Digital Tablet and Papers with Analytical Charts

Signs are considered such an integral part of a business; however, that strangely means they’re often overlooked when developing a business plan. It’s often assumed that signage is an easy final step, so less thought is put into the budget needed and time to procure said sign. We’ve covered in great length the pitfalls of this kind of thinking, and why you should prepare early for your signage, but here we want to truly emphasize how signage can have direct benefits to your business and what it takes for signage to be effective.

For our first two points, we’ll be looking at a 2012 report by The University of Cincinatti’s Economics Center. In this report, the researchers considered the impact of signage on businesses and found a few key findings from their case studies and surveys.

Readability and Legibility

Signage that can’t be read easily is quite simply signage that isn’t working for your business. Business owners when surveyed indicated for them that “helping customers find their location was the most important purpose” for signage. At their core businesses provide a service or need customers want, and the more time a customer spends trying to understand your business, or finding your business, is simply more time they’ll consider another business. Therefore sign readability and legibility is a key component when ensuring your signage provides the best ROI possible.

Direct and Indirect Benefits of Electronic Message Centers

Rossville Church Electronic Message Center on Monument Sign

In a case study on the dealership Chuck Anderson Ford, the researchers looked at the implementation of a new electronic message sign on a pylon and its effect on the revenue. The study showed the dealership’s revenue was up 10% compared to the previous year. Additionally “an estimated 30 percent of the new sign’s message time is focused on community announcements and public service messages”, which according to Anderson, the store owner, has impacted their perception in the community in meaningful, positive ways.

For our next two points, we’ll look at the Sign Research Foundation’s “Retail Signage: Practice to Increase Return on Investment”.

Architecture Integration

In this publication, the SRF report emphasizes the importance of “architectural integration” as one of their measures of successful signage. Architectural Integration in this case is considered effective when the signage matches the design and look of the environment where it’ll be placed. One case study in the report highlighted Valley Green Bank and specifically showcased how the firm “Metcalfe Architecture and Design utilized the graphic palette when designing new banks inside of renovated existing buildings, with each of the three community banks reflecting the unique neighborhood character.” This meant Green Bank reflected the community’s looks and values and thus helped them integrate more easily into the community space. This was beneficial for the business, as “return on Equity (2014) [for] Valley Green was 8th in ROE of 4,000 U.S. Community Banks.”

Perhaps a more familiar example of this in practice that you may have seen is the restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings, which successfully and ably adapts to fit community spaces. Buffalo Wild Wings, according to the SRF report, “boasts a strong internal design team of in-house designers and architects with a holistic approach to building design that touches every aspect of the exterior and interior.” This allows them to adapt the exterior of the building, and even the building design itself, to the community look and standards, while also keeping a strong familiar presence in the interior look and feel of each restaurant.

Management and Effective Signage ROI

The SRF report also emphasizes that the success of signage ROI is best when linked to store or business management.

In the report, they showcase four “Leading Management Practices for Increasing ROI:

  • Making Sign Excellence a Strategy to Reward
  • Integrating Signs into ROI Metrics
  • Community Engagement
  • Experience Designers Making Signs Central to an Integrated Brand Strategy“

In particular, the last point is key. As the Buffalo Wild Wings example shows, design can be adapted to match a community while still maintaining overall brand integrity. Business managers often have the power to oversee these design changes, so it’s up to them and their design team to ensure the best integration of signage into a winning brand strategy.


Though signage itself varies from business to business and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a strong, winning strategy for signage design and implementation can be an incredibly effective draw to bring in customers and clients. Simply adding a sign as an afterthought is not enough if you want your business to succeed though. Your business must think strategically about the look, location, and design of your signage and branding.

Aligning yourself with a sign company at the onset can prove effective, as we can take your business to the next level and ensure your signage is working for you. Call Ortwein Sign at (423) 867-9208 to see how we can help maximize your signage ROI.

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