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Or, how about turquoise, lime green or bright lemon yellow?



Sign trucks. Signmakers can spot a sign truck three blocks away …hydraulic crane, welder, compressor, open-carrier side decks – and white body paint with carmine red or intense blue lettering. My unofficial highway survey says 78% of sign trucks are white with red letters, which, if you’ll allow me, is boring.

Why is this? I have no idea. Signmakers design, make and install brightly colored signs and then buy, paint or wrap their trucks in white. Not me. I like color, lots of color, so I say “no” to white sign trucks. Of course, I don’t own one, or several, but if I did, they would be brightly colored, maybe sky blue with zippy peach colored panels and trim work. 

Cool, eh? Everyone in town would know my sign trucks, and even civilians could spot them. They’d remember them for the unique colors – and tell me every time they saw one at Dunkin’ Donuts (sorry drivers). 


We all know about Coca-Cola red, the color that made the soda brand immediately recognizable. And, yes, Coke produces cans with white (diet soda) and black (zero sugar) panels, but all with Coke-red emphasis. I’m sure those color selections have a psychological ratiocination (black is macho, right?), but here I’m only exploring color, not marketing stratagems or soda ingredients. In any case, can we agree that hot-rod primer gray wouldn’t have done the job for Coke?

Coke proves that red is good, with, maybe, some silver panels to enrich the plan, but beware of the fire truck look. And, don’t go for purple. Or pink, but do consider turquoise, lime green or bright lemon yellow. And, sure, you can wrap the truck instead of painting it, but may I suggest you resist the present trend of covering it with images, especially skulls. The concept I am proposing is one of uniqueness, instant recognition and, sure, a bit of drama and style.

Of course you can say no, but consider for a moment what sign buyers think about when searching for a signmaker. (Hints: uniqueness, quick recognition and a bit of drama, style, symbolism – an opposite view of the advertising clutter we see so much of today.)



My feng shui book (again, I read everything) says color amplifies elements and good color combinations bring good luck. I won’t go further into this because the writer, Lilliam Too, veers into the feng shui practice of health, wealth and happiness, and she tells you where, get this, to place your bed, meaning the one you sleep in. She said you must properly position it, the bed, after you tap into one of your auspicious directions, with “auspicious” meaning favorable. You’ll want to do this tonight.

In my copy of Graphic Designer’s Color Handbook, writers Rick Sutherland and Barb Karg say when you play with color, you walk a fine line between method and madness, which is not a new concept to signmakers. Sutherland and Karg offer a few interesting interpretations of color symbolism: red (passion, strength, power), yellow (optimism, wisdom, playfulness), orange (creativity, warmth, adventurousness) and white (chastity, purity, virtue.)


As a signshop boss, your leadership goals must always focus on cash flow, profits, shop improvement, taxes, employee learning and much more. Further, as the shop leader, you see the importance in having a cohesive team that enthusiastically supports the shop and its efforts. Thus, my zany but practical color selections actually fit well into a business plan, one that applies symbology as well as other critical business frames – structural, human resource, political and symbolic – as outlined in Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal’s Reframing Organizations, my favorite business book. These authors say positive, cohesive symbology is critical to business success, that organizational symbols and culture define basic symbolic elements within an organization, such as myths, heroes, metaphors, stories, humor, play, rituals and ceremonies. These combined elements become a type of group language and define an organization’s culture. 

As noted above, symbology isn’t the only element of success, but simple rituals (donuts on Friday morning) along with the other facets – language, humor and play, as well as ceremonies and celebrations of success – combine to transform diverse individuals into a cohesive team with purpose, spirit and soul. Imagine how a distinctively colored fleet would affect staff morale, and the feedback you’d receive from sign buyers.



Introducing the Sign Industry Podcast

The Sign Industry Podcast is a platform for every sign person out there — from the old-timers who bent neon and hand-lettered boats to those venturing into new technologies — we want to get their stories out for everyone to hear. Come join us and listen to stories, learn tricks or techniques, and get insights of what’s to come. We are the world’s second oldest profession. The folks who started the world’s oldest profession needed a sign.

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