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Your complete Guide to business signage 



Your local law

Towns and municipalities have zoning regulations. In fact, these regulations change without warning, announcement or any fanfare. It’s important before you make any decisions that you talk to a professional in your area about your local regulations. Cooper Sign has expertise in zoning and zoning variances in WNY. We can make sure you are in compliance so you don’t have headaches later on. 


Creating Impulse Sales

Today’s consumers are more likely to shop online or at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need. Who hasn’t been driving down the street, stopped at a store and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign?

Best Buy® discovered that about 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign.

If your sign is going to convince the impulse customer to stop at your business, design it so that important information is easily recognized at a glance. People driving down the street can take in a great deal of information. 75% will pick out the key word on a sign the first time they pass it. Make sure the first time someone reads your sign they immediately understand the most important information – what you are selling. Any additional information should be designed to keep your repeat customers interested in your sign and your business so they remember to come see you.



There are several factors to consider: 

  • Distance from the viewer
  • Height
  • Lighting
  • Time of day can affect how easily the sign can be viewed. Consider all times of day when deciding on placement
  • Allow wiggle room for upgrades, updates and changes in local regulation

The online sign shops won’t be able to help you make informed decisions on placement that’s relevant to your specific location. They will sell you a sign without the local expertise. Often times when businesses buy a sign online, they hire installers that don’t have sign installation or zoning expertise. We’ve replaced many signs in our time for ill informed customers. The placement decision is critical, call us for advice. 



Before moving forward on any sign, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the objective? Are you selling a specific product/service? Are you attracting shoppers? 
  • Who is your target audience? Have an idea of age, sex, occupation, location and other personal attributes about your target audience. 
  •  The colors, font and other design factors need to align with your ideal customer. There is a psychology to the connection between a consumer and a brand. If you don’t get this part right, potential customers may see your sign but pass right by because it doesn’t resonate with them. 
  • Consider emotional appeal. Are you making a statement, differentiating, conveying happiness or fear? Your sign should elicit emotion. The word emotion comes from the word MOTION. Emotion often prompts action.  Here’s some examples of ads that use emotion to their advantage.  This article is a few years old, but still very relevant.
  • Humans are visual creatures. We rely on sight more than any of the other senses.  Our brains process visual information faster. Use graphics within your sign to help communicate your message. The use of images can increase views by 94%! See the Quicksprout article in the downloads section for more information. 

Impact Of Signage

According to a study done by the University of Cincinnati, signage:

  • drives in-store traffic
  • implies quality
  • can cause loss of business or consumer frustration when not place properly or the text is too small
  • 75% of consumers agree that the first thing they notice about a new local business is it’s signage
  • 29% of shoppers make store choices based on the information communicated by store signs
  • 33% of shoppers have been drawn into an unknown store based on the quality of it’s signage

Generate New Customer Interest

85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business. If you want to grow your business, you should focus on this customer base. The quickest, easiest and most economical way to do this is with signage.

What’s the payoff? According to Consumer Perceptions of Signage and Economic Value of On-Premise Signage:

  • Increase sales by double digits (16% increase in weekly sales were reported for one business that combined a major building sign modification with two additional minor changes.)
  • Reach drive-bys with increased visibility ─ the 54% of shoppers (a four-year study average) who say they have driven by and failed to find a business because the sign was too small or unclear. Both older and younger age groups have reported this problem.
  • Reach new customers with quality design (33% of shoppers, a four-year study average, say they have been drawn into unfamiliar stores based on the quality of their signs). Past studies have shown that the 18-24 age group is more prone to this behavior, with more than half in agreement.  **Source – ISA


The possibilities for signage are limited only by imagination and budget.  In fact, many businesses will benefit from using more than one type of sign as part of their overall strategy. However, signs range from simple to complex, with costs ranging from a few hundred dollars well into the thousands.

Explore these different types of signs:


Signs that are mounted on a building’s exterior can serve as key branding for your business to the outside world, as well as assist your customers—and potential customers—in finding your location. However, there are a number of different types of building-mounted signs, which typically differ in exactly where on the building’s exterior they appear.

  • Awnings extends from the building—typically above a door—and also serves as shelter. While the traditional awning is rounded, it can be created in virtually any shape.
  • Canopy sign is similar to an awning, except it does not include the goal of providing shelter. It extends from a building’s exterior wall and may also function as a marquee.
  • Parapet sign is mounted on the building’s parapet, which is a wall or railing that runs along the edge of the roof.
  • Projecting sign is mounted on the building, but the sign extends at a perpendicular angle.
  • Roof sign is mounted on the building’s roof.
  • Sign band is often used in buildings in which there are multiple tenants, such as a shopping center. The sign band runs above the tenants’ entrances and accommodates various signage for each tenant.
  • Wall or fascia sign attaches to the exterior wall or fascia of the building. (The fascia is a vertical extension that can reach from the grade to the top wall or eaves, the horizontal extension across the width of the building. It also can include slanted wall surfaces, called a mansard.)
  • Window sign may be either attached or applied to the window.


One of the newest innovations in signage is dynamic digital, which is essentially a large screen or screens displaying a message. This type of signage has many uses, including:

  • External sign to display an advertising message.
  • Point-of-purchase displays; studies show that grocery stores using dynamic digital signage see a 33 % increase in additional sales for the product being advertised.
  • Lobby areas; studies show that digital displays in a lobby area significantly reduce the perceived wait time. A simple television could keep people entertained in the waiting area but would miss the opportunity to reinforce your brand with a captive audience.
  • Restaurant menus where alterations to menu items or nutritional information cause expensive and frequent sign changes.
  • Video wall displays creates a high impact since screens can show a variety of messages or combine for one large image.

As with most new technology, digital signage bears a large initial charge, though the prices of screens and related equipment are dropping rapidly. It also requires frequent upgrades, software changes, and high-quality content. There likely will be recurring costs as well, for electricity to power the sign and routine maintenance. There also may be local ordinances that affect external signage.

The cost and complexity of digital signage should not hinder consideration of whether it is right for your specific application.  Digital images capture our attention and make a lasting impression. Traditional forms of media are becoming less and less effective. People don’t read newspapers as frequently and many viewers fast forward through TV commercials. An external sign is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An internal sign is operational whenever your business is open, advertising your specials, reinforcing your brand image, or explaining more about your line of work.

Businesses should not be quick to dismiss digital signage due to the expense, nor should they be quick to adopt just to look technologically savvy. Careful consideration of this exciting new area of signage can help you find the right digital signage for your needs.


As with building-mounted signs, a freestanding sign is well explained by the name itself. It is a sign that is freestanding, or not attached to a building.  These signs also may be located away from the business, such as at a highway exit or at the entrance to a business complex. Even within this category, though, there are various types of signs. The types of signs most effective for your particular use may be determined by the location of your building, such as whether it’s in a shopping center or business complex. Others may be affected by local ordinances.

Some of the most common freestanding signs follow:

  • Directional signs point the way for pedestrians or drivers and can be especially useful when a business is not clearly seen from a complex’s entrance. Interior directional signs also are known as wayfinding signs.
  • Electronic message centers (EMCs) include changing messages and other information, such as time/temperature on many bank signs. Electronic message centers have many forms, including traditional incandescent lighting, LEDs, LCDs or a flipper matrix.
  • Joint tenant signs display the various tenants of a business complex or shopping center and are most likely located near the entrance to the property.
  • Monument signs are often lower in height than many signs and may be required by local ordinances or, in the case of business developments, by the landlord.
  • Pole signs are freestanding with a visible support structure; if the pole is particularly tall, it may also be called a “high-rise pole.”  These are contrasted with a pylon sign, in which the support structure is enclosed.


Exterior signage helps customers find your business, but interior signs direct them once inside. This is no mere afterthought; interior signage can be critical to helping your customers navigate your business, make buying decisions, and sometimes help you stay on the right side of the law. As with exterior signs, interior signs come in many shapes and forms, and several types may be required for your business.

While businesses of any type may need interior signage, it has specific applications and uses depending upon your type of business you operate. An experienced sign company can help you determine which sign type might work best for your particular need.

  • Directional or wayfinding signs can help customers and employees navigate your business by, for example, pointing to specific departments inside your location.
  • Directory signs are used in buildings with multiple tenants, or in a development with a group of buildings.
  • Mall signs are similar to a directory sign in that it is used in buildings with multiple tenants. However, it may have uses beyond merely pointing to a specific location. It may include multiple advertising opportunities.
  • Point-of-purchase signs have a direct impact on a customer’s buying decisions, whether that signage points to a sale, or simply to the particular uses or benefits of a product.
  • Regulatory signs reinforce a rule, ordinance or law. A stop sign, for instance, is a type of regulatory sign. While most businesses don’t install stop signs, they do have a need for signs that help keep customers safe by, say, clearly marking an exit. Signs also may be needed to keep a business compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires clearly marked handicapped entrances and Braille on certain types of signage. The ADA also has requirements for how large the signs must be. It’s best to work with a professional to ensure that signage meets this requirement.


What if every time you got into your car, you started a rolling billboard? That’s just what vehicle wraps can do. These specially applied vinyl wraps can be seen by millions each year, depending on how often the vehicle is on the road. The costs of vehicle wraps is often one of the lowest forms of advertising available and offers one of the highest recall rates. In fact, one study showed that 94% of drivers recalled seeing mobile advertising while 80% of them could remember the specific company. A vehicle wrap also can serve as a stationary sign, if parked outside your place of business.

Vehicle wraps can be applied to cars, trucks, vans or trailers. They are ideal for a sole proprietor looking to market his or her business, or for a large company that wants the advertising that comes from wrapping every company vehicle.

While there are some stand-alone vehicle wrap shops, consider incorporating them as part of your comprehensive sign package. When working with a sign company, ask if they handle vehicle wraps; if not, ask for a referral.

** Source- International Sign Association

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