Planning a Sign

Valuable time and money can be lost when pre-planning is skipped during the design process. Here are some easy steps/tips to follow when planning your sign: ·

  • Signs sizes that divide equally into 48” by 96” maximize material yield. For example: 12” by 24”, 24” by 32”, 16” by 24”, 48” by 32” and 48” x 48” or 48” x 96”. These sizes don’t leave an odd sized cut-off, which you will probably pay for. If you are going to pay for the larger size, go for the larger size and get the bigger bang for your buck. You are paying for it anyway.
  • A dark background with a light coloured text is more noticeable and easier to read than dark text on a white background.
  • Generally, landscape format is better than portrait as the text is easier to read.
  • The best sign says the least – remember, your audience only has a split second to read your message, don’t clutter it up! If you can communicate your message in one or two words, do so.
  • Font selection should reflect your business. However, select a font that is easy to read.
  • Font parades – the use of more than two fonts on a sign – make the sign distracting and difficult to read.

Reader Boards

Outdated message on signs send the wrong message about your business. Customers often notice the Valentine’s message in June or the Christmas story in May. These signs say that the products, service and image of your company are out of date. Consider the following:

  • If your business has a reader board – keep it up to date.
  • Is the message changed regularly? The same message week after week gets stale. Regularly changed messages create interest from the audience.
  • Make one or two people in your organization responsible for the reader board and the messages.
  • Consider using the reader board for local events rather than business items. You might be surprised at how much interest you can generate by NOT mentioning business.

Stand back, and look at your signage monthly. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the sign send the correct message to my customers?
  2. Is the message updated, relevant and eye-catching?
  3. Are the colours still vibrant?
  4. Does it light up? Drive by early in the morning and late at night to see if your sign is working properly.
  5. Is the sign in good condition? Is it cracked, faded or peeling? If so, what message are you sending to potential customers.

Typical Electrical Sign Problems

  • One or two lamps are burned out but the sign still partially lights up

Starting a sign with burned out lamps is a sure way to cause early failure of the ballast, the expensive part of the electrical system in a sign. Replacing a lamp may cost up to $20, replacing the ballast costs over $100.

When the sign technician is on site, replace all the lamps while the technician has the sign face open. It simply isn’t cost effective to have a technician making weekly calls to replace a lamp or two at a time, and it doesn’t make good business sense to have a partially lit sign. ·

  • The sign has difficulty starting

The fluorescent lights flicker when they are first switched on. Sometimes they light up and other times they just continue to flicker.

This problem can be corrected by adding a starting aid to the sign. Your sign technician should be familiar with this process and it only takes a few moments to install.

  • Inconsistent starting

One day the signs lights up, the next day it doesn’t. Bad ground connections are usually the culprit in this situation. Have your sign technician check the connections to ensure tight ground contacts.


Banners are a great product for short-term signage. However, if improperly installed, their life expectancy can be dramatically shortened. If possible, install on a solid structure such as a wall or fence. Attach at every grommet. If the banner is to be strung up by ropes, weave the ropes through all the grommets and tie them off at each end grommet. The ropes should be in a straight line, continuing in the same line as the horizontal hems, not splayed out.

Keep the banner flat and taut. A loose and inadequately supported banner will flog in the wind, destroying the fabric that is its structure.