It is a more common phenomenon than you think.

Poor signage examples are everywhere and no doubt you have experienced a few yourself.

We have seen…

  • Shop fronts plastered with signs that are far from welcoming, including ‘no food and drink in the shop’, ‘no mobile phones/laptops/tablets’, ‘no crowds of young people’, ‘leave pushchairs outside’
  • We have seen over-use of signs only to find that when we have waded through the information, the money-off offer is not worth it
  • We have seen sign on sign on sign in shops or displays all competing for our attention but capturing none
  • And we’ve witnessed the faux paus of signs advertising a product on a stand that isn’t there, such as ‘£20 off humidifiers’ only for it to be suck on a case of wooden coat hangers or plastic boxes
  • We have seen the almost rude instructions to shoppers ‘don’t touch’, ‘don’t pick anything up’ and the favourite ‘ALL BREAKAGES MUST BE PAID FOR!!!!’

If you are guilty of any of these, you need our shop front signage tips and here we have five (and a bonus!)


     I.        Short and to the point (with the right message)

First and foremost, shop front signage should be encouraging, persuasive and welcoming. It shouldn’t be telling customers what they can and cannot do. They should be positive, and play their part in making your shop an enticing retail opportunity.

Remember when Twitter came along, and how hard it was to write a tweet in 140 characters? But with practice, we can write our life story in 140 characters therefore, it goes without saying that shop front signs should be short and to the point.

Customers are in a hurry. They form an impression as to whether something is of interest to them or not within seconds.

   II.        Easy to read fonts

Isn’t technology marvellous? Not only are we connected every minute of the day, there are all kinds of fonts and characters to use. And people do.

But, there is a difference between something looking pretty, and a sign that drives sales. It may surprise you, but leave out the clip art, the curly bits and the multiple colours, customers can ‘see’ the message – and this means more sales. Of all the shop frontage signage tips, if you take no notice of the others, take note of this one.

 III.        State a reason why customers NEED to buy your product or service

What problem does your product solve? Will it make dad look cool and heroic? Will it make the first date go swimmingly?

How about statements such as ‘control curly hair with [this]’, ‘be a hero tonight!’ and so on.

 IV.        Use the words ‘you’ and ‘yours’

When it comes to sales, people like to feel the personal approach – and that includes the messages they see in print.

Take this example, for instance: Take this great duvet home tonight for half the price

To this: Stay warm in your bed tonight with this half price duvet

As soon as something is personalised, people feel a connection to it and to you.

   V.        Less is more

We live in a technological age and there are many benefits to this. One is that as humans we are becoming more used to short, succinct messages.

Much like the 140-character Twitter posts, many people when they text substitute icons and emojis for words or to add expression to their texts. For ease and speed, many people shorten words and phrases such as dropping vowels from a word or two or using well-known abbreviations, such as ‘btw’ for ‘by the way ‘or ‘lol’ for ‘laugh out loud’.

This means that as we go about our daily business, we expect other forms of messages to be short and succinct. This doesn’t mean missing every vowel out of every word on your roller banner stands but taking an objective look and whether you could chop yet more words out of the signage you have in store.

Bonus tip – Be creative

Frankly, bad signs are bad but boring signs are worse. Have some fun, but make sure that your customers get the information they need when they glance at the sign.

But in being funny, make sure that you don’t offend anyone, either intentionally or by accident. There are some signs that skim very close to the line so if you are in doubt, then the policy is probably best not to use it.

Poor signs can spell disaster. And could be responsible for a dip in sales.