Commercial Exterior Audit: What Do Customers Think Before They Enter?

The exterior of your commercial building creates a first impression for your brand. Customers who don’t know you will use your exterior to make assumptions and drive opinions about your business. The way your business looks from the outside can win people over and convince them to give your brand a try — or scare them away.

There are many factors that contribute to how your commercial exterior looks. To make sure that yours gives off the right impression, regularly evaluate your current outdoor experience and consider what it says about your business.

Use this guide to address six commercial exterior elements that customers notice and use to judge your brand.

1. Exterior Signage

One of the first things customers notice about a brand is its exterior signage. This includes signage attached to your physical building as well as statement signage placed on poles near your parking lot. A few considerations to keep in mind include:

  • Size. Can customers easily see your signage and read it clearly?
  • Lighting. Is your exterior signage lighting bright enough? Is it just as visible at night as it is during the day?
  • Brand and color scheme. Does your signage reflect your brand? Are the colors aligned with your most recent logo and design choices?
  • Visibility. Does your sign compete with other signs in the area or does it get drowned out by your bigger and brighter competitors?
  • Usefulness. Does your signage guide customers directly to your business? Does it provide any wayfinding usage? Make sure customers move their eyes directly from your sign to your storefront.


2. Outdoor Lighting

Once customers notice your signage, the next thing they will see is your outdoor lighting. The sign introduces customers to your brand, then the lighting highlights your business. There are multiple elements to consider as you audit your outdoor lighting.

  • The building outline. Does the lighting showcase the size and location of your business? Can customers see your building structure clearly?
  • Wayfinding. Does your lighting guide customers to your front door? Do people know where to enter and exit?
  • Standing out. Does your business stand out compared to others in the area? If you operate in a strip mall, does your brand compete successfully with the stores next to you?
  • Branding. Does your exterior lighting match your brand? Does it convey the same message as your interior design?


3. State of the Building

Good lighting can cover blemishes on your building and present your brand in a flattering way. However, if your building looks run down, then your lighting could actually highlight these problems and drive away customers. Here are a few elements to keep an eye on.

  • Dirt, mold, and algae. Does the outside of your business need to be pressure washed and cleaned?
  • Rust and general wear. Have the elements worn down your exterior so it looks older than you would like?
  • Building safety. Does the building or surrounding area seem safe for people to visit or walk up to?
  • Modern design. How does your building compare to other competitors in construction and exterior design?
  • Clear windows. Are your windows clean? Do they protect the privacy of customers or use light to welcome people inside?


4. Parking Lot

While you might focus initially on your storefront, your parking lot says more about your brand than you realize. At the very least, it conveys information about how easy and safe it is to access your business. A few factors to consider are:

  • The number of spaces. Will customers be able to easily find a spot? How close is the parking to your business?
  • The lighting of your parking lot. Do customers feel safe walking through it at night? Will their cars be safe parked there?
  • The state of your pavement. Is your parking lot riddled with potholes with worn-down paint?
  • Parking restrictions. Do customers have to pay to park? Do nearby businesses limit parking options?
  • Ease of getting around. Can customers enter and exit your parking lot with relative ease, or is the lot cramped and difficult to navigate?


5. Plants and Landscaping

Even the plants that you choose can invite customers to visit your business or warn people that something is wrong. Consider the landscaping around your commercial exterior. Make sure that your landscaping doesn’t compete with your signage or branding, otherwise customers could get distracted or your exterior could get easily hidden.

  • Plant maintenance. Is your landscaping trimmed and well-maintained or is everything overgrown?
  • Removal of dead plants. How long are dead plants left hanging or sitting in the dirt? This can make your business look closed or poorly-maintained.
  • Lawn maintenance. Is the grass around your business cut and properly cared for?
  • Tree care and safety. Are the trees in your parking lot overgrown or regularly pruned? Will customers feel safe parking underneath them? Are the trees blocking your storefront?
  • Relevance to branding. Do the plants you choose reflect your brand? What do you plant choices convey to customers?


6. Customer & Employee Activity

While you can’t always control how many customers are at your business, people are attracted to brands that already have the approval of others. If you can make your brand seem appealing with several cares in your parking lot or bright interior lights showing off how busy your business is, then you can increase foot traffic and bring in curious customers. Look for ways to make your business seem popular through your lighting choices and commercial business layout.

Upgrade the Look of Your Commercial Exteriors

As you can see, the exterior of your business is so much more than your front door and building colors. The signage, parking lot lighting, landscaping, and windows all play a major role in piquing the curiosity of new customers and driving them inside. When you pay attention to these details, you can win people over.

At Creative Sign Designs, we specialize in helping business owners with their commercial exteriors. Learn more about our work and request a free consultation to learn how you can improve your outdoor experience to create a good first impression.

We have two locations in Florida featuring more than 50,000 square feet of our product offerings. In Tampa and Orlando, we provide a glimpse into the endless possibilities in the sign world. We have created a whole new concept in signage, one that incorporates high-tech design and top-of-the-line construction.



12801 Commodity Place
Tampa , FL 33626
Toll Free: 800-804-4809
Fax: 813-818-7200


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Longwood, FL 32750
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Fax: 813-818-7200


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