Learning Centre

At Signarama we take pride in being easy to deal with. In this section, our focus is to help make your design, signage, and branding process easy and successful by taking the hassle away from your desk and letting you get on with running your business. Here you will find some basic guidelines and suggestions to assist you in creating that perfect sign. There are a number of very simple expectations upon both parties to see your signage project is completed to specification, is on budget, and most importantly – on time.

Our signage process is as follows:

Sign Design Basics


Size: Too many people underestimate the size of their business sign. The sign is of no use if it cannot be easily seen. Our photographic proof gives a good idea of how your custom signs will look when installed.

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Who you are: Your logo and business name. This is your brand. Great design and layout, with consistency of colour and presentation, are the important elements here to ensure that your business sign stands out.

What you do: If your business name doesn’t say what you do, consider including a one-line summary of your business or your tag line which sets you apart from your competition. You might also choose to include a brief product or service listing, although the golden rule of business signage is ‘when in doubt, leave it out’.

Where you are: You can include your contact details, e.g. telephone number, web address, fax number if appropriate, and possibly, your physical address. Make sure your sign tells people how they can contact you.

White Space: White space is not necessarily white. It refers to the background of your sign, which does not include logo, text, or illustration. It is important to ‘let the sign breathe’ by having sufficient white space. We have all seen signs where all the area is crammed with information, but we probably haven’t bothered to take in any of it.

Prioritise: Your main message, usually your logo or branding, should be the biggest element on your sign. Less important information is smaller and less emphasised. This guides the eye to the most important message.


The Right Sign for You

Sign-TypeTo help us determine the right sign for you, first you need to answer some of these important questions:

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  • What is the primary message you want to communicate?
  • Is the sign going to be permanent or temporary?
  • Will it be an indoor or outdoor sign?
  • Will it be applied to an existing surface or a product supplied by Signarama?
  • Where will the sign be viewed from?
  • Do you have specific colours that need to be matched?
  • Do you have artwork or do you want Signarama to create it?
  • Is the sign to be illuminated? If so, internally or externally? Is there an existing light box or neon sign? Is power available for the sign?
  • Are you going to install it or will you get Signarama to do this for you?
  • By answering these questions Signarama will be able to make specific recommendations to meet your requirements.


Artwork Files and Format

File-TypeWe are able to take your artwork in most file formats. Some are better than others, and some present problems when enlarged to signage scale that may not be obvious on the printed page or on websites.

There are two ways to electronically record a design:

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Bitmap (also referred to as a raster file)

Bitmaps are a collection of coloured pixels which, when viewed, represent the original image. The important concept with bitmaps is resolution. A low resolution bitmap has a small file size, but there are relatively few pixels in the image. A low resolution bitmap is typically used on websites where file size is important, and also in printing of small items like business cards.

If you supply us a bitmap file from a website or a business card, it will look jagged, as it still has the same number of pixels when we enlarge it to signage size. These pixels are now really big.

If your art is a photograph, this is the only file type you can use.


A vector file uses lines, arcs, and shading rather than individual pixels to generate an image. Fonts are vector files, but these file types can be used for much more. If you have used fonts on a computer, you would be aware that they can be made bigger (scaled) without any loss of quality. Vector files are used for a lot of graphic art and have the advantage of relatively small file size and scalability. Vector files can’t be used for photographic images because most photos are too complex in shading and detail to look good when converted to lines, arcs, and shading.

Sounds simple?

It gets complicated because many graphic file formats use both vector and bitmap data. It is easier to list the bitmap only formats. The main ones are jpeg (.jpg), Photoshop (.psd), and bitmap (.bmp).

The popular page design programs, such as Illustrator (.ai), Corel Draw (.cdr), and Indesign (.idd), use both vector and bitmap file types. File formats, such as Acrobat (.PDF) and Encapsulated Postscript (.eps), also can contain both types.

We can help

Your local Signarama store will be able to advise you if the files you supply are not suitable for signage. We can also solve most of the problems for you.

What not to do

We can’t do much to recover a bitmap file that has been copied from a website to make it suitable for signage. Usually, there just isn’t enough information in the file.

What to do

Always let your graphic designer know if you want to use a design for signage, or contact your local Signarama to produce a design for you.


Viewing Sizes and Distances

Size-and-DistanceWhere your custom sign will be viewed from will have a major bearing on your design aesthetics. Your Signarama signage consultant can provide you with recommendations on how large your major communication points need to be for your sign to be effective. Naturally, the further away you want your sign to be viewed from, or the faster that passing traffic will be driving past the sign, the bigger the graphics.

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Remember to follow some of these basic design tips:

Clarity – people need to be able to see and read your business sign easily, especially if they are viewing your sign as they (or your vehicle) move by it quickly.

KIS – keep it simple. The fewer words, the better.

First read – identify your focal point of the sign and design your sign to lead the eye to that point. Usually this will be your logo or graphic.

First impressions – your outside sign will give an impression of what your inside business is like. What do you want your customer to think?

Memorability – make your sign memorable, so that your business is too.

Colour contrasts – make proper use of colours on your sign. Generally, light on dark or dark on light work best. Consult our colour chart for an idea of what colours work best.

Don’t fear white space – up to 30-40% of your sign should be white space (areas with no text or graphics) for maximum readability.


Create Maximum Impact

Max-ImpactHere are some quick tips to create maximum impact for whatever sign your designing. Following some of these simple guidelines, you can help to drastically increase the attention your sign can draw.

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  1. Add a border to focus attention on your sign. This helps viewers read it 26% faster.
  2. Presenting special information in a second colour increases memorability by 78%. You can make the most important part of your sign “jump” out by adding an accent colour.
  3. If your business name does not say what you do, consider including a one-line summary of what your business does or a slogan that describes what sets you apart from your competition.
  4. Use light colour on dark – and dark colour on light.
  5. When in doubt – leave it out!



How to Use Colour Effectively

Colour-WheelGood signage is about brand image, message, and readability. Use of colour is important in all of these. Unlike print or web advertising, signage needs to be readable in low light, the rain, and direct sun. Fine pastel text might look good, but it doesn’t make your message easy to read.

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There is a simple rule for maintaining readability in difficult visibility: Print your sign design in grey scale. If you can’t clearly read it, neither will your customers in bad visibility.

For good readability:

Do choose text colours that contrast in intensity with the background colour.

Don’t rely on different colours of the same intensity for text and background, e.g. red text on a blue background. It looks bright, but if you print these in greyscale, the text and background are hard to distinguish. Therefore, readability is bad in low light.

Once you have grasped this principle, use of colour in signage is the same as other forms of graphic design. A good guide to colour schemes can be found at colorschemedesigner.com