In the digital age, it’s easy to assume that physical signage and other types of “real-world” branding are not as important as they once were. After all, so much of marketing today is about what you do online—from banner ads to social media to your own company web page. As of 2016, the average company was spending 35% of its annual marketing budget on digital marketing, and that money is only poised to grow. For startups—many of which get underway as online-only businesses, with no physical addresses and little need for non-digital marketing—the percentage is probably even higher.
Why Physical Signage Still Matters
Before you write off physical marketing entirely, think about your past experiences as a customer or a client. When you walk into a store or restaurant, there are certain things you expect to see as signifiers that the business is truly professional—and therefore worthy of your time and money. An attractive physical sign out front is one of those signifiers. The same is surely true if you have ever gone into an office building for a job interview or a meeting with the executives there.
The bottom line is this: no matter how much technology evolves and changes things, first impressions are always going to matter. In the digital world, some of those first impressions are going to happen on the Internet—perhaps even most of them, depending on what your company does. However, in the vast majority of cases, some of those vital first impressions are still going to happen in the physical world.
In other words, you should invest money in making sure that your website or online storefront is stunning. You should make sure that your online presence looks great, works great, and drives customer engagement. What you shouldn’t do is forget about the other side of things. Investing the time and money it takes to come up with a truly beautiful physical sign is a step that will make sure you keep one leg firmly planted in the physical marketing space—even if most of your focus is on digital platforms.
How to Design the Right Physical Sign for Your Business
So how can you achieve the right effect with your physical signage? How can you achieve a professional look while also remembering that you are a small business that needs to save money at every turn? Here are a few tips you should follow to make sure you can get the sign you want at a price point your fledgling business can afford.
- Consider all the aesthetic angles: First, start by trying to sketch out some ideas for the artistic design of your new business sign. There are a few different factors to consider here, including color, contrast, and size. You have to consider these factors, as they will significantly impact the readability of your sign. Size (as well as the material you choose for your sign) will also affect the ultimate price tag for the project. You need to balance these strategic facets with the more artistic side of the equation. What do you want your sign to resemble? Obviously, you will want to have your brand name and your logo represented. The colors you usually use for elements in your other branding materials—such as your website or your letterhead—might be able to point you in the right direction for your sign.
- Consider placement and perspective: One of the biggest differences between designing visual marketing materials for digital purposes, and doing it for physical applications, is perspective. When you are creating a logo or banner for digital use, all you need to worry about is how it looks. Color and contrast still matter, but your primary goal is to create something that is eye-catching—not necessarily something that is eye-catching and easy to read from any angle. For physical signage, you can build readability into your sign design, but the placement is going to be just as important. Putting the sign where it is going to attract the most attention, lighting it to make sure people can see it in low-light conditions, and playing the angles to make sure it is visible and readable from the road are all important considerations.
- Consider hiring a professional designer: Once you’ve brainstormed what you want your sign to look like and where you want to position it, start looking for a company that specializes in wall graphics in your area. A professional designer will be able to take your concepts and turn them into something truly stunning. Plus, a sign company can take care of printing or manufacturing—steps you might not have the capacity to handle without help.
Physical signage may not mean as much in today’s business world as it used to, but it’s still an important part of a company’s brand. While your startup might not need to invest in physical signage right away—especially if you are one of those born-in-a-garage companies, eventually, you will need a physical sign, and the tips provided in this article should help you create an effective one.