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Custom Signs, Then and Now

Signs are the oldest, most proven way to keep your business on the front burner...

As a business manager you of course want your company to be on the front burner of your customers' minds. You most likely accomplish this through several avenues such as advertising, sales calls, public relations, and hopefully custom signage.

Signs are one of the oldest methods for advertising businesses. In fact, King Richard II enacted a law in 1393 requiring all alehouses to hang a custom sign outside identifying them as establishments that sold ale. These signs actually enabled the Ale Tasters (inspectors) to find the ales that needed testing. As a Chef, at least of Signs, I think that sounds like a pretty intriguing job. These aren't the oldest signs, but to me they are quite relevant to the Lowcountry.

Here in Charleston, one of the oldest English settlements in the United States, history is repeating itself, much like a Chef will make a recipe over and over if it sells well at a restaurant. If you walk around downtown Charleston you'll see signs that still remain today, such as the signs at the corner of Ashley Avenue and Spring Street - "FOR GOOD SPORTS. KRUEGER BEER AND ALE," and "ASHLEY CREAM."

Although the technology behind the signs has changed a great deal, the core ingredients from hundreds of years ago are still the same today. As people are walking or driving by your business establishment, you want them to:

  1. Know that your business is there
  2. Easily be able to identify what you do
  3. Remember this information even if they do not stop right at that moment

I liken this to flipping through a cookbook. Wouldn't you rather stop and make a yummy-sounding recipe with a nice picture than a recipe with a bland name and without an idea what it will look like when you're done?

Designing a sign that does all this is not as difficult as it may seem. One of the benefits of custom signs having been around so long is that the art of signage can actually be broken down into a recipe for successful signs.

The basics are:
  • Color
  • Lettering
  • Image
  • Size
  • Placement
  • Material

Fortunately for you, I will continue sharing the secret family recipes for signs in future columns. But until then, remember that you want to be on the front burner of your customers' minds, and by having the right custom sign out in front of your business establishment, you'll be able to do just that.

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