Note: This has been one of the most popular pages on our website, over the years. We hope you will find it helpful.
Margaret Chase Smith Library Sign


A sign is usually one of the first forms of advertising a business person thinks about, and it will probably be the longest-lasting. After many years of watching from our perspective, there are a few factors that we like to see our customers consider before making this important purchase.

The type of business, of course, dictates a lot about the type of signage necessary. Also, location influences needs, in terms of visibility, competition, local sign ordinances, etc. Let’s break these down one by one.


A good place to start is to find out if your location is subject to any sign ordinances. Most communities these days have developed some type of guidelines for signage incorporated in their zoning ordinances. Almost every town has, as a minimum, restrictions on the size of the sign you may have. Some towns will require you to obtain a business license first, and to get a business license you may need to have your building inspected by not only the codes officer, but also the fire inspector. In our area Pittsfield (ME), is one of these towns.

If your business is in a “historic district”, you can expect even more interaction with town officials. Designated historic districts usually have very specific rules you must play by, and can involve attending committee meetings as well as submitting designs, color samples and type of paint, post treatments, etc. Needless to say, you can save yourself a lot of grief by looking into your community’s sign ordinances early on in the process and finding out what the application process involves. This information is available on many town websites or may require a trip to the town office. With this bit of bureaucratic stuff in hand, you can concentrate on what you need.

bangor maine sign


A look at your business plan ( you do have one somewhere, right?) will help make some decisions easy, because you can tell from it to whom you are targeting your business. This should set the tone for the type and style of your sign.

If you are setting up a professional office, you probably want to look relatively conservative, (which is different than plain) business-like but not too corporate (you don’t want to intimidate).

If you are in a retail situation, you probably want to attract browsers by creating some anticipation and intrigue with your sign. You should know what your single best asset is. You want a sign that reflects something of you and the unique character of your business.

the “7 WORD” RULE

anthony lee's winery sign, Dexter, MaineResearch has shown that people don’t usually read a sign, they “look” at it. They only “see” about seven words on a sign that make the impression and tell them what they want to know. ( usually what kind of business it is) The most effective sign leaves an attractive impression in the mind of the viewer.
A street sign noticed and remembered has done its job.

Listing every one of your services on your street sign is probably not worth your money and may actually damage your chances of being remembered. The more words you have, the smaller they all become. Once you have the customer inside, you can use interior signage to explain goods and services in more detail.

At Miller Signs & Graphics, the tradition of the hand-carved sign has continued on since 1984, and is still the most requested from business professionals and home-owners alike.  Our wood and durable urethane signs, hand-crafted with chisels and knifes, not only provide unrivaled and enduring beauty, but harken back to a time when American craftsmanship produced objects of lasting value.