Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Makes An Effective Retail Sign?

The Details Count

Back in the olden days (as our kids would say), signage was simple and usually hand-drawn. But these days, signs and the marketing plan in which they are based upon, are beyond sophisticated. Companies spend a great deal of money for marketing companies to tell them what type of branding to use and why it works.

For many years signs were not given a lot of design consideration and were probably considered one of the more disposable aspects of a retail store. Businesses have now realized that customers are the lifeblood of their success, and as such, spend a great deal of time focusing on the customer experience in their stores.

Effective Components of Retail Signage

Universally, there are a handful of signage components, if appropriately included, which will ensure the success of retail signage.

1. Legibility: Stores spend a great deal of planning time looking at the layout of their store, the traffic patterns and isles. It is important for the directional signage to be easy to read. Curly fonts are fun..in the right setting...maybe a small boutique. But when you need to find the isle for a specific product in a large store, you want quick, legible and easy-to-read signs.

2. Dimensional: A sign/shape that can be measured (such as height or depth). Flat signs will most always do the job of providing information, but a dimensional sign invites more attention, usually in a fun or interesting way. Seeing large dimensional letters on a wall to name a store department are far more attention-getting than flat letters. And with the myriad of designs and materials available, dimensional signs/letters can be produced to fit the company's theme.

3. Materials: The world of signage is dynamic and always changing, as are the products and materials we use to produce them. Never before have there been so many design options to choose from in finding just the right sign options. There are sign systems which can provide a universal look, feel and function to a store layout. There are also many other creative materials from basic to upscale and a lot of in-between to choose from.

4. Lighting: There was a time that the only type of lighting a store considered, was the fluorescent overhead lighting used to light the whole shopping floor footprint. Lighting has now become an integral part of retail design. There are LED technologies and methods of highlighting featured displays, as well as creative exterior lighting routinely included in retail design.

5. Experiential: Sometimes referred to as "engagement marketing", seeks to create a closer bond to the customer by immersing them in a fun and memorable way. 

Trader Joe's Does It Well!

Distinctive, Yet Casual Font/Letters

As I looked around for examples of a store that includes all of the above sign components, I came across Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's does a wonderful job of including effective sign elements. For instance, their signage name Trader Joe's is universally represented by a casual, easy-to-read, red font. The lines of the font give a relaxed feel to the letters/name, rather than formal straight lines.

Fun At The Beach

Anyone who has ever shopped at a Trader Joe's knows that the design features are fun, casual and tell a story of fun and family. There are typically underwater scenes, beach scenes or palm trees and sand. These design elements are representative of  activities which are typically enjoyed by most people/families on a vacation or in an outdoor lifestyle. Everyone can relate to the fun. Even a trip to the restroom at Trader Joe's is fun.

Rustic Frame With A Sign Hand-Written In Chalk

The signs that represent the Trader Joe's brand are a mixture of hand-written chalk signs; dimensional wall letters or dimensional elements added to flat signs; They are easy-to-read and always reflect the casual design esthetic that is the Trader Joe's brand.

Metal Dimensional Letters

Dimensional Elements On Flat Wall Water Background

Even the lack of an internal public address system is addressed by a fun large bell ring at Trader Joe's (1 Bell ring means open another register; 2 Bell rings indicates customer/staff questions that need to be addressed and 3 bell rings signal the need for a manager). What a simple idea that screams we have great customer service and you can see it & hear it in action!

Ringing The Bell Of  We Give "Immediate Customer Service"

Let Vital Signs Help

So about now you may be thinking..that your company does not have the marketing budget to hire a marketing company to develop your brand in a 'larger than life' way. No worries. Vital Signs has been at this signage biz for several years now. Our design staff knows how to effectively include the sign elements that will get your brand noticed. Thinking about how you can refresh your visual branding? Let Vital Signs brainstorm with you. With one of the largest sign galleries in the Pittsburgh area, we can show you examples of what works and some of the exciting new products we are working with to do the job. 

We're Waiting For Your Call!

(412) 494-3308

Oops...I almost forgot. Go to our homepage to sign up for the Vital Signs Build Your Brand GIVEAWAY. This quarter's giveaway is a set of Magnetic Signs!!