Weary travelers along the nation’s highways seldom cared about the name of the business…they were just looking for a motel. Now, travelers might be looking for Marriott or La Quinta, neither of which let you know they are motels or hotels by their corporate business name.
These images came from the 1951 edition of Herb Agnew’s Shop Notes. In a small town market, the product is often more important than the name. Contrast between the lettering, along with legible characters, is often very important. Big chain stores can often get away with just displaying their corporate name—such as Lowe’s, Staples and Costco.
Often, especially in small towns, people can get a good idea of the type of business by simply evaluating the architecture. This old Teton Theater in downtown Jackson Hole “looked like a theater”. It has recently been renovated to a pizza parlor. They kept the old building façade and historic Teton sign, but use changeable letters on one of the reader board strips to identify their business. The place is busy despite the unorthodox signage. The business gets plenty of foot traffic on the busiest street in town.
As long as the main message is easy to read, home town business signs can still have complex designs. In historic tourist towns, signs can reflect the architecture and character of the town. These signs by Roger Cox, House of Signs, Frisco, Colorado, are good examples.
Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Era Studios in Jackson, Wyoming, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is www.goldenstudios.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see more of Mike’s photos at www.tetonimages.com and www.goldenstudios.com.