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What's Your Sign?

What’s Your Sign?

Your sign is not only a marker that identifies your business, it’s a 24/7 marketer that communicates your brand, image and the services you offer. Businesses offering specialized or infrequently needed services must employ marketing strategies that develop brand awareness to attract new customers. Your signage can play an important role in reinforcing your name and image so it’s remembered when your services are required.

Before you invest a lot of time, effort or money into researching and designing your signage you need to know what your lease and your municipal by-laws have to say about it. Most cities have by-laws governing the size, placement and installation of retail signs, particularly in areas that have vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Be sure you know what permits you need before you start designing your signage, and that you get the necessary approvals. Your sign will also need to comply with the terms of your lease and the design guidelines of your complex. Check your paperwork and speak with your landlord to be clear on what is allowed and what is restricted when it comes to signage. Keep this in mind when you are in the process of negotiating or renewing your lease, there may be more signage available to you.

What do you want your sign to say about you? Your signage should certainly reinforce any branding you have already established. Do you have a logo, a specific color or a slogan? Its style should also speak to your potential customers. Are you high tech and sleek or warm and welcoming? A sign designed to be approachable and attractive to children and families may not appeal to a 65-year-old seeking the services of a specialist. Your sign can help communicate your values.

What style of sign do you need? Consider where your sign will be placed. Take note of other signage it will be competing with for attention. Drive, walk and ride public transit around your location to gain a sense of what will stand out to potential customers. Once you have the design criteria from your landlord on what type of signage is permitted, you can start exploring your options. Some examples of different styles are: post and panel, wall letters or graphics, blade style, monument, A-frame (sandwich board), awning, light boxes, LED, electric, neon, message board, window graphics, and digital signage. A variety of material can be used for the construction of any style of sign depending on the specific site of installation and environment.

Does digital signage make sense for your business and your budget? New technology affects every aspect of your operation, including your signage. From a fairly straightforward LED message board to full on video and media streaming, digital signage can offer varying degrees of interactivity with your current and potential customers. It’s highly adaptive, creative and increasingly integrated with mobile technology, making delivery of content more accessible and more measurable. Keep in mind that digital signage will require a larger investment, not only in terms of dollars but in time as well. If the content you’re delivering is not fresh, interesting and informative, you will not be taking full advantage of the medium.

How will it be illuminated at night? Don’t forget this “silent marketer” should work for you 24/7. Potential customers are mobile and travelling past your business even when you’re not open, don’t leave your signage in the dark when you shut things down for the day. Check with your landlord to see if your self-illuminating sign can be left on during evening hours or if additional lighting can be utilized to showcase your sign.

What basic maintenance will be required for your sign and who will be responsible for it? The condition of your sign will have an impact on how people perceive your business so it’s important to give some thought to ongoing maintenance. The upkeep of your sign will depend on the design, the quality of the materials used, its exposure to the elements, and whether or not you need to regularly update any information displayed on a message board. Signage can run the gamut from virtually maintenance free to maintenance intensive so the amount of time and money required for maintenance should be considered as you explore your options.

Signs are so commonplace in our visually crowded landscape that they are sometimes taken for granted. We seem to notice them only in passing without realizing their impact. This is precisely why they are so effective. An investment in quality signage will come back to you in the form of new clients. It’s obvious that your business needs a sign as a marker, why not maximize it’s potential as a marketer?

Written by
Ian D. Toms and Jennifer J. Miles