Showcase the vibe of your bar or restaurant and get customers in the door with outdoor signage. The exterior of your venue creates the first impression of your brand, so make sure it’s a good one with these signage best practices.
Take advantage of your available space
When it comes to outdoor signage, start by looking at all the available opportunities to determine where you want to put traditional and non-traditional signage. A light-up sign is always a must-have, but can you brand your outdoor seating umbrellas or hang awnings from your building? Are there any interesting architectural features you can take advantage of or are you able to put a sandwich board or stand on the sidewalk near your entrance?
Whatever you choose, just be sure you’re capturing passersby from every angle, especially if your establishment is on a corner. If you’re hanging window clings or menus in the window, be sure to hang them at eye level. You’ll also want to walk across the street and look for permanent or temporary objects that would potentially block your signage like trees or cars before hanging anything.
Crafting an enticing message
Once you’ve figured out where to advertise, you need to determine what to say. A good rule of thumb is: keep it simple. People are walking by while having a conversation, riding their bikes down the street or even glancing at your sign while driving, so any more than a few words will be missed. Here are a few things to promote on your signage:
- A tagline that highlights why your venue is different, like the fact that it’s family-owned or has been in the neighborhood for 30 years.
- Consider posting your menu in your window or on a stand on the sidewalk or post a QR code so people can download the menu onto their phone
- Use window clings or sandwich board signs to list weekly specials
- If you’re active on social media, promote your handle outside so people can type it into their phones and check out your venue on the go
- Let people know if you offer carry-out or delivery
- Don’t forget to promote your video game terminals and jukeboxes!
Make it pop
Depending on how congested your neighborhood is, you need to work to make your signage stand out. If your signage has a dark background, use a light-colored font and vice versa. To make sure the sign is legible, avoid script fonts. You’ll also want to make sure your sign lights up or has a light on it to promote your venue into the night—just be sure to use LEDs, which are brighter than traditional lights and use less energy than neon signs.
Once you have things set up, be sure to keep your signage, umbrellas and awnings clean, because if the exterior is dirty, patrons will assume the same of the inside. And as you hang signage, also be sure to comply with local regulations and fire codes.
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