Magpies bakery sign thanksgiving
Magpies Bakery in Knoxville, Tennessee uses its signs to create a call to action.

Signs, much like employees and websites, play a number of different roles in the retail bakery setting. Savvy retail operators need to give their signs the same attention and consideration they give to their bakery staff and online presence to take advantage of the power that good signage can provide.

“Just as your website’s sales copy should be attention-grabbing and concise, your in-store signs should be clear and useful,” says Katelyn Gray from SmartSign, a top online sign retailer. “Consider signs your silent but highest-selling salespeople.”

Sign standards

Retail bakeries set many different standards for their employees. Dress codes, customer service practices and policies, etc., all have a high-level of importance. Some of these standards will differ greatly from bakery to bakery depending on the atmosphere and management, but whether they are casual or conservative, doesn’t lessen their importance.

Bakery Sign
Signs should provide information that is useful to customers.

A bakery’s signage warrants the same attention to standards, and in fact, acts like employees in some ways. “Signs can be given on-the-job tasks,” Gray says, “ranging from sales information and way finding to general product information and usage.”

Giving signage responsibility will naturally initiate a greater concern for the design and functionality. This guarantees a greater concern when placing signs and when generating the copy for signs.

Best practices

Gray notes four best practices to keep in mind when utilizing signage in the retail environment.

  • Be specific:  A customized sign can give you just the right message in just the right place, known as narrowcasting. When designing a sign, include specific details, such as location-specific instructions and relevant product information.

  • Keep it simple: Your sign’s message needs to be clear, yet one with too much information is often ignored. Use the five-second rule which states that if you can convey the main themes of the sign in less than five seconds, you pass. If it takes longer, shorten your message or use a series of signs.

  • Write in headline text: This should help you be concise and simple all at once. Understand the first principle of print journalism: the punch line matters. Can you simplify your text? Can you take out prepositions and extra words? Effective custom signs use a message hierarchy: headline, explanatory text, and finally, a call to action.

  • Make a call to action: Signs are advertisements, and as any good advertiser knows, you need to get the customer to do something; that’s the call to action. An effective sign needs to have a simple goal.


Whether a sidewalk sign, a window sign, a large sign above your shop or out in the parking lot, outdoor signage may represent the most important to your bakeries success. This sign alerts customers that they’ve arrived at your store. In addition, this sign draws the impulse customer into your shop and acts as the introduction and first impression people get to your bakery.

Customers and passersby need to read your main sign with ease. Larger, concisely written signs with contrasting colors and fonts that lend themselves to readability work best to grab customer attention and announce location.

Retail bakery signs should be eye-catching and concise.

Another important outdoor sign, especially in the warmer months, is the sidewalk sign. Bakery owners can create sidewalk signs with minimal investment. A chalkboard sign will do wonders for bringing typical foot traffic in front of the bakery in for impulse buys. Use creativity to advertise lunch deals, daily specials and signature products. Short descriptions and a call to action written in a concise, yet artistic manner, catches the eye.

“Outdoor signage in particular should be branded effectively to draw the customer in and help to convey the experience that they can expect inside the establishment,” Gray says.


Persuasive signs within the store serve a number of purposes, but again, keep messages concise or risk losing consumer attention with information overload and graphics that are too busy. That said, convincing language and attractive imagery are key to influence shoppers in the directions you want them to go physically, mentally and emotionally.

Magpies Bakery in Knoxville, Tennessee infuses humor into its signs.

“Using persuasive signage allows products or brands to more effectively communicate with customers,” Gray says. “These displays can turn an otherwise ordinary product into a popular ‘hidden gem.’” This strategy will also aide in creating a higher perceived value for products, increase brand awareness and give you an advantage when striving to improve revenue and sales, she adds.