How to Design a Coffee Shop Sign

Written by anne hirsh
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How to Design a Coffee Shop Sign
Using clip art can enhance your sign without requiring extensive design skills. (coffee cup icon. (with clipping path) image by Andrey Zyk from

One of the most important factors in your coffee shop's success is letting people know it's there. Whether you are just opening a coffee shop or trying to draw new customers to your existing coffee shop, a well-designed sign can bring customers to your counter instead of letting them move on to the big chain coffee shop down the street. Let your sign show off your shop's personality, but don't forget to make sure the basic information is there, letting everyone who walks or drives by know what you have to offer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Vector drawing software

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  1. 1

    Determine how large you need your sign to be. This will be partly based on available physical space, such as the length of the overhang a sign will hang from, but it should also take readability into account. Measure the space available with a tape measure before finalising decisions on your lettering. The most effective readable distance is approximately 10 feet per inch of lettering height, so 3-inch lettering has optimum readability for most people from about 30 feet away, according to Significant Signs. Measure the height of the font you want to use by determining the height of a capital "X" in that font, advises the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. Customers on foot will have about 11 seconds to take in your sign's lettering, while those driving by will only have about 3 seconds. Choose wording that offers the greatest impact under these conditions.

  2. 2

    Determine what material your sign will be made from. A woodcut sign may offer less detail than a computer-printed vinyl banner, and a light-box sign will require a certain amount of contrast to be effective. Find out any specifications concerning your sign material from the company that will be creating the sign.

  3. 3

    Select images that offer additional information beyond your wording. Steaming coffee cups or paired coffee beans may be overused images, but if the only lettering on your sign is your coffee shop's name and it doesn't have the word "Coffee" in it, then these images can let people know exactly what you're selling without adding additional words.

  4. 4

    Combine images for a customised look, such as having an animal drinking from the coffee cup. Using a tropical bird might indicate a coffee shop with a Hawaiian or South American flair, while a cat might indicate the cosy kind of coffee shop that encourages customers to curl up with a book. An anime-style character might indicate a coffee shop that is geared toward the younger crowed and has Wi-Fi and gaming opportunities.

  5. 5

    Create the images and lettering for your sign using a vector drawing program. If you are familiar with such programs, you can create images from scratch. Otherwise, you might consider purchasing vector clip art images (a few sources are listed in the Resources section) and using the software simply to place them on the sign. Vector images are able to be resized without loss of quality, so the quality of images on your screen will not be lost when the sign is made in its actual size. Consider using the design program as a mock-up to bring to a professional designer, who can add touches to make your sign look more professional.

  6. 6

    Add colour to your sign in the vector program, if desired and appropriate for your sign materials. If possible, print the design on paper at its intended size, hang it where the real sign will hang, and see how readable it is. Make any modifications necessary to the design based on how the paper version reads.

  7. 7

    Check the final design for any errors in spelling or grammar. Save the vector image as an EPS file or size it to the sign maker's specifications and save it as a PDF, depending on the specifications given by your sign maker. Transfer the file to a portable USB drive for the sign company or upload it directly to the company's web site for printing.

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