Brooks stressed that once signs are purchased, they should be reflective of the community’s theme and should include no more than five points of interest per sign.
Signage suggestions also included placement of “gateway” signs welcoming people to the community at attractive areas possible. Signs say a lot about a community and a business, Brooks believes. They should be placed and showcased with pride, with the ability to grab attention.
He showed a photo of a sign in Pleasantville, which stands in front of a shop. He suggested moving it and using the reader board under it to tell people about upcoming events.
“These are first impressions,” Brooks said.
As for Knoxville, he showed a picture of a sign along West Pleasant that stands in front of Graceland Cemetery. He thought some people may get the message, “Welcome. Come here to die.” Though they are still new, Brooks was critical of the slogan on other welcome signs that bear the words, “Passion, progress, productivity.” In his opinion, they are too general and every community could say they have those qualities.
Brooks further expounded on the need for signage to include downtown businesses. He suggested more “blade signs,” which hang in front and can be seen by someone walking down the street, informing them of what businesses have to offer.
This touched on Brooks’ recurring theme of selling the experience before the destination. For instance, if one is selling a particular product, the product should be at the top of the sign, with the business name below. They should hang no lower than seven feet and no higher than nine feet. If people don’t know what a business is or what it sells, they will not bother with that business, Brooks added.
“We’ve seen cities spend millions on streetscapes and still be dead as a doornail,” Brooks said. He suggested that the communities could start with one block, in which businesses are specifically promoted and go from there.