Pleasing Sign Design – 5 Basics

4th of November 2009 1

Pleasing Sign Design – 5 Basics

Rule 1: Give your letters space
Having your letters too close to the edge of the sign always looks bad. Many beginners make this mistake in an effort to fit larger letters in. You can mostly use your eyes to adjust the spacing. It’s often tempting to squeeze extra letters in, especially when you have a fixed width board to work with. A good solution is to reduce the letter size.

Rule 2: Keep your borders in proportion
Keep the border width and distance from the edge proportional to the size of the sign. Larger signs should have wider borders spaced further from the edge of the sign. You need to leave at least 7.5mm from the edge of the sign to the edge of any border. Remember, a border is decoration and can be overdone. Lots of signs may look better without a border at all.

Rule 3: Use contrast
Choose high contrast colours for your lettering. Blue on green for example is very hard to read. Choose gold or silver letters on a black or dark green sign and black or dark blue letters on cream or white.

Rule 4: Don’t clutter your sign
Cluttered or over busy signs are irritating to look at. The human eye needs something to focus on. If all the elements of the sign are vying for attention, your design will look bad. Try to have as few elements as possible. Different shaped signs can take different amounts of elements. Oval signs can easily have a house number, name and a picture. Curved rectangles look best with just a name and picture and rectangular signs look the best with only writing on them.

Rule 5: Less space between rows
There should be more space around the text than between the rows of words. This improves the readability and focus of the sign.

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1 great comment(s) for this post

  1. Mr. Decal 4:39 pm 31/01 of 2009

    Again I like your post below is a similar concern about decals.

    The decal is a most effective and low cost tool to assist in creating and keeping the consumer aware of the brand. There is a wrong way to use decals and there is a right way. What is the wrong way to employ a decal as a way to remind the consumer of the subliminal message that is in situ in the consumer’s conscience?

    One of the wrong ways to use a decal; when the marketing team chooses to ignore marketing 101 in the acronym K.I.S.S. most of us know this abbreviated message and its implications to advertising. The design of the decal is ambiguous and difficult to read usually because trying to covey too much information. The decal isn’t any different than any other advertising medium, like the radio’s sound bite or the television’s one lasting image; the decal must communicate one lasting image of the brand. This is why logos are employed the logo is a simple message and creates brand awareness by using an image in stead of words.

    Another way to employ a decal the wrong way; is to design a decal for inside the window of a retail store or a motor vehicle behind the heavy tinting that is on most windows of retail establishments and motor vehicles making the decal hard to see.

    Choosing the wrong color combinations in designing a decal is another bad choice. If a decalcomania colors are too similar the message will be lost, because the intended audience can not see the message. Example of this if a decals background is black and the logo or text message is dark blue the intended audience will not be able to discern the branding message.

    This dilemma of packing too much information into a message also occurs in television commercials. We all have viewed the commercial that is so funny and entertaining, but when it is over; we ask others in the audience what were they advertising? The experts who design commercials, print ads and decals, sometimes get lost in their own left brains and the artist creativity becomes more important that the product, so the end result the art is advertised not the brand.

    The correct way to use decals as advertising is to make the message simple, easily viewed, and readable. Sounds easy does it not? Not so easy it seems, because many designs used in decals that may work in print media, but may not communicate effectively when employing a decal.

    One example of a decal that effectively communicates brand awareness is the decal designed by the security company ADT®. ADT® decals and yard security sign uses the logo image predominately as their message and only one color. This design is a simple message, that has continuity with their media and print advertising, the decal can be seen because they are always placed on the outside of windows, and the color combination does not obscure their message.

    The decal used correctly is a powerful tool in the toolbox of a marketing team, because of two factors. The first is the cost of the decalcomania, which is very low; the seconded is the message duration, counted in years not minutes or months. The ubiquitous decal if designed correctly will communicate brand awareness long after broadcast and print media, complete its task, the decal will keep reminding the consumer of your brand as a 24-hour a day silent sales person.

    Doug Bryant
    The Decal Factory – The best decals, signs, labels, posters, stickers and banners in the industry for business and hobby. Toll Free – (800) 369-5331


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