A recent post of ours detailed the benefits of a good first signage impression. A consumer’s positive initial impression of a business location is partially obtained from high quality signage. But what is signage quality exactly? This excellent study from Dr. James Kellaris and BrandSpark mentions that in 2013 34.8% of consumers report they have been drawn into an unfamiliar store based on the quality of the store’s signage (that is your foot traffic source.)
It also states 42.2% of consumers reported they have made “quality assumptions about a business on the basis of clear and attractive signage.” So research suggests that the benefits of high signage quality perception are significant. But what factors influence that perception? Let’s list that out.
Here are some potential high quality signage characteristics:
Font – An overly decorative or artistic font can strongly impact a sign’s perceived quality level. Consumers get impatient quickly with signage fonts that need to be deciphered. Worse, if the sign needs to be read quickly (like from a moving vehicle), the business may be bypassed altogether. That is a high price to pay for a “creative” font.
Letter Size – Signage letters which are too small can also result in a drop in perceived signage quality (this applies to all signage types – not just channel letters.) After reviewing the sign’s location, why not make the letters as large as needed for easy and fast reading? The trick is to measure the typical reading distance and size the letters accordingly. This chart from one of our previous posts can help you to find the correct letter size.
Kerning – “Creative” kerning can kill a sign’s effectiveness and lead to a decrease in quality perception. Letter spacing which is too small or too large can make a sign difficult to read.
Contrast and Colors – Don’t let your customer's channel letters blend in with the building façade. Make the letters stand out! Look at the way the sign below melts into the building – do you want your customer’s letter sign to look like that? Don’t let it happen.
Condition – A decrepit sign is a clear quality perception signal to the consumer. Why should you expect quality service from a business that has permitted their primary business sign to deteriorate? Signs need periodic maintenance and upgrades to keep a well maintained appearance. That maintenance activity is an additional opportunity for your signage business.
Illumination – This is a make or break quality perception feature for electrical signage. Dim, scattered or extinguished illumination looks terrible, and more importantly makes a sign difficult to read. Bright and even illumination is a critical electrical signage quality perception item.
Placement – Each business has an optimal location for their signature (or primary) sign. It must be positioned where the highest percentage of passing traffic can easily see and read it. A poorly positioned sign is often the same as no sign at all – and will not help the consumer's quality perception of the business.
Words vs. Image – Research suggests that consumers prefer a sign with words only to a sign with an image only. So wording alone will probably result in a higher quality perception. However, a well designed sign with both wording and image(s) (like a combination of sign copy and an appropriate logo box) can be very effective.
It is best to review this list prior to the production and installation of a new sign. Your customer may be very fond of a graphic artist’s creative signage design, but does that creativity violate any of these quality principles? If so, it is your job as a signage professional to point that out and steer your customer in the right direction.