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5 Things Every Church Needs to Know About Signage Blog Feature
Marian V. Liautaud

By: Marian V. Liautaud on April 13, 2021

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5 Things Every Church Needs to Know About Signage

Church Design | interior design | signage

Proper signage and branding are critical to a positive experience at church, especially for newcomers or first-time visitors. Think about it. How could we possibly navigate a large airport or hospital without relying completely on the signs around us? It would be a terrible experience.

With churches opening their doors again for in-person worship, your first-time or newer guests may need to re-learn how to navigate your building. Now is the time to look at your church's signage and wayfinding with fresh eyes!

When we brought focus groups to the various churches as part of the Making Space for Millennials study, they said that when they entered each space, they instinctively wondered, Where am I? What am I supposed to do next? What’s expected of me? They were seeking visual clarity.

This is true of newcomers to your church, too. Their first experience has to be easy and comfortable. New attenders typically prefer to blend in and navigate a new building without feeling stress or confusion. They should be able to find their way around without having to ask for directions. 


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Once you become accustomed to a space, you lose your sense of the building’s language—of the story it tells others who enter for the first time. You lose empathy for people who haven't been there long-term. In that first point of entry, you have a major moment to form a person—to set them on a journey toward deeper faith formation.

Here are five key ways to create visual clarity with good signage and help people move forward in their discipleship journey at your church:

1. Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time guest.

 

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When Aspen works with a church, we first evaluate the space for its general flow and determine where the problem areas are in the building. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time guest. How would you feel if you were entering your church for the first time? How can you make newcomers feel more welcome and comfortable?

Your church signage should answer questions about where to go, where to park, which door to enter, where the restrooms are located, and where the kids should be dropped off.

 

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It's estimated that people make a decision in the first 15 minutes if they’re going to come back to your church. The sooner you can make them feel welcome, safe, and comfortable, the more impact and opportunity you’re going to have to minister to them.

Take a look around your church. Is their visual clarity? Can people clearly tell where to go and what to do?

2. Use signage to tell your church’s story.

 

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Apart from its functional benefits, signage, combined with good branding and design, can help convey the story of who you are as a church. The key to good signage is to convey your church's personality and authenticity. Signage is a powerful tool for guiding people and also communicating what your church values.

 

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When you know what’s important to your church and what your mission is, your signage can help create a visual story that tells people what to expect at your church.

Consistent signage and branding are even more important for multisite churches. With one brand spread across multiple campuses, the need to maintain consistency and unity in your story is vital.

3. Keep signage subtle and simple.

 

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Signage design is complex because you have to work to appeal to all generations. Factors like style and font can add to or take away from the look and feel of church signage. The goal is to strike a balance between design that’s fun and sophisticated, youthful but not childish.

Good signage is subtle but still allows your mind to process and easily follow where to go.

4. Budget upfront for signage.

 

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Churches often view signage as a secondary or optional design element in their church. It can be difficult to justify spending money on something that doesn’t feel like it’s giving you anything in return.

Proper signage and branding aren’t fluff; they're a strategic way to minister to people so that they can find a place in your church.

Instead of relegating signage to the bottom of the budget, it should be viewed as an investment that helps reap Kingdom returns.

The more people have a good experience at your church, the more they will return. And once regularly attending your church, these people have an incredible opportunity to encounter the Lord and experience salvation and community within your church.

5. Prioritize signage spending.

If you know you can’t afford to do all signage, branding, and theming at once, prioritize your spending. Start with wayfinding, and then prioritize all other signage after that.

Wayfinding is the most critical because if people don’t understand where to go, or they’re unsure how to get back to where their kids are, they’ll be preoccupied. They’re not going to hear what you have to say.

 

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After wayfinding, focus your spending in a few key areas to add graphics or a visual punch, such as your logo, your church name, or your mission statement.

 

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As you consider these top five keys to signage, how does your church measure up? Do you need to create more visual clarity in your building to help newcomers navigate your facility more easily? Are there simple, short-term fixes you can make to improve wayfinding throughout your building? Are signage and branding an afterthought at your church, or a key component in how you tell your church’s story?

 

About Marian V. Liautaud

Marian served as Aspen's Director of Marketing from 2014 to 2021, sharing stories about how Aspen designs, builds, and furnishes space for ministry impact.