Your storefront is one of the most critical pieces of your advertising strategy. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your business, and in many cases, it’s the way they discover your business exists.
In fact, 95% of consumers agree that a store’s exterior appearance is an important factor in deciding where to shop. A separate poll found that 8 in 10 shoppers would be willing to try a new store if the outside was clean and inviting. Both of these factors underscore just how essential first impressions can be.
Your signage can have a lot to do with the overall visual appeal of your storefront. And while you may be facing encroaching online competition and myriad other challenges out of your control, your storefront signage is something you can influence to drive sales and win over customers
Let’s look at some ways you can attract more customers to your store by improving your signage.
Explore Your Storefront Signage Options
Signage comes in all shapes and sizes, and most stores choose to use a mix of signage options to bring customers through their doors. Consider using the following:
Main Store Sign
Your main store sign is an essential identification piece. It’s usually attached to your building and bears your store’s name, logo, and sometimes a tagline. Your main store sign should be congruent with the size of your building and its surroundings. For example, if you have a small storefront on Main Street in line with several other stores, your sign will probably be smaller compared to a large, standalone building.
Window signs are excellent temporary signage options to promote events, sales, and specials. You can also use window signs to communicate important store information, such as your business hours.
Adding signage to your door gives your message high visibility. If you have a sale or special message you don’t want your customers to miss, post it on your door.
A-frame sandwich boards aren’t just for cafe menus. Any type of retailer can use them to drive foot traffic to their store. Include offers and sales messages to give passersby a reason to visit your store.
Sandwich boards are a type of freestanding sign. Other options include retractable standing banners, screen printed flags, display signs, and poster stands, to name a few.
Banners are often used as temporary signage to announce a special event, grand opening, new management, or sale. They can be used as window dressing or as outdoor storefront signage.
Posters come in every size imaginable, and their use cases are virtually limitless. Fill an entire window with a poster, use multiple posters across your storefront to create a single message, or use smaller posters to highlight special buys, for example.
Match Your Main Sign to Your Brand
Designing a business sign isn’t something to take lightly. Your main store sign is how people identify your store. It’s one of the first things people see and is a highly useful tool for customers trying to find you. Every detail you choose represents your store’s brand, from size to color to font and even the material.
That’s why it’s advisable to design your store sign to match the brand you want people to associate with your store. Signs aren’t just about standing out and helping you get found, but also for helping people remember and relate to you.
To do this effectively, consider the type of person you want to appeal to. If you cater to a mostly younger audience, for example, you might want a sign that reflects current trends. If you’re a luxury brand, a brush script, sleek lines, or gold font might make the most sense.
One caveat worth mentioning is that readability shouldn’t be sacrificed for branding. People still need to be able to read your sign in about three seconds, so don’t let creativity get in the way of clarity.
Dress Up Your Windows
Your store’s windows do so much more than let in natural light: they’re also prime advertising real estate. Many stores use their windows to create stunning window displays that highlight special collections, new items, or surplus inventory they need to move. Complementing these displays with signage adds context to the displays, such as pricing or discounts, and can encourage people to come in to purchase.
Large signs with simple messaging, such as 40% off or Spring Sale, can catch your customers’ eyes from the road. Or, you can go a little more detailed and make your window signs match certain seasons, holidays, or themes.
Many sign printing companies will have ready-made templates for you to use, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to change your window signage.
Embrace Temporary Signage
Storefront signage should be changed often. When you leave the same display signs in place for too long, people stop paying attention. They’ve seen it before and may not feel as much urgency to visit.
It’s when you change your storefront that you start turning heads again. Suddenly you have something new to offer, and people will take notice.
Some stores change their signage weekly, others monthly, and still others seasonally. There’s no right or wrong, per se, but it can take some trial and error (and lots of creativity). Try experimenting with how long you leave your signage in place before a complete redo and gauge the results.
Use Signage that Can Be Repurposed
Storefront signage is one of the many costs of doing business. You can keep this cost lower by investing in signage that you can repurpose.
For example, you might purchase attractive signage that bears a message like “Spring Sale” and use it every Spring. Or, you might purchase a set of signs for clearance sales and use them every time you clean out your store.
Reusing signs helps you cut not only upfront purchase costs, but also the costs of constantly reinventing the wheel every time you make a new window display. You’re also saving on design fees, the time it takes to come up with new signage ideas, and the cost of storing all the signs you buy.
However, one thing to mention here is that signage that clearly looks outdated should not be reused. You might save a few bucks upfront by not having to order new signs, but an outdated appearance could end up costing you more in sales. As long as the graphics look fresh and modern, then reusing signs is okay.
Select a Contrasting Color Scheme
Visibility is key in designing storefront signage. You want your audience to not only see the signs, but also be able to read them at a distance. The right color scheme makes this possible.
Consider the contrast between the text and the background of the sign. Colors that are too similar make your text harder to read. And if you’re hanging signs in your window, the sun’s glare can also make some colors harder to read.
Some examples of strong contrasting color schemes include:
- White text on red background
- Black text on white background
- White text on black background
- Black text on yellow background
- White text on blue background
In other words, try to stick with one light color and one dark color. If the text is light, go for a dark background, and vice versa.
Choose Fonts that are Easy to Read
Even with a good color scheme, your text can still be hard to read if you choose the wrong font. Customers aren’t going to spend time trying to figure out your message, and good font choice can make it easier for them.
Use these guidelines when choosing fonts for your signage:
- Opt for fonts with clean lines
- Consider the kerning (the spacing between each letter)
- Aim for fonts with a uniform thickness
- Use fonts with minimal embellishments
- Use script fonts strategically
- Be consistent with your fonts and limit your options
Working with a professional signage designer can be invaluable to this experience. They not only choose fonts that look professional together, but can also select ones that reinforce your brand without sacrificing readability. What’s more, professional designers are usually skilled in signage psychology to help your signage get the biggest bang for your buck.
Cut the Clutter
How many signs are too many? Unfortunately, there is no magic number when it comes to storefront signage. However, what you don’t want to do is cover every window, door, and awning with marketing messages.
Your storefront signs should complement your business’s appearance, not overpower it. When you have too many signs, your store might look desperate for customers, which can actually deter customers.
Too many unique messages can also lead to confusion and distraction. Instead, try to take a less-is-more approach. Stick with one message or theme and design your signage around that theme. If you have window displays on each side of your entrance, you might replicate the same signage set up on both sides for consistency.
Keep Your Messages Short
No one wants to read a long sign to figure out what you want to say. If they can’t immediately understand what your sign is about, they’re likely to keep walking.
The three-second rule is a good rule of thumb when designing your signage messaging. This is roughly the amount of time it takes for someone to drive past your store. They should be able to capture your message in this time.
Granted, sometimes special promotions or giveaways might have terms and conditions you’re legally required to share. But your storefront signs aren’t the place for this. Rather, these signs are designed to pique interest and get people through your doors. You can save the complicated details for your brochures, forms, or other collateral when customers are ready to take action.
Here are some other copywriting tips to live by:
Offer Clear Benefits
Your customers want to know what’s in it for them. Give them a reason to care about your promotion by focusing on their needs. Be specific, such as “Save $10” or “Free Gift with Every Purchase.” Clear benefits give customers a reason to act.
You can also include a direct call to action on your signage, such as “Ask about our loyalty program.”
Include a Time Frame
Limited time offers to give customers a sense of urgency. They realize if they don’t act soon, they will miss out. Add an end date to your storefront signage to encourage people to visit now.
Work with a Professional Designer
Anytime you’re designing marketing materials for your business, be it storefront signage, business cards, and even your shopping bags, using a professional designer can be invaluable to your experience.
They take the guesswork out of making attractive signs to boost your business. Plus, they also create designs specifically for your business and brand, so you can be sure competing companies won’t have the same imagery or messaging you do. This is a powerful way to stand out from the others, which is precisely what your storefront signage should do!
Your local signage store can usually connect you with a professional graphic designer so you can get right to work in designing your next display.
Update Your Signage Often
Changing your storefront signage gives your entire business a fresh new look. This alone gives customers a reason to keep coming back to your store. Once they think they’ve seen it all, a new signage display can show them you still have plenty to offer.
On a more subtle level, updating your signage shows you’re invested in your business’s success. It’s a sign of a lively, engaging business that’s humming away and creating new experiences for its customers. These small details aren’t lost on your customers. Rather, they may be more attracted to businesses that appear successful. Changing your signage is your opportunity to show off the great things that are happening inside, so use them to invite people to be a part of it.
Other Tips to Make Your Storefront Signage Work for You
Ultimately, your signs exist to help you encourage more people through your doors and increase sales. In addition to all of the above, there are lots of ways you can make your storefront signage more effective.
Designate a Signage Person
When you’re a small retailer or restaurant, many things can take priority over your storefront signage. Maybe you lose an employee and have to shift your focus to hiring. Or perhaps you have a major piece of equipment break down that affects your business processes. Whatever the case, signage can easily fall to the wayside, ultimately reducing the effects it has on driving in-store foot traffic.
A good way to mitigate this is to designate an employee to be in charge of signage changeouts. You might consider setting up an update schedule (e.g., seasonally or monthly, etc.) to swap out signs and jazz up your window displays. As the business owner, this frees up your time to manage operations, put out any fires that might arise, and know your signage can still do its best work.
Invest in Signage Storage
Don’t toss your signage when you’re “done” with them! You might be able to repurpose your signs for future campaigns and specials. If this is the case, consider giving your signage dedicated storage in your backroom instead of tossing them on the floor or between filing cabinets.
Good sign storage protects your signs from wear and tear, dust, debris, and other forms of damage. It also makes your signs easier to find when you need them. This way, you don’t have to order new signs for every storefront update and can save time and money in the process.
Art storage solutions, such as large folios and cabinets, can work well for this purpose.
Treat Your Print Shop as a Business Partner
Your print shop is an invaluable partner when it comes to storefront signage. They serve as your consultants as you’re vetting options for materials, sizes, and other facets. Through this ongoing partnership, they also get to know your business and can make recommendations based on your known preferences.
When you continue using the same print shop for all your signage needs, you benefit in a number of ways. For example, your print shop might already have your logo and other designs on file and can easily set up a print run for you. If you have pressing needs that require signage quickly, your print shop partner can deliver faster than others.
At AlphaGraphics, we consider ourselves an extension of the businesses we serve. Our goal is to create a simplified, seamless partnership that helps you fulfill your signage needs quickly and effortlessly. Check out our Marketing & Signage Guide by clicking here.
Contact us today to discover how we can help your business grow when we become your partners in print.