25/05/2015

By Tony Baxter, Voodoo Designs


When it comes to the success of a business, especially in retail, nothing comes close to the importance of proper branding. Its benefits are immeasurable as they form the basis of a customer's relationship with the business, cementing its core values. However, while there are numerous things that contribute to a brand, one of the most vital elements in this concoction is signage. When you think of the most successful names in business, Microsoft, Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and so on, one thing comes to mind before anything else: their logos and signs. Be it simple letters like Google, or complex imagery like Starbucks, signs gives businesses their face to the world.

They Draw Attention

Signs grab you. They steal your attention, when done right, that is. The correct use of typography and imagery on the high street can mean the difference between a full shop and an empty one. In a bright and noisy world, you have to make sure you can be seen and heard above the rest, and that’s exactly what good signage does.

This is where it is good to keep things simple. Overly complex signs might look impressive when you have time to read them, but busy people are only going to give it a quick glance. Consider it as a newspaper headline. All the important stuff, nothing more. You also need to pay attention to contrast. A sign needs to be easy to read, so keep away from clashing colours like yellow and white.

They Create First Impressions

As mentioned above, when a customer approaches your shop, service or any other type of business, the first part of your brand they’ll experience will likely be its sign. Therefore, it’s important to have something that is imprinted with the identity of your business, as it will also be the first thing that the customers judge. This is where the use of typography and images needs to be keenly crafted to suit your needs. Consider the branding of a company such as Nike. Their famous tick is sleek and simple, yet its angles make it appear to be in motion. It’s subtle but clear, and it’s now one of the most recognisable brands in the world.

To establish the qualities of your own brand, you need to look at what it reflects, be it quality, class, elegance, sturdiness, reliability or simplicity and work towards a sign that can represent that. Here is where typography can play a big part in your brand. For example don’t use a dainty, calligraphic font for a shop that sells building tools and vice versa.

They Form Brand Memorability

Signs do more than just draw customers in; they keep your brand in their heads. A good sign, one that stands out from the crowd in its own particular way, is far more memorable than a simple black text name pasted onto a white background. It helps customers recall your business, even if they can’t remember the exact name, and pick it out a lineup, in a bustling city high street.

In Conclusion

No matter where your business appears on the food chain, be it a superstore or a humble independent, branding through signage is vital. A mistake many small businesses make is not putting the time and investment into proper visual branding, and their sales will pay the price. You don’t need a massive symbol hanging from your door like those at Apple HQ, but you need something recognisable, attention grabbing and true to your business.