🎶 Sign, Signs, Everywhere Signs 🎶
I know I’m revealing my age with the title of this article, but my 80’s readers will appreciate the reference. It’s true though, signs are everywhere, and they serve a crucial marketplace purpose.
As consumers, signs help us navigate our path as we shop and assist us in choosing our favorite brands.
As business owners, signs function as a first impression to new customers, offer assurance to our loyal customers that we are still going strong, and help differentiate our business from other businesses.
With these key sign functions in mind, it’s important to choose the signage that accurately showcases your business. Choosing the right signage for your business requires intentional brand reflection and insightful consultation from an experienced signage firm. But even before you contact a reputable sign company, there are three basic questions to answer in order to feel prepared to discuss your signage options with a signage professional.
What are you allowed?
Every city/town and county has zoning regulations that businesses need to abide by when envisioning and planning for a signage project. These regulations will vary within a city/town or county according to how each area is zoned, such as business, residential, industrial, etc..
The intention of these specifications are for aesthetic and safety reasons. Aesthetically, some municipalities desire to maintain a unified look of an area.
South Florida, for example, may require signs to be painted or illuminated with pastel colors, while areas of Northern Minnesota may allow more color varieties to choose from. Some cities only allow reverse-illuminated channel letters, while others don’t allow illumination at all.
The regulations are also enforced to keep travelers safe. Overly distracting signage can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road for too long, increasing the chance of an accident.
For example, electronic message boards (EMC’s) may not be allowed in some areas due to its traffic density, but even when they are allowed, the message can only alternate after a predetermined amount of seconds. Even for regular illuminated or non-illuminated signs, the building’s frontage dimensions or the vicinity to the road determines the maximum size of a sign that can be installed for both safety and aesthetic reasons.
To find out what type and size of signage you are allowed on or around your building, contact your local zoning office and provide your address. The zoning agent will tell you exactly what is allowed and not allowed. The more friendly agents will even email you the document.
Also, keep in mind, if a particular sign is not allowed on the zoning books, you may apply for a variance. In most cases, variances will not be issued, but it might be worth a try.
What do you want?
Once you know what you are allowed in terms of signage. The next question to answer is, what do you want? Even within the parameters of zoning regulations, there are a several sign styles and options to consider. We call this the dreaming stage.
Do you want a set of illuminated channel letters visible from a main road or highway?
Do you have space for some awnings with printed vinyl of your logo?
Do you have windows that can be highlighted with vinyl graphics?
If you own a complex with multiple businesses leasing space, would you like a pylon sign to provide exposure for these businesses?
What colors do you want the faces, LED lighting, and sides of the cabinet or channel letters to be?
That’s just some exterior options. You may also dream about interior signage, including wall and floor vinyls, dimensional letters and logos, directional and destination signs, and designer wall coverings.
These options only scratch the surface of exterior and interior signage. Because of technology and advanced machinery, signage has rapidly progressed within just a few decades, resulting in almost limitless possibilities. So dream away, of course, within the parameters of your local zoning authority.
What can you afford?
This is the reality check stage. You figured out what is allowed. You dreamed of what your business would look like with a variety of options and styles. At this point, you will have to take a hard look at your finances and create a signage budget. Even though this may be difficult, it is a crucial aspect of choosing the best signs for your business.
A predetermined budget will produce focus and help you to narrow your choices down to a manageable number of possibilities. In addition, providing a trustworthy and experienced sign consultant with a budget range will allow him or her to envision and recommend realistic designs and fabrication possibilities for your signage.
Some may consider budget transparency gives the consultant opportunity to charge more than the signage is worth. That behavior, unfortunately, happens in the world of sales, but the key in avoiding this situation is to develop a relationship with a trusted signage firm that has built a legacy of honesty and fairness.
An honest and fair sign company will see a budget range as an opportunity to increase the quantity and customization of the signage rather than just arbitrarily inflate the cost. Quality sign companies will always have the client’s best interest in mind, desiring their client’s business to attract the right customers and ultimately increase their profits.
After answering all three of these questions, you will have a more robust understanding of your signage possibilities and feel prepared to contact a trusted, experienced sign company. Ultimately, going through this process not only result in spectacular signage, but will simultaneously strengthen the vision for your business as well.