|Do they sell haircuts or pornography? Hard to tell.|
What does your salon's sign say about you? The answer is: a lot more than you think. Business signage is intended to create an immediate reaction, but it is up to you to decide which type of reaction you want to create. Within a fraction of a section, a potential customer will be able to look at your sign and determine many factors about your business without even setting foot inside your building, such as how expensive or affordable your services are.
This is important when it comes to branding your business. Do you want to attract an affluent crowd, or do you want to appeal to those who are cost-conscious? Whether your goal is to be the most affordable salon in town, the most expensive, or something in the middle, your sign will convey this message swiftly and clearly. In other words, choosing the right sign for your salon will be one of the single most business decisions you will ever make.
|You can also get your eye exam here!|
Much of the "reaction" your sign creates comes from the use (or misuse) of color. As you can see by the above picture, it is never advisable to use red lettering. Sure, a bright red sign will attract attention (that is why you see so many red firetrucks, after all), but from a standpoint of consumer psychology, the color red suggests "cheap" when it appears on a sign. There's a reason why just about every sign you see for a clearance sale at a store is red; it sets off a person's internal cheapskate alarm.
|A haircut for under four bucks? How could you possibly go wrong?|
The color yellow also creates a similar reaction, especially when used as a background color. Red lettering on a yellow background will either make you look like a Chinese restaurant, or the cheapest hair salon in town. Of course, this very well may be your goal.
|Old signage for Great Clips|
Because the color red is associated with low prices, chain salons and franchise salons, such as Great Clips and Supercuts, have traditionally used red lettering for their signage. However, over the past decade, there has been a shift toward darker and/or more monochromatic color schemes as most salon chains are attempting to raise the bar, trying to brand themselves less like McDonald's and Arby's, and more like Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and other "fast casual" restaurants.
|Newer white-on-black signage|
With so many low-end salons and budget-priced salons updating their signage in order to attract a more affluent demographic, it's no surprise that many upscale salons are abandoning their traditional white-on-black, gray-on-black, silver-on-gray, and other monochromatic color schemes and opting for more vibrant colors.
The key to using bright colors for signage is to keep it minimalistic. Lettering should be clean and easy to read, with plenty of negative space (the portion of the sign that is left unmarked by lettering and logos). Notice the exceptional use of negative space and minimalism in the sign below.
|If this is "upscale", I'm afraid to see their interpretation of "downscale".|
The truly shocking part is that there really isn't a whole helluva lot of difference between the cost of a tacky sign and the cost of a sign that is beautiful, modern and elegant. Next week, in the second part of this article, I'll show you how you can design a sign for your salon that is effective and stylish, for the same amount of money (or less) than your existing sign.