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Sign Code Variances and Successful Signage

Whether you need a pylon sign, larger channel letters, or a sign on an additional elevation, the attempt to obtain a permit for the signs that maximize your brand is often a challenge.  Many times the visual exposure a site needs to be successful seems out of reach.  Municipalities may seek to limit the impact of signage in ways that impair the ability of a particular location to succeed.  They also provide a process to provide relief from these limitations through a Variance or Special Exception process.

The purpose of site branding and signage is to ensure potential customers see your store and are reminded of the brand.  It is also important for safety that they receive adequate notice to navigate safely.  Determining the types and placement of signage you need, what the city allows, and what is possible beyond the limitations is our passion.

It is important to understand that signs are a form of speech protected by the 1st Amendment.  While there can be limitations on time and place, the limitations must be justified and reasonable.  “A sign ordinance is regulating speech, not activity or use.” (On-Premise Signage as Storefront Marketing Devices and Systems, Charles R. Taylor, )

Further, many signs provide important public safety and navigational benefits.  Proper visibility, in terms of size, placement, decoration, and obstructions, are keys to providing adequate notice for safety.  (See generally The Science of Signage: Parallels between Traffic Signs and Business Signs, H. Gene Hawkins, Ph.D., P.E., )  Determining clearly how the visual aspect (signage) of a site promotes public safety can provide a critical element of a successful sign code variance or special exception.

Be sure to analyze all the aspects of your branding in terms that are important to the local government.  Local governments appreciate the opportunity to improve public safety and many are also concerned with the success of their commercial properties.  North American Signs navigates the permit and variance processes and achieves the best outcome for your location. In fact, it is our ability to maximize visible brand elements of a site that endears us to many of our clients.

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