Considerations when Designing Outdoor Advertisements or Signage

08 Sep 2014

Outdoor signage and advertising are essential to guaranteeing the visibility of your organisation. Signage can be the answer to an overcrowded market space and lead to an increase in exposure. However, before deciding on a design, it is imperative to take into consideration the rules and regulations in place.

Restrictions placed on advertisements and signage installations are outlined by local planning authorities and should be adhered to. This is particularly the case for those wishing to install a sign or advertisement in a site which is considered architecturally, historically, culturally or scenically important. In such cases, the size and style of the advertisements are judged by the planning commission. They will decide whether the sign or advertisement in question matches the proposed location’s style and feel.

Different areas will be subject to different rules and regulations, depending upon their nature. For example, planning authorities overseeing an industrial estate, where buildings are larger, more modern and non-residential, will typically have the power to approve larger advertisements and signage. The same can be said for major highways. Given the nature of these areas, large advertising billboards and displays do not adversely affect the existing aesthetics.

This article explores some of the common restrictions that can be placed on signage and advertisements, specifically in areas of historical beauty or importance.

Shop Front

Lettering must be in keeping with the style and feel of the area. Careful attention must be paid to the size and style of the font.

Planning permission must be applied for lighting, with the exception of pharmacies, public houses and restaurants. Applications for other shop fronts are generally turned down.

Frontage and fascias should be in keeping with the architectural design of the building.

Doorways should, if possible, be set back in order to look more aesthetically pleasing and to allow for ramped access.

Wood is the most versatile and aesthetically pleasing material to use. It can be modelled to incorporate ornate coving in keeping with more traditional styles of shop front where appropriate. It is important to source sustainable resources.


The font, colour and style of any lettering should all be carefully considered. 3D letters should be a maximum thickness of 13-25 mm to enable them to be easily read from the side. Such lettering should ideally be made from bronze, enamelled bronze or cast aluminium. In some cases, moulded plastic is acceptable, depending upon the placement.

Advertisements and signage must be an appropriate size for their location and the general style and feel of the area in which they are located. For example, signage which is overly bright or large is inappropriate in an area where the shops and buildings are of a more traditional design. Window stickers which dominate shop windows are rarely appropriate, as they detract from the general feel of the area and prevent a clear view into the shop itself.

Protruding Signs

Protruding signs are limited to one sign per building. Any protruding signage must display a small concise message and not repeat what has already been displayed elsewhere on the building.

Protruding signs should not be illuminated, except in the case of pharmacies, public houses and restaurants. Plastic protruding signage is inappropriate and rarely permitted.