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Retail Signage: The Importance of Color and Contrast

The value of retail signage as a key sales tool for businesses cannot be underestimated. Good use of it can help companies increase profits. Poor use of it can result in low profits. Signs in a retail environment are meant to be read, so to capitalize on their advantages, retailers must ensure that their signs are easy for customers to read. Two key factors in that ease of reading are color and contrast.

When choosing colors, a couple of factors are important. The first relates to consistency. Retail signage is part of the broader look and feel in the store. Any choices in the colors on signs should therefore be consistent with that look and feel. Second, it is important to keep the number of colors to two or a maximum of three, including the colors in the text and any images. More colors than that can distract or confuse customers. Regarding specific color choices, a great deal depends on personal preference. Because signs are meant to attract attention, however, bright colors are generally better than muted ones.

Two areas of the sign are important to consider when choosing colors: background and foreground. The background is the space upon which the words and images—the foreground—are placed. The overlap of the words and images on the background is where contrast becomes important to the design of retail signage.

In simple terms, contrast is the visual difference between colors. The more an object contrasts with what’s around it, the more visible it will be. In general, high contrast between colors on retail signage is the most useful for easy reading. However, it is possible to have contrast that is too high, which is often harsh to look at and may cause optical illusions, such as text that appears to cast a shadow or to vibrate. One example of too much contrast is red text on a dark blue background. Alternately, insufficient contrast makes a sign hard for customers to read without squinting. One example of this is yellow text on a white background.

In retail signage, as elsewhere, black and white present the strongest contrast. If additional colors are used, optimal results can be achieved by using white text on a dark background or bright text on a white background. Colored text on a bright background, on the other hand, presents weak color contrast, so this combination should be avoided. Perhaps the best way to determine the right level of contrast is to print a single sign in the proposed color scheme and look at it. It will probably be immediately clear whether the color combination works or not.

In a store, mediocre retail signage will, at best, have no impact at all on sales. At worst, poor signage can negatively impact sales. Excellent signs that are easy to read, though, can help drive sales. The right blend of color and contrast can make the difference between signs that work against the company and signs that work for it.

An added bonus? Reel E-Z’s retractable retail signage system is the safest method of hanging interior signage since it involves no ladders or heavy lifting. We’ve improve the look and safety of stores nationwide including the Family Dollar Store chain. So what’s holding you back from having great, safe interior signage? Contact us today to get started.


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