Sign Design 101-Visibility Factor

When you need a sign, you need it for a reason. I believe that reason is to communicate a message. And whether it’s Apples 50 cents a pound or Warning! Danger! Keep Away! you want to get your message delivered plain and simple. There are many different methods for signage today. Vehicle graphics are huge and banners always work to send your message of Grand Opening or Sale! The effectiveness of your sign depends on just a few simple and basic factors. Going over them will help you be better informed when you’re working with a sign designer on your next project.

Factor #1-Is it readable? Sounds silly, but is it? The size of the sign based on the distance to the intended audience and how fast the audience may be moving is crucial. You want to make your message clear so that your audience can read it and respond. For basic code compliance, transportation companies are usually required by law to have lettering visible from 50 feet. That would mean the lettering would need to be 2” tall minimum. 4” tall lettering would be visible from 100 feet and so on, with a specific scale for larger letters and signage.

Factors that would affect required letter size are the color scheme of the lettering, font selection, abutment or standoff of the sign from a building and certainly traffic and weather conditions. There are many artistic and script fonts that are fun and have a place on a printed page, but not usually in business signage because its just not readily read. Choose carefully and have others proof for the readability factor. Too condensed? Stretch it apart. Too funky? Leave it out.

Keep in mind the visibility factor for your next sign project and you’ll be getting your message across plain and simple. And that’s good business!


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Have you heard the latest buzz?

In order to compete in today’s competitive marketplace, you must think of your signage as a sophisticated and powerful marketing tool.  So you hear this buzzword ‘vehicle wrap’ from people you meet, clients, business associates and even your barber is saying you should get a wrap. Is it a new kind of haircut procedure, you wonder? Is this going to hurt? Is he going to wrap something around your hair and then rip it out by the roots?

You can take a deep sigh of relief. No, it is applying customized, digitally printed media all over a vehicle to provide low-cost advertising and strengthen your company’s identity. In fact vehicle wraps is growing in attractiveness as a desired media because it combines the elements of marketing and branding in one vehicle as it were.

A vehicle wrap, even a partial wrap, converts your average looking vehicle into an attention getting billboard on wheels. It’s customized for the advertiser and display’s the targeted message, via carefully designed text and graphics, the company wants to send. It increases consumer awareness, “branding” your company in their mind so that when a potential customer needs the goods or services you offer; your name will be the first one they think of.

One thing that business owner’s may fail to recognize is how a vehicle wrap provides a showcase and “exclusivity” that you don’t find in the phone book, print or newspaper ads. Even if you only have a small car, a wrap might displays 4’ x 8’ on each side. That’s 64 sq. ft. that you’re paying for anyway. You might as well put it to work for you! How much can 64 sq ft buy you in the yellow pages?

Vehicle Wraps and Fleet Graphics…

1.  Strengthen and increase consumer awareness of a company’s brand identity.

2. Provide low-cost advertising

3. Create a custom concept that visually speaks to targeted audience

4. Offer exclusivity you don’t receive in any other media

5. 90 % of commuters and travelers notice vehicle graphics

In today’s highly competitive market, if a company has one vehicle or a fleet, every business should consider the benefits of vehicle wrapping. It will help make your advertising dollars really count.  And that won’t hurt a bit!

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I, Robot?

Recently I saw a bit of the current Congressional hearings on the financial crisis of 2008 on the news. While it was interesting to see another view from some back-room insiders of what these major financial institutions and the government were doing in those hectic matter of days and hours as they attempted to save the world from financial disaster, what really caught my attention and gave me something to ponder was that one of the Commissioner’s questioned automation of industry and how it affected high unemployment and the normal hiring processes. It seemed to be incongruent for the venue, but his question was still a good one.

Business owners, corporations and employees alike are faced with the automation of jobs: Is it more cost effective to automate with a machine or hire a real live person or persons to do the same work? Can a person do the task better than a machine? As technology has grown over time, especially since the industrial revolution, ways to raise productivity and benefit the company has some times seem to have been at odds with working class people and full employment.

Even in our sign-making industry we have seen the decline of people needed to perform sign manufacturing over the last decade. Digital printing has been around for slightly more than a dozen years or so, yet that is the foundation of the printing and graphics industry we know today. No longer does it take scores of people to set type and hand paint signs. It takes more complex knowledge of design, layout and typography. A sign maker now needs to be knowledgeable with computerized design software applications, proper and effective use of color and white space. And most of all it needs to be an effective design to do what it is after all supposed to do: communicate your message to your clients. Why else does anyone get a sign?

Yes, there are still demands for the company to make more effective profit with less expense and increase the bottom line. And while overseas wholesale shops can always print quantities cheap and the in ternet opens us all up to other market opportunities as well as other vulnerabilities and competitions, we don’t think sign makers will be automated for along time to come.

There will always be a need for a business to develop a relationship of trust with a graphics provider; trust in their design skills and manufacturing experience, especially if the client has a need for signs and graphics on an ongoing basis like many businesses do. Especially if you’re someone who wants that of genuine spark of human creativity you just can’t find in a machine. That will just have to wait for a good science fiction story!

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The Sign of Business Today

Gelberg Signs was visited today by President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. The president toured the manufacturing facility and spoke afterwards about the role that sign companies like Gelberg Signs play in America’s economic recovery.

ISA President & CEO Lori Anderson said that “President Obama and his administration are to be commended for recognizing the vital role played by sign manufacturers in our nation’s economic recovery and for providing them with the tools needed to bring their innovation, creativity, and manufacturing expertise to the forefront of the battle to create new jobs in America.”

The on-premise sign industry helps promote economic activity and employment by getting small businesses the signs they need to attract potential customers. If retailers and local merchants are able to effectively advertise their location and products through visible and well-designed signage, then their chances of success increase dramatically.

“They say that a business with no sign is a sign of no business, which is why our nation’s small businesses need quality signs now more than ever,” Anderson noted. “Visible and effective on-premise signs drive over 40% of all small business retail traffic and can make the difference between success and failure with start-up companies. The success of sign company customers – local retailers, Mom and Pop shops, franchises and other small businesses – translates into more jobs for Americans.”

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In the blink of an eye…

It all starts with a picture.

What kind of message are you sending to your customers? What do you want them to think? Malcolm Gladwell has written a fascinating book called Blink about how we make snap judgements, determining a preference for a product or a person in the “blink” of an eye. The eyes process so much information and relay it to the brain unconsciously about whether you like something or don’t like it. If you’re a business owner trying to connect with the public, you don’t have a lot of time to make a good first impression. Your logo, your business card or your company vehicle may be the first thing a potential customer sees that introduces your company to them. What are they thinking…..

We had a client come to us a while back who had recently purchased a logo design someplace else and was unhappy with it. We spoke to her, just chatted really, got a feel for what her business was all about and her own personality. Our designer worked up some designs for her from her ideas of what she was trying to project. When she came in to proof them, she was growing more excited and interested by the minute. She really liked one direction we had done and with her feelings about it, we fine-tuned it for her more as part of the initial design process. The project was completed and she was so happy with her logo for her cosmetic products and gave us all samples of her products like she was Santa Claus!

She had variations of one design that she could use for different products she had and she had a solid basis for starting to brand her business. And she also had something she could grow with. We gave her several different formats so that she could take this basic design and spread it around everywhere she needed her logo to be: web, stationery, vehicle lettering. This time, she was very happy with her logo. And we’re not the most expensive designers in town…we just look like it!

So if you’re a small business owner and looking to grow and expand your market and you feel you may need to “rebrand” your business, or your just starting out in business for the first time, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my logo clearly identify my company?
  2. Does it appeal to my target market?
  3. Does it make my company stand out from the competition?
  4. Does it support the core message of the company?

At Wild Signs we take pride in our designers having the right mix of artist, fabricator and ability to function as a member of your team, to get you to the goal. Remember, your logo is an advertisement for your company “brand”, make sure its saying the right thing. Because customers can make a decision whether or not they want to use your company…in the blink of an eye…

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Vital Signs

The first step in signs is always the graphic design. Lao-tzu says… “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Good signs always begin with good design.  Not like this one. Ouch! Did this help?

Signage is one of the most effective forms of advertising there is. Taking into consideration the life of the average sign, whether its on a building or a vehicle (other than stated temporary signs like banners) amortize that cost and divide by the amount of “readings” you receive and it becomes very effective AND very affordable. And don’t just take our word for it. The US Small Business Administration agrees “Signage is the least expensive, most effective form of advertising and can be responsible for half of your customers! That’s right. 50%! It can affect the success or failure of your business.

So, the first step in any signage project that requires developing a new design is determining the needs of the client. We want to know what message are you trying to send and of course what is your budget. Are you looking for temporary signage? Or are you looking for something to last? If you’re like most business owners, your signs don’t need to be recognized globally to be successful. It just has to meet the needs of your market. Signs…

ü     Play a vital role in promoting your business

ü     Attract potential customers

ü     Should be functional AND attractive

ü     Give a unique identity branding to the business

It can take hours to put together a project depending on the complexity of the design and manufacturing but potential customers may only spend moments looking and absorbing your message. You want your sign design to be effective and not waste those dollars. Your message needs to be Clear—Concise ─Communicative. I love this recent design we did for Salida Unified School District Food Program. It’s fun. It communicates their message to children. And it came in their budget constraints.

Give us a call to discuss how we can help you with your graphic design needs, contact us today at 1-800-255-1790 or via email at

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Do your signs have a magnetic personality?

If you use magnetic signs for your vehicle, best practices say (and industry experts) remove signs at least once a week, clean any moisture buildup between vehicle and sign and reapply. To apply, always apply sign to clean surface and let one edge of the sign contact the vehicle in the desired location. Then let the magnetic power do the work as it puts the sign into place from the starting edge to the opposite side. We often hear a sad story about “my signs blew off down the freeway”…Protect signs when not in use by adhering to a metal surface, don’t leave them just laying around. With a little care, your magnetic signs will be with you for a long time!

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