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On-Site Branding: How Signage Can Impact Your Brand

On-Site Brand Strategy

When it comes to your brand strategy, are you using the correct approaches to position yourself within the most desirable market or industry? From a marketing perspective, this involves creating an image to convey to your target markets. Thereafter, you can utilize new and existing resources to resonate that brand position with the customer.

In a changing commercial environment, particularly in the retail and service industries, many companies are shifting their marketing focus to online. While that is a great way to expand your reach, there is a danger in abandoning more traditional forms of advertising. When companies fail to utilize their brick and mortar locations, or more importantly their signage, there is a large potential for missed opportunity.

Let Signage Do the Work for You

When visiting a brick and mortar location, signage is the first exposure a customer will have of your brand. While some customers may have a continued relationship with your company. An article from Sign Research Foundation reveals that a past Burger King study indicated that almost 1/3 of people became aware of their restaurants when they “saw it while passing the facility”. With such a large portion of your business coming from customers who were passing by. It is necessary to understand the power your signage has on your business.

Shifting to the mindset that signage is a one-time advertising investment. Will allow for a greater ROI of the initial signage. Investing in high quality, long lasting signage. Will continue to benefit your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, InfoTrends reports that digital signage can increase brand awareness by 47.7%. Boosting the average purchasing amount by nearly 30%. The decisions you make when creating your sign package have the potential to greatly benefit your bottom line. As the purchase is made once, you will be able to sit back and watch it continue to benefit both your customers and your business.

Consider Signage Part of Your Marketing Mix

The traditional marketing mix for a product or service involves four different components: product, price, place, and promotion. When it comes to signage, it can greatly impact your brand’s physical product and place. Having signage in a retail environment will greatly impact the experience your customers have when they walk into a store. Keep in mind that this can either improve or tarnish their relationship with your brand.

Signage is a fantastic cost-effective way to extend your brand. It happens to be one of the first elements of a brand’s positioning that consumers interact with. Despite this, most sign companies focus on more analytical goals of signage such as gross impression, visual impact, color schemes, lighting efficiency, highway presence, etc. While these aspects of signage are important, many companies are missing the opportunity to set themselves apart.

Sign Research makes the point that “you need to become brand experts, not just signage experts.” As a sign company, it is important to discuss a client’s brand position. Asking them how they can make changes to improve their existing signage is a great starting point. Our job in the sign industry is to create a product that will best convey our client’s brand to their target audience. Understanding your client’s marketing strategy will aid in their brand positioning, creating unique opportunities. Opening up room for collaborative innovation, allows for better working relationships with clients, and ultimately a better understanding of their product.

Brand Consistency is Key

Overall, there is no argument that signage is important for any company. It alone will increase sales, drive in foot traffic, and direct consumers to the right location. There is still an important piece of the equation that is overlooked by many. Which is neglecting to understand signage as a necessary piece of your marketing mix. In doing so, you run the risk that your product/service may fail to connect with potential consumers.

Personally, we pride ourselves on not only being experts in signage but at being on-site branding experts as well. We understand what our client’s brand message is trying to convey. Create a quality product to reflect that position and ultimately drive results that will increase their bottom line. Signage is a powerful way to connect with the consumer but is often overlooked as part of the marketing mix. If you consider signage as a marketing tool, there are many more opportunities to connect with the customer and find creative methods to convey your brand through signage.

Untapped Potential: The Necessary Resurgence of Trade Schools

As we’ve discussed in earlier blog posts, the baby boomer generation is getting even closer to retirement, and within the next 10 years, millions of trade jobs are expected to be left vacant. As more jobs open up, it is important for our economy to find a means to replace this labor. The solution comes with promoting young workers such as young women and millennials to pursue manufacturing and trades as a viable career option.

The Financial Benefits

Trade school tends to be much less expensive than traditional colleges or universities. Many offer additional classes to allow students to get their associate’s degree through a local community college. In an article from NPR, Haley Hughes’ apprenticeship subsidizes the cost of an associate’s degree for those involved in their program. Hughes takes classes at a local community college to earn a two-year degree for around $1,200 a semester. This pales in comparison to the average student debt of the millennial generation, of around $27,000 in 2012 and is climbing at a steady rate.

People will often hear that the unemployment rate for Americans with a high school diploma as their highest level of education is nearly twice as high as those with a four-year college degree or higher, and will be deterred from attending other schooling options such as trade school. While this statistic is true, it accounts for all workers fitting in this demographic. This includes those who work minimum wage and part-time jobs. For highly skilled workers in trades such as welders, carpenters, electricians, etc. the rate of pay is actually higher on average than college graduates. This number is only going to grow as the demand for these jobs increases.

As the baby boomer generation retires, the US will be in need of many carpenters, welders, utility workers, and more. There are about 600,000 electrician jobs in the United States, and about half of those will go vacant in the next 10 years. There is a huge opportunity for the millennial generation to pursue a high-paying job and avoid student debt.

Closing the Trade Skills Gap

When discussing this issue, the concept of a skills gap is often brought up. This means those entering the workforce today do not have the same knowledge of the trade that retiring workers do. Logically, this makes sense. Those in an entry-level position lack the experience of someone doing a similar job for 20 or more years. This issue with this particular gap is that there are more skilled workers leaving the field than there are entering, resulting in an overall loss of talent.

In order to combat this, there needs to be a shift in focus to those choosing to work in trades. In other traditional jobs such as medicine or law, there is an emphasis on a continued education. As technology or laws change, so does standard protocol. There needs to be an emphasis on on-the-job training in the manufacturing industry, particularly at lower level positions.

By investing in the continued training of your employees, you are building employee loyalty. This investment in training forms a two-way loyalty between the employer and employee. If employees feel valued by their employer they will be loyal to them. As a company, providing additional training to your workers shows commitment through the time and resources spent on continued training.

It Starts Young

There are simple ways that to get involved with the resurgence of vocational schooling. Local high schools can invest in vocational training, 0r bring in outside professionals to showcase what they do each day. Schools that offer vocational programs for students are more likely to have students who enter trade-related fields. Utilizing career and technical education centers offered at many high schools will provide more students with the opportunity to pursue vocational careers.

Local businesses can participate, too. Each year at North American Signs, Inc. we invite children from neighboring schools to learn about what we do on National Manufacturing Day.  Students take a field trip to explore our manufacturing facility. While at NAS, they learn about different forms of signage, as well as the many positions we offer.

If we want to promote trades as a great career option, we need to teach this from a young age. Our society encourages those who excel in academics that college is the way to be successful. However, these analytical thinkers may find success in the trades as well. By making these career options throughout a child’s early education, more children might take interest in pursuing trade school. Encouraging more students to pursue trade-related career paths can help close the skills gap and reduce the burden left by those retiring from the manufacturing industry.

Untapped Potential: Why Aren’t Millennials Working in Manufacturing?

As I’ve come to learn more about the manufacturing industry, it’s easy to notice its differences from the overall labor force in the United States. While millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, manufacturing companies are struggling to attract them to the field. This raises the question: Why aren’t more millennials pursuing careers in manufacturing? With factors such as a changing technological climate, and thousands of baby boomers retiring each day, something needs to change.

The Start of a Labor Shortage

The concept of a labor shortage is nothing new. Economists have been discussing the inevitable retirement of baby boomers for decades, and how that will affect the US economy. With 10,000 baby boomers expected to retire daily from now until 2030, there will be an additional increase in the demand for labor. These demands particularly fall on the manufacturing industry. Nearly 1/3 of manufacturing workers are over 55 and are expected to retire within the next 10 years.

Deloitte Insights reports that between 2.5 million and 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the coming years, but the issue has already begun. 84% of manufacturing executives agree that a talent shortage already exists in the US. This presents an opportunity to change stereotypes surrounding the manufacturing industry, and for companies to invest in the millennial generation.

The Solution? A Change in Mindset

Many students today express that they do not view manufacturing as a viable career option. Parents often are discouraging their children from taking these non-traditional career paths as well. In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute found that only 3 in 10 parents would consider guiding their child toward a career in the field.

As the parents of millennials entered the workforce, they had children of their own. They brought along the influence that the way to be successful is to go to college and get a degree. Contrary to popular belief, the average US manufacturing worker makes more than $70,000 a year, according to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Our society has slowly diminished the importance of trade careers, despite many industries hurting for qualified workers. The average welder in the United States is age 55, meaning the majority are expected to retire by 2030. We need welders to create many important things, from the signs here at NAS to bridges and buildings. According to a Deloitte study, there were 570,000 welders in the US in 1988, and that number has dramatically fallen to only 360,000 welders as of 2012.

Manufacturing environments are often associated with being dirty, loud, or dangerous. However, the current climate of the industry is one with cutting-edge technology and ingenuity. Millennials are among the most tech-savvy generations, with the emergence of the internet playing a primary role in their adolescence. According to Industry Week, Millennials prefer to work in environments that are innovative, high-tech and have flexible roles. In order to recruit top talent, the industry needs to promote high-tech opportunities and sent a standard of work-life balance. By doing this, they can demonstrate how their opportunities fit these expectations.

The Road Ahead

While the retirement of baby boomers will present many challenges, there are several opportunities for the industry to move forward. As manufacturing moves toward a more technology-focused environment, more and more millennials are pursuing manufacturing-related fields.

37% of millennials today reported seeing manufacturing as a high-tech career choice – notably higher than both Generation Xers (27%) and baby boomers (23%). Also, 49% of millennials believe engineering is a needed skill in today’s manufacturing sector. This indicates a positive increase when compared with only 41% of baby boomers believing engineering is necessary.

North American Signs hopes to change this stigma within our industry by engaging with students to educate them about manufacturing. Each year, we host an event on National Manufacturing Day, inviting students from area schools to come to our manufacturing facility and learn about what the industry is like. As students enter higher education and become more focused on future career opportunities, we offer internships in many different roles from IT to marketing and beyond.

There are simple ways companies can get involved, such as updating job descriptions and engaging more with their community. This can help manufacturing companies gain a better understanding of what millennials value in a position. As the baby boomer generation continues to retire, the manufacturing industry needs to look toward underrepresented demographics in the industry, such as women, minorities, and millennials.

The exodus of 1/3 of the workforce presents a great opportunity for innovation and a change in perception. Working to change negative stereotypes and engage with a new generation will help to lessen the burden of a labor shortage and help the manufacturing industry continue to thrive.

Untapped Potential: How Encouraging Women to Pursue Manufacturing Could Save the Industry.

As an intern with North American Signs, Inc. this summer, I’ve spent the past several weeks learning the sign industry inside and out, and what gives our company a competitive edge. Upon doing additional research, I was curious as to why there weren’t more women looking for careers with sign companies. Additionally, why there is such a large difference between the percentage of men and women working in the manufacturing industry?

A Peak At the Industry: Why Aren’t There More Women in Manufacturing?

When discussing the manufacturing industry, it’s important to note its current state. In 2016, females totaled about 47% of the US labor force, yet only 29% of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing makes up roughly 9% of the overall US workforce and supports more than 12 million workers directly. If we take 29% of that 12 million, there are roughly 3.48 million women working in manufacturing.

These 3.48 million women are not only working out on the manufacturing floor as welders, or engineers, but in the corporate offices of manufacturing companies. Like other major industries, these businesses are in need of skilled professionals working in sales, marketing, and finance. Within the sign industry, there is a need for expert designers, project managers, painters, and installers, among many other positions. There is a common perception that working in manufacturing means working out on the factory floor. While that is an option, manufacturing companies need all sorts of employees to keep things running smoothly.

With such a discrepancy between the manufacturing industry and overall labor force, I wanted to explore how we can work to make this a more inviting industry. Because the amount of women working in manufacturing is disproportionate to the amount of women in the overall work force, this presents a huge opportunity for manufacturing companies to expand their reach, and recruit a whole new demographic.

The Need for Skilled Workers                                              

From now until 2030, 10,000 baby boomers are expected to retire, each day. This dramatically increases the demand for people to enter the labor force. At the moment, some areas of the country, particularly those that rely on manufacturing, cannot hire people fast enough.

As the number of retired baby boomers increases, this demand will only grow. Despite millennials making up almost half the US workforce, the manufacturing industry still heavily relies on work from baby boomers. In fact, The Washington Post states that 27% of manufacturing workers are above the age of 55, meaning nearly 1/3 of the manufacturing industry is expected to retire within the next 10 years.

The Bright Side: Things Are Looking Up

As the need for manufacturing workers grows, it seems fitting that encouraging women to pursue these careers would be beneficial. We’ve seen organizations sponsor Women in STEM programs for the past several years, such as Women in Manufacturing, and these initiatives help girls to foster a passion for such careers from a young age.

These efforts seem to be working already, as 29% of women in 2017 (up 12% from 2015) reported thinking the school system actively/ somewhat encourages female students to pursue a career in the manufacturing industry. Additionally, 70% of women in manufacturing say they would still choose manufacturing if they were to start their career today. According to the Women in Printing Alliance, 82.1% of women in graphics and sign production are highly satisfied with their jobs, and on average stay with their companies 5.8 years or more.

With the inevitable retirement of baby boomers, there is an enormous need for more workers to enter the manufacturing industry. Females make up nearly half of the US labor force, but are an underutilized labor resource for the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing industry offers many career paths for individuals with diverse backgrounds ranging from trades, to graduate degrees and beyond. We can work to change the male-dominated stigma of the industry and empower women to take on more non-traditional roles. This will not only diversify companies, but will become increasingly necessary as more of the older generation retires.

The Only Way | Wayfinding Signs in a Healthcare Environment

We have all experienced that unsettling feeling of trying to find our way through a vast building, such as a hospital. Feeling lost can be overwhelming, and at healthcare facilities, time is of the essence. Every moment someone spends tracking down their destination can be vital, making wayfinding signs essential. According to “Wayfinding Management: Models & Methods in Healthcare Environments,” a 2018 report from the Sign Research Foundation, there are some best practices of how to manage, create, and update your signage to better help your guests in navigating your facilities.

Best Practices in Wayfinding

Clearly Define Responsibilities

When developing proper wayfinding systems, it is important to appoint a wayfinding manager. This manager will supervise all activity involved with wayfinding signage. Depending on the size of the facility, or how many campuses are within your healthcare system, you may also need to create a wayfinding committee. This committee will conduct research, establish guidelines, and ensure that your location is using the best possible wayfinding strategies.

Through assigning specific responsibilities involved with your wayfinding plan, each task will be clearly delegated. This proves to be more efficient and helps to avoid confusion as to which jobs have already been completed.

Set the Standard, then Spread the Word

Signs themselves serve as valuable wayfinding devices and guide customers through high-traffic areas to their intended destination. According to On-Premise Signs as Storefront Marketing Devices and Systems by Taylor, Claus, and Claus (2005), this is why the federal government has detailed specific guidelines for highway signage. While hospital signage does not face the same, strict regulation that street signage does, the principle still stands. Visitors rely on these signs within a hospital to help them navigate around safely and reach the right destination.

Because of this, after choosing a wayfinding manager and/ or committee, standardization among all signage is key. Establishing a consistent vocabulary of building and area names is crucial to the success of the wayfinding system. Additionally, using a consistent room numbering system will help visitors anticipate how far they are from their destination. This will also help visitors gain a  better understanding of the layout of the building.

Engage and Learn From Visitors

There is a great deal to learn from listening to visitors, which is why shaping your strategy to their needs is very important. Regularly developing methods to obtain user feedback is a great way to gauge the current performance of your wayfinding signage. Conducting a survey of recent visitors of the hospital will be extremely valuable in understanding the effectiveness of your signage. While there are many ways of collecting visitor data, even something as simple as observing visitor reactions as they navigate around the hospital can provide valuable insight. You may notice several people mention how lost they were when arriving at an appointment, or you’re stopped by visitors seeking directions several times a day. These are indicators that your current signage could use some improvement.

With the rise of smartphone usage, hospitals have the opportunity to implement online applications as part of their strategy. These apps can help visitors develop a custom map of the hospital, showing them only locations they need to find. Boston Children’s Hospital developed a wayfinding app that did just that. In fact, within 6 months they had over 4500 downloads of the app, along with many positive reviews. Using new forms of technology in your wayfinding plan will give your hospital a competitive edge, and ultimately leave visitors, patients, and staff with a more positive experience.

Light the Way | Illuminated vs. Non-Illuminated Signage

Illuminated signage impacts a business in many ways. Your brand’s marketing efforts and your bottom line are directly impacted by the ability to permit illuminated signage, and the restrictions municipalities impose on illuminated signage often trend upward. Is non-illuminated signage a feasible solution, or just the only option available?

Marketing Functions of On-Premise Signs

First and foremost, what are the real benefits of on-premise signage? Listed are the four key marketing functions of on-premise signs as outlined in On-Premise Signs as Storefront Marketing Devices and Systems by Taylor, Claus, and Claus (2005).

  • Communicating the business’ location;
  • Reinforcing advertisements and other promotional techniques as a part of integrated marketing communications;
  • Branding the location; and
  • Enhancing the image of the store or business.

Examining the four key functions brings us to the conclusion that illuminated and non-illuminated signs can perform all four functions. While both illuminated and non-illuminated signs fit the criteria. Illumination reinforces the sign’s ability to perform its intended marketing functions. In turn, a properly lit sign can increase your company’s competitive advantage.

Per an academic study completed by Taylor, Sarkees, and Bang (2012). 85% of a representative U.S. sample of on-premise sign users would lose sales if they did not have an on-premise sign. Additionally, the average reported loss across the entire sample was 34.5%. (Journal of Public Policy & Marketing; Fall2012, Vol. 31 Issue 2)

A Correlation between Illumination and Profit Margin

To determine the correlation between illuminated signage and an increase in sales volume we will use the survey and sampling plan developed by Dr. Charles R. Taylor of Villanova University.

The issues regarding the illumination of on-premise signs show that the percentages of businesses facing lighting restrictions are as follows:

  • Allowable hours of illumination 3%
  • Sign Brightness 8%
  • Type of illumination 24%

“Results indicate that lighted on-premise signs substantially impact the bottom line on many businesses. A sizeable majority of respondents (58%) indicated they would lose sales if government regulations prevented signs from being lit at any hour. For those who reported a sales loss, the average estimate was 21%. For the overall sample, including those businesses not reporting a loss, the average estimated loss of sales exceeded 10%.” (

The Bottom Line                                                   

If non-illuminated signage is the only option available, it will, in fact, benefit the business and help increase foot traffic. The issue is will it befit your business enough to be profitable. As you can see from the numbers above, for most small businesses 10% – 20% decreases in sales can easily deplete a business’s entire profit margin. Our fast-paced society relies on convenience and ease of use for many of the purchasing decisions made. Restricting a sign’s illumination or duration of usage. Can cause the sign to go unnoticed resulting in a decrease, or loss of sales for the business.

Beyond the Sign: The Challenges Facing Project Management

Project management often focuses on process.  As consumers, our biggest concern lies with the finished product. We place an order, wait patiently, and rejoice at its arrival. In the sign industry, this process is a little more complicated. Today we are going to focus on one in particular component that happens during the “patiently waiting” phase – Project Management.

Can a basic understanding of project management be useful to someone who is not a Project Manager? Most importantly, are Project Managers facing problems that affect the end results of your services, or products? First, we address issues Project Managers face to determine what actions eliminate complications within the process.

Unspecified Goals

Goals, when not clearly defined by all parties can cause delays, miscommunications, and inefficient planning. It is the responsibility of the project manager to establish and communicate clear goals from the conception of the project.

Changes in Scope

In some cases a project can be moving along smoothly and all of the sudden, BAM, POW, WHAM! The whole scope has changed, and all previous planning has been thrown out the window. It’s time to start from scratch with a deadline that is now right around the corner. What do you do? It is important to have a disaster/contingency plan for this situation. As a company, you hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Training your project management team to know what direction needs to be taken in such situations will keep you one step ahead at all times.

Poor Communication

Communication is the key to success. If we cannot effectively communicate our goals to a client or vendor the likelihood of their achievability is dramatically lowered. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to provide direction at every step of the way. If direction cannot be provided it is up to the Project Manager to request any needed information from vendors, or clients so they can reassess the goals of the project, and provide clear direction.

Impossible Deadlines

Managing the expectations of your customers can at times prove itself to be difficult. Limited resources such as time can create a negative strain on the relationship if left unchecked. Complete transparency and honesty is the best way to combat this creating a healthy space for the client/vendor relationship to grow in a positive way.

Low-Profit Margins

This situation is unique, as not all projects will fall into this category. The importance of the above mentioned is even more crucial when dealing with projects that will yield low-profit margins. The room for error on this type of project decreases to nothing. Early identification of your goals and creating a proper timeline is the best way to avoid any possible issues that may arise.

It goes without saying that the role of project manager in the sign industry is one that is most important. A basic understanding of this role can be beneficial to all who work directly with project management teams. With understanding comes patience creating stronger relationships with vendors and clients.

As a company, if you can identify the issues your project management team faces up front. You can begin to address them in a more efficient and effective manner.

Beyond the Sign: A Sense of Urgency

National sign companies need to understand the urgency of their clients

Many times it is what a national sign company can do beyond the sign that earns loyal customers – like a sense of urgency.  This story of fulfilling a small but important request illustrates our commitment to legendary customer service.

Recognizing the Urgency

Recently, Scott, a project manager received a client request to get a temporary sign up at a location – FAST.  There was urgency in the client’s voice:  “Can you do this tomorrow?  We really need this up for the  weekend!”  Scott replied, “Let me get started and I will see what we can do.”  In a little over an hour, Scott had the answer – YES – even though this was a few days prior to Christmas.

The Foundation for Success

How so quickly?  Well, first of all, this specific request was for a temporary sign, so Scott could focus on a solution that was inexpensive and could be produced quickly.  Second, he called upon our network of partnered installation companies.  They know us well and know we are both serious sign professionals and appreciate the challenges they face.  They trust us.  And, when we and our clients need something, we know we can trust them.

Combining some fast and simple manufacturing with a reliable partner, allowed us to have the sign installed prior to close of business the following day.  As Scott said, “I never thought of not doing it for them.  They had an urgent need and we needed to find a way to do it.”

Appreciate the Small Victories

It is a small victory that often could go unnoticed and, while there may not be a celebration afterwards, there is a feeling of accomplishment in all victories.  We do remarkable things every day for our clients.  Our dedication to understanding your urgency and getting what you need done is why so many of our customers choose us year after year, but often decade after decade.

Three Types of Managers

When talking with one of our new managers, Derek, he indicated that he noticed three different types of managers at North American Signs. He provided details and insight on why each manager is vital to the company’s success.

Detail Manager

Managers having fun on Extraterrestrial Culture Day.

Derek started off describing what he calls the detail manager. As stated in the job title, their job is to pay attention to the small details that can easily be forgotten. He explained how important their role, ensuring neither the design team nor clients skip any steps. Derek described the role, “Much like the tortoise in the old fable, this manager is detail oriented.”

Fast Manager

In contrast to the detail manager is the fast manager. This is the type of manager Derek would describe himself as. He and other fast managers want to get the job done as quickly as possible. If clients need something done in a short time frame, he will ensure it is completed on time. He explained how important he and other fast managers are during those times because they keep everyone working fast and efficiently. Derek describes his thought process as, “I have to go, go, go and clean it up and figure it out later mindset.”

Wise Manager

The last type of manager is a wise manager. Derek described this position as a “Wise elder, guiding you, letting you make your own decisions and mistakes, but not letting you fall.” He said this person serves as the middle ground between the fast and detail manager. Always open to questions and concerns the clients and employees may have, this person is a great listener. Derek said they always have the bigger picture in mind and rarely get ahead of themselves.

Three Types of Managers: All Are Important

It is evident that the different types of managers all serve a vital role in getting each job done well. The different types of managers weigh each other out with their strengths and weaknesses. Derek wrapped up our conversation stating how much more efficient the work environment has become having each manager play role and some flexibility as circumstances demand.  It is possible to take on different roles when you understand the value of each type of manager.

Bullough’s Review on Sign Visibility

John D. Bullough recently published an informative article titled, Factors Affecting Sign Visibility, Conspicuity, and Legibility. It focuses on researched studies about different factors that affect sign visibility. Bullough breaks down sign visibility into two categories; conspicuity and legibility. His use of other research in conjunction with his own findings makes the article a scholarly and reliable source for designers, manufactures, and buyers.


One of the first topics Bullough touches upon is the size of the commercial sign. Focusing specifically on conspicuity, he asserts the size of a sign should be based on the average speed a car is travelling when passing a sign. Therefore, signs on a major highway compared to signs in small towns typically can vary in size. The highway signs are much larger because of the increased speed people are travelling at compared to a small town.

Bullough claims a way to increase conspicuity is through a border. A border adds contrast to a commercial sign, which in turn makes the sign more difficult to ignore. Adding a border is a great way to make the sign stand out in any environment. The suggestion of adding a border is a reason why this article is so informative. Bullough also recognizes other attributes which add to the commercial sign’s conspicuity such as a color and letter font.

Strong contrast on blade signs aids sign visibility
The lighting must contrast the rest of the sign to increase conspicuity.

Bullough then discusses the subject of luminance and how it relates to conspicuity. While many textbooks state the importance of lighting in gaining attention, he says to keep in mind a few things. First off, it is important to make sure the lit portion of the sign provides contrast to the rest of the sign. For the sign luminance to be effective, a contrast must occur. It is also important to ensure the luminance is not too bright and could lead to distraction. Lastly, flashing lights will make the commercial sign more noticeable.


Bullough moves on to discuss legibility by stating how much it influences the reader’s ability to process the information on the commercial sign. What he is saying is, there cannot be too much information on the sign or it will be illegible. Bullough cites prior research saying it takes about 5.5 seconds to read, understand, and respond to a sign. A sign requiring significantly more time to perform these three reactions is not very legible.

It was also found that the width of the individual characters on a sign play a large role in legibility. Bullough found one recommendation stating the stroke width should be 18% of the character height. It is important to stay close to this percentage because characters to wide or too small will decrease the legibility.

Both conspicuity and legibility determine a commercial sign’s visibility. Bullough does a great job explaining factors that increase and decrease the sign’s visibility. Careful attention to each of the conspicuity and legibility factors will lead to more successful commercial signs.