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The Essence of Commercial Signs

The essence of commercial signs is to communicate an invitation to an audience to enter a transaction.  Breaking this down into component parts can yield new insights for your commercial signage. For this first article in a series, we start with the phrase “communicate an invitation to an audience.”


commercial signs can be blocked by landscaping
Trees grow and obscure signs.

The first step for any communication to be effective is to obtain the attention of the audience.  The target audience for your communication must be able to get the message.  They must see your commercial signs; they must be visible. Visibility of commercial signage along the roadway can be impaired by many objects including trees, landscaping, buildings, telephone poles, utility boxes, other vehicles, and even other signs.  Proper planning and placement is key, but also proper maintenance of landscaping elements can maintain the best visibility for your commercial signs. (For more on sign placement see Sign Placement.)


After ensuring visibility of commercial signage, the signs must also attract attention or conspicuity.  Conspicuous signs are more than visible, they attract attention – the opposite of camouflaged.  Historically sign designers achieved this with color and lightings, design, and placement.  Motion and flashing lights were popular in the days prior to such restrictions on signage.  Without these in your toolbox, the other attributes take on even more importance.

Reaching your target audience is key.  Commercial signs do this at a very competitive price.  The people near your store are the only people that can walk in the door.  Ensure you are seen and noticed (visible and conspicuous) and your chance of success rises.

Now, your particular target audience is likely a subset of those passing your door. So use your commercial signs to communicate with your target audience.  Be aware, however, that there may be other audiences that are valuable to reach – for instance future customers.  Your commercial signs are an opportunity to communicate with everyone near you.  They provide exposures to your product and location.  You want them to think of you first (top of the mind awareness) when their need or desire for your product or service arises.

Reaching your target audience requires proper visibility as well as all the factors that make your sign conspicuous.  A little thought can yield big returns.

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