Two articles in two days have shone light on the value of signage from both economic and constitutional perspectives. The first article ran in USA Today and was written by small business expert Steven Strauss. The article focused on how critical and cost effective it is for small business to use visible and creative signs. The article says, in part:

"Let me suggest that one of the first and main benefits of having a great sign is that it creates consistent branding; every time someone drives by your business and sees your sign, you get remembered just a little more, a little deeper.

Not only that, but beyond branding, a good sign also

      • Generates impulse purchases
      • Attracts new customers

A recent survey (over 10 years) of businesses who had installed a new sign looked at the source of new customers. 45% of those new customers said they came into the business for the first time because of the sign.

So how many people drive by your business every day? If you had a great sign, that’s how many people would take note of your business on some level, and many just might need what you sell. You can nab your share of them, just like the pet supply store got me, but only if you have a powerful sign.

What you want is a sign that will work day or night, that stands out, and that is not too busy. That last point is essential. As people drive down the road, they are obviously concerned about driving and not your business or its sign, as they should be. They don’t have much time or interest in reading your sign. So you have to make it simple, clear, and direct. It has to relay the essential idea quickly.

Getting that valuable sign is a matter of locating and working with a good sign company. They will help you analyze your building and needs, understand the potential revenue you might generate, discuss legal and zoning issues, get the permits, and help design and then install the sign."

The following day George Will of The Washington Post wrote an article explaining that local governments base their sign codes on arbitrary and legally questionable standards. That article can be read in full here, but in part it states:

"The St. Louis sign code puts the burden on the citizen to justify his or her speech rather than on the government to justify limiting speech. And the code exempts certain kinds of signs from requiring permits. These include works of art, flags of nations, states or cities, and symbols or crests of religious, fraternal or professional organizations. And, of course, the government exempted political signs. So the exempted categories are defined by the signs’ content."