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June 27, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By James Drever, WSBDC regional director
“Should our business have signs and if so, what kind of signage?” Cheri, Laramie
All businesses with a physical location should have some sort of signage for various reasons, but if your business depends in any way on impulse sales, signage is critical.
Most purchases are impulse and there are both broad and individual case studies that show signs can dramatically improve business. Signs are part of your branding, and the images you convey to your existing customers are key in attracting new customers.
Now that I’ve sold you on the idea of having a good sign or two, let’s talk about what kind of sign(s) would be best. Before you run out and buy a 200-square-foot lighted sign, you need to check local zoning and planning regulations to see what is allowed in your town and county. For example, signs perpendicular to a building’s front are preferable for pedestrians to see and anticipate. Motorists don’t need to be looking 90-degrees away from where they should be looking. However, in some towns, perpendicular signs are prohibited.
Once you figure out what you can do and what architecturally fits your building, focus on the sign design. If your business operates 24/7 or is open in the evenings, you will likely want to invest in some kind of lighted sign. To keep people looking at your sign and be able to offer promotions, those with changeable letters might be useful.
As you design what your sign says, also keep in mind how to say it. For example, see how a bank’s signage looks compared to a restaurant’s, particularly with the font used. First Interstate’s sign looks very different from Village Inn’s. Some say the letter “E,” especially slanted, connotes happy faces and builds trust with customers. Maybe that is why the “E” in Pepsi has a peculiarly curved horizontal line?
Appropriate color, easy to read and recognize and consistent with branding, is an important consideration once you find the right location for signage.
And finally, make sure to use quality materials (what does a cheap or broken sign suggest about a business?) and materials customers would associate with your industry. A brass sign is appropriate outside of a law office but not a lumberyard, for example.
With this in mind, do not tape paper signs on business doors/windows, it never looks good.
For help with signs, contact a local WSBD office, or for a .pdf guide to help with sign design from the New York State Small Business Development Center, click here: http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/Publications/Whats_Your_Signage.pdf.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.