Five Tips to Better Outdoor Signage

With today’s available online technologies, anybody can be an outdoor signage designer. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and some free creative software. Do a quick Google search and you’re ready to download plenty of free photo images and lots of snappy type fonts.

That’s it. You’re now a full-fledged designer of high-end outdoor signage.

Not so fast there, Rockstar. Just having access to the tools does not a GOOD designer make. Sure, it’s fun to have the goodies, but if you don’t use them effectively, you’ll just end up adding more unsightly trash to the outdoor landscape. And worst of all, your signage will not sell your products. Not good!

A method to the outdoor signage madness

KISS2Before you rush off and start cranking out outdoor signage willy nilly, conduct a little experiment for yourself.

Over the next couple days, take note of five signs that you think are really good and hit their intended market. Snap a smartphone picture and save them for your own little comparison test.

Let’s look at how your signs measure up against our “Good use of typography test.”

1. Do the fonts used match the brand? It’s a silly idea to use a soft and feminine script font with a Auto Tire and Tune Up shop. And it’s even sillier to use a heavy slab-serif font for a ladies lingerie store. If your brand has a pre-determined set of recommended fonts, use them. They’re designed to help the brand maintain a consistent look and feel.

2. Pick Two fonts only. It’s a smart bet that the signs you thought were the best use only one or two fonts. For outdoor signage it’s best to limit your choices to just two. More than that encourages a look that is too busy with competing and confusing imagery.

3. Make it BIG. With outdoor signage short headlines in big fonts win the competition for the viewers attention. I’ll bet the signs you chose are simple and quick to the point with large fonts and little copy. It just works!

4. Make it BOLD. Every font set has bold, fat and heavy versions to choose from. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your outdoor signage. Are your favorites using bold fonts? I’ll bet they are. Big and bold fonts grab viewer attention and squash the weaker sign messages.

5. Use the KISS Principle.“KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID” The best outdoor signage projects are simple messages that are easy for the viewer to see, read and comprehend. Once again, your five favorites probably fit the KISS principle. It’s not a matter of choice, it the science of how our brains work.

Now it’s your turn

Did you really did take the time to look at and select your favorite five signs? Come on… tell the truth. If you did, you no doubt know how much crap we’re bombarded with day in and day out.

But the outdoor signage that you like is somehow different …somehow better. Right? Notice how well your favorite signs adhere to the five principles outline above. Remember, it’s your job as a newly appointed outdoor signage designer to cut through the clutter and get your signs noticed.

Large and Wide Format Printing GuideWhy don’t you take it to the next level and learn how to best prepare your files for printing. Get our free ebook and learn even more about great sign design as well as the best techniques for preparing your files.

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