Wrap Your Mind Around the Psychology of Yard Signs

Wrap Your Mind Around the Psychology of Yard Signs

Most drivers and even small business owners break their necks to read a sign in a yard or on the roadside as they’re driving along. Sometimes there is a forest of them, such as when an election is coming up. Often there are only a few advertising pet sitting, baby sitting or yard sales. Some signs are only put up when a house is for sale or rent, someone is advertising their home business or someone has a big-ticket item for sale. There is a psychology to yard signs that entrepreneurs along with sellers everywhere have used to get the attention of the buying public. What are the most important facets of these signs and their psychology that help small business owners? Glad you asked.


The object of advertising any business is to draw in customers. Passersby will not notice the small brick pizzeria or the frame building housing baby and children’s clothing. However, if the business owner adds a brightly colored sign to the mix, passersby will snap their heads around to read it. The business owner has now captured their attention; they are aware of its existence. From awareness comes curiosity, and from curiosity comes a potential sale.

This awareness is manifested for three reasons. The first is that yard signage is seen. Anything that breaks up the monotony of the ride to work is noticed. The second is that they are temporary. We’ve all seen city or municipal mowers plow down roadside signs. We know that if we don’t get that phone number or jot down the email address, we might never know what kind of cool deal we’ll get. The third reason awareness is manifested is value. Passersby are promised a one-of-a-kind product or service for an unheard-of price. We all need to save a buck here or there, so if a bargain is offered, we’d be fools not to take it.

Tip for small business owners: Only place contact information and the shortest description of the product or service and deal in that small space. Lead the viewer to you.

Goal Setting

Most people think nothing of setting goals until they whizz past a sign in a yard advertising Jazzercise classes. Uneasy thoughts of swimsuits and Daisy Dukes flit through feminine minds, while visions of Mr. Universe in a body-hugging outfit make men stop to think. The reality might be somewhat different, and so the first seed is sown. It is easy to see how political signs advise people to lean toward one party or the other. Alternatively, it is as easy to understand how signage advertising a home business like sewing or baking might convince passersby they, too, could contribute funds to the family’s budget with a home business. From sewing the seed comes a goal set in someone’s mind. In time, the goal becomes confidence that it’s possible. One day, a new sign pops up in a yard advertising a home business.

The small business owner’s target, therefore, is to advertise the business in such a way that not only do clients or customers engage with the business, but the signage itself plants a seed of possibility. A catchy phrase and a short-and-sweet contact reference should do both.

Tip for small business owners: Branding on yard or roadside signs is not necessary. They won’t stay there that long. Brand yourself on a more personal level within your business design.

Return on Investment

When Vanderbilt University undertook a study to raise awareness for a political figure they made up, Nashville became aware of this political figure. (We wonder how many voted for him.) Now that’s a return on investment. Just imagine what small business owners can do with a simple roadside or yard sign. When potential customers or clients are aware of a small business and make an effort to visit, then the few dollars spent on those signs were justified.

So many business owners spend more money than they might possibly have to make sure their online advertising campaign and their social media campaign get off to a roaring start and stay there. However, the business community is coming to the realization that the Internet’s print and related cousins are just as capable of drawing business as the Internet is. Fliers, banners, door hangers and road or yard signage perform as capably as an online campaign, because people take their noses out of their laptops, smart phones and tablets for a few minutes and actually see something other than a cursor. The return on investment is priceless.

Tip for small business owners: Place signs near where your target market works and lives. Anywhere else, and your target market won’t see them.

About Signs

Drive along one day and notice roadside or yard signage. Notice especially the snappy ones that grab your attention quickly. Is the message simple? Are the colors annoying? Can you read them clearly? A few tips on excellent signage will help:

KISS: Keep it simple, silly. The sign isn’t very large, so condense any message to a few well-spaced words with contact information.
Keep the sign to two colors at minimum. Make the writing pop with black on white or another light color. Vice-versa works, too, as long as it’s easily readable.
Keep signs off light poles, phone poles or any other poles. This is against the law, and the sign will be taken down by city personnel. Place signage on the roadside where others are placed.
Face signage toward traffic, not against it. No one will be able to turn around to read it without causing an accident. Place signs on each side of the road if you have to in order to reach other drivers.
Keep it neat. If mowers mash the sign or the wind blows it around, pick it up, clean it up and repost the sign. Neatness counts, and potential customers and clients will notice this. And think better of you.
Lincoln and Omaha rely on us for their signage needs. Forty-seven hundred vehicle wraps, ten years of large format graphics experience and numerous happy customers don’t lie. We’ll be more than happy to help you grow your business when you contact us for further information.