Before Google and the internet, businesses had a limited number of marketing channels where they could advertise. You had newspapers, radio, magazines and TV. In today’s digital world, businesses have 10 times more marketing channels where they can go to market their business. Some of the most popular being Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, podcasts, YouTube, Snapchat and email.

How about signage?

Signage Case Studies

Signage is one of the oldest forms of advertisement. According to Wikipedia, they have been popular since 1975. However, does it still work in today’s digital world? Should businesses still invest in signage? The answer is yes.

Here are some stats:

  • 1 out of 3 customers have been drawn into a shop they have never been to based on how attractive their signage is.
  • 1 out of 2 customers have failed to find a business because their signage was too small or unclear.
  • FedEx also did a similar research where they found that 70% of customers believe that the quality of it reflects the quality of the business and their products and services.


signage, welcome to bristol, sign


Burger King

Burger King conducted a survey in one of the branches. In the survey, they ask every customer that walked into the branch how they first became aware of the restaurant. There were six choices in the survey:

  • Saw it while passing
  • Always knew it was there
  • Word of mouth
  • Advertisement
  • Others
  • Don’t know

The most popular answer was ‘Saw it while passing’ at 35%. The second most popular was ‘Always knew it was there’ at 29%. Both of these answers are because of the Burger King’s signage. Without it, customers wouldn’t know it was there in the first place. Ads came it at fourth at 10%.

Other than Burger King, McDonald’s is another huge company that continually invests in their signage. 100% of their restaurants have the famous golden arches signage. In fact, when McDonalds’ opens in a new location, one of the very first things they put up is their signage.

McDonald’s continuously invests in signage because it reinforces the brand in their customers’ minds. They know how important it is to expand awareness when running a long-term successful business. Other fast food franchises such as Subway and Domino’s are following suit. They know (i) their customers depend on signage to find out where the closest restaurant is and (ii) it’s in order to protect sales and profits, it is all about maximising awareness.

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Belmont Auto Spa Car Wash Business

Belmont Auto Spa had an existing signage that was unreadable and worst of all, couldn’t be seen by roadside traffic. In marketing terms, it didn’t work (if it cannot be seen then it basically doesn’t exist). Wanting sell their new detailing service, the owner of the business decided to install a new $15,000 pole sign so big that no passing traffic would be able to miss it.

Did the new signage result in an increase in sales? It sure did! Here are the results:

  • Sales of their new detailing service increased by 125%.
  • Sales of their entire business increased by $135,000 within their first year.
  • The sign paid for itself within six weeks.

Best of all, the owner of the business didn’t have an ongoing expense that he had to pay, unlike radio or TV advertisements. There is an old saying, ‘A business without a sign is a sign of no business.’


signage, McDonald's, Lights


Retail Lightbulb Test

A recent study conducted by Selby’s tried to learn how signage affected the sales of products in retail. The premise was simple, design three different posters to sell the same kind of light bulbs and distribute them evenly across the shops of the brand. To understand the true impact of the messages, some of the locations would have no signs at all.

Here are the results:

  • The average unit sales in shops with signage increased between 9% and 43% in comparison with 21% of the location with no posters.
  • The best performing sign increased sales by 43% and the worst one by 9%.
  • Signage increases sales but the design is also very important.


Signage still plays an important role in a marketing strategy in today’s digital world.

  • It influences our perception of a business and the quality of their products and services.
  • It tells customers where your business is at without being interruptive.
  • The majority of the cost of a signage is upfront. Unlike TV or AdWords when you stop paying you to stop getting customers.
  • Most importantly, it has been proven to increase sales.

About the author
Stan Tan is the digital marketing manager at Selby’s, a printing and signage company with clients such as McDonald’s and Mercedes-Benz.

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