Outdoor Signs: How You Can Do It Yourself?

07/10/2018 08:00 | Start a business

outdoor signs

Starting a business in the sign making industry is an attractive prospect for many budding entrepreneurs. Requiring a unique blend of creativity and business smarts, its a sector in which only the best survive and thrive. Here, we take a look at how you can start your own signage business and what role franchising can play in your success.

Its all about first impressions

It's incredible how important first impressions are. Though we all recognise the truth inherent in the old saying "never judge a book by its cover," the reality is that we're making snap judgements about anything and everything all of the time. It's one of the reasons that branding is so important.

For businesses, this means that its necessary to put your best foot forward and present yourself in as appealing and accurate a manner as possible. It's also essential that you attract the attention of those passing by and identify yourself to those customers who are already aware of your existence. That's where good signage comes in.

Signs are everywhere

Though it's easy to forget it, the fact is that signs are everywhere. In going about our everyday business, we come across countless signs some of which we acknowledge and interact with, others which we don't even recognise as signs, and some which we don't see or ignore.

Outdoor signs have become an essential part of our everyday visual vocabulary. They provide us with crucial information, guide us through our environments, and communicate a sense of identity. Essentially, they're the system by which an environment explains and advertises itself.

An enormous amount of investment and considerable research has gone into developing signs that are intuitive and easy to read, while also being capable of attracting attention. This means that the field of sign making has become increasingly specialised and that the expertise required to succeed in the industry has developed as well. Making signs is no longer just an art, its now a science too.

Types of outdoor sign

The complexity of the job has grown as the number of different kinds of sign has expanded. Businesses can advertise themselves with A-frame signs, pavement boards, illuminated signs, fascia signs, shop front signs, monolith signs, canopies, awnings, and outdoor plaques, amongst other styles.

This diverse array of signs requires specialist knowledge of printing techniques and how to manipulate a wide range of materials. A modern sign maker must understand the various benefits of each type of sign, as well as knowing how to create effective models. After all, it doesnt matter if you create the best sign known to man if its used in the wrong place.

Outdoor signs UK

In the UK, there are always trends and movements affecting the sign making industry and the types of sign being produced. This makes for a healthy sector, as new trends lead to rebranding and more work for sign makers. Currently, there's a movement towards an industrial aesthetic. These signs are bold, eye-catching, and often utilise materials that we would typically associate with manufacturing, such as metals. A rough and aged finish also contributes to this "heavy manufacturing" feel.

Likewise, tactile signs are also a popular choice. Tactile signage offers business something a little quirkier and individual, helping them stand out as an organisation thats fun and playful. Finally, companies are also reconsidering the way in which they frame and bracket their signs, with more ornate and traditional designs coming back into fashion.

As a sign maker in the UK, it's vital that you keep on top of the latest trends and know what's happening in the industry. Not only will this help you attract new clients, but it will also ensure that older clients are willing to return whenever they need an update or are rebranding.

Outdoor business signs

If you're considering opening a signage business, there are a few ways of going about it. First, you could launch your own start-up and try and build a business from scratch. While this gives you complete creative freedom over your business, it's the toughest route to navigate successfully.

Second, you could apprentice at a sign-making business and, after a few years of training, look to go it alone or partner with your mentor to expand their business. While this ensures you receive all the training you need, it's a long process that doesn't even guarantee you your own business once you've finished.

Finally, theres franchising. Franchising is by far the most successful route to business ownership. Franchises fail far less regularly than traditional businesses, and the quality of training and support you're likely to receive will endow you with all the skills necessary to grow your business.

As a franchisee, its not even necessary to carry out the hands-on, practical work associated with sign making. If desired, you can take on a purely managerial role and hire gifted technicians to create your signs. Though youll be working closely with your franchisor, franchisees still manage and run their own business and reap the financial and personal rewards of doing so.

Top franchise opportunities in the signage industry

Within the franchising sector, there are many signage franchises that you may want to consider. Below, we take a brief look at three of the most enticing investment opportunities.

1. Signs Express

With over 28 years of experience and more than 65 centres around the country, Signs Express is one of the largest sign makers in the UK. Franchisees benefit from an incredible training and support programme, as well as guaranteed reinvestment from the franchisor.

2. Signarama

Signarama consider themselves the world's largest sign franchise, and with 900 locations in 50 countries, they may well be. The franchise focuses on being a one-stop-shop for all their clients' needs and utilises all of their years of experience to help franchisees prosper.


FASTSIGNS is a B2B franchise that concentrates its services on providing its clients with high-quality visual advertising that boasts an impact. It has been in operation since 1985 and now encompasses 20 UK centres and more than 650 in other countries.


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