The 4 Most Important Things to Keep in Mind When Writing a Retail Sign

When writing, designing and producing signage, there are four important things you must first consider…


One of the most important things your consumers — or audience — wants is specificity. There are so many people in the business of selling that, to make your product or service stand out amongst the generality of other businesses in the same field, you need to run with the details. How exactly will a consumer benefit if they choose your product or service?


While it’s important to be precise, it’s also just as important to keep your signage simple. Finding the right balance of these two can be challenging but worth the time drafting and redrafting to do so. The message needs to be crystal clear but if you provide too much information, the audience will quickly loose interest. Get to the point. A good way to make sure your message is by the “five second rule”. This rule states that if your message (both visual and text together) takes more than five seconds to convey, it’s not simple enough.


This is similar to simplicity but has more to do specifically with the text on your sign. Being succinct with your text is one way to ensure you meet the requirements of the five second rule. If you imagine your message is a headline in a newspaper, you get a better idea of what is concise and what isn’t. If it runs over too many lines and would look ridiculous as a newspaper headline, it’s time to go back to the drawing board! Abridge the text where possible: take out prepositions, use superlatives, reduce the sentences to encapsulate what you are trying to say in fewer words, use design and textual hierarchy to point viewers towards the most important information.


Generally speaking, the fundamental reason for a sign, particularly in retail is to get your audience to do something. Appealing to your demographic is what the design and creation of a sign is all about. Signs are advertisements and they should always be treated as such. What is the purpose of the sign? This is an important fact to know before you do anything else. What do you want this sign to do? Once you have set a goal for your sign, you can create an appropriate call to action.