Why Use Signage?


"Why should I have a sign?" is a question often asked by business owners. The answer will vary depending on your business type and format. In a highly impulse oriented business, good signage can be the difference between the success or failure of the business. The profile of your trade area also impacts your signage needs. Good signage can increase a business's opportunity for success.

Signs are the most affordable means of advertising for many businesses, and most businesses -new or not -- don't have a dollar to waste. The United States Small Business says, "...signs are the most effective, yet least expensive form of advertising for the small business." What's more, signs are always on the job for you, advertising 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

This section introduces the term "on-premise" sign, as well as presents information that supports why a business must have an on-premise sign to be to most successful. So, what is an "on-premise" sign, and why the focus on that particular type? An on-premise sign is:

"A communication device whose message and design relates to a business, an event, goods, profession, or service being conducted, sold, or offered on the same property as where the sign is erected."

Evaluating Your Business Locationís Signage Needs

Before a business owner puts up a sign, it is extremely important for that owner to evaluate the business and its location in terms of its signage needs.

Carefully review and consider these criteria before designing your sign


1. The type of business you operate.
The very first thing you should do before buying a sign is evaluate the signage needs of your business in terms of the goals to be accomplished through signage. In other words, is your business:

  • The type that needs to "brand" its site in the community, as with a doctor's office or auto repair shop, so that potential customers are aware of your business and think of it first when the need arises?
  • A business that frequently advertises price or product specials, such as a grocery or liquor store?
  • Rely more upon "impulse" stops and/or purchases, such as a freeway gas station, or a discount motel?
These factors are very important in determining the number of messages (or lines of text) you'll need, whether or not a reader-board or an electronic message center is necessary or desirable for your business, and help you determine the overall size of your sign.

2. The type of street (e.g. two lane, four lane, one-way, etc.).


Traffic masking can obscure your message.
Traffic masking can obscure your message.
  • With more lanes of traffic, any given sign may become less noticeable because of the traffic obstacles, or masking.


  • As a rule, the sign owner should try to compensate for this loss through better sign mounting and/or an increase in the height of the mounted sign.


3. Approximate speed of traffic.

  • The faster the traffic, the larger your sign and its text must be to be readable.
  • It is critical that the text is legible from a sufficient distance to allow drivers to read the sign and safely maneuver through traffic.

4. Obstructions (e.g., trees, poles, neighboring buildings, other signs, etc.)

  • For any sign to be effective, it must be clearly visible to potential customers.
  • Obstacles should be overcome through mounting style choice, sign placement and the height of the sign as mounted.
  • Before installing your sign, drive by your business from all directions to check for potential obstacles.
5. Business setback of the street.


Image illustrating 25degree cone of vision
  • A normal driver has about a 25-degree cone-of-vision through the windshield as they are driving.


  • It is important that any sign be placed within this cone-of-vision along the roadway in order to be plainly noticeable to passing drivers.


  • As a guideline, try to keep the sign as close to the roadway as possible and the text size large.
6. Topography of the business relative to the street.


 image illustrating topography
  • Adjust the height of your sign's mounting (or select another mounting style) to compensate for any differences in the height of your business site relative to the street.


  • Again, the goal is to make your sign the most visible it can be to passing traffic.

In Summary:
There is important criteria to review and consider before designing your sign. Be aware of not only the sign, but also how it relates to your business, to your street and approach to your business, and how the structures and street all relate.


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