Beginning Brainstorming In Sign Design: It’s Fun!

Brainstorming anything can be a lot of fun, because there is no hard work of any kind involved. It’s just letting your imagination out to play to run wild with ideas. In design, all you need to get started brainstorming great ideas is to have the purpose of your project in mind. For instance, if you want to create a sign for an upcoming fundraiser at your local school that people must buy tickets for, you might just begin picturing different messages and images that are likely to get people to take the action you need. The more possibilities you come up with, the more options you’ll have for getting closer to the most effective design for your project. Style, color, image and typeface are four main elements to use when brainstorming your sign designs:

 Brainstorming Style


These “Boom” clip art graphics represent an example of the creative brainstorming process. You could start with the idea of a “Boom” image for your sign and first imagine it in bold black, then think “hey, how about explosive color” then carry that into “why not add the look of exploding letters?” Imagination is infinite, so you can just keep going until you figure out exactly what you want for your sign.

 Brainstorming Color

Since a blue rose is going to express a different psychological mood than a light pink one, you may want to think about the same image in different colors to get the right feeling for your sign project. Again, thinking about the end result you want — for example, a dreamy tone or a happy feeling — when people look at your sign, before beginning brainstorming in sign design, can keep you on a productive, idea-producing track. Be your own editor so that the colors you choose will work well together and be easy to read on your signs.

Brainstorming Image

Oftentimes, scanning through photos or clip art will spark an idea. Some designers like to just let their own imaginations loose and sketch the first thing that comes to mind before expanding on the idea. You can be literal as we’ve done here by choosing an image of a brain with storm graphics to represent brainstorming, but sometimes you may want to focus on a theme instead. For instance, you don’t have to show a birthday cake on a customized children’s birthday party banner, but instead include images relating to the party’s theme such as animals and trees for a jungle theme. Or, you could do something creative such as position the image of a birthday cake on a giraffe’s head for a fun, unique look for your banner.

Brainstorming Typeface

Typeface is a sign design element best brainstormed after the other elements are pretty much decided on. Of course, brainstorming is all about creativity and originality, so it’s whatever method works best for you. Anything goes as long as in the end, you’ve selected the typeface that gives clarity and visual support to the rest of your sign.


If you’re still feeling not too confident about brainstorming in sign design, try the SCAMPER method and use the instructive words to relate to your meanings and your projects. For example, ‘C’ for Combine could inspire you to group together multiple images in your sign rather than use just one. This creative brainstorming tool is credited to Alex Osborn of the well known BBDO advertising agency as well as writer, Bob Eberle, who organized Osborn’s tips into the SCAMPER format. While you should always just let your mind flow with ideas when brainstorming,  make sure to  then edit and check your ideas to ensure clarity in your sign’s message and layout. Pretend to be a viewer reading your sign who has no prior knowledge of the subject or event your sign relates to and this can end your creative thinking process in a way that will positively affect your outcome.