I sometimes wonder if some members of the sign industry do enough to advise customers. Much of what I see suggests that more can be done in this regard. Is it too much to expect a sign shop owner to have some design expertise?

One of the best examples of the many that I’ve run across was in my old neighbourhood in Calgary. It was a coffee shop that had trouble attracting customers. The problem was that the shop was one of a row of retail outlets all with identical exteriors. The uniformity of design gave the building a very classy overall appearance, but made it difficult for individual stores to express an identity.

The coffee shop owner thought that vinyl lettering in the large front window would promote the presence of her coffee shop. She engaged a sign shop that produced what she asked for—the coffee shop’s name and a list of the products available. The lettering was in white, there was too much of it, and most of it was too small to be read from passing cars.

Here’s where a little advice from the sign shop would have gone a long way. I’ve often wondered why the sign shop didn’t advise her that what she was asking for would not be as effective as, say, an edge to edge head and shoulders image of a person holding a coffee cup printed on 60:40 view-through film? That would have been eye-catching and left no doubt as to the product available to even the fastest of cars passing by. It would have been clearly visible from more than a block away.

Is this kind of advice too much to expect? What’s your shop’s service like in this regard?