17 outdoor signage ideas for your small business

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When it comes to communicating with customers, the right type of signage can make a world of difference. Potential customers pass by your storefront daily—so make sure you’re grabbing their attention with the right outdoor signage.

Whether it’s a wall decal in your boutique’s fitting room or a poster on your coffee shop window, there are so many ways brick-and-mortar businesses can use signs to reach customers. In this article, we share 17 outdoor signage ideas—10 traditional outdoor sign ideas and seven less conventional ones—to draw inspiration from and draw customers in. 

Where should you use outdoor signs? 

  • Set the stage in the entry: Hanging a sign above your entryway door is a great place to start. You can also consider using a sidewalk sign, flag or retractable banner to grab pedestrian attention. Make sure to check with your town on local rules and regulations for outdoor signs for business, especially if it takes up part of the sidewalk.
  • Highlight your windows: Use window decals on the inside or outside of your windows. Post your store hours, phone number and website with a custom window decal. Posters and foam boards also work well for messages on your window. For example, try encouraging customers to shop local!
  • Get your message curbside: Got a designated curbside pickup zone or parking spots? Mark them with a flag or an A-frame sign so customers know where to pull in.
  • Go above and beyond: Do you offer delivery or provide in-home services? Promote your small business with a car magnet or door decal.

10 traditional outdoor signage ideas for small businesses

1. Classic A-frame signs

In the realm of small business marketing, A-frame signs stand tall—well, as tall as its compact size allows. This outdoor sign is a masterclass in simplicity and effectiveness. It’s the old-school way of catching an eye without the bells and whistles of modern tech.

A-frame sign

A classic A-frame sign to promote an exhibition; Source: Sticky Monster Lab

Pros? The A-frame is budget-friendly—music to the ears of small business owners. It’s also portable, relatively easy to read and great for sharing messages that change regularly (just flip the board or wipe it down for the new day’s promotion).

But, there are cons. Space is limited, so your message needs to be concise and impactful. It’s also vulnerable to weather—a strong wind could be its temporary demise.
This type of outdoor signage is a boon for businesses that thrive on spontaneity and daily updates. Think bustling cafes with ever-changing menus, quirky bookshops with daily quotes or boutique stores showcasing seasonal offers.

Tip: To jazz up the classic A-frame sign, why not throw a curveball at its traditional shape? Think outside the box—or in this case, outside the typical rectangle. Imagine a sign that echoes the essence of your business. Take a leaf out of Flow Yoga’s book: they reshaped their sign to mimic a yoga pose.

Unusual A-frame sign

Creative outdoor A-frame sign by Flow Yoga; Source: 99designs by Vista

2. Window decals and graphics

Another small business marketing classic is custom window decals. Window decals are essentially vinyl stickers, but calling them ‘stickers’ hardly does them justice. They adhere to business windows, transforming them from plain glass panes to vibrant, eye-catching displays.

Window decals

Window decals, a great outdoor signage idea for a bakery; Source: VistaPrint

Widely used—but never overused—this outdoor signage is one of the most versatile of them all. You get to flaunt your services, flash your operating hours and trumpet those can’t-miss promotions, all without taking up an extra inch of sidewalk space. They’re perfect for the minimalist who loves to maximize impact.

However, it’s a balancing act. The design needs to hit that sweet spot—too busy and it’s visual chaos; too sparse and it might as well be invisible.

Creative window decal

Creative use of window decals by Playtype to announce a sale; Source: Pinterest

Check out how Playtype nailed their window decal game. To snag the glances of those strolling by and broadcast their summer sale, they went big—literally. Plastering “Going, Going, Gone” in colossal, unmissable letters across their front window, they turned a simple sale announcement into a head-turning visual shout. 

3. Hanging blade signs

Hanging blade signs aren’t just any signs. They’re double-sided beacons that extend from your building. Their superpower? Visibility. They’re seen from both sides, making them perfect for streets where foot and vehicle traffic come from every direction.

Ganni hanging blade outdoor signage

A Ganni hanging blade sign; Source: Pinterest

The appeal of hanging blade signs is their efficiency. Compact yet noticeable, the offer just enough space to showcase your brand or message clearly. Think of them as the epitome of ‘less is more’ in the outdoor signage world. 

But, keep it simple. Overcomplicated designs or too much text can quickly become overwhelming and ineffective. And remember, they need to be securely installed.
Ideal for cafes, boutique shops and any business that needs to stand out in a crowded street, hanging blade signs are a straightforward yet impactful way to say, “Look, here we are,” without extra fluff.

Tip: To amplify the “Look, here we are” effect of hanging blade signs, ditch the traditional rectangular and circle shape of this outdoor signage and add a literal arrow pointing in your store’s location. 

Hanging blade sign in a shape of an arrow

A hanging blade sign that points in the direction of Collingwood Yards; Source: TCYK

4. Monument signs

Standing independently at ground level, monument signs are typically crafted from materials like stone, wood or brick. They exude a sense of permanence and prestige.

Monument sign, Outdoor signage

UnCommons monument sign in Las Vegas, Nevada, Source: RSMDesign

Monument signs are all about making a solid statement. While they do take up space and require a bit of an investment, the payoff is a timeless and imposing presence that aligns perfectly with businesses seeking to project an image of reliability and class.

This outdoor sign idea is perfect for professional offices, upscale boutiques or any business aiming to make a lasting impression. 

5. Flags

Flags are the dynamic dancers of the signage world, always in motion, hard to ignore. They flutter. They wave. They grab attention in a way that static signs only dream of.

Flag as an outdoor signage for a business

Outdoor flag to promote your business; Source: VistaPrint

Flags are a smart pick for several reasons. They’re versatile—change them as often as you like to reflect sales, seasons or new products. They’re also highly visible, even from a distance, making them ideal for drawing attention to your location.

But, remember, flags are at the mercy of the weather. No wind? Your message might not get the attention it deserves. And they need regular maintenance to stay looking fresh and vibrant.

6. Vinyl banners

On to vinyl banners: the big, bold megaphones of the sign world. These are large, durable banners that you can drape on the exterior of your building. They’re like the billboards of the small business sector, impossible to miss and screaming your message loud and clear.

Vinyl banners are the perfect canvas for any message—grand openings, mega sales or a buzzworthy event of the season. And when it comes to size, they’re as flexible as your imagination and wall space allow.

Vinyl banners outdoor signage

Vinyl banners to promote your small business; Source: VistaPrint

A word of caution with vinyl signs: design is crucial. A cluttered banner is a missed opportunity. Also, they need to be secured properly. No one wants a flyaway banner.

7. LED message boards

Shifting gears to LED message boards—the high-tech heralds of the outdoor sign family. These are dynamic digital canvases that light up your message in vibrant colors. With the ability to display both scrolling and static messages, they’re a dream for businesses that love to keep their content fresh and timely.

The allure of LED message boards? Flexibility and visibility. Update your promotions, greetings or information in real-time, and catch eyes day and night thanks to bright, illuminated displays.

However, they do require a bit more of an investment, both financially and in terms of content management. And, they need to fit your brand—too flashy might not always be classy and worse could be dangerously distracting if not well placed.

8. Neon signs

Since we’ve already touched the subject of outdoor signage that glows in the dark, let’s illuminate the concept of neon signs.

neon light saying "open"

A neon outdoor sign to announce that the business is open; Source: Etsy

The vibrant glow of neon signs offers a retro vibe that can set the mood and personality of your business. It creates an atmosphere as much as visibility. But, neon signs are not for every business. They fit a specific aesthetic and can be pricier than traditional sign options. Plus, they require maintenance to keep their glow.

This outdoor signage idea is great for restaurants, bars or any business that comes alive in the evening.

Tip: Neon signs hold a secret power in today’s social media-driven world. An Instagram-worthy neon masterpiece can become a backdrop for countless customer selfies that they share online, enhancing your brand awareness. 

An Instagrammable neon outdoor signage

An outdoor neon sign by La Bodega Negra in London by benakt via Instagram

9. Post and panel signs

Two posts firmly supporting a panel that proudly displays your business information—post and panel signs are outdoor signage that gets straight to the point. 

What makes these signs a smart choice? They’re incredibly versatile and can fit almost any business setting. Whether marking the entrance of a parking lot, guiding customers to your storefront or simply standing as a beacon of information, they do their job effectively. It’s ideal for businesses with a practical approach, like professional offices, medical clinics or retail complexes.

Post and panel outdoor signage

Simple post and panel signs; Source: VistaPrint

The beauty of post and panel signs lies in their simplicity. They’re easy to read, uncluttered and direct. However, their simplicity also demands thoughtful design—the right balance of information, graphics and brand colors to catch the eye without overwhelming it.

Note sure where to start with clean, effective design? Our pre-designed templates are endlessly customizable but get you started in the right direction.

10. Awning signs (a.k.a. Canopy) 

Finally, let’s talk about awning or canopy signs. These are the multitaskers of signage, offering much more than just a nameplate. Picture a stylish fabric awning stretching over your storefront, emblazoned with your business name and logo. It’s a sign, a brand statement and a shelter all rolled into one.

 Awning sign outdoor signage idea

An awning sign design by Requena Office via Behance

Ideal for cafes, boutique stores or any business aiming for a cozy, inviting entrance, awning signs serve dual purposes. They not only announce your presence but also enhance the customer experience right from the doorstep, saying, “Welcome, we’ve been expecting you.”

Seven more unconventional, creative outdoor signage ideas for small businesses

11. Interactive chalkboard signs

Dive into the realm of the unconventional with interactive chalkboard signs. This concept transforms a simple chalkboard into an engaging, communal canvas. Positioned outside your business with your name and logo at the top, the rest of the space invites passersby to contribute their drawings or messages.

Interactive chalkboard sign

Interactive chalkboard sign by Sarah Crowley & Charlotte Fliegner; Source: Collab Cubed

Interactive chalkboard sign

Interactive chalkboard sign by Sarah Crowley & Charlotte Fliegner; Source: Collab Cubed

It’s a dynamic, ever-changing sign that not only captures attention but also fosters a sense of community and interaction, often becoming a hotspot for social media shares and photo ops. 

Tip: To encourage interactions with this outdoor signage and broaden the reach of your initiative, create a habit of regularly sharing the drawings and messages your clients leave on the chalkboard.

12. Augmented reality signs

Augmented reality (AR) signs are where signage meets cutting-edge technology. By incorporating AR through a mobile app, these signs come alive when viewed through a smartphone. Imagine passersby pointing their phones at your sign, and suddenly, it animates, showcasing your products or services in a dynamic, interactive way.

augmented reality outdoor sign idea

AR outdoor signage to promote SCAD by Vanessa Brown via Behance

This approach might require more effort and resources, making it a bit challenging for smaller businesses. However, for those willing to invest in this innovative technology, AR signs offer a unique opportunity to stand out. They bridge the gap between digital and physical realms, offering an immersive ‘phygital’ experience that captivates and impresses.

13. Plantable signs

Plantable signs are a breath of fresh air in the world of outdoor advertising, blending eco-consciousness with marketing. These signs are crafted from biodegradable materials embedded with seeds. The concept is simple yet impactful: people can take a piece of the sign, plant it and watch as flowers or herbs grow.

Plantable signs

Outdoor signage made with seed paper; Source: Kavi

This type of sign does more than just convey a message; it creates a living, growing representation of your brand. It’s an innovative way to leave a lasting, positive impression, showing your commitment to sustainability and the environment (one of the biggest marketing trends at the moment).

Tip: This type of outdoor signage might not be the most durable, so make sure to cover your sign to protect it from water damage until you’re ready to plant.

14. Puzzle signs

Puzzle signs add an element of intrigue and interaction to the traditional concept of signs. Imagine a sign that features a puzzle, riddle or brain teaser—it’s not just a sign, it’s a challenge that invites passersby to stop and engage.

This approach turns your sign into an interactive experience. The idea is to captivate potential customers with a puzzle that, once solved, offers a small reward like a discount or a free sample. It’s a clever way to draw people in and give them a memorable experience with your brand.

15. Optical illusion signs

Optical illusion signs take the art of signage to a mesmerizing new level. By incorporating designs that play tricks on the eye, these signs are not just informative but also intriguing works of art. They capture the attention of passersby, inviting them to take a closer look and engage with the illusion.

Optical illusion outdoor signage

Optical illusion outdoor signage; Source: Pinterest

These signs are particularly effective in creating social media buzz. People love sharing unique and interesting experiences. Optical illusion signs provide just that. Photos of your sign quickly become viral on platforms like Instagram, drawing wider attention to your brand.

16. Local art showcase signs

Local art showcase signs represent a beautiful fusion of business and creativity. By collaborating with local artists, businesses can create unique signs that are more than informational; they’re art. This approach supports the local art community and ensures your signage is distinctive and deeply rooted in the local culture.

17. 3D sculpture signs

3D sculpture signs take the idea of outdoor signage into a whole new dimension. Moving beyond the traditional flat signs, these three-dimensional sculptures capture the essence of your business in a bold and tangible way. Imagine a giant coffee cup perched outside a café or an oversized book marking the entrance of a bookstore.

3D sculpture outdoor sign

Giant 3D sculpture sign to promote a cafe; Source: Three Point

These signs are attention-grabbers. They create a landmark—a visual treat and a clear indicator of what your business is about. They add depth, visually and conceptually, to your storefront, making your business not just a location but a part of the local landscape.

This is a sign to spice up your business’ outdoor signage…

And there you have it—a kaleidoscope of outdoor signage ideas that stretch far beyond the ordinary. From the practical elegance of traditional signs to the boundary-pushing creativity of unconventional ones, the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. Whether you’re aiming to echo the local vibe with art showcase signs, create a buzz with optical illusions or stay rooted with classic neon, each idea offers a unique way to elevate your brand’s presence on the street.

Remember, your sign is more than just a label; it’s the first handshake, the first conversation and the first impression. It’s an opportunity to tell your story, engage your audience and leave a mark in their memories. So choose wisely, think creatively and let your sign do more than just exist—let it resonate.

With these ideas in your arsenal, you’re not just putting up a sign. You’re opening a new chapter in your business’s journey. So go ahead, pick the one that speaks your language, and watch as your business becomes not just a spot on the map, but a destination for the hearts of your community.

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