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Time to Hang Up Your Shingle? Tips for Effective Business Signs

Time to Hang Up Your Shingle? Tips for Effective Business Signs

If you are ready to launch a brick and mortar small business, it is time to “hang out your shingle.” The idiom dates back to the early days of our country when many professionals – including lawyers and doctors — worked out of their homes.

They often hung up a roof shingle with their names and type of service near the front door to show they were open for business. Of course, you have many more options for your business signage today. Here are five tips for selecting the best sign for your storefront.

Check Your Local Zoning Restrictions

Don’t waste valuable time and money on a sign that you will be asked to remove because it does not meet local guidelines. Check your city’s website or call your local planning agency for what types of signs are allowed in your business location. For example, some municipalities specify size limits for business signs or prohibit illuminated signs. Other rules may limit the amount of information you can post on your sign.

In addition, if you are leasing your business location, check your lease agreement and/or talk with the building owner about any other sign restrictions or design preferences.

Suit Your Sign to Your Location

Now that you know any limitations you have, it’s time to take a good look at other signs in your business location. Walk down your street and around the block to see what your neighbors have done with signage. You want your business to stand out – but in a good way. If you are in a busy urban location, you will want your sign to reflect that sense of energy and sophistication. If you are in a historical area, your sign should convey a respect for the time period when your building was built.

Keep in mind the architectural design of your building as well as its color, size and how it faces the street. Will most of your customers see your sign from a sidewalk as they walk by or from the street as they drive by? Do you need different signs for each perspective?

Less is More

Even if you have a good deal of space, resist the temptation of putting too much on your sign. Potential customers might pass right by your new business without even knowing you are there if you have a cluttered sign. A sign with a clean, simple design reflects well on your business and conveys professionalism and organization.

Research Materials

Storefront signs can work effectively on a window, an awning, a portico or post. They can be colorful or black and white. Signs can be made of metal, fabric or wood.

These design elements can add to the appeal of your sign and can add to your cost as well. Keeping your budget in mind, conduct an online search to determine what sign materials will fit your needs. If your sign will be outdoors, consider the elements when considering sign materials.

Choose a Sign Company

Now that you have given your sign some serious consideration, it’s time to select a company to design and install your storefront sign.

Keeping in mind the signs you liked when your toured your business neighborhood, ask those other business owners what sign companies they use. Inquire about the initial costs as well as any maintenance or replacement expenses that they have for their signs.

As you gain recommendations and narrow down your search, here are some questions to ask the sign companies you contact for estimates:

  • Will the sign company apply for any needed permits?
  • Does the company offer design service?
  • What are the cost differences among materials the company offers?
  • Is installation included in the estimate?
  • What maintenance and cleaning will be required? How much will it cost?
  • Is the company properly insured for doing installations?
  • Is there a warranty for the life of the sign?
  • How long will it take to get your sign designed, built and installed?

An eye-catching and professional-looking storefront sign can be one of the best investments you make for your small business. By following these steps, you will be sure that when you hang up your shingle, you can do so with pride.

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by Tricia Drevets // Regular Contributor to Businessing Magazine. Tricia Drevets is a freelance writer who specializes in business and communication topics. A community college speech and theater instructor, Tricia lives in beautiful Southern Oregon.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.