Signs are everywhere, unless you live on a zone-restricted island or in a cave, and even then there are signs. Maybe not the kind you order from Kinko’s, but there had to have been some sort of communication that was erected, posted or hung by someone with an intention to cause an action or a reaction.

I find signs interesting, sometimes confusing and often very enlightening. This week I was doing some cleaning in my office when I stumbled across some signs I saw this past year and shot photos of. Some made me laugh, some made me think, and others reminded me of the experience I had when I first encountered the sign.  In any case, I thought they were worth a blog post and decided to share some ideas on smart signing.

This one was shot in New York City. I like it because it’s direct and the shop owner’s loose and random art direction earned him quite a bit of publicity. It was even featured on CNN.







Another shot in New York City. This one looks as if it has the same budget range as the previous sign… maybe it’s the same sign designer ;).  A few good things here, resting areas are always a welcoming touch, plus they nicely integrated their website and Facebook page, a great way to stretch one’s marketing dollars or twenty five cents.





I bet I don’t even have to tell you where this one was shot. It’s a sad statement on how a bunch of criminal thugs can negatively brand a destination like Lagos, Nigeria. I do wonder how effective this sign was. Do bad guys read signs?







This sign was shot in Lewiston, New York just a few weeks a go. The interesting thing is it’s not a pet shop, but a gift shop. So are dogs behaving and people not so much?







I call this one a sign of retail friendship. How nice is it when the store Kohls helps a customer stay organized and make decisions.

I may be spending too much time in fitting rooms. Victoria’s Secret provides a gentle dose of Instant Self-esteem with their “I don’t care how much you weigh, you look hot in that thong anyway” dressing room message.







This last great sign I found while surfing the net. I really like it, because its simple and to the point.

All joking aside, signs connected to businesses are darn, critical touch points. Not only can they help direct buyers, or attract new customers, they are a reflection of your brand. If you are folksy and lighthearted, hand written, homemade signs can be ideal. But if you are upscale and elegant, don’t be using a crayon to scribble your message and wonder why your clients don’t think you are as chic as you do.

If your message is important, here are 5 tips for creating on brand and effective signage.

1) Use relevant type faces that are consistent with your positioning. A comic type face is not the best choice for a French fashion boutique, just like fancy wedding scrip doesn’t make a Western shop seem all that macho.

2) If you invest in a lit sign, maintain it. If the bulbs are out for 6 months, what kind of message does that send to your market. Not one of a well run operation.

3) The scale and kerning of letters (space between letters), and white space on the canvas are key design elements in conveying a professional image. Investing in some professional design help may be worth it.

4) What is your brand personality? If it’s silly, humor is great route to take to get people talking about your brand. If it’s hip and progressive consider materials that are as cool.

5) Audit your signs in the daytime and evening. Often prospects learn about businesses after hours.

For more on effective signage, view:
Outdoor advertising – effective tool? dangerous distraction?