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The science of good signage

A commercial sign and image consultant reveals the most critical factors when it comes to properly placed signage.


Rich DiPaolo is the Associate Publisher – Editorial of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine.

According to Perry Powell, a commercial sign and image consultant with more than 18 years of experience in the signage industry, the most critical factors of signage are “an interactive set of considerations which working cooperatively create a higher rate of attraction. Those factors are the minimum required legibility distance (MRLD), Cone of Vision, Placement, Message Design, Media and Content.”

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As vehicles approach a sign, pointed out Powell, motorists are inundated with colorful messaging and other distractions, making the quality and your sign strategy even more important. “The sign must compete effectively with other vehicles, traffic signals, obstructions, landscaping as well as other signs,” he added.

Powell equated sign success to perfecting a science. First placement, so as to thread the needle with the lines of sight, at the appropriate angle within the cone of vision are necessary.

“Next,” continued Powell, “the sign must be readable at that distance (MRLD). This complex formula determines the appropriate letter height for the copy. One standing inch of letter height should be used for each standing inch of height.”


When placing a sign, Powell suggested that operators keep in mind the short amount of time they have to get customers to act. A customer must see the sign, read the sign, comprehend what he is reading, decide to act, turn on turn signals, change lanes, brake and maneuver into the property. “All of which happens at 51 feet per second of travel at 35 mph,” he added.

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