If you’re looking for a sign, you won’t have to go far. They are everywhere—leading people to stores, helping them find their way around, and communicating safety, sales, and other information. Large signs grab attention and keep your company top of mind. They’re a smart way to accomplish a number of your marketing goals, moving your customers both physically and emotionally. According to a survey conducted by the University of Cincinnati and another by FedEx Office, about 67 percent of the consumers surveyed said they had purchased a product or service because a sign caught their eye! That’s a great sign.

And speaking of catching their eye, here are some of the unique signs you can use to really stand out.

What is Large Format Signage?

Introduced in the 1950s, large format signage (also called wide format or grand format printing), is a typically 24” wide or larger sign that conveys a message to a target audience. As one of the least expensive and most effective tools in an advertiser’s toolkit, this type of signage works well for everyone from retailers, to restaurants, to car dealerships, to healthcare facilities, to many more. 

Signs are usually your prospect’s first live impression of your business, so getting them right is crucial. The Sign Research Foundation TM tells us that signs directly influence buying behavior. This organization found that more than 60 percent of businesses record a 10 percent sales bump when adding or updating their signs. To be effective, however, the signs must be designed well. 54 percent of American consumers could not locate a business because its signage was unclear or too small. That’s why clear communication is critical—and going big with large format makes a difference. 

Related: Breaking Down Large Format Material for Your Next Project

Why Use Large Format Signs?

Companies generally use large format signs for three important reasons: 

  • To Bring in Foot Traffic and Customers: Big signs grab attention amidst the clutter of daily life. When positioned near a storefront, they can draw people inside with special offers, discounts, or products.
  • For Marketing and Advertising: Large format signs make an impact due to their size. Whether on windows, walls, or positioned throughout a store, they can alert customers to great deals or promotions.
  • To Guide Customers: Large signs are perfect for wayfinding; they tell people where to place orders, where to pay, and where to stand for social distancing, among other directions.

Yes, signs are multi-talented.

How Large Format Pops

Large format in particular is a powerful vehicle. Signs with this stature have several important benefits, including:

  • Affordable Pricing: When compared to other marketing vehicles, large format signs are a relatively inexpensive way to garner big attention. 

  • Easy Integration: As part of a larger marketing campaign, large format signs can also lead prospects to other media, with QR codes, urls, and interactive features.

  • Relationship Building Capabilities: Large format signs get noticed, so they’re effective ways to communicate with your customers both outside and inside the store. They help direct customers to what they’re seeking and build trust in the process. 

  • Sales Boosting Abilities: By highlighting sales and providing other enticements, large signs inspire impulse buys and encourage more sales. The Sign Research Foundation notes that 60 percent of companies across industries saw increases in transactions, profits, and even staffing when they used signs.

Related: Amp Up Your Signage Design with 7 Cool Large Format Ideas.

Types of Signage and Unique Ways to Use Them

There are five popular categories of large format signage. We’ll delve into each briefly, and show you how you can use them in innovative ways:

1) Digital Signage: The newest type of signage to hit the scene, digital signage features LCD screens, large LED billboards, and electronic paper displays. This technology showcases video and multimedia content, which is emotionally powerful. Digital signage also makes it easy and cost-effective to switch out messaging in an instant. However, its biggest superpower is its interactivity. Through touch screens, people can engage directly with the messaging, whether they’re exploring product information, wayfinding, or engaging with social media. 

Digital signage works: 80 percent of shoppers report that they have entered a store because a digital sign caught their interest. It also increases the purchase amount by a whopping 30 percent and bumps up return customers by 33 percent. Finally, 80 percent of companies increased sales substantially (up to 33 percent) with digital signage. It’s innovative and persuasive.

2) Outdoor Signage: This second signage category is also a head-turner. There is nothing quite as persuasive as a sign that’s outside your storefront, pointing customers inside. Since the earliest days of advertising, large format outdoor signage has been an important messaging vehicle. Not only can these signs point the way, but they can also entice people to come inside. 
  • Pylons: While pylons are not new, they are ripe for ways to innovate. These are the large signs you often see in a parking lot, and they can include a sign cabinet and a pole that is hidden beneath a pole cover. Ranging from 10 feet to over 100 feet in height, these can’t-miss-them signs lead you right to the store. They are BIG, and that’s why they’re so effective. Even though we see them every day from the street, there are ways to make yours stand out. By using unique shapes, extra large sizes, or even movement, your sign can pop out through the clutter. If you combine a digital format (from above) with a pylon, you’ve increased interest even further.
  • Flag Signs: Also positioned outside stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and more, flag signs are the flags you see with flexible fiberglass and aluminum poles and a long vertical piece of polyester. They are approximately 7.5 feet to 15.5 feet tall, and 2.5 to 3 feet wide, and their movement catches the eye. They’re also durable, weather resistant, and very easy to install. To make yours stand out, choose a simple but powerful message, and plant it in a prominent place.
  • Lollipop Signs: So named because they have a stick with a sign atop them, these were introduced for the Olympics over 30 years ago and are now standard sign fare. Lollipop signs continue to offer innovative variations with screens and different shapes. The newest one, an upside down ice cream cone shape, is perfect for an ice cream shop, pizza place, or any shop that wants to try a new design.  
  • Sidewalk Signs: Also planted outside a storefront, one of the most universal and cost-effective (and just plain effective) forms of signage is an A-frame sidewalk sign. It’s the perfect spot to display your hours, specials, sales, menus, upcoming dates, and announcements. This type of sign can be printed on chalkboards, erasable boards, magnetic boards, plastic, or digital posters. Generally, they’re weather resistant and very durable. Easily positionable on a sidewalk, they can direct passersby to the store from further down the street or right out front. 

Want to make yours stand out even more? Have fun with the messaging and include unique artwork. Consider tying balloons to your sign or placing planters with flowers next to it. You can even draw arrows on the sidewalk that lead to the sign.

  • Vehicle Graphics: Vehicle signage is another effective way to keep your business top of mind, especially for those captive audience members that might be stuck in traffic, where there are few ads to compete with the messaging. Whether you affix signage to the sides and windows of trains, buses, trucks, or cars, these eye-catching mobile billboards stand out in a sea of other vehicles, and can also be parked near your location to draw people in.

To make yours unique, follow these best practices for vinyl signs [link to June blog “The Magic of Perforated Window Vinyls.”] and have fun with your directional language: “Next Stop: Refreshing Tea,” or “Get out of traffic and come to Jamaica House!”. Your signage can make sitting on the interstate a bit more interesting.

3) Informational Signage: Speaking of interesting, you can use informational signage to build your brand in unique ways. These signs are usually posted in windows, on tabletops, at eye level, or attached to ceilings. Designed to help people find their way both inside and outside the store, they include bathroom signage, directional signage, safety signage, and more. They’re also a great way to interject some personality and make the shopping experience fun. Signs like “Walk this way to check on out,” or “Head left for more deals” make your brand memorable and inviting.

4) ADA-compliant Signage: Good signage should be welcoming to all. Signage that adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a must to ensure that all people have access and receive clear communication. Signs with braille and other tactile characters must follow the ADA guidelines. Post them outside exits, elevators, restrooms, and other important areas.

5) Persuasive Signage: This category refers to signs that advertise and promote products or services. They can be a variety of sign types, all designed to showcase brand and offers. 

  • Murals and Wraps: These large format vinyl signs go on storefront walls to make them shiny and vibrant. Murals and wraps can be beautiful works of weather-resistant art, enhancing the street aesthetics as well as enticing people to visit your shop, restaurant, or facility. The format itself is captivating and powerful. Leverage it with a simple message and gorgeous graphics for the wow factor.
  • Window, Wall, and Floor Graphics: Windows, walls, and floors of establishments are prime real estate for signage. They are usually constructed of durable vinyl. Not only are they show stoppers, but they become part of the store décor. [link to June blog “The Magic of Perforated Window Vinyls.”]

You can pull people in with striking window graphics and continue the story inside on the walls and floor since window graphics are a great way to attract foot traffic, walls build interest, and floors literally lead the traffic. The options are limitless here. Use big images to draw people in with your window and wall graphics. Find fresh shapes and locations for floor graphics to draw the eye downward.

  • Roll-Up Banners: Another attention-getting signage type is the roll-up banner. Lightweight and easy to move, these large format signs include a sign that rolls out into a frame. Perfect for advertising sales, new menu items, or announcements, they’re a low cost way to grab people’s attention. Use large graphics, and position these near the products you want to highlight.

Related: Large Format Printing: How to Get Your Outdoor Signage Set Up.

Seal the Deal with Signage

As you can see, large format signs are innovative in their own right. When you add your messaging and graphics, they really pop. Use them as a jumping off point for your unique marketing plans. And if you want inspiration, let us know. We’ve created eye popping signs for over 60 years and we’ve seen some stand outs. We’re happy to help you customize a sign that does the same for you. Attract customers, help them navigate your space, and seal the deal. That’s the power of unique large format signs.

sign me up for large format


Written by Scott Kravitz

As a graduate of RIT University and with over 25 years of experience, Scott Kravitz has been bringing his wealth of print knowledge to Ironmark since 2019. Kravitz manages Ironmark's sales representatives and provides alignment and communication between sales, marketing, clients, and production. With his charismatic personality and effective management skills, Kravitz leads strategic partnerships and increasing sales with new, emerging, and enterprise clients for Ironmark.

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