The Goal of Signage: More Business!
Signage has been a persistent element throughout human civilization. There is not one nation, culture, or tribe which does not use some insignia to brand itself with. Even the advent of the digital age has not rendered this ancient human practice outdated—it has merely altered the canvas on which we continue to make the marks that distinguish our identity, products, or services from those of others.
Baring this in mind, it is with some forethought and caution that one has to approach the practice of signage. Proper signage is a necessity for any brick-and-mortar or online business—it is the only way to project their existence to their target audience. The way that existence is projected, directly impacts potential business.
If a customer finds themselves craving a donut for lunch from a variety of unknown bakeries that recently opened up near their workplace, they would, in all likelihood, choose the one with the most impressive signage—unless, of course, there was one bakery with a line of several dozen people in front of it.
Distinct, professionally designed signage will always lure more interest (and, thus, business) to your brand. Humans are naturally drawn to visually striking scenery—and stripped of its signage, your business is just another concrete structure.
That is the reason why, for example, McDonalds spends so much on the signage decorating every one of its franchises. One would think that a brand so globally established and well known has long ago lost the need to be so strikingly visible wherever it is found. But the reality is that McDonalds uses vivid signage to elevate its brand like an oasis in what then becomes a desert of competition.
Any frequent traveler will testify to a variation of the following story. While ‘roatripping’ in a foreign land and successfully avoiding breakfast and lunch out of pure unfamiliarity with the local cuisine, a clearly distinguishable McDonalds, lit up in the middle of an otherwise colorless district peppered with unknown food stalls and shops, proved the safest gamble for a satisfying and familiar meal.
But without signage such visual distinction, McDonalds would just as soon be glossed over by the hungry adventurer as any other brown shed. The same holds true for your business … or any business.
Ultimately, the imperative to eat would soon drive the famished tourist to eat a barely recognisable dish from a store picked for having a somewhat comforting and reputable look to it (branding and signage at work, again).
But one needs not only look at desperate situations to see the value of branding and portraying it clearly with signage.
Even when someone is walking around a mall looking for something as commonplace as a wooden hammer, they are naturally drawn to the impressive looking hardware store standing next to its blandly styled competitor—unless some prior familiarity or brand loyalty overrides instinct.
The above examples are universal, and have been demonstrated throughout history, and will remain a familiar tale long into the future. A visually distinct business is more likely to get a neutral person’s attention (and thus their money), than if it were generic in appearance. This means increased business for the lifetime of the brand—just from getting its signage right, the first time!