KORT's Guide to Signs

lobby sign kort signs design

Our 4 Step Process

“The basics of good sign design”

When it comes to getting a custom sign designed properly we systematically let our creative juices flow through these 4 steps.






Design Process

The art of combining text, pictures and design elements to convey your brand on signage is what we are all about. Your custom sign is often the first impression that potential customers associate with your business, so a professional-looking design is critical.


What is your sign trying to convey?

Do you need a sign that’s permanently placed, event-specific, or reusable in a variety of settings? These are the type of questions we’ll ask when we meet with you to ensure we’re budgeting for the right materials as well as the graphic look.

When designing signs, less can be more! Leaving space around the edges and minimizing text will add impact and readability. Be concise but make sure needed information is included.  Adding social media icons or a QR code can provide a way for customers to find more about your company online too.



Certain color combinations can influence the meaning, readability and visibility of your sign. Bright colors will draw attention, but overuse can take away from your message or make it hard to read. Using full color photos is a great way to engage viewers, express an emotion and emphasize the main message.

An achromatic color scheme is one that is colorless – using blacks, whites and grays. It can have a powerful emotional effect when done correctly, but contrast is key.

A monochromatic color scheme uses one-color, but it doesn’t have to be boring! This design style can be very creative by using various tints, tones and shades as well as using some white areas. Using a monochromatic scheme with multiple textures creates character and maintains unity.

A complementary color scheme is one that uses colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. This can be accomplished by using two colors or hues that are opposites such as red and green or purple and yellow. This color scheme is best used for strong, bold statements.


An analogous color scheme is any three adjacent primary, secondary, or tertiary colors on the color wheel. These schemes can be warm or cool. Each can be neutralized by use of its complement, or black and white. Analogous colors “harmonize” well and produce a definite mood to a composition.


The highest visibility color combinations according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) located in the chart below.

multi colored "H" letters
color contrast

These 14 color combinations for lettering were tested using only primary and secondary colors of full intensity and value. Tests for readability at a distance were conducted through various advertisers sponsored by the OAAA. The results averaged out in the sequence shown, with #1 the most legible moving to #14 as the least legible.


The meaning of color changes across cultures, so depending on who sees it, it can have different interpretations. Much has been studied and written about color and its impact. Below are some basic color personalities and what they symbolize according to Emily Gems gemstones and crystals as one example:


As with color, the typeface you choose has a personality too. You should think of fonts as a graphic element on the page; one to be used as strategically as a photo or a piece of art. Fonts have distinct characteristics that impact the sign’s message and tone.  For example, Chalkboard has a playful look with its rounded edges and casual, handwritten feel. Arial, Futura and Helvetica, on the other hand, have an unmistakably modern, clean quality, making it highly readable and a popular choice.

Choose only one or two fonts for your sign. Choosing 2 fonts that complement each other can make your message stand out. Use fonts that are clearly legible when viewed from a distance.



You can order custom signs in a variety of sizes. Choose a size that is appropriate for the distance you expect your customers to view it. Consider where it will be located and what obstacles may be in the way. Visibility is the most important part of your signage.

The following chart from the United States Sign Council (USSC) will help you to determine what size type is needed for your custom sign.  For the complete document of the Sign Legibility Rules of Thumb from the USSC.

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