Optimizing a Custom Sign: Step by Step

To put a little “meat” behind the idea of optimizing signage for sales, we’ve put together a short tutorial.   To keep the concept simple, we’re going to optimize a custom-made neon sign, using an online sign design editor.  We love interactive design tools that the end customer gets to use, because it helps them visually see what a few small changes can accomplish.   By “optimizing”, we’re referring to the process of getting the right copy, in the right type style and size, such that it will drive the largest number of sales.

The design tool we selected is one that’s intended for end users.   Here’s how the site describes the tool:

“Creating a custom neon sign at BudgetNeon.com is easy. Our neon sign generator not only lets you design your own sign, it also allows you to experiment with various layouts, font styles and colors, sign shapes, and bordered or borderless styles. This flexibility will help you find just the right design for your needs. You’ll find that our tool is simple to use, and we know that if you’ve shopped around for other custom signs, you’ll be pleased with our prices.”

How to Optimize a Neon Sign, For Maximum Sales

Follow these steps with the online neon sign-generator tool:

Step 1: Start out with some text that you feel is clear, concise, and has a “call to action”.   For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume it’s a salon owner, looking for a message that conveys that no appointment is needed to get a haircut.   He’ll start with “NO APPOINTMENT NEEDED” as his message.

To get started, settle on an initial message, and try experimenting with the various choices to see which one works best for your needs. As you test the different sign types in conjunction with the other sign elements presented in the following steps, you’ll get a better idea of which might work best to create the perfect custom sign for your business. As you experiment, bear in mind that certain sign shapes will limit your design layout options by reducing the number of words you’ll be able to add to your sign.

In this case, the sign was a difficult fit, as it’s one very short word (NO), then a long word (APPOINTMENT), then a medium word (NEEDED).  The best look we could get was a 20″H x 37″W wide sign:

Not Quite Right…Poor Use of Space


While it doesn’t look bad, this sign could look better.  And the “call to action” is passive.   It does spell out that “no appointment is needed”, but it’s not really pushing the message.  The easiest way to improve with an interactive designer is just to use a little trial and error.   Find some “action oriented text” that’s relatively short, and will flow well onto a sign.   Then try it, in different sizes of signs, fonts, colors, and so on, until you get a match.

In this case, we’ve identified some alternate phrases we can try:


You’ll basically be cycling through these steps:

  1. Pick one of your candidate phrases.
  2. Select the size and shape for your sign.  Try all of them, even if you think one won’t work.  Don’t skip it if it looks bad, as you’ll be adjusting the number of lines, font type, etc, next.  One of these combinations might look great.
  3. Decide how many lines of text your sign requires. Depending on the sign shape and size you use, you’ll be able to choose from one to three lines of text. Smaller signs will only allow one or two lines of text due to size constraints. However, these may turn out to be just right for you if your sign will only contain one or two words. Again, experiment and use your best judgment in deciding how many lines of text will work for your sign.
  4. Choose your sign style – either plain or bordered. Adding a border can make your sign more attractive. However, it may also limit the amount of space available for text. So, again, experimentation is key, since it will help you find the most effective combination of elements to create the sign that will convey your message in the best way possible. Should you decide to use a border, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of colors that will let you coordinate the border with the text you will add in the next step.
  5. Add the text you would like displayed on your sign, selecting your preferred color and font style.
  6. Try experimenting with all caps and/or upper and lower case text in various colors and font styles.

Continue experimenting with a variety of design elements until you find the overall combination that works best for you. Move back and forth between the steps, and try changing the various design elements to see how each combination affects your sign. Have fun with it, and soon you’ll find that you’ve designed an attractive sign, with a compelling message that will help you advertise your business with style.

After trying this ourselves, we finally came up with a combination that looks like a winner:

Great Use of Space, Letter Height, and a Strong Message

Here, we were able to find a design with:

  • little wasted space…everything fit well into a 24″ high X 31″ wide backing
  • terrific letter height of about 6 inches.  Much better visibility than our first try
  • a strong call to action that balances politeness with some urgency
  • use of color, font style, and upper/lower case letters to visually separate the two messages
  • a reasonable price of about $430, including the shipping

We hope this exercise was helpful, and invite your comments.

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