What’s Your Sign? Signage Guidelines for Real Estate

Apr 07, 2021

When you drive around town, you most likely see plenty of signs attracting prospects to a new neighborhood or community. We certainly have a ton of these in Raleigh, as more real estate opportunities pop up here more than most places in the country.

Some of these real estate marketing signs are beautifully done – strategic, on-brand, clear. Others are the opposite – hard-to-read, confusing, muddled. Some neighborhoods fail to sell because of a poor first impression and, in part, due to a failed branding strategy. After all, if you have someone who is actively looking for a new home, they are probably considering several prospects, so your neighborhood must be memorable (in a good way!) to stay in the forefront of their mind.

We spoke with our creative team to learn more about what makes an effective signage program and what should be present. Here are our takeaways.

What is a Signage Guideline?

Before you learn how to make a useful signage guideline document, you should understand this type of tool. This guide is a catalog of signs that have been designed specifically for your neighborhood and its offerings. This document should outline all options in a collection or specific phase. Upon completion, it will be a go-to resource for sizes, colors, styles and information. Vendors often refer to these guidelines so they can better manufacture signs.

How to Make a Good Guide

Before a conversation about sign guidelines even happens, you should have developed all of the creative strategy and brand messaging for your neighborhood. This strategy and messaging will be at the core of your guideline, its driving force. From brand logo, tagline, tone, typography to a defined color palette, Able&Co. works with our clients to ensure creativity, consistency and efficiency are drilled into your brand from the first step. These early steps are crucial and make an impact on everything that follows.

The Guide Before the Guide

When you’re starting to define logos, taglines and everything that makes your brand identity, a design guide will help you keep everything in order and cohesive. Reynee just published an insightful article that can help you understand what type of guide you need in these early steps – is it for designers? Developers? Another agency? It really boils down to your audience, what level of knowledge they possess and what role they will fill.

Bringing Branding to Life

After we help our real estate clients develop their design guides and unique branding, it’s time to gather important information to determine what signs are necessary. We often survey the land around the neighborhood and talk with our clients about where signs would eventually go. Additionally, we talk about the client’s goals, time frames and general operational standpoint so we can have a good idea of which sign strategies would work and which wouldn’t. The most important part is to define directions, labels, products, pricing and amenities so we can start conceptualizing.

Communicate with Your Sign Manufacturing Vendor

During this time, schedule a meeting with your selected vendor. Find out their installation process, what materials they typically use and what information they require to get the job done. Some things worth asking about are their preferred file type, color mode and crop marks. Remember, everybody wants the project to go smoothly, so communication is key to success.

A Good Scaling System and Measurements

In real estate, it’s all about location. Yet with signage guidelines, it’s all about specs. Once you have all your information, it’s time to begin the sign guidance buildout. This stage has many facets and components, but perhaps the most important of all is the measurements. When it comes to signage, numbers matter in a big way. At the design stage, dimensions, spacing and size should all be factored into your signs and then accurately defined in the guidelines document. Below is an example we did for a new-home community in Zebulon, NC.

Signage Guide Example


The scaling, measurements and dimensions have been well-documented, allowing vendors to have a clear idea of what they are dealing with during fabrication and installation.

Consistency is Key

If you are using em-dashes, use them throughout the entire document. If you are using a specific font and color size, make sure you use those consistently. This is a technical manual, so everything should be in proper order and concise. After all, each character or distinction could mean a totally different thing! 

Palettes and Fonts for Clarity

This document is all about supplying the necessary information to vendors. As a result, color palettes and font families will help those who are fabricating these files stay on-point. Here are some examples below:

Color Palette Example Font Family Example

Only Show What’s Needed Now

If you are creating a document for one specific phase of your neighborhood’s rollout, do not include the signs for the following phases. Keep things simple by only focusing on the signs that would be needed at the time. For example, if you only have townhomes planned for your second phase, keep those signs out of the guidelines until it’s time. This will help keep things simplified for those looking at real estate opportunities in your area.

We Saw the Sign!

We have been creating signage guidelines for years for real estate clients all across the country. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us! We would love to show you what we’ve done in the past and can do for your brand.