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How Quality Signs Make a Difference

December 14, 2018

Everyone sees hundreds of signs per day, but not all of them have the same impact. With so many messages competing for our attention, it may be difficult to fathom what it takes to make a sign stand out. While the message itself is most important and it must be visible, the quality of the sign is also a factor in whether or not it gets noticed by its target audience.

Factors Determining Sign Visibility

  • Material
  • Color
  • Size
  • Shine
  • How it’s mounted

The material of the sign is the most important factor for durability. Aluminum, for example, is stronger and will last much longer than plastic. If the sign lacks retro-reflective coating it will be difficult to read at night. An aluminum sign with coating can withstand environmental elements such as rain, wind or sunlight, lasting over a decade. The manner in which a sign is mounted outdoors will also play a role in its longevity, as it needs to be stable and difficult for vandals to remove.

The color scheme is important if it’s a road sign because it needs to conform with standards set by the Federal Highway Administration, in which drivers have developed a familiarity. Size of lettering must also comply with regulations so that the message is visible to the driver from far away. Tests have shown that mixing upper and lower case letters is easier to read from a distance for most people than all upper case letters.

Paying attention to details is another crucial dimension to sign quality. While distance is a factor, the lettering should be professional enough to look impressive at any distance. If the sign is meant for drivers then you should consider how many seconds the driver has to read the sign, which will affect the size of the lettering. Ultimately, quality signs are those that communicate effectively with target audiences, whether they display just text or are enhanced with creative imagery.

Matching the Environment

A sign is more likely to get attention if it’s placed in a location where it’s expected, such as above a door, in a window, or on a post to the side of the road. In some cases, such as with trade show signs, you may want to experiment with contrasting colors, which is a technique for standing out in a room full of a wide variety of signage. Regardless of whether the brand conveys a casual or elegant image, it should be simple so that it can be understood from a distance.

Although some people may not find white to be exciting, it usually makes the most appropriate background, since it works with any dark color. Black lettering can be hard to read on white if the letters are too close to each other, but it’s usually the easiest to read when the letters are adequately spaced. Certain contrasting colors usually don’t work well together, such as red on green. Red is most effective on white and is often the most attention-getting color, which is why it’s used for stop signs.

It’s important to view sign making as a form of both business and art, instead of one or the other. The business side is that the sign must send the right message to the right people, whereas artistically, a sign must also paint a picture in the mind that associates with the proper values and emotions. Ideally, it’s a memorable image that becomes familiar over time.


Designing quality signs comes down to both practical and artistic factors. For more information about quality signs, call Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location.

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