How to Design Signs for Your Pet Store That Customers Will Actually Read

HOW MANY OF the signs in your store do you think customers are really reading? Most likely, not many. Sign pollution is alive and well in today’s retail environments, and here’s why customers aren’t reading them:

  • Signs are poorly designed and/or have too many words
  • Signs are not coordinated and have multiple layouts, colors, etc.
  • Signs are outdated
  • Too many signs in general, posted throughout the store

There is a way to design your signs so customers will actually read them. First determine all of the types of signs you currently have on your selling floor, ie:

  • Department
  • Product description/benefit
  • Sale/promotion
  • Informational

Next, create design criteria for each category of signs, addressing:

  • Overall size
  • Font
  • Layout
  • Graphics
  • Color
  • Material
  • Frame
  • Sign holder

So for instance, all of your sale/promotion signs could have a red stripe border, the text in one of your brand fonts in a brand color against a neutral background, and be displayed in a 5-by-7-inch acrylic frame.

Product information could perhaps have your logo along the side, and have the same size, layout, color scheme, etc. Of course, you can have fun with some out-of-the-box designs for larger signs if your brand is whimsical. Just remember to be brand-focused with all of your sign designs.

Then strategically place your signs. For example, customers should quickly see directional and department signs from a distance when entering a store. They want to know what you carry and where items are located, all within the first few seconds. Even if they are only coming in for cat toys, they should be aware that you also sell supplies for dogs, fish, reptiles, other small animals, etc. Information signs regarding store policies, returns, services offered (training, grooming, etc.), should be easily seen at the transaction counter, along with your store’s name/logo.


After you have implemented this sign design criteria and all signs are well defined, schedule a “sign audit” once a year. Even with procedures in place, you’ll be surprised how often some signs get left up beyond their timeline, or you run out of standard holders and someone improvises. Remember, the consistent use of design elements is key to keeping your sign system looking good, and consistency in implementation is key to keeping the program running smoothly!

In summary, think before you put up a sign. Ask yourself: Is it necessary? Is it well designed? Will it be seen by a customer when and where they need to see it? When you consistently use a predetermined set of design elements, you won’t get a variety of mismatched signs that only become visual distractions and not informative sales talkers. Know that you can actually train your customers to find, read and understand your signs via the consistent use of design elements.

Lyn M. Falk

Lyn M. Falk is owner/president of Retailworks, Inc., an award-winning design, branding and display firm. She is an international speaker, registered interior designer and consumer behavior specialist. You can reach her at

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