How to Make an Outdoor Business Sign

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An outdoor sign is a critical marketing tool for any retail business. It tells potential customers who you are and what you offer. It also provides them with an overall sense of your business, including whether your products are high end or inexpensive, and whether your approach is traditional or unconventional. Your outdoor sign should be constructed and painted with durable materials to withstand the weather. It should be professional looking and designed to grab the attention of potential customers.

Contact your local licensing agency regarding permitting requirements for outdoor signs. Gather information about licensing, applications and fees, as well as specifications as to where you can hang an outdoor sign and what kind of hardware you require to comply with local codes.

Design your outdoor sign. Choose a shape and a size appropriate to your business. For example, if you sell sporting equipment, you might design a sign in the shape of a ball. Plan on making your sign as big as possible if appropriate: an upscale bistro shouldn't have a overly large sign and neither should a jewelry store that deals in small, elegant merchandise. Choose a font that matches the tone of your business; for example, Comic Sans MS has an informal feel while a script could indicate that you provide fancier offerings. Pick colors that are bright and visible, but not so busy that they interfere with readability. Use graphics that are simple and attractive, and easy to identify from a distance.

Purchase 1/2" to 3/4" exterior plywood for your signboard material at a lumber yard or building materials store. Paint your sign with an outdoor, weather resistant paint. You can find suitable products at a well equipped hardware store or at an art supply store. Work indoors, away from wind, rain and airborne particles. Seal your sign with a commercial grade outdoor sealant after the paint is fully dry.

Hang your sign using hardware that is strong enough to support it, and suitable for outdoor use. Position the sign where it will be most visible to the greatest number of customers.


About the Author

Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.

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