine bubble lights around the board’s frame. (Note that you should always ensure that your additions won’t damage your sign face. Check with your specialist if you have any doubts.)
Dry erase menu boards
Naturally, when your menu board is designed with change in mind, you’ll have a lot of leeway for your holiday specials. However, what you will need is someone with a steady hand and an artistic eye to make your menu board shine.
First step—choose the colors you’ll use and purchase the appropriate markers. If you have a lot of board space to fill, be sure to buy enough markers to complete the project. Plus, you’ll want enough to make changes or touch-ups as necessary.
There are so many ways you could go with a dry erase menu board. You could take advantage of the base of your menu boards to color in a winter scene—complete with snowflake swirls and a snow-dusted outdoor vista. Or, you could simply use holiday colors to rewrite your usual offerings on the board. Holiday-themed questions that patrons can answer to win extra punches on their loyalty cards could also take their places on the board.
Magnetic menu boards
Magnetic menu boards offer you a good chance to change your menu. Plus, you may be able to swap out the board’s design with something more appropriate to the holidays. First, start by deciding what your holiday menu items will be and creating the corresponding magnetic strips. Once you know what your holiday offerings are, try laying the corresponding magnets out on a nearby table to mastermind the layout.
Now comes the fun part—adding holiday-themed magnets. Select magnets that match with your establishment’s theme. And arrange the layout so that your holiday magnets promote cohesiveness and holiday cheer simultaneously. As we mentioned with static printed menu boards, you may want to think in advance for these boards. That way, you’ll have time to choose and purchase holiday-themed additions.
Digital screen menu boards
If you’re looking for a holiday menu board that allows for a lot of change, a digital screen menu board is just the thing. Plus, adding video to your menu board can even be an option with a digital board. So, if you already have a holiday marketing reel designed for your Facebook page, you may be able to reuse it on your signage.
For a cozy coffee shop, create a video with gently falling snowflakes to truly evoke some seasonal warmth. And don’t forget to feature one of your signature offerings prominently in the video, too.
If you’re a cafe, customizing your menu boards for the holidays could begin with high-quality photos of your food alongside holiday props. However, some restaurants may choose to keep food photos off the menu board—opting instead to use specific colors, fonts, and non-photo images to display holiday cheer.
Whatever type of menu signage you have, plan your holiday changes in advance. If you’ll need to make purchases to get your menu boards prepared, that gives you time to do so. But even if you don’t have to buy anything, planning ahead is still a good idea. It gives you time to roll out the changes by the proper date, without a stressful last-minute scramble. Need more seasonal tips for your signs? Check out How To Make Your Signage Seasonal Without Spending A Lot Of Money.
Billboards are a premium signage product. They are one of the most sought-after options, thanks to their high impact and improved visibility. However, the effectiveness of signs is heavily dependent on their design.
The content and appearance can make or break the sign. You don’t want a high-end product like billboards to fall short of their full potential. So take a look at our guide to creating a sign that will stand miles above the competition.
Whenever you’re planning on creating a sign, there is a process that you should follow. Following these steps increases the chances that your boards will pack a punch and be a success. Arguably, this is even more important with high investment products like billboards.
You don’t necessarily need to work through them in a specific order. Plus, you might need to repeat some of them more than once. But you should try to complete each one at some time.
1 – First, you should do some research to make the best out of your sign. To do this, you should find out more about your target audience, competition, and advertising techniques.
2 – Second, you should also research the sign-making companies in your area. You want to get some information like quotes and then compare them to each other. Check that you’re going to get the bang for your buck.
3 – Next, you need to work out the design for the billboard. This includes deciding on the content, text formatting, images or graphics, color schemes, and more. Take your time with this step. There might be a lot of back and forth, particularly if you are consulting an expert on this.
4 – Even if you’re happy with the design, you should ask for a final proof. Images always look different once you’ve printed it. Therefore, to avoid wasting money and time later on, ask for a mock-up from your sign company.
5 – Once everything has been double-checked, you can move on with the process. Sit back and relax while the manufacturers do all the hard work.
6 – Finally, all that’s left is to do is to install the sign. You can set up some signage by yourself. But we strongly recommend that you hire the sign making company or other experts to mount a billboard. These signs are simply too heavy and large to handle without expertise and equipment.
A good story
Billboards are essentially a type of visual storytelling. You are trying to tell people more about your brand, your products, or your services. Why are you doing this?
Well, because it’s easier to remember a story than pure facts. You are aiming to make your signs memorable and have them leave an impression with your audience. The ability to do this is what often distinguishes an average sign from a fantastic one.
Don’t just list the ingredients on your pizzas on the sign. Instead, show them how delicious they are and how people enjoy eating them with their friends and families.
Overall, with billboards, you want to convey your message mainly using images. They grab attention, are easy on the eyes, and take much less time to understand. Often with billboards, the words are just the icing on the top.
In case you want to make your sign even more impactful, try to get at people’s funny bone. If you can make people smile, they will undoubtedly be able to recall your ad better than that of your competition.
Location, location, location
Choosing a good location is crucial for any type of sign. But dare we say, it’s even more so with billboards. These products were designed specifically for outdoor advertising. In particular, sign companies produce them to place over freeways or other high traffic roads. For this reason, they are big, bold, and highly visible.
Generally, freeways are the ideal locations for billboards. Did you know that American travelers, on average, spend more than 18 hours on the road per week?
Besides this, 71% of travelers look at messages next to the roadside. These statistics are great news for anyone interested in creating a billboard.
Do a bit of research on the roads in your area or leading to your town or city. Choose a roadway that is fairly busy. Preferably, pick one that is often congested up with traffic. Luckily, there are plenty of companies that have frames to rent for billboards.
If you want to, you can even use several signs to build up some hype. Work out intervals like installing boards every five miles, reminding them of your business.
Call to action
According to this study, billboards have a significant impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions.
Three-quarters of viewers go shopping on their way home from work. And more than two-thirds decide what to buy while they drive. All these figures are quite impressive and show how influential billboards can be.
You need to take advantage of this potential impact. These signs will give you the chance to really increase your profits and sales.
One way you can do this is to include a clear call-to-action (CTA) on your signs. The phrase refers to a statement that is constructed to elicit a response from the audience. Through this, marketers are trying to convince people to act on what they’ve seen, like buying the advertised product.
Nowadays, this marketing strategy is incredibly popular for digital signs. But it can work just as well for billboards too.
Good ideas for a call-to-action on a billboard are:
- Let people know that you are on social media and encourage them to take a look.
- Give directions to your storefront, offices, or physical location.
- Ask them to call a specific number or use a specific email address.
- Direct your audience toward your website.
When you are using a CTA, you might find these tips helpful:
- Choose your words carefully
- Make sure the instructions are easy to perform
- Keep it simple and easy to understand
- Focus on trigger words
- Create a sense of urgency
- Highlight and make the CTA visible
Say it in less
One thing to always keep in mind when designing billboards is that people are going to see the signs on the go. Most of them will be driving cars on their way to work. Unfortunately, this means many viewers will only be able to spare a glance.
Ideally, you want them to understand the message on the board in 5 to 10 seconds. Typically, this will be how much time people can spend looking at the billboard.
Remember that this doesn’t mean you will have their undivided attention for that time. More likely than not, they will be looking at the road or distracted by other things along the way.
So this means you want to keep your message short, very short. Generally, you want to stick to a maximum of seven words for your main point. Don’t worry. This might sound too little. But the good news is that it forces you to be creative.
Aside from this, you will probably need to include some essential info like contact details. These don’t count towards the word limit. However, try to prioritize what you include.
If you include more content, you will only be wasting some of your time and effort. But not only that, the additional ink and colors that the manufacturers use to print it can mean more money too.
The chances are that viewers will give up trying to understand a message that is too long and complicated and look at someone else’s board that is clear and concise instead.
Play with textured and 3D elements
One way to make your billboard unique is to play around with textured or 3D elements on the sign. If you do this well, it’s one surefire way to create signs that are interesting, exciting, and memorable.
Due to the size, these elements typically add a touch of novelty and even humor to the design. As an example, for a construction company’s advertisement, it could be as simple as adding bricks or objects that resemble them.
It’s a good idea to use these types of features to show what your company is all about.
But you don’t necessarily have to add an actual 3D object to the design. Clever use of the environment around the sign and cutouts can create an illusion of depth that can work brilliantly.
Go big or go home
Compared to other signs, billboards are massive. The size is one factor that makes them so visible and eye-catching. There are generally three types.
Bulletins are usually 14’ x 48’ while posters are 10 ’x 22’. And junior posters are the smallest at 6’x12’.
Depending on your requirements, you can fit a few standard sheets together if you want to.
But no matter the size, you need to adjust the content to those dimensions. You can’t put teeny, tiny letters or graphics on these gigantic boards.
So if you want your billboard to hold its own against the competition, you need to go big and bold. The rule applies to both the text and images.
Here are some general guidelines for text size on billboards:
- 1 Foot letter height
- Readable at 120 ft
- It takes 1.25 seconds to decipher at 60 mph
- 2 Feet letter height
- Readable at 240 ft
- It takes 2.5 seconds to decipher at 60 mph
- 3 Feet letter height
- Readable at 360 ft
- It takes 4 seconds to decipher at 60 mph
- 4 Feet letter height
- Readable at 480 ft
- It takes 5.25 seconds to decipher at 60 mph
Avoid using several small images on the sign. Instead, pick one sizeable primary picture for the design. Not everyone uses images for billboards and people can create striking boards using only text. But a well-chosen image can take the sign that extra mile.
Just remember that the resolution needs to be pretty high for images of these dimensions.
Visibility is always a critical factor in sign design. Because billboards are typically placed next to the roadside, people will drive by it at all times of the day and night.
You need to make sure that there are already lights mounted on the frame for the board. Or else make sure that you install suitable lighting. Usually, people fit them so that they protrude overhead or underneath the sign so that the whole sign is illuminated.
Lights won’t just make your signs easier to see. They can make your sign more appealing too. For instance, if advertising a car, you might mount LEDs where the headlights would be. So there are opportunities to get creative with this.
Similarly to other kinds of signs, the use of color is a critical component of the design. Effective use of colors can be a brilliant way to get your billboard to stand out.
There are two main routes you can go.
First, you can use a very bright and colorful palette. Generally, doing this will make your billboard stand out from its surroundings. Many of these bright colors are inherently appealing to most people like a bright blue or green.
But as with other types of signs, you don’t want to use too many different shades lest it might turn your design into a bit of a mess. Instead, pick two to five colors that will be the main ones.
Alternatively, you can use more muted shades as long as you use contrast well. The colors should stand out from one another without clashing like black on white.
Whatever palette you decide to go with, always keep the colors for your branding in mind. Plus, consider how the colors could affect the mood of your viewers and how they interpret the sign. For instance, people often associate yellow with summer and feelings of happiness.
Don’t be afraid to be unique
Whenever you’re creating media for your business, focus on your brand and identity. You need to bring that across. But you should also keep contemporaries at the back of your mind. Competition is often stiff, and advertising is a vital strategy to hold your head above water.
As you can see with billboards, you must brag about the features that make your company unique. By showcasing this, you can add some creative sparks to your signage.
There are only a few weeks left until winter and best of all, Christmas. It’s a time of transition where the world around us changes in many ways. But what does this mean for your marketing and your signage in particular?
Signs are all about communicating with potential clients and existing customers. As a business owner, you should use all the opportunities you can to connect with your audience. To help you stay on top of your advertising, check out our tips for designing signs for winter.
The challenges of winter
Before we jump into the solutions, let’s first define the problem so that you know what you’re dealing with. Afterward, you will be in a better position to counteract them. So, what are the difficulties you are dealing with when designing signs for winter?
The slow season
First, many industries thrive in some seasons and stagnate in others. Sometimes this is because people only really use the products or services in certain types of weather. Otherwise, it could be the general off-season for tourism in the region.
In winter, everyone might be fleeing the town or city for warmer weather. Unfortunately, this can leave seasonal businesses in the lurch. For example, companies that often struggle in winter are landscapers, pool cleaning services, ice cream stores, plant nurseries.
Many small businesses simply close their doors for the off-season. But in some cases, you could be able to take steps to turn things around.
Harsh and cold weather
One of the critical reasons why winter can be a slow season is the cold and harsh weather. Of course, the impact of this is enhanced in areas like Michigan, where winter can get rough.
Aside from this, did you know that it can affect your signage too? Certain conditions can damage and wear down your sign.
You need to keep this in mind when you’re designing the products.
Issues with visibility
Multiple weather conditions that are common during winter can decrease outdoor visibility. So, they can impact how well your audience can read your signs or whether they can see them at all. It’s crucial that you plan to combat this with your design.
Conditions to watch out for are:
- Ice storms
But undoubtedly winter isn’t the off-season for everyone. It is the time when snow removal services, Christmas decor stores, ski stores, and more get the time to shine.
If you are in one of these industries, you need to leap to take advantage of this.
That’s why competition for seasonal products and services can be fierce. Therefore, you need to find ways to stand out from the pack.
Tips on designing signs for winter
In general, you want to keep these challenges in mind when you’re designing your signs for winter. To do this, you need to consider different elements of the design, like colors, fonts, and graphics.
These hints will be particularly handy if you’re designing new signs to be put up during or before winter. But you can also use them to change and update your existing signage, which is especially hassle-free if you are using digital signs.
#1 Go bright and bold
We’ve mentioned that visibility can be significantly decreased during winter. One way to compensate for this is by choosing the colors on your signs wisely. Preferably, you shouldn’t use just any palettes. Instead, you should use colors that have been optimized for winter.
You want to use shades that stand out against the snow and the other conditions. In a winter wonderland, the environment is typically coated in white and other muted colors.
The critical phrase here is contrast. In other words, you should use colors that are strikingly different. That’s why you want to stick with dark and bright colors on your designs mainly.
You don’t want to limit your palette to only darker hues. But instead, use these strategically to make your signs more noticeable.
#2 Push the right products and services
Clearly, a central decision in designing signs is selecting the content. You have to decide carefully what the purpose of the sign is and what you want to communicate. One of the key goals is certainly advertising.
Generally, you should try to sell products or services that work all year round or even ones that are specifically tailored for winter. For example, offer a spiced hot chocolate drink or heater repairs.
Once you’ve set this in place, make sure that you brag about it in your advertisements. You want to let your community know that you’re getting into the winter and festive spirit too.
You should make these products a central part of your signage. Highlight them using text, colors, graphics, and layout.
#3 Seasonal greetings
Show your customers that you care by adding a seasonal greeting to your design. Add a small message that will warm their hearts. By doing this, you can encourage new customers to support your business.
You can keep it simple by adding “Happy Holidays” or something similar to the start of your text.
#4 Winter images and graphics
Typically, graphics and images are a crucial part of any signage. They aren’t equally vital for all sign types. Images are usually less critical for informational and directional products but more so for promotional ones.
You can refresh your designs by adding some winter-themed graphics.
Ideas of images that you can use are:
- Snow, snowflakes, and ice
- Santa Clause themed graphics
- Christmas trees
- Fires and fireplaces
- Warm and cozy clothing
- Skis and sleds
- Holly, mistletoe, and pinecones
- Steaming hot drinks like cocoa
- Decor items like garlands, ornaments, and string lights
#5 Winter sports for the win
All in all, you should try to think of any seasonal event, activity, or theme that can help you make your designs relevant. In the US, you can’t do this without considering sports. It’s one of those things that brings people together and gets them excited.
So it’s a fantastic idea to add some references to winter sports in your signs. You can do this by adding graphics, symbols, and showing support for your local team.
For example, you can embrace sports like:
- Ice hockey
- Ice skating
#6 Light it up
Twinkling lights are synonymous with Christmas cheer. Just think of light shows, string lights, and flickering candles. So one way to show your business’s festive spirit is to include some customized lighting on your signs.
Aside from this, illumination plays a critical role in making signage more visible even in the worst weather conditions. For this purpose, you want to choose lights that are brighter, more intense, and illuminates the majority of the sign.
A few lighting solutions to consider are:
- Sticking some temporary strip lights to your signs
- Using LED’s
- Incorporate an electronic message center
- Hanging string lights over your signage
- Adjust your lighting for shorter days
- Or use illuminated products like lightboxes, digital signs, or electronic message boards.
Many of these are more permanent design features. But others can potentially work as quick, easy, and temporary enhancements.
It’s essential that you also check all your existing lighting and replacing lights and bulbs that are beginning to dim.
#7 Craft your palettes
Next, you must choose and create a color palette that is ideally suited for either winter and the holidays or both. Have some fun and get creative with the colors that you use. You aren’t stuck only using red and green to show festive cheer.
One option is to use wintery colors. In this case, we’re specifically talking about themes that match the shades in the natural environment. First, you can use icy colors like icy blue and grey. Second, you can use earthy palettes like brown, orange, and dark grey.
Another option is to go with warm colors. Doing this will help you to create pleasant associations with your business. They will be drawn to the warmth. Colors like red and orange will work well. Dark jewel tones are also an incredibly popular choice.
Nowadays, winter and the holidays are often associated with a bit of sparkle and shine. Therefore, you can incorporate glitter and metallic colors into your designs.
Plus, you can evoke a winter wonderland look and feel by using appropriate palettes that include white, light grey, cream, and pastels like light blue and peach.
If you want more ideas, take a look at these winter-themed color palettes.
#8 Wintery fonts
No matter the type of sign, using seasonal fonts can be the perfect way to increase their relevance.
Luckily, there is a huge variety of ready-made fonts available online that you can use. You might need to pay for some of them. But others are on-the-house.
The following are fonts that you should keep in mind:
#9 Festive touches
You don’t necessarily have to go all out with your winter and Christmas themed designs. Instead, including tiny touches can make all the difference.
One fun idea for adding some holiday flair to your signs is by temporarily adding festive touches to your logo. You don’t have to change it completely, and you can revert to the old one afterward.
However, it can work well to modify it by, for example, adding Christmassy or wintery colors, graphics like snowflakes and sprigs of holly, and so on.
#10 Choosing the best signs for winter
Overall, when you’re putting up new signs in winter or just before it, you should be careful about the ones you choose. Unfortunately, not all signage stands up as well as others during cold and harsh weather.
Yes, your sign making company can produce most signs with weatherproof materials and other protective measures. But some types will still work better than others.
A few of the options that we recommend are:
- Any illuminated signs like channel letters, LED signs, or lightboxes.
- Digital signs such as electronic message boards so that you can easily change the content and because they are great at drawing attention.
- All the different kinds of indoor signs.
#11 Weatherproof materials
Additionally, you need to consider your hardware as part of the design process. Preferably, you only want to use materials that can withstand the cold and harsh weather during winter.
Generally, you should ask your sign company for help and advice.
If you are given the option to choose the material for your signage, we recommend the following weather-resistant materials:
- Stainless steel
#12 Protective measures
Besides choosing durable materials, there are other protective measures that you can try. These can keep your signs safe, working, and in the best possible shape.
Tips include but aren’t limited to:
- Securely fasten and mount all your signage
- Apply water repellent to your signs
- Mount your signage out of the wind.
- Regularly clean any dirt or debris from the boards.
- Move vulnerable signs indoors when a storm starts.
- Prevent moisture build-up
#13 Seasonal promotions
Seasonal offers, sales, and events are a great way to spice up your business during the slow season. These limited promotions work really well to entice customers to buy your products or services.
Therefore, it’s important that you advertise them on your signage. You can include related information and images in the design.
24/7/365- Make every season count
‘Tis the season to connect. Design your signs or update your old ones to show your community that you are getting ready for winter with them. Plus, you can show them that you are as excited about the festive celebrations as they are.
You can get much more out of your boards by designing them with year-long use in mind and following some of our tips. If you want to add more lighting to your signs to achieve this, take a look at three fun ways to use illuminated box signs + design tips.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a significant landmark in the fight for equal access for people with disabilities. It helps to improve the lives of millions of Americans every single day and has inspired other countries and international activists to follow suit. Business owners are responsible for making sure that their company and its assets are compliant with the relevant standards and regulations. Here is our guide to help you understand the accessible signage guidelines and implement them in your designs.
The lowdown on accessible signage guidelines
The history of the struggle for equality for individuals with disabilities is a fascinating one.
On 12 March 1990, disability rights activists descended on Washington. They demanded the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which would give equal rights to people with disabilities.
The critical event of the day was called the Capitol Crawl, when 60 activists abandoned their wheelchairs and mobility devices. They then began crawling the 83 stone steps up to the U.S. Capitol Building.
Now, the protest is celebrated as a critical contribution that helped to push President George H.W. Bush to sign the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The ADA standards outline regulations about the construction of buildings and the designs for signs too.
These include measures like constructing accessible parking, entrances, paths of travel and restrooms, and signs that allow people with disabilities to access spaces independently and safely.
Why should I make my signs accessible?
We can only truly see the world through our own eyes. Unfortunately, this means that people without disabilities may overlook accessibility as they don’t need it themselves. They may also be unaware of the challenges facing individuals with disabilities.
It’s important to understand that there are severe consequences if you don’t make sure that you are compliant with accessible signage guidelines.
First, compliance is a legal requirement. The ADA is a federal law. However, you should be aware that your state or municipality might have additional regulations regarding accessibility. If you do not comply, you could be saddled with a hefty fine and be required to become compliant.
Second, by making your signs compliant, you are making them accessible to a much wider audience. You might be losing existing and potential new customers all the time and not even know it because they have difficulty using your services.
Lastly, if your signs are not accessible, you could be alienating some of your staff. This can have detrimental effects on their mental health and also on their job performance and productivity.
As a result, staying ADA compliant will both help your community and be beneficial for your business.
Which signs must be accessible?
ADA signs are necessary for all the areas of your business that the employees or your staff have access to.
In general, signs that need to be compliant should include but aren’t limited to the following:
- All directional signs such as ones pointing to your reception.
- Signage that you use to identify permanently dedicated rooms that will not change function, such as a restroom, lunchroom, storage room, conference room, restroom, or closet.
- All informational signs like “Employees Only.”
- Signs highlighting the location of building floors, stairwells, and all exit levels.
- Restroom signs.
- The different types of overhead signs like “Stairs.”
Design tips for accessible signs
Reading the entire American Disabilities Act can be quite challenging. So to help you out, here are some tips on complying with the main accessible signage guidelines.
You’ll notice that many of these standards are centered around assisting people with visual impairments to understand your signs.
These regulations apply for interior and exterior signage.
One of the critical requirements for ADA signs is to choose a suitable color palette. Using some color combinations can make it far more difficult to distinguish and understand the content of the board.
One reason that this happens is that the colors are too similar. Another is that shades that clash too much can blur. Besides this, some visual impairments like color blindness impact how people distinguish between colors.
Examples of “bad” combinations are red/green, purple/blue, orange/yellow, or two hues of any one color.
Therefore, you need to use contrasting colors on ADA signs. Typically, these types of palettes are best for any kind of sign.
You can use a color wheel to help you decide on the perfect combination by choosing complementary shades. These are pairs that sit opposite each other on the circle.
Of course, a quick and easy way to create contrast is to use light and dark colors. This will help distinguish between the different elements of the design. For example, the background can be a dark blue while the text and symbol are white.
Say no to glare
Another feature that is notorious for making signs challenging to understand is glare. This refers to the difficulty of seeing in the presence of bright light. In the case of signage, it usually happens when sunlight or artificial lighting is reflected off its surface.
To make your signs accessible, you need to ask your sign company to coat the surface with a non-glare finish. Remember that it has to cover both the background and the characters or other content.
The board might look less glossy and shiny. But at least it will be visible.
Also, be mindful of the position of the sun or artificial lights relative to the sign.
Working with text
For compliancy, your ADA signs must include braille as well as tactile (raised) letters.
The braille needs to be Grade 2, also known as shorthand braille. This system incorporates 189 contractions and short-form words. Because the braille is so condensed, it is ideal for the limited amount of space on signs.
The shapes of the dots need to rounded or domed. And they should be lower case except if the words are proper nouns, initials, acronyms, the first word of a sentence, or if the letters are part of a room number.
Besides this, you need to place the braille below the text with a 3/8 inch clearance on each side.
On the other hand, tactile lettering must be 1/32 inch raised capital letters.
Only the best fonts
Next, you have to choose the right typeface for your accessible signs. There is an ever-growing variety of beautiful and exciting fonts to choose from. However, there are a few specific guidelines that you need to follow to be compliant.
Thankfully, the regulations are relatively straightforward to apply:
- The font needs to be sans serif.
- All of the characters have to be uppercase.
- Don’t use styles that are oblique, italic, or too condensed. Neither should you use ones that are ornamental, script, or unusual.
- You should choose a typeface with characters where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
- The text height has to be between ⅝ inch and 2 inches.
Overall, applying these standards will make the content of your designs more comfortable to read.
So, a few popular fonts that are ideal are:
- Franklin Gothic
- Arial Bold
- Avenir Medium
- Lucida Demibold
Use specific spacing
You’re not done with the text yet. Aside from the above, you should check that you use approved spacing protocols.
You should measure the distance between the two closest points of adjacent tactile characters. In short, the spacing between them should be a minimum of ⅛ inches. The guideline excludes word spaces.
On top of this, characters should be at least ⅜ inch away from borders or other decorative elements.
Symbols all the way
Symbols are fantastic tools in communication. You can use them to make any sign easier to understand.
Your ADA signs must contain the applicable ISA symbols and other relevant graphics. Which you need might depend on local requirements and those for your specific type of company.
However, everyone needs to use the following pictograms:
- Ear to symbolize the availability of an assistive listening device
- Phone symbol with sound waves for volume control phone
- A keyboard, representing a text telephone
Other recommended symbols are ones for:
- Different types of restrooms
- Stair accessibility
- Safety signs like ones for a fire extinguisher
You need to design the signs so that the pictograms sits alone on a 6-inch high background area. Provide text descriptions for signs with a symbol to label rooms or spaces. But signage with pictograms that provide additional information about a room don’t require text.
Place tactile text directly underneath the graphic and braille underneath that.
We all want to make our signs exciting and pleasing to the eye. But that shouldn’t always be your top priority. In terms of ADA signs, it is all about accessibility and sticking to regulations.
That’s why you want to be incredibly picky about the context of your signage. In this case, you should only include the content that is necessary. Usually, this will only include the tactile text, braille text, and the relevant symbols.
Perhaps, you could also incorporate a border around the edges to improve the overall visibility. But in most cases, that’s all.
So, in the end, your design is going to be clear and clutter-free.
You can save all the extras for your other signage. If you want to incorporate more personality, use a combination of compliant signs and others, which allow you to get creative while still providing equal access.
Get the installation right
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the design only refers to the content and appearance of the sign. The process applies to all the aspects of creating your signage. One of these is how they are mounted.
According to the ADA, there are specific requirements you need to use when installing accessible signage.
Usually, you need to place signs that identify rooms next to the relevant door. It should be mounted between 48 inches, measured from the bottom of the lowest raised character, and 60 inches, measured from the bottom of the highest, from the ground.
You can use these same height guidelines for most types of ADA signs unless the relevant regulations state otherwise.
The deal with parking signs
Generally, the standards apply in more or less the same way to all types of signs. However, it is a different case altogether for accessible parking signs. These are signs that you usually mount outdoors to indicate ADA parking spaces.
Each one has to include the International Symbol of Accessibility, which is the wheelchair symbol. And you need to mount it a minimum of 60 inches from the floor so that your visitors can see it.
If you have spots that are dedicated for vans, you should incorporate the text “Van Accessible” into the design.
Asking the pros
There is much to be learned about making signs the right way. Besides ADA compliance, you need to worry about other factors, like the effectiveness of the sign as well. No wonder designing signage can be a daunting task.
Luckily there are experts out there who know all the ins and outs of the industry. Consult with them about the designs for all the signs you want to print. They can help make sure they are up to standard.
Many professional companies have ready-made options for you, as well. If you are in a hurry and just need to get a few basics signs, you could choose one from their collection.
Following these tips is the first step to making sure you are compliant with accessible signage guidelines. But as we’ve said, one of the most crucial is contacting your local sign making company and asking their advice. They can help you make your designs a reality.
This isn’t the only essential information that you need to know when creating signage for your business. If you want to know more, take a look at the restaurant owner’s guide to meeting safety requirements for signs and designing signs for colorblind viewers.