It probably isn’t news to you that meaning makes money: the more you mean to your customers, the more they’ll spend with your business. But how can a small business owner become like Google or Microsoft?

Perhaps surprisingly, deep pockets aren’t as crucial as deep personal involvement. A survey of more than 100,000 consumers worldwide investigated how brands measured up in terms of customer well being, which included health, happiness, financial stability, relationships, and community. And while meaningful brands outperformed the stock markets in their respective countries by 120 percent, the majority of people on the planet wouldn’t blink if three-fourths of brands disappeared into a black hole. Ouch.

The old chestnut popular in sales and on the lecture circuit, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is as relevant in brand building as everywhere else. While 71% of those surveyed feel companies ought to play a role in improving our quality of life and well being, just 39% of brands actually do this — and more than half of us (54%) don’t trust brands at all.

Your signage can help. For instance, suppose you own a small natural foods store that employs knowledgeable supplements staff. Let customers know! You might hold informal talks where customers can ask questions and receive free product samples. A sandwich board that invites, “Get smart about your health here!” tells people you care, and that you can provide what they need.

 

Or say you’re a real estate professional leasing a new senior housing development. The banner might read, “A Premium 55+ Community, Affordably Priced.” This lets potential residents know that quality retirement housing is available to those of modest financial means — a winning combination.

Regardless of the size or type of business you run, savvy signage can help you boost brand image and make meaning with customers — and that means business.