« January 2015 | Main

Monday, January 26, 2015

Colour Contrast in Signage

In reviewing signage for legibility, noticeability, and creating good first impressions, it is important to know the importance of colour and how it relates to your design and sign. Calibre Signs will explore Colour Psychology in another blog, but for now we are looking at the other 2 colour unusual colour schemes that can be used- or maybe should be avoided. Here is a quick chart showing some of these combos:

Now, one side note that should be addressed, is colour blindness. Some people cannot differentiate between grey scale tonal values, red, blue or green. Aside from that, we cannot account for what portion of the population will not be able to properly see your colour contrast due to this problem. Just note that if your signage is being used for Emergency or Safety Issues, not to use red/black, red/green, blue/yellow together because the sign may not be readable. Another colour problem, is what I call, Vibration. That is the difficulty the eye has absorbing two particular colours together. For instance, for me, reading red and green together, gives me a headache, because these two colours are virtually indulating, or vibrating, and fighting against each other. Using two brightly hued colours together will also cause this "vibrating" or "after-image" effect. Good examples of the after-image are magenta on lime green and reverse. It is not a good idea to use these colour combinations in your sign design because they are troublesome to viewers. This problem compounds when the sign is wordy and the font is small, and concentrating to read it is very difficult. My advice is to avoid these colour combinations. Sometimes you will notice mobile temporary signs use the flourescent colours to catch your eye. Using these colours as more long-term would probably be a mistake, because eventually viewers avert their eyes to avoid the clashing colour combinations. Ugly may catch your attention initially, but then it will be avoided. Using proven colour combo winners or even the complimentary or analogous scheme would be a wiser choice using black and white as needed.

Complimentary Colours 




Complimentary Colours are the colours that are across from each other on the colour wheel and are thought to be harmonious together as they "compliment" each other. Analogous colours are three adjacent colours on the colour wheel which are known as "monotone" colour schemes. ANALOGOUS.

Armed with this new-found colour knowledge, you might be one step closer to deciding what colour scheme you might want to adopt for your own signage needs. Watch for Calibre Signs' The Psychology of colour and how it relates to design. Until next time..

Posted by Stephanie at 11:17 AM
Edited on: Monday, June 12, 2017 1:43 PM

Colour Contrast Part 2

Okay, so you've read Colour Contrast Part 1 and you are ready to see what other 2 colour combinations are proven to attract a customer's eye. Well, here are the second grouping of colour combinations, with some signage, to show you how they look:
So these were the next most legible 2 colour combinations for signage. In the next blog we'll explore using high contrast colours and vibration. Colour Psychology also plays a subconscious role in our quick first impressions, so we'll explore that too. Until next time...
Posted by Stephanie at 11:06 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 16, 2017 12:00 PM

Friday, January 23, 2015

Colour Contrast-Part 1


In a previous blog we showed how powerful first impressions are to customers. You do not have a lot of time to get your message across- especially when it is on a sign. Most scenarios involve people driving by and noticing your sign, quickly reading it, and forming an opinion about your business or service. The sign is not the only criteria they will take into account, but for this blog, let's just focus on your sign...

The most important 2 things about your sign are that it is noticeable and that it is legible. Let's work on the noticeable part today. In order that the sign be noticeable, it has to initially catch the eye of the distracted observer. You may already have your company logo etc and want to work with those colours, but if you are deciding what colours are the best to use for eye-catching signage...here is the first group according to legibilty from a distance.

Black on Yellow

White on Black

Yellow on Black

Black on White

Blue on White

White on Blue

Yellow on Blue or reverse

These are the top two colour choices for sign legibility. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Colour Contrast.




Posted by Stephanie at 1:33 PM
Edited on: Friday, June 16, 2017 11:18 AM

Friday, January 16, 2015

Maybe You Can Help Me?

In my opinion, intimidation is the death of a curious mind. I often find that when we are intimidated in a situation, be it walking into a party of strangers, or trying something new, we are overwhelmed by the feeling of being judged as uneducated, uninformed or clumsy or whatever, and therefore are less likely to commit to pushing ourselves into that uncomfortable situation. It is with that understanding, that we at Calibre Signs, try to make a customer feel comfortable asking questions about their signage needs- because let’s face it- we are not born knowing everything right off the bat and it’s by asking questions that we are educated on topics we are not aware of. For instance, when I take my car in to get fixed, I don’t want to appear like I don’t know anything about cars because I am afraid that I will be taken advantage of, in my ignorance, of how my car was built, or functions. I will try to Google up what could be wrong before I take the car in so that I have some frame of reference to speak from in case the service person asks me a question. I certainly don’t want to say: “the thing- a- mah-bobby” isn’t working...I want to at least have the right terminology to explain myself competently. That’s how it is with the sign business too...Not to say that you have to know exactly how each and every sign is built or their best functionality, but, you should have an idea at least of what you want in order to ask about it. So, let’s just say for instance, you have rented a unit and you plan to open up a new “restaurant” business and you of course need some signs.

First thing will be to get signs to replace what was already there- maybeChannel Letters or a “storefront fascia” sign which is usually just a sign “cabinet” that will illuminate, or maybe it’s a non-illuminated aluminum or plastic or wood sign. Next, there may be a pylon sign that needs new graphics. Third might be window and door graphics with frosted vinyl, hours of operation, digital photography etc. Perhaps you want your business vehicle to also have graphics to operate as your 24 hour rolling billboard- advertising your business. These are just some of the exterior signs that you may be thinking of. Other types of exterior signs might be a Monument Ground sign or a Post and Panel sign. If you are a cutting edge type of customer- you may even wisely splurge on an Electronic Message Board or reader board sign because they have been shown to increase customer traffic and sales. “Harpo’s” Restaurant in Oshawa was a great example of how a Dynamic Digital Display Monument Sign was implemented to bring back TOMA or “top of mind awareness” to the shopping mall customers across from the restaurant. Thousands of customers every year drive there and become “blind” to the same thing they see but don’t focus on. Impulse sales are a huge draw for many shoppers. One study (Conroy, D 2004-What’s Your Signage) found that 68% of purchases during major shopping trips were unplanned, whereas 54% on smaller shopping trips. On Premise signs are very important in capturing impulse sales and TOMA. Other small business solutions might be to use a sidewalk A-frame sandwich board, or a pop-up flag, banner or wind spinner. These are all types of signs that are employed to get people to notice your business, and maybe a variety of different methods are necessary. The single most important characteristic of a sign is LEGIBILITY. Customers need to be able to quickly read and grasp the message of the sign as they may be driving by. Your name is probably less important than the function of your business i.e. “Dentist”,”Donuts”,”Hair Salon” etc.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when looking for a sign company, like Calibre Signs, to create your signage needs. And remember to go out and look around at what you have seen others do that you think is a great idea- take a picture of it and use it as a reference for a quote. Check out our portfolio of products and signs as a starting point, and if you have some measurements or logo artwork that you want to work with, great!

First Impressions are lasting impressions...

Posted by at 1:04 PM

Design Advice

If you would like to FTP your graphic files to us please just give us a call at (905) 665 5666 or toll free at (877) 215 3343 and we will provide you with the FTP Server Name, FTP User Name and FTP Password so that you can post your files directly to our FTP site where we will pick them up from you. Keep in mind if you do not already have an FTP program you will have to download one ... such as CUTE FTP. Many FTP programs are free.

Effective Sign Design

Your sign is the first thing customers notice about your business. It is a powerful tool in creating a first and lasting impression. Use effective design elements to create a sign that's right for your specific needs. Use these design elements and produce impact!

Best impact is with photos. Photos can increase recall by 300% and they communicate more information by activating the senses stimulation impulse purchases.
Full colour graphics create the highest awareness of all stages.
Borders increase reading speed by 26% and second colours add visual interest and improve reader reaction by 78%.
Even a plain sign builds awareness through low cost, multiple impressions reinforceing your advertising message.
Here are some additional points to consider in designing an effective sign.
Distance and Visibility
Generally you will need an inch of height for every 10ft of viewing distance. When you don't have room for lettering as large as you would like try using light coloured letters on a dark background. The contrast makes the letters appear larger and viewers will find it easier to read.

Key words should be emphasized in larger letters, bolder typestyling and additional colours.

Typestyle selection is critical to the effectiveness of the sign. Many script and specialty typestyles are difficult to read over greater distances.

Colour Contrast
A high colour contrast factor will improve legibility. Here are the best combinations ranked in order of legibility from a distance.

Colour Combination Effects

Contrast Solutions

Weak colour contrasts can be strengthened with an outline or drop shadow.

Sending files and advice on file setup and design

Compress all files using .zip or .sit. File size should be less than 5Mb
Email to: george@calibresigns.com

Drop off a CD
For files larger than 5Mb, copy all documents (include linked images and fonts) to CD and mail or drop off to:
600 Garden Street
Whitby ON, L1N 7B3

File formats accepted

  • Adobe Illustrator - .ai .eps .pdf
  • Adobe Photoshop/Photo Elements - .psd .tif .bmp .eps .jpg
  • Corel Draw - .cdr

For vector-based programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw, resolution doesn't factor in; but for pixel-based programs such as Photoshop, the minimum resolution should be 150 pixels per inch at final size.

Certain formats such as JPEG include a large amount of compression. When printed, much of the pixel information is lost and the quality is poor. JPEG is a SCREEN format and should not be used for print unless the file size and resolution are very high to compensate for pixels loss. Web images which are small and compressed do not contain enough pixel information and print blurry or blotchy. Please avoid sending files in JPEG and GIF formats from the web. ZIP, SIT, SITX are lossless compression formats and can be used to reduce the file size when transferring electronically.

Trim marks
Include small, registered trim marks on your file to indicate where cutting will occur. If the color goes to the edge, bleed the color at least 1/4 inch beyond the cut marks.

If using Adobe Illustrator, please create OUTLINE for all fonts.

Send all font files with your file unless your pixel-based document is flattened. We work on PCs, so Macintosh fonts are not accepted.

Advice when designing
Keep track of your colors. For SPOT COLOR jobs, set the spot color reference in your application and use at 100% opacity or indicate Pantone colours. The more colors, the higher the cost can be. If you require a photographic image, do not set spot colors. These types of images use a 4-color PROCESS ink system.

A lot of thought needs to go into the design of your custom company sign. You must make sure that it is simple and straightforward enough that your message doesn't get lost to viewers, but also eye-catching to capture people's attention. To do this, use vibrant colors and clear, large point font on your company billboard or storefront sign. Make sure that you keep your message direct, and that your brand and contact information are clearly visible so that it will easy to read and remembered.

When designing your sign, always keep in mind that your company sign should do its best to effectively reflect both your company's brand image and also appeal to your customer. On your custom company sign you should use colours and images that are relevant to your products and services. This will help give your prospective customer a better sense of what you're offering, to help build their interest.
Posted by at 12:51 PM