Sign Buying Tips

historic district 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. 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.

historic district sign


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.

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.


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 consider a conservative approach. (which is different than plain).

If you are in a retail situation, you probably would like 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.

historic district sign


Research 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.

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.