What are the most common mistakes that people make when deciding on a sign for their shopfront? We asked our signage expert to give us the low down on what works and what doesn’t. Here he shares some tips...
To shine…or not
“One of the first questions we need to ascertain is whether a sign requires illumination or not,” says Gary White, Client Account Manager, Signs. “It’s best to ask right at the outset as this can be a difficult thing to factor in once we have the design created and have discussed materials etc. Some fonts and styles don’t work well with illumination and some methods of manufacture aren’t ideal for it either so this is one of the very first basic considerations.”
It’s a Plan
“Another thing we always advise our customers is that they may well need planning permission for their sign,” adds Gary “Every local authority has a slightly different regulations on what type of sign needs it, but, in general, with a shop front, it is worth checking. And this is where the illumination question becomes doubly important, as brightly lit signs are more likely to cause issues with planning than plain ones. Neighbours sometimes have a habit of objecting to illuminated signs so it’s worth asking. All it often takes is a quick call to the planning office to check their requirements. They are usually very helpful.
The onus is on YOU
And another point to remember about planning is that we can still make a sign without planning permission in place. But we will always advise you check first whether you need planning permission. You don’t have to listen to our advice. But you need to remember that the onus is squarely on the customer (which is you) to comply with regulations in this area, not the sign company, so it is best not to ignore this. In some situations, you may be able to apply for planning permission retrospectively, but this is not always the case so always check.”
DIY.. or Use a Professional?
“Planning Permission is a very complicated process,” adds Gary. “We can create planning permission submissions here for our clients but there is a cost involved. This is something we do every day and are used to all the pitfalls and problems. You are very welcome to do your own planning permission yourself but be extremely careful to provide everything the Planning Authority is asking for as they have a habit of rejecting an entire pack for a very small error – such as the wrong size photocopy - which means you will have to start again.”
Simple is Best
“When choosing your style of shop front or sign, simple is usually the best way,” continues Gary. “Don’t over complicate the process by choosing lots of conflicting styles, distracting fonts and colours. Clean and professional is the best way to go. Don’t cut corners with manufacturing methods or installation and do take the advice of a professional. You want to create a good impression of your retail premises or business. If your sign is messy, badly manufactured and has been clearly put together shabbily, resembling a school project more than a professionally-made sign, what will that say to your potential customers about your business…?”
Reference Points to success
“If you already have a clear brand image and know what you want, it is really helpful if you have all your fonts and colour references to hand so that we can help translate that into your sign,” Gary says. “We can create a drawing or a CGI of your sign so that you can gauge how it will look. We can also take a photo of the front of your premises and superimpose the CGI image onto your shopfront for a very clear visualisation of your shopfront."
”Another thing that customers sometimes do is underestimate – or completely ignore – the actual constraints of what shape space is available,” warns Gary. “They have a small, horizontal space in which to erect a sign but they provide artwork in a square format which won’t translate into a rectangle. Be realistic. We may be able to redesign it for you to suit your space but that will obviously add to the costs involved.”
Use your Business Card
“I often tell those customers who really don’t know what their sign should be like, to use a business card for inspiration,” concludes Gary. “The details on their card, including their logo, their colours and their overall image is a great starting point. They are often rectangular too so they give a customer an idea of what looks good where. But I strongly advise against putting phone numbers on shop fronts, particularly mobile numbers. It doesn’t look terribly professional – mobile numbers can make it look a temporary venture. And you don’t want people to just walk past (and hopefully try to remember your phone number), you want them to see your fantastic signage, get a great impression of your business and walk straight in.”
Now, why not have a look at our Signs page for some inspiration?