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How to create retail signage that attracts customers

How to create retail signage that attracts customers

Key takeaways

  • Retail signage includes outdoor, promotional, informational, and digital signs 
  • Signs should incorporate your company logo, color scheme, and brand style
  • As part of your brand strategy, signs are also key to guiding and curating the customer experience throughout a physical store 

Can you tell the story of your business in just one glance? Often, signage is the first thing customers see when they interact with your business—whether they’re passing by your brick-and-mortar on the street or they’ve researched you online and are ready to make a purchase. 

To convert those first looks into long-term relationships, it’s crucial that business owners use powerful signage to market their small business. From your company name to the colors in your logo, signage presents a cohesive image that captures customers’ attention, guides them throughout the shopping experience, and can generate a positive association with your brand. 

Retail signage is even more important for brick-and-mortar businesses that rely on drive-by or foot traffic. The bigger and clearer your sign, the longer a viewer has to look at it. Even a simple open sign tells people you’re ready to welcome them. 

Learn more about what retail signage is, why it’s important, and how to use it not only to entice customers but also to provide them with the best possible onsite experience.

What is retail signage?

Retail signage refers to any visual materials you use to tell customers about your company or products: chalkboards, clip-on signs, easels, decals, sale signs, and more. From the first impression to the checkout counter, signage offers multiple opportunities to make a connection with customers. An important tool of visual merchandising, signs can help you create a consistent and cohesive brand image, which increases customer loyalty. 

As a part of your brand marketing, your signage plays an important role in attracting customers to your store. But signs also help people physically navigate the floor space and understand your different offerings. It’s important to take into account your customers’ needs and make these visual materials as accessible as possible.

Why does retail signage matter? 

Retail signage: Open sign in window

Signage goes beyond the first impression. Business owners create a logo and signs that connect with their audience to set themselves up for long-term success. 

Studies show that the way people perceive your signage affects how they feel about your business or even their likelihood to make a purchase. For example: 

How to create effective retail signage 

Business owner creating retail signage

Your small business logo and signage should communicate what your company is about through words and visuals. Start by creating your small business logo and brand guide. 

Many small business owners work with a knowledgeable graphic designer to create a logo. If you hire a graphic designer, you can give them references and ideas from other company logos you like. You can use the resulting design as a springboard for your retail signage—incorporating the same design elements, colors, and fonts.

If you choose to design a logo or signage yourself, take into account your preferred colors, your company service or product offerings, and the overall feel of your business. For example, if you’re starting a home cleaning agency, you might mix icons of mops or brooms to your logo to help tell the story of what you offer. 

Types of retail signage

Retail signage spans four main types: outdoor, promotional, informational, and digital. Each of these should standalone as a method to display information, but they should also tie together cohesively with a similar style and color scheme.

Outdoor signage

Outdoor signs are critical for your storefront. Whether people see your storefront from the road or as they walk by in a busy shopping center, custom signs catch their attention and encourage them to stop by. 

If you’re starting your own small business, it’s up to you to create a store sign showcasing your logo and brand colors. If you’re in a shopping center or renting the building you’re operating out of, make sure you know and follow any specific rules (such as size or material specifications) before creating an outdoor sign

Think about other outdoor signs that can draw in customers or create a good first impression. For example, vinyl banners might display prices for a nail salon, while a sandwich board sidewalk sign is ideal for a cafe’s special of the day. 

Place your outdoor signs where drivers and pedestrians have the best chance of seeing them, and use high-quality materials, such as acrylic, to withstand the elements. 

Promotional signage 

Promotional signs are a kind of indoor signage—often brightly colored and attention-grabbing—that broadcast sales and offers. Shoppers instantly know what it means when they see a bright, red sale sign marked “Clearance” at the back of your retail store.

To capture customers’ attention for new products or special deals, try hanging signs from the ceiling or on the walls. For a more sophisticated look, place frame signs on tabletops

You’re not limited to using signs for sales only, however. Use retail signage to help people make connections with other merchandise. For instance, if you have a bookstore, you can add signs on shelving that say “Staff Picks” or “Loved this one? Check out X author” to provide for a better experience for buyers. A local market with a wine section might recommend their beef short rib for braising and post a promotional sign with their top three red wine pairings. This encourages cross-purchasing, but it also makes the shopping experience more personal and convenient. 

Informational signage 

Informational displays are a kind of directional signage, offering tips to help customers easily navigate your space—such as the fitting room or checkout location. 

Signage designed to direct customers doesn’t need to be on-brand if it serves a specific purpose, such as a restroom sign or a disability parking spot. Use accessible, recognizable signage to help customers find what they need. 

Most importantly, informational signage should be easy to read and understand in a few seconds. Studies recommend keeping signage to just three to five words in order to keep a customer’s attention.

Digital signage 

Digital signage involves the use of tools like LED and LCD screens to convey information. These are a more expensive investment upfront, but they can be changed and reused easily. For example, many restaurants now use digital signage to display their menus. 

Attract customers with your retail signage 

When creating types of retail signage for your business, start with the basics: Evaluate your need for outdoor signs, create a strategy for making and using promotional signs, and leverage informational signs to provide directions in your place of business.

If you’re not sure if your signage is clear, consider inviting a few test shoppers to evaluate your layout before you open. Since you know so much about your own business and store layout, it helps to have someone look at it with fresh eyes. Feedback from your audience can make a real difference. 

Once your retail displays are up and attracting customers, make sure to devote the same time and attention to your online brand identity. Your physical signage should match the digital color schemes and styles used on your online platforms, including your website, social media accounts, and Yelp Business Page.


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After you’ve mastered your retail signage approach, make sure it fits into your broader brand marketing strategy.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.