Bad Business Signage is a business problem that doesn’t get talked about a lot – but it can be a serious issue.

The quality of your signs can affect everything from customer acquisition to brand awareness and local reputation. After all, for many customers and visitors your signs will be their first exposure to your company and its branding, so it’s very important to get it right.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the consequences of having poor quality signs for your business – and cover some expert tips to ensure your signage is top-drawer.

Putting off potential customers

It’s a simple fact that customers are unlikely to want to do business with you if your signage gives a bad impression.

Logistics giant FedEx once did a survey asking members of the public about how the quality of business signage affects their perception of the company.

They found that more than two thirds (68%) of consumers believe that the quality of a store’s signs tends to reflect the standard of their products and services – and that 52% of people would prefer not to enter a store that had badly-made or misspelled signage.

Worse, they found that establishments without any signage at all were really missing out, with nearly 60% of consumers reporting that they would be disinclined to visit.

Good signage helps customers to know what to expect when they visit. It can help to prime them for the types of products and services you offer as well as the general character and ethos of your business.

And just as an aside, three out of four people in the FedEx study said that they would be likely to tell somebody else about the store if they liked the signage – so there’s no reason not to prioritise getting it right.

Letting your brand lose its sheen

Your signs ultimately reflect on your business and your brand – so what does it say about the company if the signage is badly designed, broken, dirty, or outdated?

Even if your signage is well-designed and expertly made, it’s important to ensure it is kept up-to-date and in a great state of repair. Especially for industries where consumer trust and standards are absolutely critical (such as accounting, healthcare, food service, and others), giving an off-putting impression to customers is brand poison.

It’s also good to keep your signage ‘current’ and in line with modern trends. Design fashions change all the time, and even a great sign can start to lose its effectiveness if it looks like it was designed a decade ago. You wouldn’t want your business to look as if it’s caught in a time warp and hasn’t learned any new tricks.

Giving the wrong impression

Of course, your signs provide a lot of information for customers and visitors about what your business offers and what it stands for.

Your use of typography, colours, imagery, slogans and other design elements can all work together to give your customers a distinct impression of your business and its character – whether it’s approachable, trustworthy, eco-friendly, responsible, luxurious, and so on.

Having those design elements be incongruous with the true nature of your company can cause problems from a branding point of view. Even if they don’t put customers off from approaching your premises and giving you a try, they may walk away confused or disappointed if what you really do doesn’t seem to correlate with the impression they got earlier.

Every design choice that goes into the creation of your signage is important and can imply certain things about your business, its offerings and its ethos. Different typefaces, colours and images can subconsciously put the viewer in mind of specific associations and feelings (and that’s why McDonald’s branding is completely different to that of Starbucks or Chanel).

So how do you improve your signage?

With all of the above in mind, how can you make sure that your signage is as good as it can be?

You might like to think about:

  • Materials and manufacture – cheap materials and low-quality workmanship on your sign are unlikely to give a good impression. It’s a good idea to enlist experienced professionals to help with bringing your signs to life (and they should be able to give you good advice for how to get the best bang for your buck).
  • Does your signage give customers all the information they need? If your business has an ambiguous name and it’s not immediately clear what industry you operate in – or what separates you from the competition – you can use your signage to give extra information (possibly using visual design cues, such as adding an icon of wine glasses to the front of a bar).
  • Using the right design elements – clashing colours and uninspired typography are unlikely to give the impression you’d like, so take the time to work with a good designer and establish a coherent visual language that really embodies your brand.
  • What have your competitors got? Don’t be afraid to scope out the competition and see what they’re doing for their signage solutions. You can then use this information to try and differentiate yourself with a completely different approach and stand out from the crowd.
  • Keeping your signage in a good state of repair – it’s not a good look for your sign to have missing letters or flickering light bulbs! Some sign making companies will offer an after-sales programme of repairs and maintenance, but it’s still good to take a proactive approach to get problems sorted out as and when they occur.

At the end of the day, there’s no reason for your company to be afflicted with bad signage. Your customers need to find you – and your front-of-house imagery can give them all the information and encouragement they need to do business with you.

By getting well-designed, well-made signage and keeping it a good state of repair, you can ensure that your business is giving a great first impression and setting itself up for future success.

By working with R&R Printing, and employing the right branding elements and narrative, retail signage can act as a visual symbol to drive greater attention to your business.