In language, something can often say two things; what it connotes and what it denotes. Denotations are often more literal, as they often become a mark or indicator for something, and this is what we often think of signs as. Emergency exit signs, for instance, are a symbol for alternative routes.
So what about connotations? What else can a sign say other than the simple text you spread across it? In the design world, font, colour and other simple aspects all herald a specific tone. Think about warning signs. If you take the likes of no smoking signs, the clear red, white and black represents something colloquially known as “no”. It may read like a statement, but the added colour enforces the command. Likewise, health and safety signs often use sharp colours, such as black and yellow, to emphasise the suggestion of danger. The text may be a simple warning, but the contrasting border speaks much more sharply to the human subconscious.
As a result, there is a lot more to think about when you’re creating custom signs. Do you want something that is instantly eye catching? Well, there are many different forms of visual appeal. As we’ve already discussed, danger is one thing, but a positive appeal is another.
We could expand upon this further with colour, too. Hot and cold colours, negative and positive, all add to certain connotations. While black is fine for text, it’s a very dark colour that seldom suggests a happy angle.
On a similar note, if you’re part of a business, do you want your sign to reflect the company’s image? Brand colours are a strong way to do this, depending on where you’re placing them. If the surroundings are in the same plumage, you’re going to lose any impact the sign could make.
Perhaps we are over-thinking it but that is what we do here at The Sign Shed. We make all manner of signs and can even make you a custom signs solution, which is why we take so much care in the right colour, style and tone. Get in touch for more advice on the best choice for you.