Valuable Tips for Choosing the Right Sign Font
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When your business is hired by a client to create custom signage, there are a number of factors to take into consideration to ensure the client is happy with the finished product, including the following:
- Selecting shades that complement the client’s existing color scheme
- Making sure the display will fit in the desired location
- Getting the client’s intended message across to visitors
Though these are all important to keep in mind during the initial design phase, the latter is undoubtedly the most crucial. After all, if visitors don’t understand what a sign is trying to convey, then the display hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.
And that means you’ll have a dissatisfied client on your hands—one whose negative feedback could hurt future sales.
So, to avoid disappointing your client by presenting them with a sign that is difficult to read or comprehend, it’s best to use concise wording, non-distracting colors, and—most importantly—a legible font that fits the client’s own style.
Using the right sign font can make all the difference when it comes to creating a successful sign, which is why we’ve provided some valuable tips below.
But first, it’s worth discussing exactly why font choices matter…
Why Do Sign Font Choices Matter?
Some people don’t put much stock in the importance of sign font, believing it’s just another aspect of design that doesn’t have much of an effect on whether a display is viewed by passersby. As sign professionals, however, we know just how false that notion is.
Like many other things, it’s never really noticed when a sign font is chosen well—only when it’s chosen poorly. For example, signage in an upscale restaurant with a fancy, almost completely illegible calligraphic font. Or a law office display with Comic Sans…
When the wrong font is used on signage, it can leave visitors with a negative impression of the facility in which the display is installed.
- If the font makes the sign difficult to read, visitors could get frustrated that they’re unable to navigate the building or get the information they need.
- If the font doesn’t fit the business’ brand and industry, visitors may not take the business seriously and choose to go to a competitor instead.
Further, if a preapproved font isn’t used on ADA signage, a business may fail to achieve compliance, which can lead to hefty lawsuits and fines.
The font on signage can make or break its intended message, making it all the more important to discuss this design aspect in great depth with your client.
Questions That Will Help You Choose the Right Sign Font for Your Client
When working with a client to select the right font for their signage, the questions below may prove helpful. These queries will allow you to determine the most appropriate font for not only their needs but also their visitors’ needs.
1. What type of business are you working with?
First and foremost, it’s important to consider the type of business your client has. Understanding how they want to be perceived by those who visit their facility can make selecting the right sign font much easier.
For example, if your client operates in the B2B sector, then they likely want to present a professional image to potential customers. In that case, a clean font such as Helvetica Neue (sans-serif font), Futura (sans-serif font), or Simplifica (sans-serif font) would work to reinforce that image.
If, however, your client works in the B2C sphere, they may desire to project a more laid-back persona to potential customers. Fonts such as Bavro (sans-serif font), Arcadia (sans-serif font), and Signika (sans-serif font) are fun and interesting options.
2. Do they already use a specific font in other materials?
Consistency is key in developing a successful brand image. If your client already has a font they use on their website and in their print materials, choosing the same font for their signage is almost always the best move.
Those who are already familiar with your client’s business will easily recognize the font, thereby reinforcing the brand image in their minds.
However, it’s worth noting that if your client uses a font with a lot of embellishments, it may be better to stick to a more basic font for directional signs and other displays that don’t need to be branded.
3. Does their sign font need to be ADA compliant?
If a client has requested ADA-compliant signage, you’ll need to be careful in which sign font you choose. This is because the Americans with Disabilities Act has very strict guidelines regarding font style, size, and height.
The rules for ADA-compliant fonts are as follows:
- 703.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.
- 703.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
- 703.2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
- 703.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
With these restrictions in mind, some examples of acceptable and commonly used fonts include Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Franklin Gothic, and Century Gothic.
Selecting the right sign font for your client’s display is an extremely important task, and it’s one that should not be taken lightly. Failing to put the time and effort into selecting a font that fits their brand image and needs could result in lost sales—for both your client’s business and your own.
If a client has enlisted your help to fabricate new signage for their facility, make sure to research their business, their industry, and their existing collateral to ensure you use an appropriate sign font.
And if you lack the time, resources, or ADA knowledge to produce the best possible display for your client, don’t be afraid to outsource their order to a third party.