The Top 8 Tips For Sign Makers: Creating Effective Exterior Signag
There are many things to be considered when making an exterior sign. As craftsman, you are probably worried about the material: will it be durable and weatherproof? Should it have anti-glare coating?
These are legitimate points about the sign’s anatomy, but more importantly you should ask yourself, what do I have to do to make this sign clearly read by anyone passing by?
Fortunately, you may be familiar with many of the key points, as they also apply to interior ADA compliant signage. Your main objective then, is to take these guidelines and adjust them for exterior signage.
Here are the top 8 points to keep in mind as you work…
1. Make For Moving Targets
The number 1 thing to keep in mind for making an effective sign is that the person reading your exterior signage will most likely be on the move. Whether they are driving or walking, your sign should be clearly seen, easily read and quickly comprehended.
2. Short & Sweet
Making a sign as simple as possible means limited the text to the most basic and necessary words. If applicable, use universal pictograms, such as the images of people for restrooms, arrows, “P” for parking, or a school bus. A picture is worth a thousand words and can be the fastest way to get your message across
3. Color Contrast
Your sign’s can be simply designed, but if a person can’t read it clearly then it is lacking. The easiest way for you to make your sign more noticeable from a distance is to use contrasting colors of light and dark: white text on a navy field or black text on a white field.
Avoid complementary colors (red/green, purple/yellow, blue/orange) since they can be confusing to they eye at first glance.
Keeping colors contrasting and simple also avoids reading issues for individuals who are colorblind.
4. Font Gets Focus
The text of your sign must be written in a font that is clear and crisp. The following are acceptable fonts for exterior signage:
- 1. Arial Bold
- 2. Futura Medium
- 3. Helvetica
- 4. Franklin Gothic
- 5. Trebuchet Bold
- 6. Avenir Medium
5. Signs Are CaSe SEnSiTIvE
Unless your signs purpose is to warn people of DANGER, the best format for your signage is “Title Case.” This case works exceptionally well if the text is longer than a single word.
Case In Point—Clear & Legible:
ALL CAPS IS DISTRACTING & THE BRAIN MORPHS LETTERS TOGETHER FROM A DISTANCE.
(ALSO NO ONE WANTS TO FEEL LIKE THEY’RE BEING YELLED AT UNLESS THERE IS “DANGER!” UP AHEAD.)
all lowercase neither grabs attention nor gives a sense of urgency.
6. Size Matters
Depending on the purpose of your exterior signage, the size of the sign itself must be large enough to attract attention and make your sign stand out. The text & font must also be appropriately proportioned to the sign. It can neither be too big nor too small to make the message clear.
7. Location Is Key
The placement of your sign must be strategic. It should be located in a spot that will not only get the attention of a passerby, but will also be in a position close & relative to its message.
For example: an “Entrance” sign should be placed over the door or off to the side with an arrow designating the way to the door. An “Entrance” sign over a sidewall makes no sense.
8. Brand Consistency
The exterior signage you make for another business should be in keeping with their aesthetic while still maintaining simplicity. You can do this in a few ways, like putting their logo on the sign, or if their company’s color is blue, making the field of your sign blue.