America is made up of cities of all sizes including those teeming with millions of people i.e. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, as well as a myriad of medium to small communities whose citizenry may number in the thousands, hundreds, dozens, or even consist of just one person as is the case with Monowi, Nebraska, and as was the case with Buford, Wyoming.

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Smaller communities in particular rely not just on local business and local life to get by, but also those passing through the communities for revenue and tax dollars. Catching visitors’ attention as they drive through your town is just one reason why its become more important than ever to really develop a community’s sense of place. We breakdown the positive benefits of defining a community’s place, and we highlight how signage can be an integral part of that process.

Creating A Sense of Place to Promote Tourism

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Whether your community is world renown, be it a Roswell, New Mexico or a Salem, New Mexico, or a comparatively lesser known community, you should want people driving through your town to know where they are and when they are entering your community.

One key reason you want people to know where your community or city begins is because your town may in fact be their destination. Perhaps your town is a unique tourist destination, like Mitchell, South Dakota with The World’s Only Corn Palace, or West Branch, Iowa, home of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, or Josephine, Alabama with their Stonehenge replica Bamahenge. Or perhaps your community may just be a popular day trip or weekend spot destination for leaf-peepers, hikers, or other enthusiasts of all sorts. In either case, if you do not have a clear demarcation or sign for your community, then tourists may inadvertently pass on by, or if they came upon your place by happenstance and loved their experience, they may not easily remember or even find their accidental new favorite town again.

Community Building and Branding for Towns and Cities

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Identifying a sense of place can also have many community benefits as well. Chief among them is it helps build a sense of identity and pride. By incorporating a town’s brand and identity for instance in their marketing and signage, town’s can highlight what they are known for, and what they like best about themselves. Tourist towns such as Salem, MA lean into what they are best known for, but even if your town’s not as famous a spot, there’s undoubtedly much that you all are proud of and want to be known for, and this is a chance to reinforce that not just for visitors but also for your town.

How Can Signage Help Build and Reinforce a Sense of Community in My Town or Community?

Signage is often, intentionally so, the first landmark that a community presents to visitors and citizens alike. Signs not only tell you the name of the community, but they can also present to you the vibe of a town, its priorities, and what makes it special and unique.

Roswell, New Mexico leaned into what’s made them famous and worked with EG Structural to develop several monument signs using the alien motif to welcome visitors from near and far, far away to the community.

In Cleveland, TN, we at Ortwein Sign worked with the city to develop a gateway monument sign right off of the highway to welcome visitors to the city. In addition to the lettering, we also incorporated a patina structure that represented the state of Tennessee with the 3 star symbol.