Design has always been a major ingredient in sign making, from back in the day of colored pens and paper to modern design software, and can be a very powerful tool in the creation of a point of difference for your business. With all sign shops creating their work with the same tools and production techniques, finding something to make your sign shop stand out from the crowd can be a challenge. Using head-turning, creative, and above all functional design can give your business that edge and help to get your quotes accepted for reasons other than price.

We have all had clients who come in looking for the magnetic sign on the ute door and maybe some business cards, who has no logo or idea of what they want. Rather than sending them away to the graphic designer over the road, more and more sign shops, using their design skills and experience, are taking on the mantel of graphic designers, selling logo creation and marketing/ promotional product design and supply, such as business cards, brochures, and packaging alongside their signage services.

How often have we all received artwork from a design agency, where it has been designed from an on-screen environment rather than considering the actual real-world placement of the sign and the environment it is in? For example, a silver letter on a white background to be viewed from a distance or red lettering on a black background. How often have you been supplied with artwork for a vehicle wrap which is busy and cluttered, or over simple and boring? We as signwriters have these design skills and experience in what works in the real world, so why not make use of them? The skills used to design great signage are the same as those used in graphic design, impact, flow, balance, creativity, and conveying a message.

Prepress and artwork setup for print production of business cards and brochures is virtually the same as that of wide format digital printing and with the universal use of PDF file platforms for artwork supply, print management is easy.

Design can be a very lucrative addition to your sign shop but the pricing of design can be tricky, particularly with logo design. A wise sign shop values its design skill and charges accordingly. Some sign shops offer set-priced logo design and brand development packages which provide the security to the client that the cost will not balloon. These can be a great way to manage the clients’ cost expectations and thereby weed the tire kickers from the savvy business minds, but can however also lead to time allocation blowouts with those pickier clients.

The best option is price by design time via an hourly rate which takes into consideration the level of expertise and skill required for great design which may be higher than your signage production hourly rate.  Explain the design process to your client and be clear with your pricing so there can be no issues down the line. Keep the client up to date with running cost tallies so they don’t get any nasty surprises at the end.

Adding design to your business’s services can also flow into printing supplies, uniform supplies, website, and social media marketing creation, either by using contractors or utilizing in-house skills and equipment.  These additional services are good strong money-making additions to a modern sign shop.