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Same words, shape and colors but much more impact

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It’s amazing how the same copy can be transformed by a sign designer to deliver the same message much more effectively, and with much more appeal. In a market where signs are often seen as just “words on a panel” it gives you something much more to sell than just price: Value.

The before-and-after examples of this routine informational sign by Lisa Freshler, USMC Sign Shop, Cherry Hill, North Carolina, is a great example of that. To really work, a sign has to get its message across 

in a way that appeals to the eye rather than bores the eye. It doesn’t matter if it’s an informational sign or full vehicle wrap.

What makes Lisa’s version of this sign so much more effective? Simple, common sense changes. First, the copy was arranged in a natural reading order based on importance. What do readers need to know first? Danger, then that they can’t go further, and finally the reason why—it’s a dog training area.

Next, color was used for emphasis and to add interest: a reverse red panel at the top, heavy black text for Off Limits sitting on a red rule. Strong color contrasts were needed to deliver this important information with a punch. There’s contrast in the font choices, too: the same extended font at the top and bottom, and a bold condensed font in the center.

The concept of value, though, is true about any sign—a 3D monument, a vehicle wrap or a 4x8 real estate sign. An effective, appealing sign is a much better value than a generic one. Though it may cost a little more to have a sign made by a skilled designer, the increased effectiveness means the client really gets what they paid for—a sign that will get their message across to as many people as possible.

Here are few other good examples of how the designer made sure the message got read in the proper order. Take a look at how they used contrast to get the job done.

Andy Stroh, ACS Graphics, Fremont, Indiana

Felipe Cruz, Signs West Inc., Austin, Texas

David Showalter, David Design, Bryan, Ohio

Rob Cooper, Koh Tao, Thailand


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