Just Show Me A Sign

By Gregg Schoenberg Wednesday, February 8, 2012

As a business owner in an era in which email and social media have become the primary means for communicating with many customers, it can be easy to forget about an older medium for promoting your company, the corporate sign.  A well-designed and appropriately placed sign advertises your business twenty-four hours a day to any potential customers within viewing distance, and can be an economical solution, with the cost spread out over the life of the sign.

If impulse visits are an important source of business for you, as they are for most retail establishments and restaurants, then signage can be particularly effective.  Whatever the nature of your business, if you are in the market for a sign then you’ll want to consider the following factors before making your purchase.

Size and Placement

While bigger may be better it will also, of course, be more expensive.  To find the size that it is right for your business, consider how far away the average viewer will be from the sign and how well lit the area is.  You’ll also want to account for how changes in lighting conditions throughout the day and the seasons can affect your sign’s visibility. While there is no magic formula, a good sign should be easily viewable by potential customers without being so big that you are paying for more than you need.


Once you decide on the size of your sign your next step is to choose the materials.  Signs come in a wide variety of choices from basics like acrylics, plastics and metals to high-tech solutions incorporating neon or LED lights.  As you move up the price scale you are essentially paying for two things: visibility and durability.  In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison of different options, do some research on the average life span of different materials—the length of the warranty can be a good place to start—and divide the total price of the sign by its expected useful lifetime to figure out the per day cost of the different options you are considering.


It is not enough to simply hang a sign and expect it to increase traffic to your business. Your sign should be attractive, eye-catching and its design should be consistent with your overall corporate branding strategy.  If you have an in-house graphic designer to do the work then you can control the process and make sure the sign fits your specifications.  If you don’t, you can always rely on the designers at the sign companies you are considering, so make sure to take a look at their portfolios to see that their work is up to your standards.

Zoning Laws

Most cities and counties have regulations about the types of signs that can be posted and the maximum allowable size and height of signage.  Before placing an order, you’ll want to ascertain that your sign will be in compliance with all applicable ordinances.  If you feel that there are special circumstances—such as an obstructed location—that warrant an exception from the prevailing rules, then you can apply to the zoning board for a variance from the existing code

By assessing your particular needs based upon your type of business and its location, and taking into account the factors discussed above, you should be able to come up with a signage plan that maximizes your return on investment on this traditional but effective means of advertising.

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