June 25, 2017

Signs of the Times, In-Store and Outdoor Signage Ideas


In-store and outside signage is a key factor in getting customers into your retail store. But have you stopped to look at your signage lately? Just like your merchandise, your signage should change regularly to keep customers coming back. Here’s how to ensure all your various types of signage are doing their best to communicate with customers.

Signage Ideas

Take It Outside

Your permanent outdoor sign won’t change very often, if at all, but it’s important to make sure it looks fresh and up-to-date at all times. Burned out bulbs, flickering neon or peeling paint convey a bad impression. Make sure your sign is in tune with the feel and the look of the area where your store is located.

For example, a store in a trendy, hipster neighborhood might use minimal neon lettering, while one in a small town catering to baby boomer customers might use a cloth awning sign.

Window signage, on the other hand, should change frequently, with new merchandise or seasons. Here are some ideas for creating a window display.

Portable signage, such as A-frame or chalkboard signs, is a great way to attract passersby to your store. Get creative with your sign! An eclectic clothing boutique might use a chalkboard with pastel, hand-drawn lettering. A children’s bookstore or toy shop might use a magnetic board spelling out words in colorful alphabet magnets, or a felt board with stick-on felt lettering.

Inside Job

Inside the store, signage can serve the purpose of directing or explaining (signs that tell customers where the dressing rooms are, for instance) or can persuade them to look and buy (signs announcing sales or hyping products). Purposeful signs need to be clear and easily understood. Persuasive signs can be more fun. Both types should be consistent with your brand in terms of fonts, colors and design.

Try these signage ideas when planning or updating your indoor signage:

Mix it Up

Point of purchase signs, A-frame signs, standing signs, display signs and wall signs are all formats you can use throughout your store. You can even get super creative with decals on the floor highlighting key sections of the shop. Something as simple as a doormat with a creative message or your business logo on it will attract attention while also serving a purpose.

Be Positive

We’ve all been to the store cluttered with signs like “Absolutely NO checks accepted,” “Cash only,” “All sales FINAL,” and other signs suggesting the owner has had some awfully bad experiences with customers. Unless it’s tongue-in-cheek, this type of thing doesn’t make you want to spend money — just the opposite. Phrase information positively: “We cannot accept out-of-state checks. Thank you for understanding.”

Get Framed

They aren’t exactly signs, but framed articles about your business or awards you have won are another way to communicate with customers. They show that your store has a history, is part of the community and is respectable and trustworthy.

Share the Benefits

When it comes to signage ideas, like ads, persuasive signs should focus on the benefits of a product, not its features. How will the product help the user look better, feel better, do something better? At Father’s Day time, “Great Gifts for the Gardening Dad” makes a better sign on a display of garden tools than “Garden Tools.”

Move ‘em Out

Got a slow selling product? Persuasive signs can help drive customers’ attention to products they might not have noticed.

Grab Attention

Signs that make people stop and think, such as puns, plays on words or humor, are a great way to get shoppers to slow down. When someone pauses to read a sign and chuckle or share it with a friend, you’ve got a better chance of making the sale.

Get Inspired

Look at print ads, other stores or businesses, or search terms like “retail signage” or “store signage” on Pinterest to get signage ideas you can borrow from. If you see a play-on-words you like, will it work for your store with a few tweaks?

Strike a Balance

Both inside and outside your store, it’s important to find the right balance between too little and too much signage. Too much, and your store looks cluttered and overwhelming — customers won’t know where to look. Too little, and the store looks unwelcoming, as customers struggle with things like where to find items.

If you’ve lost perspective, have impartial people you know walk through the store and give you feedback. They can tell you if your signs are sending the right signals, or not saying a word.

New York City Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions

  1. I love the suggestion to stay positive. Negativity is a buzz kill and positive vibes are infectious.

  2. There are some very good tips here, even for a professional as I am, this is great information.

  3. These are some great ideas for someone new in business. A good signage campaign means everything to a good brand. This hits all avenues of where signage is key. Thank you for sharing.

  4. As you say, humor is a great element to have in any form of advertising. Also, variety helps. And this is where a chalkboard sign can be really useful. There’s a local cafe, for example, that has a new, funny saying about coffee out front seemingly every day. Makes you look forward to walking past because it’s bound to give you a smile.

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