How to Design Signage for a Coffee Shop or Cafe

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

When you’re operating a small business as cozy and intimate as a coffee shop or cafe, the signs you choose are a big part of your overall brand identity. From letting your customers know about your specialty lattes to attracting passers-by into your cafe, good signage helps ensure a steady flow of customers and encourages patrons to spend more on food and drinks. You can opt to create your own signs or hand off sign-making duties to a professional designer, but either way, the effort put into making the right sign is sure to pay off.

Crafting the Look of Your Sign

Your coffee shop or cafe has a distinct identity, and your sign should fit into that aesthetic to ensure that guests feel at home. If you’re operating a hip, contemporary space with minimalist tables and chairs alongside sleek counters and ultra-modern espresso machinery, you might choose streamlined signage constructed from metal, glass or high-quality composite materials. A coffee shop occupying a historic building might go with vintage signage or newer signs adorned with retro details. Chalkboard signs are popular with casual neighborhood cafes and coffee shops because they can be erased, which makes it simple to change what’s written on a regular basis. If you’re open at night, consider incorporating lights into your signage.

Deciding Who Designs Your Sign

Creating a great coffee shop or cafe sign can seem complicated, especially if you’re more attuned to managing espresso production and crafting the perfect crema than to graphic design and lettering. If you or someone on your staff does have artistic talent, put those skills to work making your business signage in-house. Another option is to go with a simpler design that can be altered to fit with your particular coffee shop theme. If your cafe signage design goals are bigger than your artistic capabilities, consider hiring a professional sign maker or graphic designer to help. Before hiring someone to make your sign, ask to see examples of prior work to ensure the designer’s style matches the vision you have in mind for your brand. It’s also a good idea to show your designer what furniture and decor you plan to use in your coffee shop to ensure a consistent vibe.

Optimizing Sign Usage

You know that you need an exterior sign to draw in business and an interior sign listing menu items, but if you want to truly optimize your signage, you might want to include something extra in your repertoire. Coffee shops and cafes have a long history of creating funny topical signage poking fun at local personalities, joking about current events, or referencing upcoming holidays. Outdoor sandwich boards are ideal for this kind of ever-changing signage. Another idea is to add small signs inside your cafe directing customers to tag pictures of your food and espresso drinks on social media.Cafe and coffee shop customers develop strong loyalties to their favorite places, and your signage can be part of the atmosphere they come to love. Putting thought and effort into sign design helps establish an aesthetic that draws customers back again and again.

References & Resources

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