5 things you must know before investing in a retail sign design

Not every retail sign is created equally, and not every retail sign design will work.

What you need to know about retail sign design

1. Retail sign designs need to fit the business

The old adage that clothes make the man kind of fits when it comes to retail sign design for businesses too. Like signs all clothes serve a utilitarian purpose but also like clothes, signs convey our personalities so they need to be tailored to fit each business. This is one of the reasons you can’t just install any sign you want in a shopping center. The businesses around you are impacted by how you present yourself. So you need to consider that aspect before you have a sign design created for your business.

2. Understand the requirements of a retail sign design

Virtually all retail sign designs have to go through an approval process so it’s best to understand what that process is before making a commitment to a retail sign design or before you sign a lease on your new business location. Every shopping center has a criteria that must be met when you install a retail sign so if you are looking at signing a lease find out what that criteria is beforehand because you don’t want to be surprised by a design criteria that is going to limit your marketing potential by causing you to have a site that doesn’t perform.

3.Retail signs designs need to be understandable

A retail sign doesn’t always need to explain the business it advertises but a retail sign design definitely needs to be legible so the typography you choose for your retail sign is paramount to creating a sign design that delivers a clear message. This doesn’t mean your logo needs to read like a book but when adding an explanatory byline to your sign to inform the public exactly what your business offers choose a font that is easy to read. Ask most designers what their least favorite font is and they will often say Helvetica but for utilitarian purposes it’s by far the most useful and used font on the planet. It may be plain but it just plain works. However there are many fonts that are just as legible and provide a touch more flavor to your sign design and here is an excellent list of alternatives to Helvetica.

4. Location, location, location

Speaking of performance the location of your retail sign is almost as important as the location of your business and your retail sign’s location will have a tremendous impact on how successful your retail sign design will be and in turn how successful your business will be. Retail signs are part of the landscape and their effectiveness will be impacted by their surroundings. If your location is wide open and you are allowed to install a pole or a monument sign you will be positioned to have great visibility for your retail sign but if your place of business is in a location that is surrounded by shrubbery or trees there’s a good chance your retail sign will be obscured and may be heavily shaded in the daytime.

5. Understand the cost of your sign

Retail signs, good signs that will hold up for a long period of time aren’t inexpensive. The design of your sign is the most affordable part of your signage project and some sign companies actually give away the design just to get your business. Some sign shops are good at this because they have an experienced sign designer but most aren’t and if you go that route you’re going to likely end up with a sign that blends in with the rest of the signs around your business. The thing to understand about signs is that they are a commodity and their cost is determined largely  by the materials used, so the profit margins on retail signs are very tight. So because the margins are tight, sign shops need to squeeze as much profit as they can from each sign they manufacture and install. There’s only a few places that a sign company can make up the price and one of those is in material.

Internally illuminated exterior signs are usually either made from aluminum or sheet metal and metal signs tend to rust and riveted metal and aluminum can leak if not sealed properly. So of course the lowest bidder often goes the cheap route of using riveted sheet metal instead of welded aluminum and they also often pay less to their employees because it’s much easier to bend and rivet sheet metal than it is to bend and weld aluminum; crafting signs from aluminum takes actual skill to accomplish. Another way that companies can save money is by scaling back on the illumination; single tube neon or less light fixtures in a sign box. Before contracting a sign company make sure the specifications are clearly spelled out, type of light, type of material, paints, plastics, vinyl and the number of transformers, what is the warranty and what will it cost to service the sign once the warranty is up.

Signs are a great value in the scheme of advertising because they are always visible but that also means they represent you all the time. When you go with a free sign design or go with the lowest bidder to build your sign theirs a good chance your business’s success will be diminished by the appearance you project to your market.

dad-lucy-aidan-1024x390ImageCo is the online portfolio of Tim Garner; I’ve been a commercial artist for over 25 years and I help businesses and individuals throughout the US and Canada sell their products, their services, and their ideas. I was born in the Southwest, raised in the Midwest, lived in the South for a bit and now call the Northwest home. I’m a fine artist by training, a graphic designer by choice and I’ve designed everything from billboards to business cards. In my spare time I feed a passion for photography, art and writing. Check out my other creative work at www.artistpoet.com.

Accolades for ImageCo

Cool Springz Trampoline Park

Tim, I had a marketing person come in last week, someone who has many years of experience, who told me my logo is awesome (I agree). It's vibrant, happy, bold and fun. (I agree) You are very talented and thank you for sharing your talent with me. My best wishes to you as this year wraps up and we head into a new one!

Tamara Portnoy
Cool Springz Trampoline Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Veda Communications - Logo Design

The best thing about working with Tim is that he immediately grasps all the subtleties of a logo design – the feeling, the client image, the color, the shape, the ease of use in different print or web conditions – and then he easily and quickly translates that into an outstanding piece of art that works on many levels. He gets it, and that makes working with him a pleasure.

Mike Neer/Owner
Veda Communications Co.
Fresno, California

FSAok - Logo Design

We had been working with another logo design firm, but after two frustrating weeks we gave up on them and decided to look elsewhere. With a rapidly approaching deadline we hired Tim. He made our project a priority and managed to create a logo design that our team liked in just a few days. Tim was great! With some - slight - modifications to his original logo design we were ready to go. His logo design was fantastic and it captured the 'personality' of our product on his first try. We would definitely hire Tim again!

Fred Hawkins/CEO
Villanova, Pennsylvania

800PhoneUSA - Logo and Web Design

Tim created the perfect logo design for us and I feel fortunate that we found him. Not only is he an honest, ethical and a straight-arrow businessman, he was a total pleasure to work with. We worked with some other logo designers on this but didn't like any of the logo designs they came up with. We ended up going with Tim's very first presentation and couldn't be happier. We liked his work on the logo design so much that we also had him do our website! We love that too.

Chris Heidkamp/Owner
Phoenix, Arizona

OEMpanels - Web Design

I originally stumbled upon ImageCo's website by mistyping the address of the design firm we were presently working with. I immediately liked what I saw and asked ImageCo to review our new website. His comments reflected my thoughts exactly so I hired him and never looked back. Tim's keen design sense and insight into effective web design sets him apart from most designers. Over the years I've relied on Tim for all of our graphics needs, including web design and user interface design. Tim's design work has not only helped our company look more professional but it's also helped us to attract the "right" customers to our website. Thanks Tim!

Bob Lambert/President
Newport News Virginia

Columbus Advertising

The first time I worked with Tim, I was looking for someone to design a client's site. As head of a small advertising agency, I had a client with strong ideas of what they wanted. Tim did an exceptional job of interpreting their needs and created a site that is pleasing to visit and highly functional. I have worked with Tim on subsequent projects, primarily because he possesses a great sense of which concepts will work and the tact to explain why others won't.

Peter Columbus/President
Columbus Advertising
Torrance, California

eCareerCenter - Web Design, Content Development

ImageCo was just what I needed when I started my internet business, eCareerCenter. I was not really sure of how I wanted to present my new company and Tim really helped me focus my thoughts into short and long term goals. I had a certain style I was trying to portray and ImageCo really helped create it for me in a way that was different than what was already out there. As I look back on my first website launch, I am thrilled at how it turned out. I remember one part of the design process, I was trying to find pictures for my "Tour" section. Tim mentioned he had just what I needed. I am a bit of a control freak and was not sure how they were going to look. When I saw which ones were selected and how he designed the section, I knew I selected the right designer for my project.

Jeff Fleming/Managing Director
Scottsdale Arizona

Arctic Skye Family Practice

When I opened my new medical practice, I wanted a logo design to reflect not only my clinic's name, but also our Alaskan location. Tim took the time to learn what my clinic was like and what I wanted in a logo design. My new logo design reflects his skill and the time he took to understand what I needed. I enjoyed working with Tim in the design process, and hope to work with him again in the future.

Rebecca White M.D.
Arctic Skye Family Practice
MatSu Valley Alaska

Duke University - Logo Design

Tim has been a real pleasure to work with on the logo design for my TechXcite program. He provided several initial logo designs that my team and I considered. Then, through a series of iterations we arrived at the final logo design, which we are very happy with.

Tim was not only patient with this process, but he provided positive energy that kept the process productive. I would absolutely recommend him enthusiastically."

Gary Ybarra
Duke University
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Raleigh, NC

BodyQuest Pilates - Logo Design

"Tim at ImageCo was fantastic to work with!
His creative logo design has given me the flexibility to market my business in various capacities. I would certainly consult with Tim on future projects."

Mirea Pineda/Owner
BodyQuest Pilates
Phoenix, Arizona

Digital Eye Research - Logo Design

I looked at many different logo design firms before choosing ImageCo and ImageCo is by far the best. Tim at ImageCo helped us create a clean, cool, hip image for our company. He nailed it dead on! After working with Tim I would recommend his company to anyone looking for great design work at a great price. ImageCo understands branding in today’s competitive marketplace and we at Digital Eye Research will use ImageCo for all of our future branding needs.

Tony Galeassi/President
Digital Eye Research
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Shades Unlimited - Logo and Web Design

We came to Tim Garner to help guide us through the process of creating a new logo and website for our custom window treatment company. We couldn't have been happier with our experience. The result is a design and writing that possess clarity, simplicity, and beauty. Tim's assets are many, but his work embodies a rare combination of technical ability and artistic sensibility.

Sal Deluca
Shades Unlimited
Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania