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While on a recent trip, my wife and I decided to get together for dinner with some old friends. Our friends made the arrangements for us to all meet at a local restaurant.

Our GPS told us that we "had arrived" at our destination but we had difficulty finding the restaurant because the text on their sign was dimly lit and was in a frilly font that was difficult to read. We literally needed to stop right in front of the restaurant and stare at the sign to understood what it said (and when we did stare at it, all I could notice was it's poor condition. Occupational hazard  of being in the sign business :).

Based on what I saw on the outside of the business, we normally would have driven away, but since we were meeting friends there, we went in. Turns out, the meal was outstanding and we had a great time. A few days later, I asked my wife if she could recall the name of the restaurant and neither of us could remember. Nowhere in that restaurant did they reinforce their name. Not in the hostess area, not on the wall, not on the menus and not even on the check.

Afterwards, I couldn't help but think about how much business the poor signage was costing that business owner. As a result, I'd like to share with you the some of the biggest signage mistakes we see small business owners make.
 5 biggest signage mistakes small business owners make and how to avoid them
MISTAKE #1: Putting too much information on a sign.

Often, prospective customers will come in to my shop and want their name, website, phone number and tagline. Then they want 3 different fonts, 4 different colors, etc. Ugh! 

Remember, it's a SIGN, not a sales brochure. The purpose of a well-designed sign is to increase the public's awareness of your business. Passers-by should be able to read it from a distance, so typically just your name and what you do will suffice. (Example; La Bella Italian Restaurant)

On service or delivery vehicles, you have a little more room for information such as phone # and website but resist the urge to list absolutely everything you do. Remember that a moving vehicle with too much information can't be read. The old adage "Less is More" certainly applies to signage.
MISTAKE #2: Not Reinforcing your Brand.
As I related in the story from my recent trip, reinforcing your brand will cause customers to not be able to recall (and refer) your business to their friends. Even as a small business, you should strive to have the same exact fonts, colors and layout on your sign, business cards, brochures, menus, website, delivery vehicles and even your email signature tag. You want for prospective customers to see your brand and immediately know it's you.
MISTAKE #3: Not keeping your signs in good condition.
Subconsciously, we make "value judgements" that affect our decisions. Most of the time we don't even realize that we're doing it. We see something that (on the surface) doesn't meet up with our perceived expectations and make a snap decision to move on. If you were travelling, were really hungry and pulled up to this restaurant and saw this sign, would you go in? Me neither.
Make sure your sign is visible, easy to read and in good condition. A sign with flickering lights (or outages) will deliver a message that either you don't care or can't afford to fix it. Either way, it's costing you business!
MISTAKE #4: Skimping on Material to Save Money
Occasionally, new business start-ups will tell me that to get a highly visible location, they had to spend more than expected on rent and now only have limited funds for their sign... or existing business owners will say that "things are slow" and they want to draw renewed interest to their location but don't want to spend a lot of money on the sign.

Here's a picture I took on my recent trip. Take a look at this sign.
Most of the other tenants in this plaza had signs that were on two lines that had their name and what type of business it was. There was more than ample room on the building so I can only surmise that the business owner decided that to save money, he'd go with a sign that did not have the name of the business AND even opted to abbreviate what type of business it was.
Skimping on materials for signage is often a short sighted answer. It can save you money in the short term but will definitely cost you more in maintenance, repairs and lost opportunity.
MISTAKE #5: Underestimating the impact that signage can have on your business.

Just as sage marketeers and website developers will tell you that you should coordinate your website content with social media platforms so they "complement" each other.
We take our 30+ years of marketing experience to help develop custom signage SYSTEMS that coordinate and complement your marketing efforts such as:
  • Site surveys and traffic analysis to determine the most effective type and placement of signs
  • Permanent wall and ground signs
  • Temporary street signs, banners, feather flags and A-frames to capture attention
  • Directional signs to lead them to your door
  • Interior wayfinding signs to direct them
  • Point of sale signs to highlight sale items
  • Vehicle lettering and graphics for your service and delivery vehicles.
Whether you have a retail, medical, professional, property management business or even a sole proprietor in the trades, we can help you build your brand by developing an effective signage system that is customized to your needs.

For a free site-survey and traffic analysis, give us a call today at 203-840-0644 or........

Whether you need banners, vehicle graphics, point-of-sale displays, trade show displays, or large commercial signage, we have it covered. Contact us to start your design process now, and begin increasing your customer base.


Ray McClelland
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