What’s Your Sign?

Think about what you see while driving down the road. Neon signs, LED paneled signs, pictures and logos, hand-written signs, and even enormous flashing signs are all competing for attention.

Signage can be complex. Corporations, franchises, and companies typically have strict requirements for business signs including size, traffic exposure, lighting, etc. Alongside these requirements are city, township, state, and roadway ordinances. Coupled with the regulations and industry standards is the marketing advice from experts. Marketing gurus say that consumers must be exposed to a name/brand seven times before it is effective. Over time, most people stop noticing the signs along their daily routes, as their brains stop noticing routine, ordinary occurrences. This combination of marketing necessity, routine ignorance, business advertisement, and governing rules, creates a difficult process for many business owners to navigate.

Tenants looking to lease a space where they can run a successful business are often stymied and surprised by their sign issues. This can delay and sometimes even hurt negotiations. The clients we have represented in finding space to both lease and purchase have struggled the most with the sign issues. We have found that unusual surprises emerge around signage. For example, in one of our transactions, the owner promised an entire sign panel on a shared road sign, and then upon signing the lease and beginning the process of ordering the sign, the tenants realized the condominium association had signage approval and not the owner. With their company’s requirements staring them in the face and a new lease signed, they were panicked about the functionality of the property. Luckily, the kind owners of the building ended up shifting their wording so they could share a sign space with their new tenants. We learned to not only check local sign ordinances, owner approval, and business requirements, but also, to verify who has the authority to make signage decisions. With this situation causing a stressful transaction, it taught us an important lesson of always paying attention to all of our signs: big or small.