That monument, ground or pylon sign standing outside your building should be a reflection of your image and brand. I once read, “A business without a sign is a sign of no business”. True enough. Not many businesses can survive without a sign to direct traffic to their doors unless they are a web-based company that relies on other methods. Not so the larger retail companies we recognize regularly. Shell, Esso, McDonalds as well as The Bay, Sears, Canadian Tire and other bastions of retail excellence. Their pylon signs are not the only things that bring customers to their doors but it is an important part of the corporate strategy. It reflects the brand and broadcasts for blocks, where you should turn in.
Not every company can afford a huge pylon sign like the major corporations. But it still must be a part of the corporate strategy. Many companies share space on a pylon sign with other tenants or condo owners. While your space may be limited, don’t give up on making the most of what is available to you. This means maximizing the available space. Let’s say you are negotiating a lease for a building in which you share space on a pylon sign. Try to negotiate with the landlord to increase the number of places or size of space available on the sign.
If part of the sign is vacant, you might be able to negotiate using that space until the vacant space is required. There are benefits to both parties here. You gain extra signage for the beginning of the lease (when it is most important for customers to find you) and the landlord’s property will appear fully occupied (which benefits all the tenants since prosperity begets prosperity).
I remember my days in the gas station business when, if a station had no customers, we advised the managers to park a car or two at the pumps. You’d be surprised how this technique brought customers onto the lot! An empty lot looks deserted and forbidding. But a lot with cars on it attracts other customers.
How much information should go on a pylon sign? As little as possible! Remember my mantra: “The best sign says the least.” Of course, custom signs are always preferred and will have the bigger impact. Certainly the name and logo of the company must be the largest and most prominent items displayed. After that, any further information will only detract from the main message. The pylon sign is there to broadcast who you are and where you are, not give out a lot of information about your company. There are other vehicles for that.
Let’s talk about the layout of the logo and company name on the pylon. Sometimes, the configuration of the sign does not allow you to lay out the name and/or logo in the normal fashion. Unless you are designing and building a pylon sign for your own purpose, be prepared to re-configure the layout to maximize the available space. For example, your logo may quite square but the available space is long and thin.
If you don’t allow the designer to change the layout of the logo/name, it will be very small and very hard to see from a distance. That’s a short-sighted policy. I’ve seen this happen in many instances where a corporation, with strict rules on how the name and logo can be displayed, moves into a rented property. The head office refuses to bend on the layout of the sign. The result is a smaller than expected presence on the sign and an ineffective sign.
- Be prepared to negotiate additional space for a short period of time
- Be flexible on the layout so that you maximize the space available
- Only put the essential information on the sign – name and logo