How to Choose Colors for Outdoor Signage

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Bold colors help your billboard get noticed.
Bold colors help your billboard get noticed. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

You can waste lots of money and countless hours designing outdoor signage to promote your message if you use colors that fade into the background or blend in with the surroundings. The color of a sign is the first thing people will see out of the corners of their eyes, so choosing the right colors can mean the difference between more sales for your business and potential customers passing by without even noticing your ad. Following a few basic rules can help you create a design that stands out.

Use vivid colors that create a stark contrast with each other. Red and white, for example, or yellow and black are good combinations. Colors that aren't in contrast with each other, such as blue and purple, will lessen the eye-catching effect, particularly from a distance.

Use a color relevant to your targeted audience. If you're advertising fireworks, perhaps red should dominate your outdoor signage. If the fireworks are for Fourth of July, try red, white and blue.

Use yellow as much as you can. Yellow means "caution" to most drivers, so a sign featuring a lot of yellow is good for catching the attention of someone driving by.

Limit the amount of colors in your signage. One or two colors is good, three is potentially workable, but more than that just clutters up your sign.

Print a test copy of your layout and look at it from a distance to check the readability of your sign. Scale the test copy to 25 percent of the final version and stand back 10 to 15 feet. This will give you an idea of how the real sign will look to a passing motorist.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with city officials. Some cities have rules regulating the size and colors of signs on businesses.

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