Sign of the Times

Coop signage

In today’s market, as a retailer, making an impact with your visual presence on the high street is vital, whether you are a national or international brand, or simply a small, stand-alone shop or venture

Whatever your retail venture, regardless of size or influence, it is really important to grab attention at your retail unit and signage is crucial to that success.

If you are a new business first venturing into signage for your premises, you need to think carefully about what you are trying to achieve.  Your chosen brand has to be represented on a sign that upholds all your values and brand image too, so if you are still at the design stage, enlist the help of a professional and think very carefully about your message and important factors like your font and your colour choice.  I’ve seen many a good sign ruined by a silly font that instantly makes the business look unprofessional.

There is absolutely no point in cutting comers and finding a cheap method of manufacture that sacrifices professionalism in order to try to save money.  A cheap sign looks exactly what it is. Cheap.  It will subliminally suggest to your potential customers that you have neither the money or the vision to provide them with the type of quality service they expect. It may not last for long and will look dreadful when compared with the signage of neighbouring retail units and it will make your business look like it’s struggling before it even gets going. 

Even worse is using a banner instead of a sign.  Banners are a very useful marketing tool…they have their place, but not as a substitute for a retail fascia. The one exception is a ‘coming soon’ banner to be removed as soon as a shop premises is branded.  But not for use instead of a sign. It makes your premises look temporary.  There is a lot to be said for simple, professional signage which is within your budget but looks good and is effective.  Classic, simple and tasteful is always far better than loud, bright and tacky.  

If you have already devised a logo and a brand image, then your signage must echo this.  Use your logo on the sign.  If you feel you need a strapline to explain your business, then by all means use it.  But your shop window itself is there for a purpose too so don’t clutter your sign unnecessarily. And you don’t need a mobile number on your sign.  That’s way too personal.  You are trying to brand a professional business, not have a chat with a friend. Mobile numbers tend to add to the temporary feel and lack quality.  Think clean, professional and stylish.  If you are not sure of what is available or what you like, maybe take a look here and see what inspires you.

Windows are the perfect showcase for promotions, seasonal events and new products, therefore window vinyls – which can be temporarily applied in Static Cling removable vinyl or something more long-lasting according to need – are the perfect advertising partner. But always opt for professional installation as a cheap, DIY job usually looks just that.

Once inside your premises, internal signage really comes into its own.  These signs have a big part to play, whether they are highlighting areas of interest to your customers, promoting special offers or are directional signs to show customers exactly where to find things.  But add too many signs however and your store becomes confusing and cluttered, too few and your customers can get hopelessly lost when trying to find things.  So make sure you strike a balance.  And, it stands to reason that its really important to uphold your values and your brand image at every available opportunity.  Remember your signage is your 24-hour silent salesman and it is capable of delivering a message about your business around the clock.  So make sure it delivers the right one!

The best way to really get it right is to speak to a professional signage company like us and ask them what they initially think.  Let them know if you have a budget in mind and ask them to send someone along to take a look.  A good company shouldn’t charge you for an initial survey, unless they are out of the area, but ask in advance.

Get more than one quote but be absolutely certain that you are comparing all quotes as ‘like for like’ to avoid any nasty surprises later on.  If there is anything you don’t understand, ask, however daft the question may be.  And decide in advance if you are only going to choose the cheapest quote – which is not always the best way - or whether you are looking for more than just the lowest price, such as the best type of service and a company you would trust to work with you on your project.

Each quote should clearly itemise what is to be done, the materials and methods to be used, and also timescales and all costs.  You should be able to get some sort of visual to show what the signage will look like and this will need to be signed off.  You may need to pay part of the cost up front or you may be able to get a credit account from the company you choose.  Always ask at each step of the way what is expected.

 Will you need Planning Permission?  This isn’t always the case but do check first and ask your signage company their advice.  They may be able to submit a full planning application for you with all necessary drawings if this is the case but it will always be at a cost.  If you suspect you may need planning permission but you ignore it, do so at your peril and don’t be surprised if the council subsequently gets in touch.

The golden rule is don't cut corners with signage.  Make sure your sign promotes your business as a successful and professional venture. Its impact shouldn't be underestimated. It has the power to speak volumes about your business so make sure what is says is all good. Remember, you only have one chance to make a great, first impression!