Signs of Summer: Make Waves in a Sea of Tourism Marketing

Summer in Wisconsin is short, and it’s almost here.  Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, families making the most of the Midwest’s brief warm temperatures will flock to popular Wisconsin waterpark and watersport destinations, including the Wisconsin Dells and Madison Area Lakes.

If your business depends on a piece of Wisconsin’s $20 billion in annual tourism revenue generated by over 110 million visitors, you definitely aren’t alone. The Waterpark Capital of the World, Wisconsin Dells, has over 400 businesses including more than 100 attractions, 9,000 hotel rooms and 19 campgrounds – all located in less than 20 square miles.

As an affordable yet effective form of advertising, signage is a huge part of the Tourism industry’s marketing strategy.  Vacation destinations like Wisconsin Dells are saturated with signage, advertising adventures like waterparks and escape rooms, restaurants, lodging, and entertainment, begging the question:


How can your business’s signage stand out from the crowd?

Use these 5 guidelines and tools when creating your signs and displays.

Make it Easy to Read – A good rule of thumb when it comes to the visibility and legibility of your sign is to use as few words as possible to get your message across – less than 15 if possible.  Also, make sure not to use conflicting or elaborate fonts, and no more than two different kinds.  Remember, people driving past your sign will only have a few seconds to read and understand it, so less is definitely more.

Skip the Clutter – Clean lines and plenty of clear space in your design will help it get noticed and easily understood. For optimum legibility, 30-40 percent of the sign should be empty space. Helpful hint: Placing a simple border around the outside of the sign could increase reading speed by nearly 25%.

Use Graphics – Whether it’s your logo, a photo, or strategic use of shapes, a graphic on your sign is a great way to add appeal and differentiate from text-only displays. Shapes, even when hidden within your design can elicit emotions from readers. For example, rounded edges give a soft and approachable feel, while sharp lines convey strength and presence.

 Contrast your Colors – Not only does color directly impact how your brand is received (click here to read more about Strategic Use of Color), but it is also hugely important for visibility. The greater the contrast, the easier your sign will be to read, and from a greater distance. Good application of contrast would be to mix colors like black or dark gray with yellows, whites, and oranges, and greens and blues with whites and yellows.  As always, focus your color contrasting on your main message, rather than around the border of your sign or supporting graphics.

Location Always Matters – No matter how easy your sign is to read or how thoughtfully you’ve selected your graphics and color, none of it matters unless your sign can be seen. It is crucial that people can read your sign from all possible angles. Make sure to have your sign high enough so that it can be seen from below, but not too high to be blocked by vehicle roofs or windows.  It’s also important to consider whether you want to place it on a building, a vehicle, outside your business, or in a yard to achieve maximum impact

Strategic Use of Color: Get People Feeling Your Brand

Love. Trust. Joy. Excitement.  It’s no secret that emotions strongly influence our daily decision making.  What may not be as obvious is that the colors we see in logos and marketing media can create an emotional response, connecting us with brands and effecting our purchasing decisions. In other words, the quickest way to your customers’ hearts may be through your brand’s colors.


The thoughtful use of color when designing your brand can help tell a powerful story to consumers that goes deeper than a simple logo or symbol.  Color theorist Faber Birren wrote that biological, social, and psychological conditioning influences humans’ emotional association with color.  For example, humans have been psychologically conditioned to see red as a sign of importance; a color to pay attention to, and also culturally conditioned to associate the color green with money.


Although consumers may already have developed thoughts about your brand and understand your products, services and mission, it’s when they’ve associated feeling with those thoughts that loyalty develops.


So, now that you have an idea why color in branding matters, the question becomes, “What colors best fit my brand’s identity?”


The chart below matches popular colors to their commonly associated emotional responses.  Considering either a combination or a variation of these colors could be a great way to enhance the emotional response your brand creates.

Color Evoking Emotion Chart


Of course, there are no concrete rules for determining your brand’s colors.  Trends change over time, and there are many schools of thought detailing how to best apply your selected colors to your brand materials.


One concept that is common across most color-branding theories is consistency. Once you’ve designed a color combination that best fits your identity, it’s important to present a united front of branded collateral that will encourage emotional association over time. This would include your web presence, logo, signage, print material, digital advertisements, and staff uniforms.