How Signs and Symbols Help Communication With Consumers

How Signs and Symbols Help Communication With Consumers

Aug 2022

How Signs and Symbols Help Communication With Consumers

When you run a brick-and-mortar business, you and your employees can’t be in the right place at the right time to answer any question your visitors might have. That’s why it’s so vital to be able to communicate with your customers through signs and symbols. How do these work, exactly? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today.


A sign posted inside or outside a business can do a number of things. It could be as simple as telling consumers the name of your establishment or as complex as a list of rules they must follow while inside. Signs can also point out where people can find certain items or amenities in your store, like the restroom.

The possibilities of what you can tell your customers through signs are only limited by your imagination, but outdoor storefront signs are among the best. It’s rare to have anyone outside to answer a potential customer’s questions. That’s why you need signs that can clarify who you are and what you offer.


Despite all that, not all signs need to be overly detailed. We’ve reached a point where we can convey a message with a few symbols. While going into detail is never a bad idea, the simplicity of a symbol may get the point across better.


When you stop to think about it, the meanings behind arrows on signs are quite strange. Obviously, left and right are pretty straightforward, but up and down have unique meanings when posted on a sign that everyone seems to understand very well.

If you see an up arrow, that means the thing you’re looking for is up ahead. On the other hand, if the arrow points downward, that means it’s right in front of you. There’s not really a way to use this symbol to tell you that something is located behind, but you’ve likely already walked past it if that’s the case.


Arrows aren’t the only symbols with meaning—plenty of shapes do, as well. The best example is an octagon. If you pair that shape with the color red, people will recognize it as a symbol to stop, no matter what is written on it. Diamond-shaped signs also tend to mean there is some sort of hazard to look out for.

Most signs are squares or rectangles. While these are certainly serviceable, try using others if you want your message to stand out. Squares and rectangles make up much of the shapes in our daily life, so something else will be much more eye-catching.

Other Icons

The list of signs and symbols we use to communicate with consumers could go on forever, but we’ll leave you with a few more classic icons to consider using in your own store:

  • Human stick figures are well-known bathroom symbols.
  • A person in a wheelchair indicates handicapped accessibility.
  • Showing a burger and drinking cup means there is food nearby.
  • A giant X over something implies that it’s currently unavailable.

Regardless of which ones you decide to put up in your store, these symbols will go a long way in communicating simple messages to your customers.


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