by Drue Townsend
November 2, 2011

When thinking through the many sign options for your construction business, you should ask yourself these questions.

When thinking through the many sign options for your construction business, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • What will the sign be used for?
  • How long will it be used?
  • What kind of elements will the sign be exposed to - a cold, rainy environment or a hot, dry environment?
  • What is the viewing distance for the sign and length of time it will take for viewers to read it?
  • Where will the sign be placed and how will be installed?
  • What is the budget for the sign project?
  • Are there permits required or restrictions imposed on the sign?
  • What other signs or graphics will you need?
  • When do you need the sign?

Clear communication and planning is key in successfully executing any project. In the building and construction industry, signs are an essential part of that process. While the idea of incorporating signs is not new, the many benefits associated with signs and graphics are often overlooked or forgotten.

Primarily, signs and graphics serve to inform, direct and sell. What many professionals in the construction industry may not be aware of is that among the advertising media available, signage provides great exposure for a smaller investment. For example, a $200 sign or banner displayed at a location where just 10,000 cars pass by every day will be seen more than 3.5 million times in one year-a cost of about $5 for every 1,000 impressions made. With an initial investment of $200, you have established presence within the surrounding community while heightening awareness at a minimal cost.

Construction sites always attract attention. On a day-to-day basis, commuters drive past a construction site or work in progress and may wonder, "What is that going to be?" Take advantage of this curiosity, and build awareness for your company and your project by placing signs and graphics on every jobsite. Building name recognition for your company can add credibility to it and help increase referral business for future projects.

Construction site signs can provide information such as project description, target completion date and the names of the project's architect and builder. They can also show drawings or renderings of what the future project will look like. These site signs can provide subtle advertising for the future establishment, as well as any of the additional involved parties. For example, a "Finance provided by" sign can offer marketing value for the financial institution or investor that provided backing for the project. The sign is promoting the business while encouraging financing of future projects.

Placing a "Coming Soon" or "Grand Opening" banner at the site can encourage word-of-mouth while keeping the public informed. This helps foster goodwill within the surrounding community and encourages future success for the establishment under construction.

Another option to consider is vehicle graphics. By displaying your message on your company vehicles, you can generate up to 600 impressions for every mile driven. According to research done by Madison Mobile Media, many consumers develop their impression of a company and its product or services based on vehicle graphics. Using the space on the company vehicles with the addition of applied graphics or an entire vehicle wrap can turn them into selling tools. Vehicle graphics create a more professional, unified image and set you apart from your competition.

Another issue to consider is safety. Well-planned and well-placed signs can inform construction workers and visitors of the safety precautions typically required at a building site. Placing a "Danger" or "Safety First" sign, for example, in high traffic areas serves as needed reminders. By working with a sign and graphics professional, you can find the best signs for your site while staying in accordance with any Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) specifications.

There are four basic design principles to remember to help ensure your sign and graphics communicate effectively: visibility, readability, noticeability and legibility. Visibility is a prime factor when assembling your sign. It must be large enough to be read from a reasonable distance and stand out clearly from its surroundings. Readability helps ensure that the audience is able to read the message accurately. Color choices can help make a difference, and studies have shown that yellow-on-black is one of the easiest color combinations to read. Noticeability, which refers to the ability of a sign to become a too-familiar part of the scenery, can be easily achieved by changing the message, color, size or shape of the sign frequently. Lastly, keep legibility in mind. The right typestyles and spacing can help viewers read a sign easily and quickly which is key in getting the message across to passing drivers.

Four Basic Design Principles for Signs

  1. Visibility-It must be large enough to read from a reasonable distance and stand out clearly from its surroundings.
  2. Readability-The audience must be able to read to read the message accurately. Color choices can help-yellow-on-black is one of the easiest combinations to read.
  3. Noticeability-Don't let the sign blend in with the scenery-change the message, color, size or shape of the sign as needed.
  4. Legibility-The right typestyles and spacing can help viewers read a sign easily and quickly.

Another way to maximize the effectiveness of a sign's design is to add a border. According to research done by the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, a border focuses attention on the sign and helps the viewer read it 26 percent faster. You might also consider presenting any additional or special information in color-color selection can dramatically increase readability, especially at a distance.

There are many choices to be made when selecting even the simplest of signs. Equipped with the right information you can build up your construction business and the safety of your employees and clients.

Construction Business Owner, January 2007