Image is everything

Your image is made up of thousands of tangible and intangible impressions — menu descriptions, lighting, table top, employee uniforms, even the attitude of your staff. Everything works together to create an impression in the mind of your guests.

Signage is an often overlooked and neglected image maker — or breaker. It seems almost too obvious to point out that signage should be legible, clean and to the point...but look around, all too often it's not.

Don't leave images and colors to chance. Creating signage, like any other discipline, is most effective with written operational and design guidelines. Create your own store "sign ordinance" and review it annually. The goal is to clarify your visual message and create instantly recognizable images that have continuity with your marketing and merchandising plan.

Apply the 6 foot rule. Generally you should design your signs so that a person can read them easily from a distance of six feet. Make sure there's plenty of contrast. The larger the sign, the more you can include, but avoid clutter. Smaller signage should be kept very simple.

Finish and polish the edges of every visual in the store with a simple craft store frame or a crisp graphic border. Hundreds of pre-printed papers and note cards are available from companies like Paper Direct. Have a variety of sizes available, pre-printed with your logo and/or a border so you can make signs instantly but keep your image consistent.

Change interior signage frequently. Signs that look too permanent lose their effectiveness and give a stale image to your displays.

Include a personal touch. Signage doesn't have to be professionally printed. Chalkboards are a popular way to communicate with your guests. Handwritten messages on high quality paper or pre-printed cards work fine, too.

Casual signage doesn't mean casual execution. Make sure they're executed by someone with stylish handwriting. No scribbles allowed. And definitely no spelling or grammatical errors! The look should always be professional. Your signage style should convey the quality and value of your image. No scotch tape, no staples, no frayed edges, no dirt. Clean! Clean! Clean! Try laminating your signs or use acrylic sign holders to prevent fading, tears and wrinkles.

Take ten minutes to walk through your entire restaurant, and look for all forms of signage on tabletops, bathroom walls, front doors, and behind the bar. Examine each piece with a critical eye. Is this the image you want to convey? Is it clean, sharp, and understandable? If not, take it down. The average consumer is bombarded by over 40,000 images every day. Make sure the images you present are fun, memorable and easy on the eye.

Supplies and Resources

Paper Direct
Paper Direct has a wide selection of bordered paper and note cards. They also have a selection of acrylic sign holders, frames and laminating machines. 1 (800) 272-7377 or visit their web site at

Siegel Display Products
Siegel carries a large number of acrylic frames in addition to literature holders and other handy merchandising pieces. 1 (800) 626-0322 or visit their web site at

Baudville is another source for bordered paper and note cards. They also have some certificate and sign making software, and a choice of laminating machines. 1 (800) 728-0888 or visit their web site at

This company has things you never thought you'd need or want! Check out their chalk boards, message boards, pre-printed and customizable signs and many different stands and holders. 1 (800) 527-0128 or visit their web site at

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