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October 24, 2014

How to Advertise Your Way Out of Business

Businessman trading online stock market on teblet screen, digital investment concept

Many U.S. companies are literally advertising their way out of business with low quality signage. These companies do not seem to realize the highly negative impact this type of signage can have.

A recent study conducted by Dr. James J. Kellaris of the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati helps to illuminate the substantial importance of high quality signage. The study’s findings indicate consumers frequently infer business quality from signage quality. And that quality perception often leads to other consumer decisions.

For example, this quality inference often leads to a consumer decision to enter or not to enter a business for the first time. Building new customer foot traffic consistently is a critical metric for a profitable retail store. This large scale national study indicates that high quality signage can help with that objective.

In this context, “signage quality” does not only mean the physical condition of the business signage. It can also mean the overall signage design and utility. For example, the study states that legibility is another area of consumer signage quality perception, and 81.5% of people report getting frustrated and annoyed when signage text is too small to read.

Channel Letters with non-illuminated letter

In addition, quality may also refer to the appropriateness of the overall signage design for that type of business. 85.7% of the study’s respondents said that “signage can convey the personality or character of a business.”

To consider the opposite side of this study’s data, low quality signage could be considered a method of advertising a company out of business. The study states that 35.8% of consumers have been drawn into an unfamiliar store based on the quality of its signage. If a business loses half of that potential new customer foot traffic due to low quality signage, how much does that translate to in lost sales revenue? From that standpoint, low quality signage could be considered a fast track to bankruptcy.

Who ever thought a business could literally advertise its way out of business? The whole idea seems implausible, but current industry research suggests it can happen with low quality signage.

Dr. James Kellaris is the Gemini Chair of Signage and Visual Marketing at the University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business. Some of his industry research can be accessed at

Denver-based Direct Sign Wholesale is North America’s largest dedicated channel letter manufacturer and wholesaler. The company produces all types of channel lettering including front lit, reverse (halo) lit and front/back lit. The company’s web site address is

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John Baylis
Marketing Director
Direct Sign Wholesale

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