Is My Small City Big Enough for Wayfinding Signage?

Wayfinding and placemaking signage projects often moved to the backburner as budget tightened early in the pandemic.

However, with residents continuing to flee major urban centers, small cities and suburban and exurban towns have an unexpected opportunity to invest in their communities. 

Even for small cities, wayfinding and placemaking signage systems help to improve citizen and visitor engagement, increase daily spending, and reinforce your civic brand by:

  • Reducing travel frustrations – getting lost, finding parking, etc. – that impact return visits.
  • Motivating traffic to enter retail areas and disperse to local businesses throughout them.
  • Creating a sense of place and community. After all, signage is about more than navigation!

Is My City Too Small to Benefit from Wayfinding Signage? 

Richmond, Texas, is a city of 13,000 residents on the outskirts of Houston. In 2017, they hired National Sign Plazas to implement a wayfinding and placemaking signage program. 

Here’s how we collaborated to address some common concerns we hear from small cities considering wayfinding and placemaking projects.

Richmond wayfinding signage map

My City isn’t Big Enough for Wayfinding. 

Successful wayfinding systems can be developed on any scale. In Richmond, 13 signs orient and direct traffic to 11 destinations. Two signs are posted along highways on the city’s border. The rest are placed at key intersections in the city to facilitate both vehicular traffic and walkability.

My Small City isn’t a Tourist Destination. 

Although visitors are an important audience for most wayfinding systems, the best systems serve local residents as well. The 11 destinations in Richmond’s system include both tourist destinations like Fort Bend Museum and resident services like the local hospital, junior college, and city parks. 

My Small City Doesn’t Have a Civic Brand.

Civic branding is where the placemaking component of wayfinding and placemaking comes in. To differentiate against neighbors, the design of Richmond’s signs highlights its history and heritage through its establishment date and an image of the historic bridge over the Brazos River. 

If civic brand development is on your to-do list, be sure to include it as a requirement in your civic wayfinding RFP.

My City Can’t Afford Wayfinding Signage.

Many of your local businesses are still recovering from the pandemic’s economic fallout. Your urban neighbors are finally venturing out of the city on house hunting expeditions or simple day trips. Can you afford not to invest in wayfinding? 

Is Your Small City Too Small for Wayfinding? 

We’d love to explore how a wayfinding system might support your small city. Tell us about your wayfinding project!

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