Chapter 4 - LED Sign Advertising & Communication Tips


Marketing Basics

As with any advertising or communication medium, the rules of basic marketing apply with LED signs too.  For a good treatise on marketing basics read "Ogilvy on Advertising" by David Ogilvy, March 1985.  Some basic marketing principles are . . .

1)   Know your audience
2)   Keep message simple
3)   Repeat message often

Know Your Audience

This is an important basic marketing rule that is easy to overlooked.  First learn what motivates your customers to buy your product, then tailor your advertising messages to spark those motivations of your audience. 

You may have the lowest price cars in town, but most customer buy cars with loans, so the monthly loan payment, is likely more important to your customers then your low prices.  Turn your lower prices into a lower monthly payment, so you can spark more interest in the larger group of customers seeking lower payments.

Or for example, you may desire to unload your overstocked items to a few customer, but the majority of your customers might be more interested in the new items you have in stock.  If you overlook your clients, you will advertise your overstock items on your LED sign.  Instead, it may make more sense to cater to your customer's interest in the new items, by advertising these items on your LED sign.  Now you are making money on new item sales, with potential future repeat sales.  Once your customer is inside your business, you can use a smaller LED sign to point out your overstock items for sale.

Always keep your customer's interests in mind, as you decide what messages to communicate with them using an LED sign.  The key is to know your audience.

Adjust LED Sign Message Length to Audience Type



In Line



Read Time



10-30 Minutes


LED Sign

Simple, brief & fast messages

Moderate length messages

Longer messages, more of them

Short  messages

Keep LED Sign Messages Simple

This marketing rule you are almost forced to follow with an LED sign, since the text displays are usually short.  Don't be tempted to create long messages, unless you are displaying for example news stories to a target audience that is waiting for a long time in a lobby, waiting area, or cafeteria type environment.  Countless times we have driven down a street and only have a few seconds to read, and see something like the following on an LED sign . . .


We just drove by the LED sign and have no idea what they are selling.  Everyone claims that they have courteous and knowledgeable people, so there is no information presented here.  The same LED sign should have displayed something like . . .

Start Example                Stop Example

Chapter 5, has more LED sign message ideas and suggestions for different applications.  Another aspect of keeping the message simple is to keep the scrolling and movement of the text on the display simple.  For example, in the above example, we only display the text, with no scrolling at all.  This was done to save valuable display time.  Too many, or confusing, transitions can distract from your message, reducing your communication's effectiveness.  The same can be said of color.  Keep the use of color appropriate and don't use text where the color are constantly changing.

With that said, you still want to keep motion on the display to attract the attention of people as their eyes are naturally drawn to motion.  So the objective is to keep the messages in motion, without overdoing the transitions to confuse the audience.

Of course exceptions to this rule can apply if the situation warrants it.  For example, if you are placing an LED sign for people waiting in a slow moving line, then it makes sense to increase the number of different messages to avoid annoying people with a small number of messages.

Repeat LED Sign Messages Often

With a simple message it is easier to repeat that message for your audience.  By repeating the same message you help the audience remember what it is you want to communicate.

A message that is simple and readily repeatable might include 3 to 4 basic messages with 3-4 text displays for each basic message.  Review the message ideas in Chapter 5 to see how you might include three to four similar ones for your application.

Location and  Installation

Place your LED sign so your intended audience does not have to strain to look up or down at the sign.  Your target audience should be comfortable when reading the LED sign.  Eye level is usually your best bet.

If you want everyone to see your message place the LED sign where they will have to look, such as on a wall behind a sales or order counter, above a doorway, or at the end of a hallway.  If you want to draw attention to an item that is commonly over looked, place the LED sign near that item or area.  The motion of the LED sign will naturally draw attention to that area or item you want seen.

Check to see that your LED sign comes with the mounting hardware you will need to mount your LED sign on the ceiling, counter top or back wall.  When mounting your sign, take into consideration the power cord, hiding it when possible.  See Chapter 6 for a table of min / max viewing distances for various LED sign character heights.

Things to Avoid

Sign Size - The most common mistake people make when purchasing an LED sign is in the size of the sign.  They tend to buy LED signs that are too large for use indoors, and too small for use outdoors.  2" high character LED signs can be easily read up to 80 feet away, so these are great for offices, lobbies, etc.  A 4" LED sign can be read up to 160 feet away, and are too large for these same offices and lobbies.  Then can work in an large 150' cafeteria, ballroom, factory floor, or tradeshow booth.  For outside visible applications, a 4" sign is the minimum, and a 6" sign is preferred.  People underestimate outdoor distances.  Check the recommended viewing distances in Chapter 6 to make sure you are buying the right LED sign for your intended use.  You notice we mention this many times in these tips.  It's the #1 mistake customers make.

Lowercase Letters - Use all capital letters, since they are bigger than lowercase letters.  The bigger the letters, the farther away that people can read your sign, thus increasing the time people have to read your sign, especially if people are walking by or driving by in a car.  Lowercase letters are 30% smaller than capital letters.  If you use lowercase letters, you are reducing the distance that the sign can be read by 30%, and your reducing the time people have to read your LED sign by 30%.  Stick to all capital letters.

Colors - Red on black is not the friendliest color combination, but it is the most noticed and therefore most read.  If you want more people to see and read your sign, stick to Red only.  You can use a mix of colors in waiting rooms, lobbies, libraries, offices, but for messages that you want read by people that have only a few seconds, stick to red.

Full Motion Video LED Signs - With the advancement of computers, you can now purchase full motion video LED signs.  You've likely seen these while driving down streets.  The problem with these is that most travelers have but 3-5 seconds to view a sign, and with video it takes 15 seconds to get a video message across, and there is no audio.  That's why the smart full motion video LED sign owners, just flash large screens of bold text on an image, as they have learned that straight text is the fastest way to get messages quickly to fast moving travelers.  There is no reason to pay for full motion video LED signs, when moving text displays are more effective.

Scrolling Multiple Lines - If you are going to use right-to-left scrolling messages, avoid scrolling more than one line at a time.  Some LED signs can show multiple lines of text at once.  The human mind cannot read more than one right-to-left scrolling line of text at a time.  Multiple lines work great for stationary information, or for scrolling vertically from bottom to top.

Reverse Scrolling - Avoid scrolling text messages over 5 words in the left to right direction, or scrolling multiple lines in the top to bottom direction.  Western language readers are accustomed to reading in the left-to-right direction so scroll longer text messages in the right-to-left direction.  Likewise, they are accustomed to reading from top to bottom, so you should scroll longer text messages from bottom to top.

Mixing Formats - If you will be using multiple LED signs, with some displaying scrolling text and others displaying stationary text, make sure the there is sufficient space between the scrolling and stationary text, like 1-2 feet. Humans are not design to read in mixed modes, so keep the two methods separated by lots of space.  We've seen LED signs with the time and temperature in one non-moving text line, with a scrolling advertisement text line above, making this a very hard LED sign to look at, let alone read.

Angles - People are most comfortable reading horizontal lines of text, so mount your sign horizontally, and not at an angle.


Click for . . .     Chapter 5 - LED Sign Marketing Ideas by Application


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