In the world of business, signage is one of the oldest and most effective forms of marketing – and the hospitality trade is no exception.

Signs are great for communicating brand values and conveying the most outstanding aspects of your hotel in visual form. Depending on the design, they can give your customers an idea of what to expect and imply positive (or negative) traits about your business.

All businesses should think carefully about their signage design – but what are the specific considerations for hoteliers? In this article, we will look at five key tips for making sure your hotel signage is as good as it can be…

1. Typography

Choosing the perfect typeface is a key design design consideration for any hotel.

There are thousands of fonts in the world, and each has its own character and connotations. Where one face might convey modern optimism and stylishness, another might communicate old-fashioned charm and reliability.

The first step for choosing the perfect typeface to represent your hotel is clarifying the character of the business and the brand values you’d like to portray. Whether you’d like your hotel to embody ideals of expensive luxury, affordable comfort, classic service, contemporary mod-cons, or something else entirely – it’s essential to define these traits up front.

Having identified your main values, it’s time to select typography that evokes them. A prestigious, high-end hotel might use something like Didot – the typeface that was found by a London researcher to be publicly considered the most ‘expensive-looking’ of all. Alternatively, a hotel with an old-fashioned or historic aesthetic might like to use something like Baskerville (which was designed in the 1750s).

Finding the right font might take some trial and error, but the good news is there are plenty of resources available online to point you in the right direction.

2. Colour

Your business ideals can also be communicated through the use of colour. Colour association is a useful tool that you can use to align your hotel’s signage with a particular virtue or characteristic.

However, colour psychology is not an exact science, and associations for a given colour can vary from culture to culture and from person to person. Green might imply ‘health and nature’ to most people, but one person might hate it because it reminds them of something they don’t like or because it means something else in their own culture. As a result, colour association isn’t a way to please everybody.

However, it is very useful for subconsciously communicating brand values in a way that can be quickly understood by large numbers of people. Whether you use warm colours to imply a welcoming vibrance, cool colours to suggest quality and relaxation, black and white for a luxurious look, or something else entirely, you can use colour as a shorthand to tell customers about your business – all without words.

This subconscious approach, when successful, is more subtle than overt slogans and mottos and can lead guests to ‘feel’ a certain way about your hotel – even if they don’t immediately realise why.

3. Lighting

A glowing sign is a must-have for helping your visitors to find you after dark and during periods of inclement weather – enabling your hotel to shine out like a beacon (not to mention creating a striking and elegant effect).

Illuminated signs come in two main forms:

  • LED: Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are tiny, energy-efficient lightbulbs that, when combined together in groups, can provide a broad and brightly lit effect – either incorporated into the heart of a translucent lightbox design or as a backlighting element for an opaque sign.
  • Neon: Neon signs combine bent glass tubing with ionised noble gases such as neon or argon to create a warm, glowing effect. This method of producing illuminated signage is less common today than in years gone by, but still has a place for deliberate evocations of vintage chic.

As hotels generally strive to be ready to receive guests at just about any hour of the day or night, illuminated signage can be a very smart marketing decision.

4. Context

When designing signage for a hotel, it’s always good to consider your competitors and to make a point of standing out.

By assessing the visual branding of the other hotels in your town or city, your business can wear a sign that has a distinct look and has a unique identity. Always remember that potential guests and customers may compare multiple hotels when deciding where to book a room, and that anything you can do to differentiate your business may give you the advantage.

In particular, it can be a good idea to distinguish your hotel from any large corporate entities who might happen to be present in your city (such as Hilton or Marriott). Some guests may be looking to not stay in a big chain hotel for whatever reason, and so it can be valuable to have a distinct visual branding implying a different customer experience.

5. Legibility

One of the most important considerations for any form of public signage is readability.

Most signs should be designed to be read from a distance or by people viewing from an unusual angle. Depending on the location of your hotel, guests may be looking at the building from across the street or from the other end of the road – and your signage should be legible from these distances.

This can be a matter of using large typography, a lack of visual clutter, contrasting colours and illumination to help individual elements to stand out, or other design techniques to ensure clarity. Too many elements bunched together on the sign may make it difficult to interpret from afar, so simpler designs tend to be more effective.

At the end of the day, designing and installing high-quality signage for your hotel can represent something of a marketing and branding boost.

By picking the right fonts and colours for your signs – and making great use of illumination – you can make sure that your hotel stands apart from the competition and is well-presented to all new potential guests.

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