The Importance of the Rule of 3 for Your Custom Store Displays

What do Leonardo Da Vinci and a well-designed POP display have in common?  They both recognize the importance of the “rule of 3,” also known as the rule of thirds. This is a key point of good design, and implementing it into your project will enable you to maximize the impact of custom store displays from seasoned display manufacturers like McIntyre Manufacturing.  

But what is this rule of three, and why should you care? We’ll evaluate point-by-point how simple design elements can enhance your bottom line. 

The Right Sign = A Good Bottom Line

The right signage is a part of this rule, and research studies confirm that effective signage affects your bottom line. According to a Brigham Young University study, displays with signage outsold those without signs by 20 percent. But perhaps even more surprising was that merchandise that was not on sale outperformed clearance items by 18 percent when signage was a part of the POP display. 

Scientifically, human beings are drawn to symmetrical, orderly objects and our eyes tend to linger on them for longer than they do on asymmetrical objects.  The rule of three draws upon these principles to create a design that is created with perfect balance in mind.

What is the Rule of 3?

The rule states that any image—whether it be a design for your custom retail display or a painting—should be broken into a grid with two vertical and two horizontal lines. The result is nine equal squares. The most important elements of the item should be put along these lines and where they intersect. 

We’ve even provided an illustration for you. Notice in the picture of the hot air balloons how the action and composition seem to be centered at the lines and the red circles at the intersection of those lines.

Think of it this way: when you want someone to notice something, you generally point to it. The principles in the rule of three work the same way: Your design is “pointing” to something you want your customer to notice. 

You’ll see this a lot in landscape photography, but it’s a key element in keeping your POP display interesting and provides a stronger impact on their work. 

In fact, take a look at how the rule of three neatly applies to this display we did for Milwaukee. Notice how the horizontal lines draw the viewer’s attention to information about the product, drawing their eye to the messages that are so important to a solid branding strategy.

Of course, there’s much more to good design than the rule of three. We look at several other elements in design as well. These include:

Hierarchy of items- We make sure that important elements are bolder and at key focal points. This is particularly important as it relates to the font size.

Balance – As mentioned earlier, the human eye is drawn toward symmetry. Awkward angles may be interesting to get a brief flash of curiosity, but studies indicate that the eyes tend to linger longer on symmetrical items. 

Complementary images – Make sure all images look cohesive and as if they were a part of the same photoshoot.

Display Manufacturers Are About Much More Than Great Graphic Design

Don’t misunderstand: Design is important. Statistics clearly show the importance of how it can result in more sales and stronger brand recognition. We’ve even won awards for the execution of great design for custom retail displays.

But there’s also the nuts and bolts of the product. How will it be shipped? What material should be used? Will it need to be assembled?

We have a comprehensive plan for you and your project, whether you have a clear, detailed vision or just some ideas you’ve sketched on a Post-It note, see why, as great display manufacturers, we have so many loyal customers. 

Contact us for information on how to get started.


Since 1977, McIntyre Manufacturing Group has created custom-designed displays with an uncompromised dedication to customer service. We utilize the latest technology and attention to detail to create the finest products with excellent craftsmanship. If you can dream it, we can create it. Contact us to see how we can bring your vision to life.