By John Stanley People don’t reads signs, you heard people say it, you have had said it yourself. What is the point of putting a signage strategy in your business when nobody reads them in the first place. Let’s look at his popular myth in more detail. Firstly, all retailers have to accept that consumers today are inundated with messages on signs, as a result, the majority are not read. Any sign that looks amateurish, too complicated or is not targeted is, in today’s over signed world, rejected by the consumer. They simply don’t have time to read them. Consumers have become selective in what signs they will read. In today’s retail world you have to be targeted and specific if you want customers to take in the message. What’s the message? Signs are used to communicate various messages to consumers and the first priority is to decide what message you want to get across to your audience. Some signs aim at getting a brand message across, symbolism is more important than the words. Nike, Shell, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are all highly successful at getting symbolic brand messages across through their signage strategy. The key is to be consistent in all your signage when it comes to branding, this includes consistency in colour, word typeface and graphics. Other messages you may want to get across may be price, benefits of a product, or technical details about the product. A sign should inspire people to buy, alas too many signs just provide price and technical jargon and as a result don’t achieve their objectives to increase sales. Sonia Larson of Michigan University in the USA has spent her career researching into signage strategies that work for consumers and retailers alike. K.I.S.S. Signage clearly fits into that K.I.S.S. principles of business (keep it simple sells). Because consumers don’t have time to read signs, keep it simple actually increases sales. What does keep it simple mean? Tell me the name of the product Provide me with the three key benefits Give me the price (in that order) Take a look at many product signs and look at how information is presented. In a lot of cases they actually deter consumers from buying rather than encouraging them to buy. They often have too much technical information presented in a way that consumers cannot absorb the information. I have worked with so many hundreds of retailers around the world who have proven that a simple signage strategy does increase sales. But too many signs confuse customers! I agree, the last thing you want is a store that looks like a cemetery with loads of signs looking like tombstones lined up along a pathway. I’m a great believer that point of purchase signage should promote about 10% of any category. This means you need to rotate your signs to ensure all products have their fair share of promotion at any one time. The key is to ensure every category is adequately covered. I often come across situations where some categories are undersigned whilst others are over signed. Getting the balance right is critical in maximising sales per square metre across the whole of your retail space. Make signs stand out Many companies produce excellent signs, but then forget that the sign needs to stand out. The sign stand is as critical as the sign itself. Sell freshness We are in the freshness industry and this applies to signs as well as products. Signs must look as fresh as the product. They need to reflect the seasons, be topical, clean and vibrant. Stale signs can affect the whole image of the business and suggests the products it is trying to promote are also stale. Somebody should be walking the store at least once a week and checking out the store signage strategy. Check out next months edition of Just About Retail …. I’ll share with you examples of my favourite signs.