As a new business owner you have a lot to juggle as you prepare for your opening, and signage is not always front of mind. However the signage of a business is often the first element of your branding customers see, so its importance for your business cannot be overstated! To help you prepare for your signage, we’ve developed this step-by-step guide on what you need to know and do when buying your new sign(s).

1. It’s Never Too Early To Plan For Your Sign

Life Storage sign on the side of a building

Whether you’re renting a building, or a building a new one, bringing in a sign company in the early days of your business prep can help alleviate headaches down the road. An excellent sign company will know the codes and have permits in the local municipalities of your business, and especially when constructing a new building they’ll be able to work with the architectural design to help plan for the signage so as to not find surprises like obstructions, overhangs, and inaccessible sites. In particular, budgeting for your sign(s) early as part of the overall project will help at the onset. Overall, planning early will will save you stress, time, and of course money!

2. Plan Your Branding

Sign in front of the Chattanooga Choo Choo featuring businesses on location

If you’re a franchise business then you may have brand constraints to work within, but if you’re a new business you have a lot more freedom! Either way a good sign company can meet your needs.

If you are not a franchisee then whether you’re working with a designer, or a sign company with a designer in-house, you can use this opportunity to come up with a brand that best represents your business. Remember a brand is significant and is often what’s most associated with your company. Think Coca-Cola, FedEx, Amazon, and so many other companies brands that immediately elicit feelings you may have about those companies. You want your brand to do likewise for your customers, and you want your sign to best convey that brand.

3. Custom Build Your Sign

Goodfellas Restaurant Sign in Chattanooga, TN

By now with pre-planning, and a well designed brand, you’ll be ready to build out your custom sign. Knowing your sign company has looked at the permits to see what can and cannot be built already will help put you at ease, as you’ll know of any limitations for materials, size, and placement. From there you can work with the sign companies project manager as they keep you up-to-date on the buildout of your sign.

If you’re in a rush to have a sign in place, which is not always feasible with a truly custom built sign, speak with your sign company to see if they could put a placeholder vinyl sign in place to let your customers know you’re opening!

4. Installation Day!

Photo of Erlanger Express Care and Prime Imaging location in Hixson, TN

A quality custom sign can take time to build; however, installation day can still sneak up on you! If you’ve worked with the sign company all along the way, then you’ll help avoid the majority of potential surprises. If you have not though, then there may be some things you’ll need to keep in mind to alleviate installation day headaches. We’ve actually written a full post on “how to prepare for your sign installation” , but to break it down here’s the key items to know:

  • Ensure there’s electrical connections if you have a Neon/LED Sign
  • Ensure your sign company will have access to install the sign, including access for cranes if needed
  • If you have a significantly large sign then be prepared for special transportation that may be needed (your sign company should take care of this)
  • Know that if the sign company needs to dig, then there’s a chance they could hit rock which could expand the size and scope of the installation

5. Your Sign’s Future

Nooga Bop's LED sign lit up purple in Hamilton Place Mall

On your opening day we’d say you can take the time to step back and admire your sign; however, we know you have a business to run. That’s the way it should be well after your sign’s installation too. However whether it’s an outdoor sign, or an interior sign, we know weathering, vandalism, and other dangers do pose a risk to your sign. So before you say farewell and thanks to your sign company, check with them to see what warranty policies and service contracts they may have to help with the upkeep of your sign. If you have a LED or a neon sign there’s the risk of an eventual light outage, and you having a service contract in place can save $. Plus if you have a contract with the company that built the sign then they’ll be more able to quickly return and fix up, clean, or replace broken or damaged portions of your sign, as they’ll already have familiarity with your custom sign.