Posted on


Once you understand your zone and its regulations on signage, you can begin to think about your design within the context of permitted styles and sizes. We have also assembled a gallery of sign ideas to inspire you.

sassafrass_colorThink about color. An attractive, creative sign and coordinating facade colors will always get your storefront noticed. If you’re confused about color, try to make your selection from historic color collections. Many popular paint companies carry historic paint collections, including Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, MAB, and Duron. These rich, subtle hues that look great against brick and stonework. Some paint stores have designers on staff that will spend time with you selecting colors for your business, inside and out. Call your local paint store for availability.

greenhouse_materialsThink about materials. Sheet metal and plastics signs may be inexpensive, but what kind of message do they send to a potential customer? Rightly or wrongly, people make quick decisions based on what they see. Painted wood and metal signs have a timeless appeal.


caribou_placementproportion & placement. The Zoning Code sets the maximum square footage for signs in your zone, based on the frontage of the building. But, before going for the largest sign allowed, think about placement. Does your building have special architectural features? It’s best to have a sign that complements the look and proportions of the building’s original details, rather than hide the building’s beauty behind an enormous sign.

smith_contentThink about content.Remember, potential customers may just glance at your sign – don’t give them more information than they can take away in a second or two. For that reason, avoid filling your sign with visual clutter – phone number, fax number, brands of items carried, hours of operation. A good rule of thumb is to have 60% “negative space” (background) to 40% copy (words and logos). This creates a situation where your message will be readily seen and understood.

tailor_representThink about representation. How does your sign represent your business? Custom shaped signs immediately convey the essence of your business.




streetscapeThink about your neighbors. Your sign reflects back on the entire commercial corridor, and either adds to or detracts from the overall impression a shopper has of the street. An attractive storefront on a corridor of well-maintained, appealing shops attracts more customers for everyone.

Questions to ask your sign designer

It’s important that you work with a sign designer who can help you represent the essence of your business and your brand graphically – while at the same time, being mindful of the City’s rules and regulations on signage.

You’ll want to ask:

Have you done work in Philadelphia before?

Will you prepare “to scale” renderings of the sign and building for use in my application to L&I?

Do you have experience getting zoning and sign permits through the City?

Can you get the permit for me? Or do I need to get the permit for you? How do you like to work?

Are you licensed and insured?