Too few marketers realize outdoor signage is an incredibly valuable medium. Here are just a few of the stats:
Take it from a sign company: using outdoor signs to advertise is much like other forms of advertising. That means appealing to emotions is an important way to win over customers. Use signs that call to mind grief, fear, uncertainty, humor, love, humanity, and belonging. We have all seen billboards and signs that get the message across about drunk driving, texting and driving, or failing to wear a seatbelt in just a few, well-chosen words by appealing to emotion.
The emotion you choose for your sign should align with your business. For example, “Organizations that provide financial, health or other essential services use messages that inspire trust,” Reference.com writes. For a positive association or an entertaining service or product, use humor. Use serious messages–like messages evoking fear, uncertainty, and trust–for serious businesses, like law and healthcare.
One of the critical parts of any advertising strategy is to stand out. Blending in is a mistake. A quality sign company can accommodate a surprising number of requests–including creative ones. Ask local sign companies what is and isn’t possible to do with signage, and do not be afraid to pitch innovative ideas. Either the sign company will happily work with your pitch or staffers can help brainstorm alternate ideas or designs that pull the same weight.
For example, McDonald’s ran an outdoor sign advertising its 24-hour locations using a sign with a digital clock. Similarly, Law & Order once put up a billboard showing a police officer questioning a suspect with a real, bright interrogation-room style light shining down on them.
Much like appealing to customers’ emotions (or in addition to appealing to customers’ emotions), your sign needs to be a direct reflection of your business. Just like a healthcare provider should use messages that inspire trust, they should use fonts, images, and formatting that inspire trust and professionalism. An appropriate–and successful!–healthcare sign may show nurses and doctors wearing required protective equipment. The font ought to be simple, easy-to-read, and relatively formal. In this context, there is very little room for Comic Sans or fun, hand-drawn graphics. Carefully consider the image your business is trying to project and design signs accordingly.
Signs with too much font are difficult to read, especially if customers are driving or riding their bikes as they pass. Keep messages pertinent and impactful, but short and to-the-point. Keep in mind that adding more text or visual elements does not always create a greater sense of urgency. In fact, it can look cluttered.
Consider making signs a solid color, opting for high contrast designs, and using a call to action to add emphasis without bulking up text.
A final thing to consider is presentation. What is this particular sign trying to accomplish? Signs above entrances should be clearly marked and inviting.
Signs meant for advertising may be very different. Strategically choose whether to place them at the front of a plaza, on the side of the highway or seriously scale down and have an employee wave a much smaller sign by the side of the road.
What do you need to remember about advertising with outdoor signs? A quality sign company will tell you: 1. All signs are advertising–even signs designating the entrance or building convey important messages about your business, and 2. Take on outdoor signs like you would any other form of advertising by appealing to emotions, keeping it to-the-point, and making important considerations about appearances and presentation.