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5 Ideas to Make Your Signage as Effective as Possible

William (Bill) Hayes

Signs are incredibly powerful for businesses. There is real evidence to back up that claim, such as a survey of 160 businesses on the topic of the impact of signs. How can businesses specifically make signage as effective as possible, though? Here are a few ideas:


Idea #1 – Focus on information.


You want to communicate certain things with the sign. The business name is usually a staple. You may also want to include your logo and possibly your website address, phone number, or physical address, suggests Anna Windermere in the Houston Chronicle. Furthermore, your sign could let people know about events, sales or promotions. You might also use indoor signage to give information such as the refund policy or featured products.


Idea #2 – Be to-the-point with text, and be highly readable.


Another point made by Windemere is that you do not have much space on a sign. A viewer might only get a quick glance at it. You want the message, fundamentally, to be clear and fast. Putting excessive text on a sign that people will view long-range is a common mistake to avoid. Large amounts of text simply take longer to read. This point is particularly key with outdoor signage.


Regarding that specific aspect of clarity and readability, Intuit recommends using a combination of uppercase and lower-case letters to make it easier for people to process the text. Also, think about the typeface: it should be highly readable before it is decorative. Use a single font.


Idea #3 – Look at the data on text size for signage.


You obviously want to get the best possible impact, and that means looking at data from those who study this topic. Here are some numbers on maximum readability distance and best impact distance, based on certain size letters, according to the nonprofit United States Sign Council (per public relations firm Identity):


  • 3-inch letters: maximum 100 feet, optimal 30 feet;
  • 4-inch letters: maximum 150 feet, optimal 40 feet;
  • 6-inch letters: maximum 200 feet, optimal 60 feet;
  • 8-inch letters: maximum 350 feet, optimal 80 feet;
  • 9-inch letters: maximum 400 feet, optimal 90 feet;
  • 10-inch letters: maximum 450 feet, optimal 100 feet;
  • 12-inch letters: maximum 525 feet, optimal 120 feet;
  • 15-inch letters: maximum 630 feet, optimal 150 feet;
  • 18-inch letters: maximum 750 feet, optimal 180 feet;
  • 24-inch letters: maximum 1000 feet, optimal 240 feet;
  • 30-inch letters: maximum 1250 feet, optimal 300 feet;
  • 36-inch letters: maximum 1500 feet, optimal 360 feet;
  • 42-inch letters: maximum 1750 feet, optimal 420 feet.


Idea #4 – Zero in on color.

The way you approach color is one of the primary design components that helps determine your general impact. Color could be core to your brand identity.


Incredibly, research has demonstrated that 80% of recognition of a trademarked image is related to its color, noted Jason Fell in Entrepreneur. Fell also mentioned that you want to be cautious about using colors that seem too trendy, since you don't want the sign to look dated in 5 or 10 years.


There is some debate on colors, but there is substantial color psychology research to suggest the red color will increase excitement while blue will make people feel calmer. That is very basic, though. These descriptors of color, featured elsewhere in Entrepreneur, may be more helpful in thinking about emotions related to colors:


  • Red – excitement, youth, and boldness
  • Orange – cheerfulness and confidence
  • Yellow – optimism, clarity, and warmth
  • Green – peacefulness, growth, and health
  • Blue – Trust, dependability, and strength
  • Purple – creativity, imagination, and wisdom
  • None (grey or black/white) – balance, neutrality, and calm.


Idea #5 – Know the science on contrast of background and text.


To get more granular about the issues of text and color, it is important to consider color combinations that will allow your message to be seen. Here are 15 combinations of colors for lettering and background that were tested in a study conducted by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (also highlighted by Identity), in order of ascending legibility score from worst to best performance:


15. white text / red background

14. red text / yellow background

13. yellow text / red background

12. red text / white background

11. yellow text / brown background

10. brown text / white background

9. brown text / yellow background

8. white text / brown background

7. white text / green background

6. blue text / yellow background

5. green text / white background

4. white text / blue background

3. yellow text / black background

2. black text / white background

1. black text / yellow background.




Are you wanting to implement signage that is as effective as possible for your business? Hopefully the above advice will help you in making decisions related to the sign. However, you also fundamentally need a manufacturer that makes high-quality signs.


At Signdealz, we stand behind the quality of every sign we produce. Get a quote.

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William (Bill) Hayes
Written by

William (Bill) Hayes

William (Bill) Hayes, with over 20 years of experience, is deeply committed to assisting small and medium-sized businesses in developing effective B2B advertising strategies. His expertise primarily focuses on integrating on-premise signage solutions with traditional advertising methods. At Signdealz, Hayes leads the charge in innovating advertising tactics aimed at SMEs, concentrating on generating efficient, lead-producing mechanisms that outperform competitors in both immediacy and cost-effectiveness. He spends much of his time working directly with small business owners, guiding them in evaluating locations, advertising strategies, and the necessary systems to attract customers to physical sites. Utilizing a tested network of partners, Hayes plays a crucial role in facilitating the nationwide distribution of signage, underscoring his dedication to enhancing the visibility and growth of businesses across various sectors.

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