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The Four Functions of Signs

Did you know that every sign serves four functions? In this blog I will articulate the four functions of signs in order to help you check for benefits you may not have considered.


A sign’s primary function is to identify the location of an establishment. This is commonly referred to as “indexing the MCDenvironment”. The sign should say “Here is what you have been looking for!” To perform this function effectively, the message must be recognized from far enough away to allow the motorist time to slow down, change lanes and make a safe turn. Chain operators gain a tremendous advantage by creating a consistent visual image. A strong trademark such as McDonald’s Golden Arches can be recognized from greater distance than the individual letter.


A business needs to create an awareness in the minds of its prospective customers of not only its name but also its products or services, and the special benefits of doing business with that particular business. The sign is seen by thousands of potential customers, reinforcing the name and communicating more about the business. Repeating an advertising message helps build awareness. The sign offers frequent exposures at minimal costs. This strength is further enhanced if a message board  is incorporated to communicate a feature or a benefit.

In addition to the obvious statements such as “Hotel with Pool and Restaurant,” a properly designed sign may convey powerful visual clues about the company. The sign design includes letter style, color, spacing and shape, all of which help to create a memorable, positive impression. A good sign is a powerful advertising tool helping the company build awareness and defining the products and benefits.

photo-cabinet-signs3.  GIVE DIRECTION

The third function of a sign is to give direction to the specific location. This sign says “You are not there yet, but keep going in this direction for two miles and you will be there.”

A directional sign saying “Entrance” can substantially ease the motorist’ task of locating and negotiating your drive. This simple, inexpensive, directional sign can contribute profitability to many locations and is overlooked too often.


Your electronic message center affords outstanding opportunities through public service messages to build community empathy toward your business. A sign functions as a public service to advertise community events such as blood drives, voting, and other things that make our pluralistic society productive and a better place to live. Public empathy can definitely be translated into increased new customer accounts. Any changeable copy sign has times of the day or periods where the number of potential customers is at a minimum. Some people chose to display public service messages during times of minimal exposure, others choose to display them during maximum exposure times.


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