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Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Pentagram
Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Pentagram

Signs Mean Business

Looking for sophisticated artistry in graphic design for your retail space? Signs engage customers visually through eye-catching backlit display signage, full color window graphics, floor graphics, soft signage and texture.

The International Sign Association (ISA) supports a wide range of the signage industry - from digital signs to wide format print - that deliver interactive shopping experiences. With thousands of sign company and supplier/distributor members who are developing signage for a variety of industries, including retail, many of ISA's programs directly benefit retail store design and customer experience design with programs that build business, such as education, innovations and connections. Here are a few examples of these programs directed by ISA:

  • A recent series of webinars hosted by ISA take a deep dive into the different market segments impacted by signage, including retail and grocery/restaurant. The retail sector webinar recorded in July 2020 featured Steve Rowen, Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research, an expert analyst on areas of emerging impact on the retail industry. The webinar focused on the economic outlook for retail, what consumers are expecting, how the recovery is expected to happen and where growth and opportunities are expected.
  • Each year ISA hosts the successful XDP (Experimental Design Program), connecting design professionals with the industry's leading product manufacturers to drive greater innovation and creativity in the marketplace.
  • The Sign Research Foundation (SRF), a partner of ISA, develops research specifically targeted towards the retail industries – helping retail businesses to better understand the implications of sign design for communities.


SRF empowers communities by supplying academic research on vibrant and effective sign strategies, systems and codes. Many of SRF's research reports demonstrate how a well-designed sign attracts more customers and contributes to increased profits.

Below are three SRF research reports and accompanying quick-read executive summaries that are available for immediate download from SRF.

Retail Signage: Practices to Increase Return on Investment

Signs serve important purposes in a business' strategy: reinforcing an established brand, communicating information to customers and enriching the customer experience. On first glance, these strategies might not be considered "measurable," but organizations can incorporate best practices for these strategies to increase their return on sign investment. Retail Signage: Practices to Increase Return on Investment explores the connection between high-level design practices and business success.

Download Retail ROI (Free)


Retail Wayfinding Best Practices

Profitable stores tend to be meticulous record-takers and constant
tinkerers, always tweaking approaches in an attempt to attract customers. At the same time, there is an adherence to long-established methods that note the complex interplay between merchandising, distribution, promotion and customer experience. Retail Wayfinding Best Practices explores the way retail methodologies impact wayfinding, complete with numerous case studies highlighting creative and positive results.

Download Retail Wayfinding (Free)

Consumer Perceptions of Retail Signage: 100,000 Shoppers Can’t Be Wrong

Consumers learn—and assume—all sorts of things about a business based on its sign. The 100,000 Shoppers Can’t Be Wrong: Signage Communication Evidence from the BrandSpark / Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study by Dr. James Kellaris from the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati offers a wealth of insight into consumer behavior and provides key findings for retailers.

Download Consumer Perceptions

Sign Code Assistance

Perhaps your customer has a vision, and you've created the plans to help them promote their business, but a sign code or ordinance is keeping the city from approving the permit? ISA's expert staff can help your customer get the sign they want in time for their grand opening. 

ISA staff travel across the country to help local officials develop better sign regulations. We’ve been successful in dozens and dozens of communities across the country.

For more specific sign code assistance, contact ISA for help: David Hickey, VP, Advocacy

Next: Signs 101