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Five Questions to Answer Before You Order Signage

Studies have shown that being located where prospective new congregation members travel frequently is key to attracting them as church visitors. Signage plays a significant role in converting awareness of a churchís location into actual visits by prospective members.

A sign can be the first impression for the community around the church and an extension of the congregation within. So, what should you consider when determining the type, style, size and cost of a sign?

1. What does the sign need to communicate?
Sometimes the simplest questions yield the best answers. It is important to consider how a sign will either reflect your churchís ministry or possibly extend it. As part of the church staff or leadership involved in purchasing a sign, you should ask yourself what the real purpose of the church signage may be.

For example, will the sign serve only to finish off the property aesthetically? Or do you want to use it to effectively engage the unchurched general public as they drive by?

It can serve as an invitation to your neighbors who might be ripe for a visit. In other words, how does the mission of your church play into the decision for a particular sign?

Displaying that the church is open and loving can begin on a sign, too. Perhaps that is done with the sign message or with an electronic sign through graphics and video. Anything that can dispel most peopleís fears that a church will be cold, hard, judgmental and cliquish can begin with a sign.

2. What sign is best for our community?
Church planters already know how to use demography to study their community and to relate a new church to would-be members. This same information can also be helpful when determining what type of sign to use for either a new church or an established one.

But before choosing a sign according to its possible community appeal or aesthetics, check zoning regulations. Zoning laws in your area will dictate many of your sign decisions. In particular, the three big questions of size, site and set-back, are largely answered by local regulations.

3. Where should we put the sign and how big should it be?
Placement is critical. While corporations already know this, churches often donít consider it. Passing drivers cannot read a sign that is parallel to the road. Perpendicular signs are much more readable. Also, you should place the sign on the busiest street bordering church property and make the sign double-sided for twice the impact.

Again, zoning regulations will dictate many placement decisions. Sign set-back from the right-of-way will be regulated as this is an important safety and visibility issue for passing traffic and church parking lot traffic.

In addition, watch out for viewing and site obstructions. Check the property map to avoid digging a hole into the church septic tank or gas line. Other factors in determining where to place a sign revolve around the traffic

Churches can learn from the advertising industry how to ensure that their sign is generating enough visual impact. The five-second rule dictates that driving readers must be able to see copy five seconds away and be able to read it before they drive past it. Letter size dictates cabinet size. Those parameters limit messages to a maximum of seven to ten words in order to maintain interest.

4. How will we pay for the sign?
Often a sign is part of an overall building or remodeling project for a church. Donít forget to budget for this item when determining your stewardship campaign goals.
When it comes to budgeting, churches should understand the differences between commercial- and institutional-grade signs. Churches, schools and municipalities typically want an institutional-grade sign because it lasts an average of 25 years. Other commercial-grade signs, such as business signs, may only last between 5-7 years. The durability of an institutional-grade sign is reflected in a higher price ó sometimes twice the price of a similar commercial-grade sign.

Higher quality in sign features make the difference between a sign that lasts decades and one that lasts only a few years. A fade-resistant painting process, high-grade materials that do not yellow or become brittle with age, and a lifetime warranty are some of the features that will cost more, but last much longer.

The budget bottom-line for churches is to consider the sign an investment in ministry. If you find that your church will need financing, your supplier should provide you with a list of options. This is one indicator that a particular company will be a good match for your congregationís sign needs.

5. Where will we buy the sign?
Placing your trust, and the offerings of your congregation, with a particular supplier can be easy if you have evaluated the company beforehand. Here are some questions to ask yourself before working with anyone:

Is this company respected in the church market?

Get references from a company you are considering. Look at examples of their signs at other churches in your area. Talk with church leaders and volunteers who may have served on a sign committee and dealt with a particular company.

Are they endorsed by anyone? How long have they been in business?

Look for denominational endorsements, and various and plentiful endorsements, in particular. Endorsements should be older than six months, and ideally, decades old.

What is their warranty?

Does the company stand behind its products? Customers you speak with should have peace of mind about this. In addition, consider the amount of customer care provided by a company.

Your church sign is an important part of your ministry in the community. Consider it as an extension of your mission ó a tool to draw passers-by into the church.

This information is courtesy of Stewart Church Signs, www.stewartsigns.com.

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Religious Product News