Could a Mural Like These Boost Your Business’ Foot Traffic?

A mural or hand-painted sign on your business' exterior can enhance your brand image and draw in customers.
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Adding a one-of-kind mural on your business’ exterior can draw in customers and help the community. (Photo: art around/Flickr)

Long before there was neon, vinyl cutting and large-scale printing, many business owners hired artists and painters to create one-of-a-kind signs and murals on the sides of their buildings.

Today, as more people become interested in public art projects as well as shopping local, businesses are returning to the old ways.

“There’s a resurgence,” said Mary Thiefels, owner of TreeTown Murals, a painting business serving Ann Arbor and Southeastern Michigan.

“What’s happening now is that owners are seeing the value of having professional artists create work for you.”

According to Thiefels, who has created exterior murals for corporate clients and small businesses, large works of art and hand-lettered signs can take on a wide variety of themes.

Some small businesses opt to create something beautiful and not related to what they do to transform their neighborhood — and potentially boost foot traffic by making it an Instagram hotspot (see #mural and #streetart). Other businesses tell the story of their company or city to connect with the community.

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(Photo: TreeTown Murals/Facebook)

“[Murals] call attention like no other,” Thiefels said. “Murals absolutely transform blighted areas and create renewed interest in an area, increasing everything from tourism to crime reduction. With so much gentrification and commercialism, what’s helping businesses stand out now is showing the personal touch.”

If you’re looking to add a mural to the outside of your business, Thiefels said you’ll want to research your local zoning and historic preservation laws, get permission from your building’s owner if you’re leasing (you may need to share a sketch of the mural for approval) and assess costs. Mural artists typically charge by the square foot, so costs vary, but they can run into the thousands of dollars. Costs can also depend on the complexity of the design and the surface you’re looking to paint.

“I’ve noticed that some people’s idea of anything hand painted is that it costs too much money and they can’t afford it,” Thiefels said. “Some people think we don’t charge enough, because it’s so valuable. There’s a huge gap between the two sides.”

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(Photo: yooperann/Flickr)

Note that some walls paint better than others. According to the Madera County Arts Council’s suggested mural guidelines, concrete and stucco walls work well. Paint on brick, concrete block, wood and retaining walls may chip and peel off.

To find a muralist, Thiefels recommended writing down the names of artists who created pieces you like in your community, searching Instagram and the web, or looking to local art schools for emerging artists.

She said business owners might also offer their wall space to community organizations who are working on public art projects, if they’re willing to display art that isn’t related to their business. Brave and artistic owners can also paint their own walls.

Murals, according to Thiefels, can enhance your brand image and emphasize that you care about craftsmanship, quality and art. “Murals show customers that the business cares about the community and local artists and that they want something unique and one-of-a-kind,” she said.

Check out more of these eye-catching murals businesses have added to their walls for inspiration.

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(Photo: San Francisco Public Library/Flickr)

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(Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

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(Photo: TreeTown Murals/Facebook)

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