Here are some tips for building your small business brand with signage.

Know the rules.

Before investing time and money in developing a sign, find out what regulations and restrictions your city and landlord impose. For example, you might be prohibited from having a sign that lights up or exceeds a certain size. Your sign may need to use a font that's consistent with the signage of the other companies in your office or retail center.

Consider function.

Know what you want the signs in your business to do. Some signs are directional/informational, such as signs directing customers to the restroom or fitting rooms or identifying the contents of store shelves. Others are persuasive, such as signs announcing sales or special offers. Your outdoor sign needs to be big and attention-getting enough to be seen by your target customers, whether they're walking by on a downtown street or whizzing past on the interstate.

Maximize materials.

Three-dimensional signs offer lots of opportunity for branding. Choose materials for your sign that reinforce your brand identity. For instance, an artisanal restaurant could use weathered wooden signs, while a cutting-edge IT consultancy could use sleek metal. 

Be consistent.

Whether you’re developing a banner, directional signs for inside your business, promotional signs or shelf labels, all of your signage must have a consistent brand identity. Using the same colors, fonts and "attitude" throughout your signage will help cement your brand in customers’ minds.

Get help.

To develop your outdoor sign, work with a graphic designer familiar with signage who can translate your business logo, colors and fonts into a design that meets your local requirements, can be seen from a distance and withstands weather.

Show some personality.

Signage isn’t just about graphics — words matter too. Even directional signs can convey your brand's personality. For instance, a restaurant specializing in Texas barbecue might label the restrooms for "Cowboys" and "Cowgirls." Think about creative ways your signs can express your brand's personality, whether that's homespun, upscale, luxurious or zany.

Mix it up.

There's a lot more to signage than the sign on the outside of your store, restaurant or office location. Once that sign is developed, reinforce your brand with temporary signs including posters, window decals and banners. They’re inexpensive, so they’re easy to change out for different seasons, events or promotions.

Get outside.

Depending on your industry, lawn signs, portable signs or car door magnets can expose your brand to more people. For example, if your employees regularly travel to customers’ homes or offices, removable car door magnets build brand awareness even if your team is using their own vehicles. Is your business located on a street with lots of pedestrian traffic? Try using portable signage, such as an A-frame sign, on the sidewalk during business hours to attract passersby. If your company is tucked out of the way in a grassy office park, lawn signs can help direct customers to your location.

Proofread.

Have more than one person proofread your signage, just to be safe. Grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors undermine your brand by making customers question your competency.

Keep it fresh.

Just as you should review your brand every once in a while to determine if it's ready for a makeover, regularly assess your business’ signage to see if it’s still doing its job. Even if you're not quite ready to revamp your outdoor signage, updating your interior signs as well as posters, banners and other temporary signage can give your business a fresh look in the meantime.