When I went to Nashville for the Brand New Conference last month, I was a Hatch Show Print evangelist. But, after spending just two days there, I left with a whole new obsession: signage.

Barista Parlor. Nashville, TN.

Barista Parlor. Nashville, TN.

The resurgence of this once-dying art form, thanks to folks like Sideshow Sign Co. and Isle of Printing, opens up so many creative opportunities when it comes to building a brand and beautifying a community. Nashville has upped it’s visual game when it comes to the brick and mortar aesthetic, and it got me thinking: Can we do the same here in Indianapolis?

The answer, I think, is yes. And Nashville can be our case study. We can learn by observing, asking, and then figuring out how to do it here.

Pinewood Social. Nashville, TN. (See those cans? They're an ever-changing art installation, brought to you by the team at Isle of Printing).

Pinewood Social. Nashville, TN. (See that wall? Those are paint cans. And, their configuration, dreamed up and re-built by the fine folks at Isle of Printing, is ever-changing.)

I know: We have a lot of limitations. I don’t know about Nashville, but here in Indy we deal with historic neighborhood restrictions, landlord rules, and pesky neighbors with opinions about what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s appropriate.

And then there’s the matter of cost. You’re already spending a load of cash on start-up costs, rent, a business identity package, and those double-thick, letterpressed business cards you love so much.

But what if your physical space became your calling card?

Butcher & Bee. Nashville, TN. Go for the signage. Leave with a hankering for whipped feta.

Butcher & Bee. Nashville, TN. Go for the signage. Leave with a hankering for whipped feta.

It’s an investment, but the added value of a living/breathing experience could be so worth the initial cost. By creating unique spaces, inside and out, you give the community an interesting backdrop for people to tell the story of their lives. Just go to Barista Parlor, Pinewood Social or Butcher & Bee in Nashville and you’ll see people taking photos and creating social buzz around each uniquely curated space.

It’s a beautiful thing, guys. There is so much to be gained by expanding our branding minds to include the spaces we inhabit. Milktooth is doing it. And, any Kate Bova joint (Flying Cupcake and Dancing Donut) has had a leg up for years. How can we, as a creative community, go forward by following their—and Nashville’s—lead? How can we educate not just our clients, but our decision-makers and developers to embrace these aesthetic enhancements?

I’m not sure, but I’d love to talk more about it. I’m already challenging my colleagues here at Well Done Marketing to find a way to push the sign envelope more. And now I’m challenging you to do the same.