3 Things Visual Merchandising and Signage Have in Common

by admin on October 24, 2014


If you’re the proprietor of a retail shop space, you’ve no doubt heard about the importance of ‘visual merchandising’. Both a technique and a profession, visual merchandisers use the principals of design and space along with the theories of sales and marketing to arrange retail areas in such a way as to entice customers to buy. Used everywhere from a cute local cafe to multi-national chains, properly executed visual merchandising attracts, engages, and motivates customers to make a purchase.

Sound familiar?

Indeed, many of the principles of visual merchandising closely parallel the techniques, strategies, and outcomes of properly designed and displayed signage. By understanding these important commonalities, businesses can use their visual merchandising acumen to design compelling, effective signage.

1. Both Are Arts and Sciences

Though the ‘artistic’ nature of interior design and visual merchandising can intimidate many retailers, there is actually a whole heap of research and evidence that proves which techniques work and which do not. Similarly, designing signs that sell goes beyond fancy graphic design and aesthetic techniques. Tried and true methods such as letter sizes, colour contrast, and backlighting make signs stand out and attract customers. Every. Time.

2. Both Embrace the ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Philosophy

As the name implies, visual merchandising relies on the sense of sight and the subtle clues it offers to ‘sell’ an item. Clothing retailers often require staff to wear their label to offer buyers a ‘real life’ picture of how their styles function and come together. Similarly, signage says a lot without ever uttering a word. For example, carefully-chosen colours create different emotional responses which can speak to your brand and its solutions. Popular tropes are using the colour blue to incite trust or black to create an air of mystery.

3. Both Know – Lighting Counts

Visual merchandising techniques employ the science of ‘mood lighting’ to create an atmosphere that parallels or highlights a product. For example, it is common to see low lights in romantic restaurants or spotlights on ‘deals on the week’ on display in a store. Similarly, choosing to light up a sign and the ways in which you do so not only highlight certain aspects of your business, but unconsciously speak to customers. More than traditional backlighting, neon letters, spotlights on a-frames, and LED ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ signs all speak to customers in a different way. In addition, lighting in general signals to customers that you are open for business and ready for them to step in, no matter the time of day.

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