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Friday, September 11, 2015

Colour Contrast in Signage

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




Here are the top picks for colour combo legibility:


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 10:42 AM
Edited on: Tuesday, June 06, 2017 1:59 PM

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What should my Sign do?

The most important thing your new company sign should do is facilitate building your company's branding to increase customer brand awareness, and draw in new business. This will help to give you a better chance of retaining your current customers through brand recognition, and it will help build your business's customer base. Ensuring that your custom company sign can do these things will help to make sure your business does well overall.

Your on-premise sign should identify your business, mark its location, and convey the right image of your company and communicate what you are selling. Your sign should effectively:

Attract New Customers

Brand the Business

Create Impulse Sales

Your storefront sign often represents the first visual impression that the public has of your business. It needs to be direct and to the point; while at the same time, aesthetically pleasing as well. Your business sign should positively reflect your company and create a good first impression, because you don't get a second chance at first impressions. If people feel that your company sign is hard to read, confusing, dingy or off-putting in anyway, you are going to have an uphill battle trying to gain their business. An appealing and informative custom company sign will attract potential customers and help to increase business.

Branding your business is one of the most important aspects of marketing your company. You can often hear advertisers refer to the term "TOMA", which stands for Top of Mind Awareness, which is always being the first brand to pop into a consumers head. This is what businesses need to strive for in their advertising, and using a high quality company sign, message centre, neon or pylon sign can help to brand your company and achieve this awareness amongst possible clientele.

According to the International Sign Association, research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a 5 mile radius of your business, but 18.6% of the population relocates annually, and you need to attract new customers to replace the ones you are losing. Signage is the quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract these customers.

Calibre Signs strongly believes in "Brand Awareness" through strong logo and brand imaging combined with repetition which will help reinforce 'top-of-mind' awareness. The name of your business, logo, tag line, colour scheme, should all be consistent on all your marketing pieces including your signage, business cards, letterhead, website and print ads to reinforce your branding image. When you think of some of the most well known brands, such as Apple, Google, Virgin Media and others, what comes to mind? You often won't immediately think of Steve Jobs, Larry Page or Richard Branson; it's their company logos that come to mind. Logos are one of the most popular ways to build brand recognition, and by using logos on your custom company sign you can help increase your company's brand recognition with your clientele.

Impulse sales are created when busy people really can't afford to spend the time comparison shopping and are attracted by convenience and need. Best Buy discovered that 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there specifically, but did so because they saw the sign. WOW! Every company needs to have a highly visible custom business sign to help drive traffic into your store. Making sure your business can attract people, especially for impulse purchases, is crucial in helping your business make sales. Although impulse sales may represent a small part of your business, impulse buyers can't be ignored. Having a bright and attractive company sign can attract the attention of people who are just passing by, and usually lead to more business for your company. A custom business sign is one of the most efficient forms of marketing in regards to dollars made for dollars spent on advertising.


Posted by Stephanie at 11:51 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 16, 2017 12:15 PM

Sign Effectiveness in 4 points

T.W. Forbes and R.S. Holmes in 1939's "Highway Research Board" Legibility Distance of Highway Destination Signs in relation to Letter Height, Letter Width and Reflectorization" proposed four general criteria that sign effectiveness could be measured by:

Pure Legibility - The distance at which a sign can be read given an extensive viewing time

Glance Legibility - The distance at which a sign can be read given a minimal amount of viewing time ( few seconds)

Priority Value - The Qualities of a sign than cause it to be seen and read first

Target Value - The characteristics which distinguish a sign from its background and other surroundings.

The more conspicuous a sign is from its background, the higher the likelihood of it being noticed and being effective. Factors that affect the conspicuity are: the observers field of vision, foreground complexity (too many distractions),sign border, font, form and shape recognition, intermittency of illumination, motion( swivelling or scrolling), colour, and the uniqueness of the signs features( i.e. shaped like a hot dog.)

So in order for a sign to stand out and be noticed, the four criteria Calibre Signs feel are necessary are:





Let's further break these criteria down with some examples.

Visibility: A signs needs to be clearly visible to achieve full impact. A sign should not be obstructed by other objects such as landscaping and trees. Calibre Signs looks out for these obstructions and will advise of potential problems. Sometimes objects cannot be removed and alternate suggestions need to be explored. Colour and contrast are vitally important so that the message is readable. For instance, having yellow lettering on a white background will not be of high contrast nor very visible. If the sign needs to be viewed at night, it should be illuminated, and or have reflective vinyl, otherwise it will be invisible. Atmospheric conditions may also affect a signs visibility such as snow cover, fog, or heavy rain. Sometimes ground signs are blocked by objects such as traffic, pedestrians or physical structures. It is more likely that a sign that is perpendicular to traffic will be more likely to be seen than a sign that is parallel to traffic (i.e. a storefront fascia sign). Sometimes small changes such as turning a flat wall sign into a protruding angled sign or a perpendicular sign such a pylon or hanging sidewalk sign- make help create sign awareness. The chart below show what researchers assess to be the minimum required legibility distances in varying situations:

Speed (MPH) With Lane change (in feet) Without Lane change (in feet)

25-30 410 155

35-45 550 185

45-50 680 220

55-60 720 265

>65 720 280

This is based on a perpendicular mounted sign. If it is a parallel mount sign, research shows that the sign needs to be 70% larger or it cannot be read in time. The next step would be determining the actual height required for the sign to be visible. Below is a chart demonstrating this:

Speed Limit Number of traffic lanes Sign Height(to top of sign face)

25 mph 2-4 12ft

35 mph 2-4 20ft

45 mph 2-4 35ft

55 mph 2-4 50ft

>Highway 75ft

At Calibre Signs we think that illumination is essential for most commercial signage. Aside from the 24hour advertisement of your business, it also helps increase visibility. Generally there are three basic means of signage illumination.

By lamps mounted outside oriented to shine on sign face

Internal illumination through sign's face

By illuminated elements such as exposed bulbs, LEDs or neon style tubing.

Legibility: Based on a person's "Cone of Vision" or Field of Vision, certain considerations come into play. Based on how far away the sign needs to be visible, the size of the letter font must follow accordingly - too small and it won't be noticed. Calibre Signs recommends that signs be designed with letters a minimum of 1" for every 25ft of distance. If a font is used that is difficult to read is used such as a "script font" or "tightly spaced" font- the message may be lost in readability time. Increase in letter height would be necessary when using cursive script font or letters with tight spacing etc. Colour contrast is required in order that the text stands out from the background.

Conspicuity: A sign needs space and time to be noticed. A sign that is hidden amongst a sign polluted environment will more than likely be missed and ignored. Observers need to "See the sign" in order to receive the message. Pylon signs can be very conspicuous because they usually stand high off the ground. To get noticed, a sign should contrast with its environment. A green sign with a forest in the background may get lost. Calibre Signs' graphic designers are experienced and will help recommend the best choice in making your sign stand out.

Readability: Using the criteria above, an observer needs to be able to assimilate all of the information presented and interpret and comprehend the message. Vertically lettered signs are usually more difficult to read than horizontally lettered signs. If the observer cannot read what the sign says the message is lost. The sign needs to make sense.

Calibre Signs takes your ideas and turns them into reality with knowledgeable and expert advice from proven sources and statistics. Signs are our business and we extend our expertise into making you a successful and lasting impression.


Posted by Stephanie at 11:47 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 16, 2017 12:32 PM



So what is so important about Branding and what is it?

Branding, is a way of putting your name on something as a claim of ownership, just like they do with cattle to differentiate from other rancher's cattle.

So what does that mean when you have a business?

Branding is important in sending a message to your intended target market as well as other potential clientèle to attract them to your business or service. Your brand should clearly identify your organization, the core values and the culture as well as any unique attributes that separate you from your competition. So let's use an example. Let's pretend that you are opening an Organic Food Cafe and Delivery business and you have a storefront sign. First of all let's assume you researched and did market testing to determine the best location for your business. In this example you have a storefront in an urban hipster chic location and now you need to determine a name and branding for your business.

You, as the owner, should incorporate the impression you want Customers to feel when they first see your brand. That cliche that first impressions are lasting impressions is very true. We as people tend to make quick judgments based on what we see. That being said, let's break down your Organic Food Cafe and Delivery Service and choices that might come into play.

Colour: Will you choose colours associated with Health and Organics such as greens and browns? Or how about the Cafe predominately shades of brown and finally the delivery service, best in bright red to imply speed.

Graphics: You might want to use graphics of vegetables and fruits, or leaves of plants such as the stevia, or you might want the picture to be of a coffee cup or happy healthy people...You have to see what appeals to you and use a non biased test audience to see what their impressions are based on your choices.

Font- Be Smart and do not over complicate the sign and the message. KISS- keep it simple stupid is a quick moniker to help curb that need to be overly creative. For the most part- steer away from script and serif fonts because they are harder to read from a distance. You want your sign to be legible so it might be wiser to stick with simple san serif fonts such as helvetica or arial.

Tag line Message: Differentiate yourself from your competition- what makes you unique? what can you offer over and above what they can and stress this point- such as McDonald's serving over , what is it now? 300 billion hamburgers????

Consistency: Be consistent with your advertising message in all your marketing ad campaigns and print such as website, brochures, business cards, newspaper ads etc and trademark and protect your work if necessary.

The goal of branding is to be noticed, desired and remembered..Sounds just like life.


Posted by Stephanie at 11:27 AM
Edited on: Monday, June 12, 2017 1:40 PM

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Light up Your Life

Waaaay back in the land before time, or at least before Thomas Edison, there were signs -without light. We have now progressed eons and light-years past that point now , but mostly due to budget restraints, not all signs are illuminated. When a Customer calls to get an estimate on a sign there is a plethora of choices and many of these should be reviewed to determine which is the best fit for your company or sign at that time. Right now we are referring mostly to new building location signage including : storefront fascia, monument and pylon signs. So let's say you have a storefront with a street pylon sign. Here are some things to consider regarding your decision:

  1. BUDGET- by far the MOST important aspect of your signage decision. Money has to be set aside for the signage and remember that this cost really is amortized over time, just like real estate is, because the signage affixed to the building is considered a fixed asset. When you amortize the initial cost over the potential life span of the business and compare that to the amount of money you would budget annually just for advertising your business, signage works out, on average, to be one of the most most effective forms of advertising. 
  2. TRAFFIC- The location of the business, and the ability to be seen or noticed, also plays an integral role in your signage choice. There's not much sense in spending unnecessary money on a deluxe sign if no one will see it until they are parked in front of it. That being said, if you have the location for it, and need to stand out, Deluxe may be the way to go. One of my favourite signs is the LED Electronic Digital Message Centre monument sign we did for the Calvary United Church in Oshawa Ontario . We get calls for that one a lot; the perfect example of really getting noticed!
  3. HOURS OF OPERATION- Logic dictates- if you are open during the evening- then you need light to be seen. If they can't find you, they won't come.

Based on just these three criteria alone, you can start your reasoning and then look at types of illumination. You can go from a very basic non illuminated sign that is lit be an external light source, such as goose neck lighting, or you can have an internally illuminated signbox, or even Channel Letters that could be front lit, halo or back lit or a combination thereof. LED electronic digital signs are costly- but they are effective in capturing attention.

Take the tiime and explore examples of other signs to see which one fits your needs and get started, and give Calibre Signs a call to discuss pricing on your ideas.


Posted by Stephanie at 1:42 PM
Edited on: Monday, June 12, 2017 1:41 PM