Beginners Guide to the Process of Making Custom Signs

Beginners Guide to the Process of Making Custom Signs

Signs are incredibly important for any business. Along with the internet, signs are one of the top two things that will bring in new customers.

Beginners Guide to the Process of Making Custom Signs

Signs are incredibly important for any business. Along with the internet, signs are one of the top two things that will bring new customers to your place of business. Thus, it is incredibly important to get things right. This article is intended to help you with that process to the best of our ability.

Choosing The Right Sign Company

We should clarify something here: We are not advising you to do everything in-house. If you want to make all your signs for yourself, that might turn out to be an unrealistic goal. A small, local business with only one or two locations should have no problems there, but large businesses really do have to involve a third-party company in the process.

There are several things that you should think about when choosing the right sign company for you. First of all, look at their rates. You can get a good idea about the average rates in your area by making a few phone calls. Get online and start looking up business listings, noting all of the sign companies that you find within your area. Now, all you have to do is call them one at a time to get some price quotes.

At this point, don’t commit to anything. You have not yet decided what kinds of signs you might want, what kind of information you might want to include, etc. It’s too soon to place an order. Of course, you shouldn’t tell the sign company that you are just getting quotes because they won’t look at you as a serious customer. Instead, make it seem as if you need their services right away. When you have the information you need, just tell them that you will call them back later and end the discussion.

Design Your Sign With Goals In Mind

Now that you have a rough idea about the amount of money that will be required, you are ready to start designing the sign (or signs) that you want to have made. At this point, you need to think about your business situation, your goals, and what (exactly) you hope to achieve with each particular sign.

Let’s try to take that basic concept and make it a little more concrete. Let’s say you own a restaurant, and you want to do some promotion before you open the doors and start cooking. Obviously, this will help to ensure that your first few weeks of business will be more profitable. In the case of a restaurant, you want the signage (and other advertising) to reflect your specialties. If there are already a hundred places in town selling cheeseburgers (and there probably are), a cheeseburger on your sign is unlikely to get much reaction…unless, of course, there is something unique about that particular cheeseburger. In short, we are saying that you should focus on any unique points about your business, and use them in your marketing.

You also need to think about your location. The most important thing for any sign is easy visibility, and your design needs to reflect that fact. If there are a lot of other businesses around you, it becomes even more important to grab attention as much as you can. With so many other brightly-colored signs in the area, yours will need to be that much better if you expect anyone to be intrigued enough to stop by and spend some money.

Think about where you will place your new signs, as well. For instance, if you are located beside the highway, it is very important to have a sign that can be seen from the highway. You don’t want to miss out on such a crucial flow of business, so you have to make sure that travelers on the interstate can see your establishment easily. Bear in mind that most drivers will be keeping their eyes on the road, so your sign will probably get only a glance.

On the other hand, businesses that are located in a downtown area will find that a really tall sign isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s just a waste of time, space, and money. When you are located in a heavily-trafficked area, you don’t need to focus on bringing more customers to that area. Instead, you have to focus on attracting customers who are already there. Neon and other brightly-lit signs are very helpful here, especially if they have moving lights rather than stationary ones.

Don’t Rush To A Decision

This is an important decision, so try your best not to rush things. In some ways, this is a decision that can make or break your business. Without the right kind of sign, people aren’t likely to notice that your business even exists, which can translate to a lot of dead days in which you sell little to nothing.

It is very important to consult with whatever company you have hired. Although you are sure to have some ideas of your own, the professionals can usually help you to make a good sign into a great one. Just remember that these people design and make signs every day, giving them a level of experience that you probably don’t have.

You should also make sure that you are informed about all the different types of signs that are offered by your chosen company. Even if you are firmly set on a certain kind of thing, it won’t hurt to talk to someone and ask them to throw a few ideas your way. It is important to avoid the temptation towards getting irritated when someone suggests something different from what you have in mind. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson, but you should also try not to be an overly pushy customer. After all, no one is forcing you to listen to any of the suggestions provided by your sign company. They are just suggestions and should be regarded as such.

Some Common Types Of Signs

While we are on the subject of suggestions, we ought to cover a few of the basic types of signs that might be available. Of course, the making of a great sign is a form of art that requires expertise and experience to function at its highest level. There are so many potential options that we don’t even have time to list them all. Still, we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t cover a few of your many options.

Cabinet Signs

Cabinet signs are probably the most common business signs out there. As the name suggests, they consist of a hollow cabinet that contains one or more lights. By using a colored, semi-transparent material on the front of the cabinet, these signs can generate light in any color. Red is probably the most common color that is used, mostly because it stands out so well. When people see red, they often subconsciously associate it with power and desire. These are good emotions to stoke when you need more business.

These types of signs can be made as a single cabinet, or they can be made in such a way that each letter has its own cabinet. These signs, sometimes called letter signs, are also quite common. When each letter has a separate cabinet and light fixture, you can also rig them up to blink and move. Moving lights really do tend to grab the eye, so this can be very helpful.

Electronic Message Centers

Electronic message centers, or EMCs, work on the same principle that we were just discussing. It is perfectly natural that our eyesight is drawn to movement in the same way that it’s drawn to bright colors. Electronic message centers are those pixelated screens that you might see outside a theater (among other places).

So, what makes these things so great? Mostly, these things are handy for the fact that they provide light, color, and motion in a single package. Not only that, but these EMC signs are highly customizable. You can get various kinds of EMC signs, but the simple text marquee is the most common form. A simple text message is scrolled across the screen, telling the customers whatever you want to tell them.

Some models are full-size screens that allow you to create custom animations that will help to get even more attention. Even people with no interest in your business will be likely to stop for a second or two and take a look. As for information, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and by the number of letters that your EMC will allow. You might come up with a clever catchphrase and have it shown on the front of your building like a marquee. You might make an animated depiction of someone using your products or services, or you might depict the products themselves.

If you have some kind of sale or promotion going on, an EMC can be your best friend. Just by going over to the computer and punching a few keys, you can create any promo message you want, along with any information that is required. For instance, you might tell them the basic terms of the promotion (in as few words as possible), how long that promotion or sale will last, and any special conditions that may apply.

Pole Signs

These are the big tall signs that you see outside of large stores and chains. They tend to be very tall, with most of them being 20-30 feet high. In many ways, these signs are a lot like a flagpole. They are meant to raise your standard high in the wind so that it can be seen from a long way away.

As we already mentioned, these signs are absolutely essential for attracting business from a highway or other major roadway. If these people are going to delay their journey, you need to give them a reason to do so. It should be noted that pole signs are usually lit, as there is little reason to erect a sign like this otherwise. Without some kind of lighting, no one will be able to see the sign after dark.

It is very important that these types of signs are properly built and secured. They can cause a lot of damage if they fall, mostly because they are so tall. If one of these signs happens to fall on someone, serious injury or even death could result, and you don’t want to be liable for that. Even if the moral aspect doesn’t bother you, the legal risks should!

Pylon Signs

Pylon signs are almost exactly like pole signs, except for one difference: They are made with two poles instead of one. This means that a sign can be hung on both ends from each pole, giving a little more stability against wind and weather. Obviously, a sign like this is going to be more expensive than a pole sign because of the larger amount of work required to install it in place. Still, they are more reliable than pole signs.

Also, pylon signs have an additional element of attention-grabbing because they are larger and take up more of a person’s view. Pylon signs are most commonly used in front of shopping centers and other places where multiple businesses operate. In this way, every business in the area can have their signs together in one place. When someone sees a sign of this sort, they are likely to think that they are about to enter a shopping complex.

Blade Signs

These are some of the smallest and cheapest of all business signs. They consist of a relatively small sign that projects outward from a building. They stick out in a way that is kind of similar to a blade coming out of a pocketknife, which is probably where they get their name. They are also called “blade signs” because they are usually quite thin.

A blade sign isn’t going to attract customers from a mile away, but it will let people know that they are passing a place of business. No one puts blade signs on their homes, and so the sight of one will immediately get the attention of a shopper. Blade signs are very useful, and their single best use is to mark the entrance of your business in such a way that it cannot be missed.

Monument Signs

Monument signs look a lot like those signs that will often welcome you to a town or city. They are meant to last and are meant to stay in one place. Most of the time, these signs will be fixed in the ground with concrete poles, but they are much shorter than pole signs or pylon signs. People will often surround these kinds of signs with decorative stones to give a nice old-fashioned appearance.

Monument signs are not usually used to convey information. Rather, they are intended for easy location. When most people are driving to a certain destination, they will rely on certain monuments to let them know when to turn or when to change lanes, etc. Psychologically, people have a tendency to use landmarks for navigation because they are easy to spot. A monument sign works the same way. It marks the location of the business and tells the customer where they are.

Don’t Forget The Non-Promotional Signs

With all this talk about promo signs, we ought to talk a little bit about the non-promotional signs that are sure to be required. If nothing else, you will definitely need some signs to indicate where the bathrooms might be. You’ll need two (at least): One for the men’s room and one for the women’s room. Most businesses will have a sign on both doors and a blade sign over both.

Inside the premises of your business, you probably have certain rules that you want people to follow. Of course, people cannot follow your rules if they have not been made aware of them. That’s where a few well-placed signs can do the trick. It is important that customers understand the rules and terms as soon as they walk in the door. If a person is chastised or ejected for breaking an unknown rule, they are likely to be very angry. As such, you will lose their business, and also, the business of anyone that they manage to convince.

The Manufacturing Process

Once your sign is fully designed, it will be time to call up those sign companies again. This time, you should limit yourself to the three companies that offered you the best price before. Now, perhaps, you see why we told you to shop around. When you did that, you were basically gathering intelligence, and now it is time to act on that intelligence.

It should be noted that cheaper is not always better. A company that offers the lowest rates in town might also do the shoddiest work in town. That’s why you should always look for some reviews on the company. Try to determine how often their customers walk away unhappy, and that will give you a better idea of your chances.

Most modern signs are made using a laser-cutting process that cuts all the appropriate shapes from a single piece of material. A company that doesn’t use this method is likely to be behind the times and/or poorly funded. You have to watch out for crooks in this kind of business. The basic act of making a sign is so easy that everyone thinks they can do so. However, only trained professionals are likely to give you the best results.

When it comes to quantity, we would advise you to find a middle ground. Obviously, your sign company can give you some good advice on this one. What we mean is this: You should not try to inundate your town with promotional signs. You also shouldn’t have more than three signs at the same location. Oversaturating the area with ads and promotional material is likely to annoy people. This will probably make them less likely to do business with you. On the other hand, you definitely need more than one sign.


This is a deceptively simple endeavor. On the one hand, there can be a lot of trepidation about sign design because there is so much at stake. Like we said earlier, this kind of thing can make or break you. On the other hand, you need to avoid being foolhardy and thinking that one sign is just as good as another. A sign is part of the overall picture that you are presenting to the customer, and it’s just as important as any other. If you have found our advice to be helpful, we can probably help you some more. Just fill out the contact form below, and we will keep you updated on our future work.