If you’ve ever seen an episode of Bar Rescue, you know that Jon Taffer is passionate about what he does – rescuing failing bars.  More often than not, the bars he chooses to rescue are failing because of poor management, inadequate staffing and a misunderstanding of marketing.  In a recent episode, Taffer pulled up to a bar right in the heart of Wrigley-ville.  An iconic place where literally every visitor is looking for a place to eat, drink and be merry.  But, the bar was failing.  The concept was good, the traffic was there, the menu was mediocre and the staff really wanted to make the bar successful.  Why were they failing?

When Taffer and his team pulled up to surveillance the bar, they couldn’t find it.  Why?  Their outdoor signage was hidden, dilapidated and detracted potential customers from even thinking about venturing in.  When you are in an area where competition is rampant and thousands of Chicagoans and tourists pass each day, your sign must stand out and draw the right attention for your business!

Start with the Sign

Outdoor signs provide an important link between businesses and customers, but proper placement is crucial. Whatever your purpose for the sign, its placement and design are a vital piece of your overall marketing strategy. Many factors impact both placement and effectiveness; plus, it must also adhere to municipal guidelines.

Design and Branding

Your sign’s design is just as important as its placement. You should give it as much care and thought as any type of advertising (social and traditional media), with a consistent branding scheme. A poorly-designed sign in the “perfect” spot risks going unnoticed. At worst, it can project a bad or confusing image for your business. Colors, logo size and font are all important aspects of good design and will help dictate the best placement spot.


Carefully consider your sign’s size (in accordance with municipal guidelines). Even with governmental restrictions, you will have sufficient size for maximum visibility, as long as graphic design is properly executed.

Mounting Considerations

Mounting methods will also affect design and final placement. Safe mounting is paramount, but the method can also add or detract from the sign’s effectiveness. Always plan mounting in advance, because it will often dictate some aspects of design and size. An experienced, licensed and insured installer, aware of local laws and building codes, should do the installation.


A sign’s height is ideal when visible from as many angles as possible. For passing motorists to see it from a raised roadway, it will need pole mounting above the tree line and other obstacles. Don’t forget, though, that street-level motorists and pedestrians will look for signs mounted at lower elevations, preferably on your building’s facade nearest the entrance.

Environmental Extremes

Your sign must be constructed to withstand environmental extremes. If it is subject to bright sunlight, you want to prevent fading. If subject to frequent high winds and rain, you want maximum durability. Some materials that endure environmental extremes may not lend themselves to a designer’s artistic vision. So, make sure you hire a sign company that understands both.

Bottom Line

When properly designed, manufactured, installed and placed, signs are one of the best investments you can make in your business, and the extra time and money spent now will often reap big returns.  If your sign is failing your business, it’s time for a sign rescue!  Contact the professionals at Forerunner Signs & Graphics for the right sign that will grab your customers’ attention even in the busiest of areas.

Michael Ryan