The Power of Hand Drawn Signs Over Digitally Printed Signage


It’s a cool fall morning with a light breeze blowing about. After wandering the sidewalks and corridors of a quaint downtown, you find yourself at the foot of two storefronts; both coffee shops.

One has a glowing generic “Open” sign and a few digitally printed images of coffee beans that are clearly from some corporate clipart collection. The other shop is similar, but it has a clearly custom made neon open sign and also has a sidewalk sign out front with colorful, hand-written words standing out against a black chalkboard. The homey looking sign highlights the day’s drink specials and leads your eyes to the propped open door and the sound of light chatter. Which shop sounds more inviting to you? Which one seems more “craft” oriented?

People are more inclined to visit certain types of stores when they have sidewalk signs out front. The hand drawn element brings a personal touch to their advertising and serve as a welcoming invitations to pedestrians.

There may be a need to convey time-sensitive information that the merchant cannot include on their main sign. The primary identity sign typically only displays the business name and sometimes a slogan. For example, coffee shops may have a large primary sign with the shop name so it can be identified. Additionally, it may also have an A-frame sign near the entrance for timely messages. The a-frame displays information that cannot be displayed permanently on the primary sign, such as advertising hot cider in the fall. What better way to convey that information than at the point of purchase? Some may choose to display time-sensitive information on a main sign using a programmable LED scrolling message board, but they aren’t appropriate for the mood of quaint coffee shops and are very expensive to own.

How to create great looking sign art

Some options include having an artistic staff member take a few moments in the morning to write the day’s specials with a creative flare. Others can offer more consistent and uniform looking designs, such as making a design on a computer, then using a projector to project the image onto the sign board and tracing the graphics.

Things to avoid when creating sign art

Though it can be artistic, content must be readable at a glance. The main point of the sign is to advertise. If content cannot be read within a few seconds, pedestrians will not stop to figure it out.

To achieve this, use as few words as possible, by utilizing readable letter styles. Make sure there is enough contrast to make letters readable. An artistic approach to signs is important, but conveying your message must come first and foremost.


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Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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