Signs are marketing communication vehicles for identifying a business and promoting products and services. Added to an integrated marketing campaign, they help widen your message. But a sign is only effective if it can be seen. Sounds obvious, right? But the proper placement of signs is as much as an art, as is the design of the sign itself.
In an article on signcraft.com, sign analyst, Dan Mika explains that placing a sign in the right place so people can easily see and read it requires an understanding of “sight-lines”—regions of maximum visibility. He explains that signs are best viewed at a 90-degree angle to the viewer. So, although a sign on the front of a building might be placed above a shop doorway for long-range visibility from many angles, to attract sidewalk pedestrians nearer to the business, the best sign would be placed at eye level, 90 degrees, such as a freestanding banner, A-frame sign, or flag pole style coming off the building. Even the side of an awning can carry a message that would be considered within sight-line.
The above isn’t meant to imply that all flat signs on buildings are wrong. In fact, sides of buildings can be great places for signs if traffic patterns around the building make it a sight-line for drivers.
As Mika states, once a sign is planned for just the right place, all the principles of effective sign design can then be applied to the layout. To ensure your sign investment is a solid one, be sure to work with a sign provider that can help you with both placement consultation and good graphic design.
You may have a lot of “owned media” and not even know it. Does your company have empty walls or hallways? Perhaps they could be put to better use than as generic art galleries. Think of at all those blank office walls as “owned media”—yet another avenue for getting your integrated marketing message across and an opportunity to cross-promote services while reinforcing your brand values.
Who Uses Owned Media
Hospitals offer a prime example of “owned media”. Their campuses have miles of blank walls and waiting rooms filled with captive audiences, but few use them effectively. One notable exception is Kaiser Permanente, which has been using the vast wall space of its new Irvine, California, facility to motivate patients with images from their “Thrive” marketing campaign that also reinforce the brand’s commitment to the their members’ total health as well as the communities they serve.
But you don’t have to be as big as a hospital to have “owned media.” Take a walk around your own business. Do you have waiting areas? Are you using your signage and store displays effectively?
Match the Message with the Environment
Take advantage of potential areas within your company to talk about new products or improvements. Be careful to balance environmental design with marketing—don’t come across as too pushy or salesy. Owned media within the office also offers a vehicle for engaging and inspiring employees, informing visitors and reinforcing your brand values.
Potential Owned Media Opportunities
According to M. Muneer, CEO of CustomerLab, empty walls are not the only places for branding and messaging opportunities. Owned media potentially includes the building, walls, garden, vehicles, websites, and social media.
Muneer cites additional opportunities that include external signage, vehicle wraps, garden boards, interior design, digital signage, floor and wall graphics, information kiosks, and so on. Owned corporate messages can be put in the entry hall, waiting areas, cafeteria, staircases, elevators, and parking area. Even your phone system can be used for branded audio messages instead of traditional ring tones. In short, anything a company uses to communicate or to make an impression can be considered owned media.
Integrated marketers should be sensitive to their environment and carefully choose the right way to deliver the right message for the setting to convey your brand values without getting pushy.
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Signs, or signage, are so commonplace that their importance can be taken for granted. The International Sign Association (ISA) published a study indicating that when a sign was added on a previously blank side of a building, sales increased anywhere between 2.5% and 7.1%.
Most small business owners know they need signage, but too many think of them as merely a marker identifying the business –certainly not a powerful marketing tool. The fact is, when designed effectively, a sign can be a part of a solid integrated marketing strategy that helps brand your business in the minds of your customers.
According to the International Sign Association (ISA), your sign should
Attract New Customers
Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. But according to the U. S. Census Bureau, 18.6% of the population relocates annually, which means every year you’re losing customers that you must replace with new customers just to break even. The quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage.
Brand the Business
When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called “top-of-mind awareness.” Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition. When driving to and from work, school and shopping, your customers pass your location some 50 to 60 times a month. Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass by.
Create Impulse Sales
A recent study from the University of California at Berkeley analyzed 30,000 purchases of 4,200 customers in 14 cities. It found that 68% of purchases during major shopping trips were unplanned–they were bought on impulse. Even though many of today’s consumers have the financial ability to spend money, few have the time in which to do that spending. They’re certainly too busy to search for you or wander around comparison-shopping. They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need.
If your sign is going to convince the impulse customer to stop at your business, it must be designed so that the important information is easily recognized at a glance. Make sure the first time someone reads your sign, they immediately understand the most important information–what you’re selling!
On-premise signage is a lot like your company website FAQ or About pages: it plays a small but vital role in brand recognition and lead generation. Yet, once in place, signage can be easily forgotten. One way to freshen up your marketing efforts is to replace exterior weathered and faded signs, as well as interior ones touting an old logo or message. A well-designed sign with the right font, colors and graphics can attract the attention of more potential customers and make for a more lasting impression of your company.
Sign technology has come a long way. Whether you select a free standing sign, lettering applied to the exterior of your building or graphics on your front window, numerous options are available to match your company’s personality and budget. Some sign options, such as posters and banners, are so affordable you can change them frequently to align with your current marketing campaigns.
Signage should always be considered when developing integrated marketing campaigns for your products. If your prospects and customers are receiving an offer or being introduced to a new product through direct mail, email, or via your website using a new creative campaign, that same creative and messaging should be developed for the exterior or interior of your business. This is a great way to upsell that new product to existing customers. And, temporary magnetic signs on delivery vehicles are another way to communicate the offer.
It’s really all about visual communications—the art of using pictures, graphics, charts and signs to communicate information. Visual communication gives us perspective to help us learn, understand and retain information. So, if you want your company to be seen and heard, use signs!
Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign
Sound like a familiar song? The Five Man Electrical Band may have thought there are too many signs, but the fact is, signs are a way of life. Wayfaring signs help guide us to where we want to go. Billboards inform us about products and services we may need, as well as telling us where to get off the road to eat, drink and rest! Traffic signs prevent us from getting into accidents and from getting tickets. Yes, signs are good. And they are an excellent addition to an integrated marketing campaign.
Signage is among the least expensive, most effective forms of advertising for millions of retail and independent businesses. High-quality, well-designed signs help support integrated marketing through brand recognition, lead generation, and customer acquisition. Over time, signs also remind the local community that your company is alive and well, and “open for business.”
Visual communications are all around us. Posters and banners are used often in retail environments, and more companies are trending toward wall graphics, floor graphics, and even window graphics. And signs are going mobile with the addition of QR codes to drive today’s mobile customer to a sale, coupon or other event even without going into the store.
So the next time you develop a marketing campaign, consider signage as another channel for delivering your message to a wider audience at, often, an affordable price.
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Are you DELIVERING the right message?
Research indicates that 85% of your customers likely live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. If strong signage is not a part of your overall marketing strategy, you’re probably not attracting as many customers as you could be.
Stop Here Please!
To convince customers to stop at your business instead of driving right on by, your sign must be designed with enough color contrast for the information to be seen or read from a distance. The first time someone reads your sign, he or she should immediately be able to understand the most important information—what you are selling. A brief, simple message, in conjunction with eye-catching visual features one would expect for your particular type of business, is essential.
Of course, the use of your logo, company colors, tagline, etc. on your sign should be consistent with your letterhead, business cards, print ads and more. Coordinated imagery and messaging build recall and recognition and help brand your business in the minds of your customers.
If you’re trying to enhance your brand message and expand its visibility, consider vehicle graphics. Remember the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile? It was first created in 1936 to promote Oscar Mayer’s products at grocery stores across the country. While you might not see very many hot dog-shaped cars on the road today, more and more companies are using vehicle graphics in much the same way to boost their branding efforts.
Vehicle graphics can be placed on a car, truck, van, bus, fleet, motorcycle or just about anything you can think of. From Mary Kay cosmetics pink Cadillacs to local merchants in white vans decorated with logos, photos and contact information, vehicle graphics attract a lot of attention. They also generate millions of impressions over time and garner even more exposure for a longer period of time, especially when the vehicle is driven or parked in a highly visible area.
Different types of businesses need to employ different marketing strategies to attract the right customers. Strong outdoor signage coupled with vehicle graphics will command the attention of your potential customers every time they pass your business—or your vehicle.