The business world is incredibly competitive, and the down economy has made it more important than ever to stand out from the pack. Consumers are being incredibly choosy with how they spend their money, and most of the time they’ll simply go with the national brands that can offer the biggest discounts. If you have a brick and mortar storefront and want to increase your sales, you might want to take a look at your signage. The best signs are dramatic. They draw your eye through size, placement or dimensionality. Impactful signs also stand out from the pack. They employ colors to maximum impact, take advantage of unique installation methods and sit within a context that gets noticed. It doesn’t take perfection to generate business, but instead must simply be memorable. Here are a few things to consider that should help you design great signage for your business.

When people make a decision to interact with a business, either through verbal or visual communication, they are judging that business on several levels. When you pitch a potential customer in your store, your body language is far more important than the specific words you use. We are visual beings, and you can instill a sense of trust, comfort and excitement simply through how you hold your body and interact with the customer. Signs are quite similar. The majority of their effectiveness comes from design, and the specific wording is much less important. It’s almost impossible to come up with an entirely original business name that doesn’t sound like anything else. However, you can come up with a creative and original design that sets you apart. Spend the majority of your time on that, and your business will benefit.

So what will make your design stand out? The first key is contrast. Whatever your business, you don’t want each element on your sign to be alike. Contrast helps move the customers’ attention where you want it to go. You can create that feeling through size, moving from large to small, through color, perfecting the right, eye-popping mix of text and background tones, and through font, adjusting the one you use to make a certain phrase or element stand out from the rest.

The next element to look at is alignment. Most people are used to aligning things in the same way, but breaking those rules will grab the viewer’s attention. Just make sure that however you align text and photos, the entire thing feels connected and cohesive. Check out the layouts in magazines you like and notice what draws your eye.

Another element that makes for great signage is repetition. That doesn’t mean repeating the same words or phrases over and over again, but finding elements that repeat somewhat organically and bolstering that repetition. This can work with color schemes, as you can use related colors in the sign that create repetition, or with pictures if you can develop a feeling of repetition through similar sizes, shapes or images.

The final element to consider is proximity. The human brain is wired to create patterns and organization, and you want to help this process occur. That means grouping related items together, and separating others to help the eye move through your sign. In addition to informational proximity, you also want to insure spatial proximity. That’s why window signs placed out front will always have a greater impact than signs at the end of the block pointing to a parking lot. Make it easier for the brain to connect your message with the quickest possible avenue to your physical business, and foot traffic should increase.