Say it Strong and Proud: The Role of Signage for Financial Institutions

Imagine — you’re on your way to an appointment, and it’s a location you’ve never been to. You’re driving down a busy road, paying attention to the GPS and the road ahead; there is much to focus on. Now the GPS tells you, “Your destination is 300 feet away”, but you don’t see it. Next thing you know, “Make a U-turn.” You’ve missed your destination. This has probably happened once or twice in your life, and the issue isn’t your driving, your multi-tasking skills, or even the GPS. Their signage simply wasn’t visible.

Don’t let this be you. Exterior signage with excellent visibility is vital for any business if you want people to know where they can find you. Because it’s the first part of your branding visitors will see, your exterior signage must make an impact.

The financial industry — one that has become increasingly digital — is no exception to this rule. As we continue to see community banks and credit unions reduce their physical footprint, the need for branches to have a strong local presence is even more critical now than ever before. For banks and credit unions, physical branches serve as a beacon for the services they provide and all they offer to the communities in which they reside.


Impact of Signage for Financial Institutions

Whether your branch network footprint has decreased, or you’ve expanded to a new community with a new location, your headquarters and branches deserve to be seen and noticed. With the rise of self-service channels and online banking, the future of branches has been uncertain and a hot topic of discussion in recent years. However, despite the unknown fate of the branch, many financial institutions have pivoted — altering the branch’s role to be less transactive and more interactive. Whatever the reasons are for an in-branch visit, banks and credit unions can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity to make their presence known.

With trust being one of the most important services a financial institution offers, quality and attractive signage will help consumers feel that sense of reassurance, commitment, and an understanding that they are a part of something long-term. Having a solid street presence helps establish your financial institution’s reputation and shows that you are committed to the community. This commitment affirms that they can trust you and you are there to work with them long-term. Proper signage will also create a great, lasting first impression for any potential new customers.


Mutual Security Credit Union uses its brand colors on the exterior panels to highlight its signage. In addition, they have color-changing LED lights which they can change for special events and holidays.


Benefits of Exterior Signage

Exterior signage provides a multitude of benefits for financial institutions that go beyond just being noticed.

It’s cost-effective. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on other physical marketing and advertising like transit, billboards, or brochures, proper signage is a one-time expense. It will advertise for your brand all year, 24/7. Since there is a wide variety of styles, sizes, and complexities, signs can be created to fit within any budget.

It can also drive and increase sales. A prospective customer might be more inclined to inquire or join because your signage caught their attention and made a lasting impression. A survey done by the Sign Research Foundation found that 20% of consumers have entered stores based on the appearance of their signage.[i] Signage also aids in preventing lost business — if a consumer misses a sign because it’s not obvious, they may get frustrated and turn around.

It targets multiple demographics in the moment. Signage also reaches a wide variety of people of all ages right where they are in that exact moment. All advertising is crucial for all businesses, but exterior signage is less invasive than commercials, email marketing, or social media. The goal is to catch the public’s attention naturally — especially in an industry where many have gone entirely digital. Attempting to grab anyone’s attention and getting them to look up from their phones has ultimately become a challenge. Still, visual communication is necessary in this digital world, so bold, can’t miss signage will stand out and undoubtedly reroute their attention.

The possibilities to personalize them are endless. Signage can easily be tailored to reflect your brand through graphics, fonts, and branding colors. A high-quality exterior sign with an attractive design fit for your institution — and your institution only — will set you apart from your competitors in the neighborhood.


Winchester Co-operative Bank maximizes the usable wall space and pylon sign to catch customers’ attention.


What Makes a Sign Exceptional?

Say it loud and proud. Make your signage as big as your budget and town, or city municipalities will allow. In some cases, it’s easy for storefronts to get lost in the crowd, so a large sign with proper placement and excellent visibility is crucial. The best signs are legible from a distance — people can identify them quickly while driving. Depending on what needs to be on your sign, the more precise you are, the better. A shorter message is a lot more manageable for passersby to receive.

Say it from the inside. When it comes to the customer experience, the role of interior signage is just as essential with just as many benefits as exterior. It helps banks and credit unions engage and educate consumers while making the customer’s journey easy to navigate with many options from digital signage, creative wayfinding, murals, and more. A vibrant digital display with changing elements seen from the outside can pique anyone’s interest and draw them in — including a potential new customer.

Keep it consistent. When it comes to branding as a whole, we know consistency is key. Incorporating a one-of-a-kind design with the same logo, graphic elements, and your brand’s color palette on your signage at all locations is essential to building brand awareness. When people are familiar with something, it tends to make them feel more comfortable. The more recognizable your signage is, the more trustworthy your brand will be perceived to be.


Member’s Plus Credit Union welcomes their members with their logo and a mural that pays homage to the city of Everett as they enter the branch.


No matter the size of your institution, branch network, or your branch itself, exterior signage has the power to illustrate everything you stand for to the public and, most importantly, the community.

[i] Economic Value of On-Premise Signage (University of Cincinnati, 2012) by Sign Research Foundation