Durham, NC, Sign Company Explains the Principles of Effective Sign Design

When a business needs a sign or sign package designed, there are many factors to consider, from color to typefaces to images. Business owners likely understand that if they choose the wrong design direction, their sign and, by extension, their brand will suffer. Designing a great sign is necessary for the overall success of a business.

sign planning

The team of signage experts at DesignElement of Durham is highly experienced in helping customers plan, design, and rollout complete sign packages for projects of any size and scope. DesignElement’s designers have worked on projects where artistic considerations are the main concern, and they have also created signs where the focus is ADA compliance. These professionals know how to produce an attractive, effective signage package.

What Elements Make Up a Sign Design?

  • Color
  • Shapes
  • Text
  • Images
  • Negative Space


Color is a fundamental part of a great sign design. The various hues and shades evoke emotion and associations that can be used to impact customer perception of a brand. Color psychology has become a key aspect of how businesses communicate their brand to their target audience. For instance, black can convey a sense of luxury that is appropriate for high-end and designer goods, while red symbolizes activity and speed that would work well with a fast-food restaurant brand.

Another essential consideration is contrast. Color contrast, which refers to the difference between colors, is affected by hue, tint, shade, and saturation. In general, an effective sign has high-contrast colors that enable the messaging to stand out.


Like color, the shapes used in a design affect how a brand is perceived. Shapes include not only circles and polygons but also silhouettes, icons, and symbols. Symbols and icons have clear meaning, but simple geometric shapes also communicate meaning, though in a more subtle way. Basic examples of shape psychology are listed below.

  • Squares – reliability, order, strength, professionalism
  • Circles – completion, unity, positivity, community
  • Triangles – direction, motion, innovation, power


Many signs are seen while consumers are driving by the place of business, so the sign must be able to be read and understood within just a few seconds. As a result, text layout is designed for maximum readability. Typographic hierarchy is one of the main ways designers highlight which information on a sign is most important. Fonts.com defines typographic hierarchy as “presenting the content in a way that visually conveys where to look, and in what sequence. The styling and placement of all elements…should guide the viewer through the content in order of importance.”

The company name and other primary information are typically embedded in large or bold typefaces, while secondary information is set in smaller text, often with a different typeface. Variety is a good way to achieve contrast and highlight the most relevant part of the text, but too many different typefaces and fonts on one sign trigger visual confusion and impair legibility. Designers usually try to limit themselves to using only two to three typefaces.


Images should be thoughtfully selected, and they should create an instant association with the business being advertised. For example, using an image that features musical instruments on a sign for a pet store will create confusion for consumers. A well-curated image can communicate more information than several sentences and will reduce the amount of text that the sign requires for the message to be understood. Also, the image used on a sign must be clear and large enough to be visible, especially when the image is the business’ logo.

Negative Space

Negative space, also known as white space, refers to the area between and around the graphic elements. Proper use of negative space makes it easier for readers to interpret the message. Insufficient negative space results in a crowded design that feels too busy and is hard to comprehend. Rather than being a waste of graphic real estate, the negative space offers meaning and context to the positive.


A skilled designer knows how to utilize each design element within a sign design so that the finished product will have the best impact on the client’s target audience. When working with a client on a sign package, the DesignElement team relies on years of industry experience and specialized knowledge to create a stunning sign design that fulfills the overall objective and resonates with the client’s audience.

For more information about signage solutions in Durham, NC, visit the DesignElement website at https://designelement-us.com/locations/durham-nc.The office can be reached by phone at (919) 383-5561.

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