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Your customer gets into his car and starts the engine. Driving out of the driveway, he’s heading out to run errands. He will be driving by your business on the way to his first stop. This is your moment to be noticed. How will you get his attention?

Display an outdoor sign designed to make your business highly visible.

And how do you do that? First, you need to understand what a potential customer views when driving near your business location.  

Standing out from a cluttered environment

In the car, the driver is distracted by the music playing, his own thoughts, children and other passengers while doing the primary task of driving (hopefully) safely. Outside the car, capturing his attention is hard, because you’re competing with bad weather, nighttime vision, and other businesses. You understand what you’re up against.

Attracting a driver’s attention to your sign depends on these factors: the sign’s size, color, design, and placement. But the most important factor is “the amount of contrast between the sign and its surrounding environment,” according to the United States Sign Council Foundation.

When the person drives in complex conditions and landscape, then his ability to detect your sign decreases. So if your potential customer is fully engaged in driving, which happens as he travels through downtown or a multi-lane highway, a longer time elapses before he notices your business sign.

One way to overcome this challenge is to illuminate the sign, said Larry Gliozzi, owner of Loumarc Signs. Research by the USSC Foundation has found “an increase in detection after dark for internally illuminated signs over similar signs viewed under daylight conditions.”  For more info, view our illuminated signs and check out the simple guide to illuminated channel letter signs.

Let’s talk about how the business sign’s size, message, orientation and location affect visibility for drivers:

Sign size:

The sign needs to be an optimum size — large enough to be noticed, but not too large that the message is difficult to read in a single glance. Whether the person is moving or standing still also affects the sign size. Depending on the location, different sizes may be best for the pedestrian versus the highway driver. Regulations by town or city usually indicate the maximize size. Loumarc Signs team first determines the size allowed before recommending designs.

Sign message:

A driver has only a few moments to scan your sign. You have time to communicate only one idea, not dozens. Do you want to show directions? Display the company’s name? Feature a specific product? You must choose one. Otherwise, the person cannot grasp the message.

A business will get maximum results if the name also reflects what they do, for example, Loumarc Signs. 

“Short messages and simple fonts take less time to read and comprehend than long messages and cursive or decorative fonts,” according to the USSC Foundation. 

And Larry agreed. “Keep the sign simple and don’t overcrowd the sign,” he said. Avoid adding too many graphics or too ornate a typeface. Use discretion when using a drop shadow, or a graphics effect that makes the element look three-dimensional. The drop shadow may negatively affect visibility. 

Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

How many seconds does it take to read a sign?

“Current research on average reading times indicates that signs displaying four to eight words in simple topography can be comfortably read and comprehended in approximately four seconds, which results in a reading time, or message scan, of one-half second per word.” United States Sign Council Foundation On-premise Signage study

You’ve probably heard the basic rule of visibility: 1 inch of letter height is readable about 30 feet. A caveat: This assumes an ideal viewing situation. Remember, in the real world, a driver experiences inclement weather, traffic and road construction … so it’s more of a guide than a statute. Larry also considers the speed of traffic when analyzing readability.

Sign orientation:

Your potential customers will see the sign most clearly when they are directly in front and facing it. Moving the sign up, down, or to the side, and every angle of rotation — even slightly — affects the visibility.

Orientation is defined as the relative angle of view between the sign and the viewer. What is optimum? Signs positioned perpendicular to the person. So people are less likely to notice a sign in a parallel or side-oriented view. When the viewer initially sees the sign, the viewer’s sight range is within a cone of vision extending 10 degrees to either side of the person. 

Sign location:

When a sign consultant meets you at your business, they will be assessing where you plan to place the sign. Just like real estate, location matters. People cannot see the message if they lose line of sight to a sign. Trees, snow banks, and landscaping can obstruct the view. Buildings, utility poles, traffic signals and other signs can also block the sign. What else can interfere? Pedestrians, parked cars, and traffic can.

Because sign location is tricky, experienced sign consultants are trained to determine the optimal height and setback for a sign to maximize its visibility.

Of course, you can also rely on your sign company to show you how to make your sign stand out from the crowd. If you would like to know more ways to increase the visibility of your business, click the button below.

Shannan Seely

Shannan Seely is a NJ writer for Loumarc Signs. She writes about choosing the right business sign, how the permit process works, sign costs and other business signage topics. Loumarc Signs is a NJ custom sign shop in business for over 24 years. Once a customer approves the sign, Loumarc Signs handles the rest — from permits to plans, fabrication to installation. 

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