What Is Outdoor Signage & Its Challenges?
Many people may wonder, “Exactly what is outdoor signage, and why is it important?”. Outdoor signage comes with its own particular set of challenges, especially in the harsh Australian sun! When planning signage for your business, the first thing to consider is the location. Where will it be most visible for the greatest number of people? Are you targeting foot traffic or cars speeding past on a busy road? How big do you need the letters of your sign to be easily read by your potential customers? Asking these questions will help you to determine whether or not your sign needs to be outdoors/indoors, exposed to the elements or under shelter.
For outdoor signs that are exposed to full sun and all the storms of the Australian seasons, we recommend durable aluminium (rust-free) frames clad in Alu-panel, which is a recycled plastic core with various coloured aluminium faces. These are materials that are easy to work with for a huge range of creative outcomes. Pair them with some exterior grade LED lights to maximise your business’s exposure day and night.
Why Signage Is Important For Your Business?
These days, potential customers are using online maps and Google searches to find your business, meaning they are often looking for a company name, not a street address. In turn, when they approach your address, they are looking to match the name they searched with a sign on the street. A great signage strategy is to target each step of the journey. Catch their eye from afar as they drive up to your block with a large permanent outdoor sign mounted up high and protruding from your building. Consider customers who have travelled on foot and use your brand colours to help them spot you easily amongst other stores. If you share a building with other businesses, make sure you have signs identifying you on the front door, building foyer and lift panel.
On the flip side, if you aim to pique the curiosity of potential patrons by being difficult to find, hidden behind a small door down a tight alleyway, you will want to consider that journey as a build-up of curiosity and excitement. For this approach, a beautifully made brass plaque or small LED neon sign on the front of your building may do more for your brand identity than large brightly coloured roadside billboards.
Below we break down our top 9 favourite and most effective approaches to signage:
ONE - Cafe & Restaurant Signage
This can take any form and will often be dictated by the building your business resides in. Consider a sandwich board if you are a cafe to announce daily specials and help potential customers see that you are open from a fair distance away. A decal on the window of your restaurant/cafe of the business name and logo will help identify you to your customers as they arrive; first impressions are important! Increasingly, platforms like Instagram are helping businesses to be organically promoted. Consider having a unique signage solution positioned carefully on a clean backdrop of textured brick or perforated plywood with good lighting that will encourage patrons to share a photo of them enjoying a meal with your sign behind them.
TWO - Market Stall signage
A market is often chaotic and crowded space and is almost always made up of temporary structures. This presents its own set of challenges for a stall to stand out from the crowd. Consider utilizing height with tall colourful banners making you a meeting spot for friends or groups, and even incorporating LED plywood signage to create a beacon for your stall. In this instance your sign will want to be as high up as possible to be seen above the densely packed crowds. For visitors who are casually cruising the market aisles, they might stop at your stall because of your product. Once they are up close and personal with your offering, they will look around for the name of your brand. This is where your smaller wall hung signs or free-standing letters will be your brand’s best friend. Don’t forget to be photogenic!
THREE - Retail store signage
Retailers, and especially fashion labels, will be guided by a strong brand identity when designing the signage for their stores. It is crucial that the colours used are correct and consistent, fonts are respected and the choice of materials honour the brands approach to sustainability. For our friends at General Pants we were able to make recommendations to the visual merchandising team on materials and colours that would tick all these boxes while meeting their budget for a national roll out.
FOUR - Wayfinding
For larger commercial fit outs or multi-level retailers, clear wayfinding signage is imperative to your customer’s experience when arriving for a meeting or shopping through departments.
Commercial companies require clear directions to reception, bathrooms and meeting rooms that are welcoming and on brand. Custom LED plywood signage is a great way of sticking to your branding guide, while attracting attention by incorporating lighting into the design. An initial positive experience of a potential customer can set off a good working relationship. A customer arriving late and flustered is never a good start!
FIVE - Sandwich boards
A favourite at So Watt is the humble sandwich board. We have our own to flag our open showroom to the public passing by, and another that we use for special events to act as a wayfinding tool. We have made black Formply sandwich boards with interchangeable plywood letters for our friends at Zanerobe which they take to events, and have paired plywood with vinyl decal lettering which can later be replaced with a new slogan. We love discovering new and fun ways of reinventing the sandwich board from our clients!
SIX - Wall mounted signage
Picture your front counter: your customer is waiting in line to pay, place an order or ask a question. Behind you is an eye-catching wall mounted logo of your business for them to stare at while they wait. This is a great opportunity to show your creativity and personality to your customers up close and personal. For a retailer in Sydney and Melbourne we cut large plywood letters with the face painted in the brand colours and fixed each one to the walls of the showroom for a 3D floating look. This can also be done in brass, acrylic, OSB. Get really creative with your materials for super unique signage solutions.
SEVEN - Free-standing Plywood Letters
You can also create portable signage solutions, like the very popular large freestanding letters that spell “LOVE” at weddings for photo backdrops. These letters can be fixed to a base so that they stay as one, allowing them to be placed on the floor, a shelf, a counter or windowsill. Or they can remain a set of letters forming an alphabet to make a fun display depending on the message, like “WELCOME”. Because these letters are thicker or made up of several layers of plywood glued together, there is also the opportunity to have layer of brightly coloured acrylic in between.
EIGHT - Small Laser Etched Plywood Signs
Our laser cutter can also etch into plywood or acrylic. This is a great way of creating smaller plaques or backing boards/clipboards used to hold a printed menu with a restaurant logo etched at the top. Portable signage solutions are a great way of bringing your brand to the front of a customer’s mind throughout their experience. This is also a popular way of making small place cards for weddings or larger events.
NINE - Pegboard noticeboards
We offer several sizes of Plywood Pegboards in our online store which offers a great starting point for temporary signage.. Hang a printed sign from a dowel peg advertising the product range displayed on the birch plywood shelves, or take inspiration from our friends at Little Literature who ordered a pop-on sign made of laser cut black acrylic letters fixed to a plywood backboard that had dowels pre-fixed to the back.
We hope this has given you lots of exciting ideas and given you a small insight into the millions of possibilities! We hope you will send us your mood board or get in touch for a quick chat.