Branding, Exterior, & Interior Signs for Franchises and Franchisees

Though each franchise business is unique and has its own guidelines and procedures determined by their parent company, what is common between them all is a sense of uniformity with branding across the branches owned by the franchisees. That way no matter whether you’re in a franchise in Miami, Florida, or Juneau, Alaska, you recognize what establishment you are in and you get a similar sense of place. If you are a first-time franchise owner you’ll be given a lot of information from your corporate headquarters to let you know what you can and cannot do with your business. Today we wanted to break down what those guidelines could look like as it relates to branding, exterior signage, and interior signage.

Exterior Signs

Though the physical location of a business can vary drastically, especially in rural places compared to metro cities, the exterior signage will usually be incredibly consistent. One example of this can be found with Starbucks. Starbucks may have stand alone properties in suburban areas, and sometimes they’ll take up a tenant space in a larger commercial property. While the larger, suburban business space may have more signs and a drive-thru (not typical for all Starbucks), there will usually be one or more signs on the building itself that you can find at every Starbucks in the world.

Starbucks as well is a great example as they over the last few decades have increasingly franchised into other businesses, such as Target, Food City, hospitals, and colleges and universities. This means they are not the dominant business in the property; however, they still need to brand their space and traditionally do so with exterior signage to let visitors know they are present.

Interior Signs

The world of interior signs is often far more vast than people realize, and it can include everything from ADA signs, to menu boards, vinyl graphics, electronic message centers, electronic kiosks, environmental graphics (i.e. wall art or mural art), and interior neon and LED signs.

While the interior of a business allows opportunities for franchises to customize their space to match their community, it’s also a space to use familiar branding and signs to create a familiar sense of place.

Panda Express is one such business that due to the layout and interior colors and graphics presents very quickly to customers a sense of who Panda Express is and a familiarity with all other Panda Express locations. Even in universities with Panda Express, where there is often less physical space and perhaps competing restaurants in a food court environment, once you approach the cashier you’ll see familiar colors, designs, vinyl/graphics, and menu colors.

This isn’t just true with fast food establishments though, as franchises include everything from hotels to escape rooms to travel and gas centers and more. Hotels especially are often licensing the branding from a major company, be it Marriott or Hilton, but the hotel itself is run by a franchisee and not the corporation itself.

No matter how small the business or how large the property is, the use of interior signs and branding can help visitors immediately feel at home in these businesses.

Exceptions to the Rule

Again each franchise has their own rules, but there have been a few notable exceptions to the rule that “all must match”, as some corporations have now started to allow for increased personalization to promote community ties.

In 2021 for instance, 7-Eleven reached out to local artists to commission murals for their stores exteriors and interiors.

“We kicked off our mural program with a local artist at a new 7-Eleven Evolution Store, an experiential testing ground where we test new concepts, products and services before we scale them across the 7-Eleven system,” said 7-Eleven Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Jarratt. “It’s been a hit so far and I’ve seen my fair share of excited customers stop what they’re doing to take Instagram-worthy photos in front of the larger-than-life mural. This positive customer behavior and feedback has encouraged us to expand the concept to more stores in 2021.””


Covid’s Impact on Franchisee’s Signs

Covid also meant individual franchisees had to adapt especially to any local restrictions imposed by their municipalities. Though this hasn’t changed permanent signs as much as it has temporary, it still means that you can walk into one Taco Bell and see an touchscreen menu board off to one side, while the next may simply have antimicrobial screens at the counter.

For a fun example showing specific exceptions to the rule with McDonald’s check out’s “Non-Standard McDonald’s Architectural Design” list.

Guide to Establishing Your Brand Identity

Branding is what we do.

If you’re opening a business, then you’ll want to develop a unique brand identity to stand apart. Here we share our expertise to help you do just that!

    All You Need to Know About Brand Identity

    Let Ortwein Sign be your guide to branding.

    What Makes You Unique?

    Your brand identity is a key component of your unique value proposition. WHY your business exists is as important as WHAT your business does.

    Identify Your Values

    What does your company stand for? You may have values you represent externally, and then values you hold internally, but whichever values you have they need to be something you stand for and something that helps how you communicate to your clients and employees.

    Speak with One Voice

    Companies now more than ever need to find their voice and try to use it for their communications internally and externally.

    What Business Owners Need to Know About Sign Insurance

    Signs are a key part of a business owner’s plan and assets, and like the rest of your property, business owners will often want to make sure their signage is insured.

    In this blog, we breakdown what you need to know for your signage insurance.

    What type of insurance covers my signage?

    Signage is covered under the umbrella of “Commercial Property Insurance”.

    According to,

    “Commercial Property Insurance covers your business against everything from a minor hiccup to a major loss.

    For example: 

    • A fire could destroy your building and the contents inside
    • A burst water pipe could damage valuable documents
    • A storm could damage your outdoor sign”

    Weather in particular is a common reason for signs to be damaged. Wind, hail, snow, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all reasons why a sign may incur damage.

    Is Commercial Property Insurance different from General Liability Insurance? defines General Liability Insurance as insurance that “helps protect you from claims that your business caused bodily injury or property damage. It can also protect you if someone sues you for advertising injury.”

    This is different from Commercial Property Insurance, which “covers your business’ physical location and equipment, whether you own or lease it.”

    These insurances may often be paired together in a package by your insurance company; however, you should double check with them to be sure.

    Who provides Commercial Property Insurance?

    Commercial property insurance is covered by many large and small insurance companies alike.

    Does insurance differ for on-premise signs and off-premise signs?

    Depending on your lease agreement, you may need to acquire insurance that covers your on-premise signage.

    If you have a roadside sign like an Electronic Message Center then you should consider insurance for your sign. These signs are often more costly than on-premise signs, and their positioning can sometimes make them easier targets for weather, accidents, and vandalism.

    I’m leasing a tenant space in a commercial property development. Do I cover my sign’s insurance or does my landlord?

    While lease agreements may vary, you as a tenant are generally required to purchase the signs for your business. Therefore you are also the ones required to secure commercial property development insurance to cover said signage.

    Does my sign company need to engage with my insurance company when my sign is damaged?

    In the case of a damaged sign, if it needs to be fully replaced then your insurance company may reach out to the fabricators of the sign to determine the original cost. If it needs to be repaired then they may reach out to a local sign company to get a quote for the potential repair costs.

    How much will my sign coverage cost?

    According to, costs will be determined largely by “the size and location of the sign.” Also under consideration will be if the sign is “in an area prone to extreme weather, such as wind, which could damage the sign.”

    All You Need to Know About Project Management

    Project Managers are the backbone of our team at Ortwein Sign. They oversee the project from the time it’s sold to the time we drive our crew off your lot after successfully installing your signage. To get even more detailed, they handle permitting, work day to day with our fabrication team, and hand off all the needed notes to our installers, while ensuring they have the needed information to do their job. Simply put, our Project Managers make things go smoothly. So in this blog we thought we’d not only give a shoutout to our great team, but we would also break down what makes an effective project management team. So you can see not only how our team works, but also we hope you can take away some pointers for your business.

    What is Project Management?

    Project Management in many ways is just what it sounds like: managing a specific, or multiple, projects from start to finish. Project Management is used for projects of all sizes, scopes, and industries. For companies without a Project Manager or Project Management team, having an expert project manager on your team can be a revelation to really see how effective and essential a Project Manager can be.

    What is a Project Manager’s Role?

    While the nuances of a Project Manager’s day-to-day work varies based on the work itself, essentially they oversee the completion of a project from start to finish. This includes creating a timetable for the completion of said project, scheduling and delegating tasks to the team, checking-in on the progress and completion of said tasks, assessing what needs aren’t being met and where needed pulling in additional resources, and all of that while reporting routinely to their supervisors, the relevant parties involved, or both, the overall status of said project.

    What is the Project Management Triangle?


    The Project Management Triangle is how a project manager manges the quality of the job. The three lines making up the triangle are: scope, time, and cost. You may have heard the old adage “you can have it cheap, you can have it fast, or you can have it done well” This speaks to the very push and pull that makes up the triangle and the struggles of a Project Manager’s role in balancing these demands.

    Do Project Managers Need Expertise in the Industry They’re Managing?

    While it certainly helps, there could be an argument that the industry elements may be less required than general know-how on simply effectively managing the many elements of a project from start to finish.

    At Ortwein Sign, we’ve had Project Managers enter with little experience in the sign industry, but with training we were able to work together to get them up to speed with the nuances of the sign industry.

    At the same time, we’ve had Project Managers with experience in our field, and while that’s certainly sped up the onboarding process, what we relied on from them most was their ability to organize, delegate, and manage all aspects of the projects they were given.

    What Skills Do Project Managers Need?

    Project Managers need a variety of skills, including:

    Detail-Oriented Thinking

    Projects can vary in scope, but as is so often said “the devil’s in the details”. It’s these details where an excellent Project Manager shines, because by overseeing all the smaller elements of a project they help the full project come together.

    Time Management

    Though many projects may have deadlines coming from leadership, or some external deadline, a Project Manager may need to set these deadlines, and certainly they’ll need to work within deadlines given to them. Project Managers therefore often rely on timelines and progress charts to keep up with where the completion of the project is and also the status of each individual contribution to the greater project.

    Communication Skills

    Communication Skills may seem obvious as a need for any employee; however, for Project Managers its essential. Not only do Project Managers need to communicate to employees up and down the chain of leadership, but they also need to really listen and grasp the information they’re being given by everyone involved. Oftentimes they’ll have to take the information from the top of the chain and relay it down and vice versa.

    Ability to Run Meetings

    Though essentially a component of communication skills, one aspect we’d like to single out is the ability to run meetings. Now a smaller project may not require many people to be in a room at one time; however, whether the meeting is small or large, this is another time where the Project Manager will have to field questions, listen closely to all that’s being said, transcribe these notes and often relay them after, and more.

    Organizational Skills

    These almost needn’t be said; however, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and that is to say that Project Managers absolutely require organizational skills. Organizational skills are essential at every level, as it’s needed when constructing a timeline, when coordinating notes, when preparing for meetings, etc.

    Do Project Managers Need to Be Certified?

    Some companies may require certifications, while others may not, but if a Project Manager is looking to get ahead then there are certifications out there established specifically for Project Managers.

    One such certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. The PMP is offered by the Project Management Institute.

    For more details on the Project Management Institute, visit their website:

    What Pushbacks Do Project Managers Hear Most Often?

    Project Managers are an essential tool for many companies; however, that doesn’t mean that the inclusion of Project Managers on a team isn’t sometimes met with doubt and skepticism. Many employees may feel they’re already “handling” their projects just fine, and while that may be true, Project Managers often allow managers, sales team members, and others more time to do the job they were hired for.

    Likewise, Project Managers are like a safety net for any missed moments in a project. While it’s ultimately up to the employees working on the project to complete their portion of the job, Project Managers act as a guide and safety line. They make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

    What’s the Biggest Struggle for Project Managers?

    Project Managers in many ways are the unsung heroes of an office. They usually do not have direct authority over those working on the project, but ultimately their job is ensuring the projects success. Therefore they are incredibly reliant on the work of their team. They often lack “sticks” to ensure success, but they can and should use “carrots” to encourage and support workers up and down the line who help bring the project together. Project Managers can be asked to relay difficult messages to higher-ups, and line workers; however, they also have plenty of opportunity to pass along praise. It’s a difficult balancing act for sure, but an excellent Project Manager rises to these challenges every time.

    Guide to Sign Permits front page of downloadable pdf booklet

    Our Project Managers are sign permit experts. Let us share with you all we know about sign permits.

    Download our FREE guide today!

      Guide to Sign Permits

      Guide to Sign Permits front page of downloadable pdf booklet

      Let us share with you all we know about sign permits.

      If you’re opening a business, then sign permits may not have been front of mind. Here we share our expertise to help you out!

        All You Need to Know About Sign Permits

        Let Ortwein Sign be your guide to the world of sign permitting.

        Why Are Signs Permitted?

        Sign Permitting began as a way to develop a homogeneous look for communities. This has evolved over the years; however, the intent still remains mostly the same even with the advent of form-based code.

        Sign Variances

        Sign Variances are requests by companies to extend their signage beyond the present rules of a municipality or jurisdiction.


        No sign permits are not free, and no they’re not one sign fits all. Let us at Ortwein Sign be your sign permit guide!

        2022 Signage & Business Trends

        2022 Signage & Business Trends

        Know what trends in signage may affect your business.

        We’ve broken down what we’re seeing in our industry in 2022.

          Keep Up with 2022 Sign and Business Trends

          In a tumultuous world, it’s good to be up on the trends.

          QR Codes

          QR Codes came back in a big way, and they’re only becoming more prevalent.

          Cloud-Based Signs

          Everything’s in the Cloud now, and signs are no different. Cloud-Based systems help businesses speak with their signage more directly than ever.

          Sign Security

          Though tech has many benefits there are also increased risks with digital spaces and that includes hacking.

          Five Reasons You May Need Sign Removal Service

          Sign Removal: 5 Reasons Why cover of a downloadable guide with photo of business without a sign

          Learn about 5 reasons you may need to remove your business sign.

          Business closures aren’t the only reason you may need a sign removal service!

            Five Reasons Signs Are Removed

            We breakdown why you may need sign removal services.


            Signs are a key component of any rebrand! If you’re rebranding you will likely need to remove and replace your signs with newly branded signage.


            If you’re moving from one storefront to another, contact your sign company to see if you can keep your existing sign and use it on your new storefront.


            If you’re closing your business, you may be on the hook to remove your sign. Be sure to check with your landlord if it’s your responsibility as a tenant.

            Neon Sign FAQs

            We breakdown the answers to FAQs we hear all about neon signs.

            Neon’s making a comeback! Learn about this not-so-lost art.

              Learn All About Neon Signs

              Vintage, stylish, and now trendy again!

              When Did Neon Signs Become Popular?

              Neon signs began to gain popularity in America in the 1920s, but with the use of neon signage in major cities such as Las Vegas it reached its epoch in the 1940s and 1950s.

              Faux-Neon Signs

              Neon signs and faux-neon signs are not created equal. Though LED “faux-neon” signs are trendy, they don’t perfectly replicate the look and vibe of real neon signage.

              Is Neon A Lost Art?

              Some might say so; however, we’ve fabricated neon signs at Ortwein Sign for decades and recently they’ve become quite trendy for personal and commercial use once again!

              Five Reasons to Refresh Your Signage

              Learn 5 key reasons why a sign refresh could benefit your business.

              Boost your business and catch eyes anew with a sign refresh!

                Five Reasons to Refresh Your Signage

                Refresh your signage to bring new attention to your business!


                Taking advantage of new technology in lighting can help extend the life of your sign and save you money on your energy bills.

                Don’t Let Your Signage Go Stale

                New signage can bring attention to your business all over again!


                If you rebrand your business make sure you integrate your signage into the rebrand as well! Your signage is one of your businesses’ greatest marketing assets.

                Visual Guide to Signage

                Download our helpful visual guide on signs and sign types.

                Our guide will help introduce you to signage that can help your business stand apart!

                  Visual Guide to Signage

                  Let us introduce you to the varied world of signage!

                  Channel Letters

                  LED powered Channel Letters are one of the most prominent types of signage out there today! Highly adaptable they function well for most clients.

                  Pylon Signs

                  Pylon Signs stand tall above your competition! With plenty of space for tenants too, these are popular for multi-tenant office complexes.

                  Neon Signs

                  Neon signs are more popular than they have been in decades! If you’re looking for a cool, vintage looking sign, neon signs may be the answer to your needs.