Alongside your overall design aesthetic, the right exterior or interior signs can say a lot about a business. Along with your logo, your sign is the first thing that customers and clients will think of when they think of your company and the first thing they see when they walk past your place of business, whether that’s a shop or an office space or something entirely different.
Today, we’re looking at what different design aspects can communicate about your company, going aspect by aspect.
The lettering on your sign is probably the most important element, as it’s the centrepiece of the sign. There’s a huge variety of font styles to choose from – but it’s important to be careful with what font and overall lettering style you use!
To use a famous example, if you’ve been on the internet in the past few years you’ll most likely know that the infamous “comic sans” font found on Word is one you should always always avoid in documents. Aside from being pretty much a joke at this point, it’s definitely more “school display” than “serious business you’ll want to be a part of”. And you don’t want to accidently pick out a comic-sans of signage that will give entirely the wrong impression of your company. So make sure you think carefully about what your lettering!
Speaking more generally, here are a few more pointers to help you decide what lettering to use, based on what you want for the overall aesthetic of your company:
Serif vs Sans Serif
If you didn’t already know, serifs are the fancy name for the strokes that embellish certain fonts – and sans serif fonts are ones that go without the “flicky bits”. Both work well in different context and, like many other design choices, the type of typeface you choose will largely depend on what your business actually is.
If you want to communicate that you’re more serious, sans serif fonts will work perfectly. But if you’re a creative business looking to show that you have an exciting flair, or you want a softer edge to your sign, you should definitely pick out a font that has serif embellishments.
An additional bonus of serif fonts is that due to their “historical” look, they often communicate tradition and reliability – both things that many customers will be looking for.
Bold vs Italics (or both?)
Bold and italics also have similar effects to serif and sans serif, as when used alone the former adds gravitas to lettering and the latter often gives it a lighter air. But, when used together, they can both give your signage even more of a serious look, in addition to allowing the writing to stand out.
In addition to choosing what you want your font to look like overall, you can also contrast different parts of your text to create a completely new design. For example, you could have larger and smaller lettering below each other, or you could have a part in italics and a part in bold – or you could put contrasting parts of your lettering in entirely different fonts! Just be careful that you pick two fonts that go well together.
Much like fonts, the colours you choose can also have various connotations – and adding to our previous point of contrast, using different colour schemes in different combinations can also have a similar effect. If you need to catch up, here’s a basic guide to colour connotations for some of the most significant colours:
Black: Generally the words that spring to mind when this colour is used are ones such as dark, serious and/or sombre. Black will give your sign a certain gravitas that will be especially helpful for those in heavier trades.
Red: Going in the opposite direction, red is generally seen as a colour of passion and fire – as a result of this, it can also make a great contrast with black!
Yellow and orange: These two are also both well-known colour connotation, as they’re generally both associated with fun, energy and a more light-hearted feel. In its darker shades, orange can also be seen as a more “grounded” colour, associated with autumn in addition to creativity.
However, when they’re too bright both yellow and orange can look cheap and tacky, so be careful with the shade you pick!
Green: Commonly associated with Spring, green is generally associated with abundance, nature and new beginnings.
It also goes without saying that when picking out your colour scheme you should choose colours that actually look good together. Bring up the colours, mix and match and see what works and what truly reflects what you want the world to know about your business.
The shape and material of your sign is just as important as the lettering and colour scheme. There’s a multitude of options out there, including steel, glass and plastic – in this case, its mostly a case of matching it up to your previous design choices. Digging a little deeper, plastic tends to look fresh and new, whilst glass and steel tend to imply a more established and traditional outfit.
In terms of shape, the majority of signs are rectangular. Defying this convention can make for a unique design, but be careful you don’t stray too far from the norm and end up looking unprofessional.
You don’t have to add symbols to your logo or your signage and it’s something you should be careful with. Don’t go for too many fancy symbols (just one or two at most will do) and whatever you do pick out make sure it looks sleek, simple and most of all relevant to your business. Obviously placement also matters – most symbols work best either in a corner or at the end of your text (it also depends on your lettering type).
Overall, the right sign design can say a lot about your business in a variety of ways, from the connotations of the colours you choose to the background design and shape. And remember that a lot of the advice here can be applied to logo and website design too, especially the points on fonts and colours.