Wait! Before you order, plan…
Signs are a very influential method of communication with your prospects and customers. They speak for you around the clock! So, don't place an order for a sign without first putting considerable thought into it. Spend some time in the planning phase so you know for sure your sign will successfully do what you need it to do for your business.
Here is how to craft a custom sign from start to finish:
- Decide on the purpose for your sign. This sounds elementary, but really it's not. What exactly would you like the sign to do for you? Drive traffic? Inform customers? Give direction? Reinforce the brand? Be clear up front about the purpose of the sign. Only then will you be able to strategically design it to work for you.
- Determine how and where you will mount your sign. Surprised this is next? Mounting often determines material and size, so you should determine this up front. Is this an indoor or outdoor sign? Is it lighted? Will it be free-standing, hanging, or mounted against a building or wall? How many holes will you need? Deciding on the mounting will also alert you early as to what hardware you'll need to order from your sign company or purchase from your local hardware store.
- Identify possible substrates. Once you determine how the sign will be mounted, then you can decide on the material. Why? Because some materials are better than others for outdoors (because of weathering) or for hanging (because of panel strength). So, decide which materials would be best for your circumstances. Which materials fit within your budget? Which ones meet your sign deadlines? For example, an aluminum sign can be completed start to finish in 24 hours, but a sandblasted redwood sign could take 6 weeks or more. Consider all your options!
- Decide on production specifications. When you've decided on your material, then consider any production specifications you may need to communicate to your sign company. Do you need holes? If so, where will they need to be drilled? Would you like the corners squared or rounded, or will your sign be custom shaped? How about the edges – would you like them beveled or flame polished? If it's a metal sign, would you like a specialized finish, like brushed or polished? What would the production department of the sign company need to know before they produce your sign? Have this information ready because it will affect your pricing.
- Choose the most impactful message. Once all the fabrication details are in place, then you can begin designing the sign. And, design, believe it or not, begins with messaging, not graphics! Who are you targeting? What would you like to say to them? How exactly will your sign read? Craft the message and make sure it's clear, concise and consistent. Signs are most effective when they are straight to the point!
- Select your graphics. Now that you've got a clear message, now you can accentuate it with graphics that drive it home. Graphics add visual interest and increase the likelihood of your sign being read! So, select quality images that complement your message. The two should work together to draw your target market in. And, when it comes to choosing graphics, look for big, bold colors and images that resonate with your prospects – they'll give you the most bang for your buck.
- Prepare your artwork. Whether you've got a completed design or just graphics, you want to make sure the artwork is "print ready" or as close to it as possible. "Print ready" simply means that no additional design work needs to be done to better the quality of the art. Make sure you deliver vector images, or extremely high quality raster images to your sign company. Also, if at all possible, make sure those images are original application files (Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator files are most common). The better the art work, the more impressive the sign!
- Get a second opinion. Lastly, once your sign design is ready, before you press "go", get a second pair of eyes to take a look! Have someone who's not close to the project double-check for punctuation, spelling, spacing, color, etc. It never hurts to be doubly sure before you move forward with production. Try hard to avoid any "signs gone wrong" nightmares!
And, that's how to craft a custom sign from start to finish! Remember, signs are silent salesmen – and they are constantly at work for you. Take the time necessary to make sure your sign reads how you want it to read and does what you want it to do. When designed and produced well, a sign can be quite effective. Your time and efforts in crafting it will pay off, so invest up front for a successful finish!