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The importance of a well designed sign

Have you ever seen a sign that didn’t look quite right–maybe a competitor’s sign or maybe your own? Something wasn’t quite right but you couldn’t put your finger on what it was?

The other day I received a call from someone who was referred by one of my customers. He was interested in discussing some truck door lettering for his business because he wasn’t particularly happy with his current lettering. We briefly discussed the benefits of a well designed business sign and the importance of sign design. I made an appointment to meet with him at his business to discuss some ideas about what he had in mind. When he gave me the business address, it was on a busy main street within a few miles of my home, but I couldn’t recall seeing a business in this area. When I went to meet with him the following day, I drove right past his business–granted it was snowing that day–but I missed an 8’x 8′ business sign not more than 50 yards from the road. The lettering on the sign was too large and crowded which made everything glob together; unnecessary embellishments further distracted and confused the message. lt was almost impossible to read from the parking lot. It was not a well designed sign.

Fortunately this extreme case is not common but illegible signs do happen. With the advent of computer aided sign programs, jamming a line of copy into too small of an area is only a keystroke away. Bigger lettering is not easier to read when compressed beyond a certain point. And computer programs still don’t understand the balance of proper letter kerning. Grouping text and using font weight contrast is another way to to help the eye follow the flow of the sign. I haven’t even mentioned color harmony and contrast that help break up the sign areas and make a more readable sign.

Most sign designers are competent and understand the basic rules involved in proper legible sign design, but occasionally someone a little light on experience will get behind the keyboard and you end up with one of those signs that just doesn’t feel or look right. I’ve just mentioned a few of the basic elements of good sign design here; there is much more involved in an exceptional sign. Make sure you have an experienced sign designer work with you when you consider your new signage.

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