5 Sign Planning Tips from Your Vancouver Sign Company

Sign Design Vancouver

5 Sign Planning Tips from Your Vancouver Sign Company

Before you consider contacting a Vancouver sign company, it’s a good idea to do some sign planning.  While Sandbox Signs + Graphics will plan and design the sign for you, narrowing the field of possibilities first will save you time and money. A plan will also help you visualize the finished product before you spend money having it constructed. The more planning you do, the more satisfied you’ll be with the result.

1. Keep it Simple

Some of the best signs in Vancouver are also the simplest. If you walk around busy retail centers, Robson Street for example, you may notice the signs that catch your eye have simplicity in common. While multicoloured, busy or ornately designed signs can be attractive, sometimes they lack a strong central focus. The main message gets lost in the design.

We’ve all heard of the KISS (“Keep it Simple, Stupid”) principle. This principle comes from design (engineering specifically) and is equally true in sign design. The KISS principle states that systems work best if they are simple and are void of unnecessary complexity. Simplicity should be a key goal in sign design.  John Maeda, a designer, thought leader, and former MIT Media Lab professor, placed “reduce” as the first principle in his 10 Laws of Simplicity.

To understand the power of simplicity in sign design, first we have to understand the main intent of signs for Vancouver businesses: to get people’s attention. Your sign’s main message (the “call-to-action”, as marketers like to say) must be clear enough to be read in a multitude of situations. If your business is street facing, your sign has to catch the eye of both busy pedestrians and passing motorists. For businesses in a mall, signage must stand out amongst the throng of other signs competing for your potential customer’s attention.

If your sign has too many competing elements:  numerous typefaces, many colours, many graphics, the eye has difficulty finding the central focus, so it just becomes a blur. With all design, the eye follows paths, and tries to discern what is important. If too many elements have similar emphasis and weight, the eye gets lost – and so does your potential customer.
A well designed sign leads the eye to the main message. The graphic elements provide “emotional support” for your message.

2. Find a Main Focus

The most effective Vancouver signs have a main focus that is easily understood. Asking yourself why you need the sign is the first step in finding its focus.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you trying to achieve with the sign?
  • Is the sign only for branding purposes?
  • Do you simply want people to know you are open?
  • Is your business having a special?
  • Do you want to feature your main products and services?
  • Do you want to convey emotion or provide information?

A good exercise is to state the primary goal, in as short a sentence as possible, which you’d like the sign to achieve for you. You can further enhance the focus by asking more questions after stating the primary goal.

Goal: “I’m having a sale on women’s clothing and I want people to buy”.

Further questions: Are there one or two products in your sale that are more important than others? Is there a popular brand-name item on sale that will get people into the store where they may purchase other items?

You can’t possibly fit everything in your sale on a store sign, but you can decide to emphasize one or two popular products that will entice passers-by.

3. Use White Space

White space is a term designers use to describe untouched ground. Ground is the canvas. Whether your sign’s “canvas” is wood, fabric, metal or plastic, a good balance of untouched white space makes a sign easier to read. Often, this is achieved by using fewer design elements and less text. Good use of white space makes a sign easier to read.

4. Limit Fonts

Some of the best Vancouver signs we see (and make) limit the number of fonts used in the design. Using few fonts (one or two, or a maximum of three) is an easy way to achieve consistency, contrast, and legibility. Too many fonts and your sign will look cluttered. Your sign will more effectively communicate a message if you choose one or two fonts for headings, and one font for copy.

5. Use Contrast

Contrast is important in good sign design. If typefaces, graphics and photos are too similar in tone, the design will be difficult to see clearly and will lack emphasis. Contrast (black text on white or light coloured background for example) makes signs easier to read – particularly from a distance.

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