People drive by your business every day and night. Do they notice your retail business signs? Pretend you’re the customer. Do you notice your signs? What will make your retail sign stand out?

In other words, how can you improve your sign visibility? Sign visibility means the physical attributes of a sign and its contents that allow the sign to be seen and fully legible at a given distance. Some signs come to mind immediately. McDonald’s. Target. Starbucks.

If you want your business to attract a customer’s attention, learn the 7 do’s and don’ts about improving sign visibility.

“Research has shown almost eight in 10 (76 percent) American consumers enter a store they have never visited before based on its signs.” FedEx Office and Ketchum Global Research & Analytics survey

1. Do remember an illuminated sign is advertising your business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and month after month.

We have many options to market our businesses these days — digital ads, websites, videos, email marketing, podcasts, social media — but an illuminated retail sign continues to be highly important. Passersby will read an easily detected sign at any time, night or day.

Not only does a well-designed sign help customers find you, but every time they drive or walk by, they glean an impression of your business. Think about the number of impressions by these folks accumulating over months and years. Not to mention new people who move in the area.

When your sign is illuminated, your business has a competitive advantage. Over 50% of business owners surveyed reported they would lose sales if they were no longer allowed to light their business signs. This group estimated a 21% loss in sales. (Illuminated Versus Non-Illuminated Signage – Economic Impact of Illumination Study.)  Even if your doors are closed, an illuminated sign keeps working and attracting customers.

2. Do understand the term: luminance.

The right lighting or luminance helps the sign be noticed. What does luminance mean? For our purpose, luminance is the perceived brightness of an illuminated sign. Sign lighting can increase clarity even during daytime hours. If the sign is not illuminated, people may have difficulty seeing your sign in evening hours, foggy weather conditions or in comparison to other brighter, easier to read signs in the area. 

Lighting can make the sign’s message clear and stand out. Today’s sign lighting options can also make your sign the most unique, and thus the most interesting part of the scenery.

“I would stress that before you commit to a location, find out what the sign regulations are to make sure you can have proper visibility in building signs and access to free-standing signs. In my experience, many times customers are shocked to hear what limitations they have in the lease,” Christy Gannone

3. Do know the sign regulations at the location of your retail store before you sign the lease.     

It’s a story we hear too often from customers. You learn your new retail location does not allow the business signs you want — after you’ve signed on the dotted line. Some regulations may not allow illuminated signs or restrict size or location. 

Christy Gannone, Loumarc Signs marketing consultant, worked with a customer who was opening a new school. Highly visible signs were important to her getting the word out about the institution. She found a building space that suited her needs. Before she signed the lease, she had contacted Christy. They discussed the importance of knowing the location’s sign regulations. The customer learned exterior signs were not allowed, so she continued looking and found a place nearby that did.

By consulting with a sign company early in the process, she avoided the inability to advertise and help students and their families find the school. So ask about sign regulations early when you’re considering a new location.

4. Don’t forget proper illumination especially during fall and winter seasons.

If regulations allow signs to be illuminated, then illumination is crucial because sign visibility suffers during evening hours.

“It’s most important as you enter fall and winter when the outdoors darkens earlier,” said Christy. “That’s key, especially for retail businesses because most parking lot lights and other lighting are not coordinated yet to the the sun setting earlier.”

Business signs are not displayed in isolation and the days are not always bright and sunny. Consider the landscape, buildings, utility poles, trees, vegetation, other business signage and parking lots surrounding the signs. To have maximum impact, the sign needs to be easily detected in any weather.

“The sun’s going down and it’s dusk. You really need to have the proper illumination and good color contrast so the signs are visible for people going into the retail location,” Christy said.

5. Do understand the term: contrast.

Another term to know is contrast. What is contrast? Contrast is the difference between elements having similar or different colors. High-contrast signs are easier to read whereas combinations with lower contrast — such as yellow on white — are more difficult.

6. Do enhance visibility with contrasting color combinations.

There are colors that diminish visibility and there are colors that will enhance visibility, according to Christy. “With the right color combinations, someone with a smaller sign could conceivably have greater visibility than someone with a bigger sign,” she said.

Some of the most visible combinations of colors are yellow and black, white and black, white and blue, and red and white. But there is more to an effective sign than the right color combination.

7. Don’t try to weigh visibility factors by yourself.

You may be tempted to choose a sign by yourself, but mistakes can easily be made without counsel. And with the investment of a custom internally illuminated business sign starting around $4,000, your mistake can affect the sign’s effectiveness for many years.

Loumarc Signs consultants prepare before they visit you on-site. They are familiar with sign regulations, and gather tools and charts to evaluate your business’s setting and surroundings. Then they bring information relevant to you for your business, location and budget. Coupled with site surveys and with designer expertise, every conceivable visibility factor is considered in the process.

“We bring to the customer’s attention factors they may be unaware of that will affect visibility,” Christy Gannone

During a consultation, Christy discusses openly with her customers about their business goals, budget and what features will hurt or help visibility. “If you’re relying on the sign as a big part of your advertising, then in the consultation I will guide you on the best ways to enhance visibility,” Christy said.

Would you like to know more about choosing a highly visible retail business sign? Get more information by contacting us

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