every successful sign and design begins with copy interpretation


In signage  " who "  is generally the name of a person, a company, or a brand.  Generally we give absolute prominence to a name that is well known. It is the most appealing and powerful element in the copy. If a name is not so famous, it should be subordinate to the  " what "  ( the thing, service, event etc. ).

The  " what "  in copy interpretation is second in value only to a well-known name. The  " what "  is the subject of the sign. It is the primary idea. If it is unclear in any way, the sign will not be read. Give prominence to the  " what "  by highlighting its name, or by the use of a pictorial. A good illustration is one of the most effective means of communicating. ( However, a poor illustration is death to any sign, regardless of the skill in lettering and layout. )

The " where "  is either a simple courtesy, an essential point in the promotion  ( i.e., distinguishing one business or location from another ), or a directional - telling people which way to go, as on a sign for use on the highway.  If the  " where "  is at all important to a particular promotion, it still ranks second to the  " who "  or  " what. "   " Where "  is usually more important than date and time. If directional copy is used on a sign  ( e.g., turn left at next light ) , it is best for clarity's sake to keep it from the main copy area.

The graphic priority of date and time is determined by their context and function; that is, where and why they are announced. Most frequently,  " when "  is used to inform people of options and times of availability. Another use of  " when "  is promotional in purpose: to urge people into taking action, as in a limited time offer  ( " Buy Now and Save! " ). If the date and time are posted simply as a courtesy or statement of availability, they should be laid out conservatively. The reader's attention has already been captured by the name or the  " what ".

The  " why "  in sign copy refers to the itemized features and benefits of the subject.  This is where many sign designers go off the deep end in layout.  The features and benefits of a particular product or service are always of less importance than who or what, and usually less important than when, where, and how much. Your design interpretation of the subject establishes the image and character of the sign.

Generally, the only time a price should graphically dominate a sign is when the subject is already known, e.g., a price tag on a piece of merchandise.  There are exceptions.  For instance, many discount department stores that use "sale" type paper banners are more concerned with the atmosphere created by the signs than they are with their professionalism or legibility. Their first concern is that the appearance of a sale in progress is obvious.  Their second concern is that prices are prominently displayed.