It’s age-old marketing – a simple a-frame sign, propped at the front of your store for would-be customers to see.

It’s also a vastly underestimated form of storytelling.

In this Instagram age, you might think that this kind of signage would have gone the way of the dodo. Wouldn’t it better to put a sponsored post on social media, and direct your target audience to it?


The a-frame sign is experiencing something of a come back, and for some sectors (particularly hospitality), it never went away. An a-frame isn’t just an entrée to the goods or services you’re selling – it’s a way-finding device, too.

I’ve spoken to business owners who credit a single a-frame, stuck in the right place, and featuring the right content, with a significant increase in foot traffic and sales. Cafes and bars are particularly adroit at using them for showcasing their wares, and projecting their personalities while doing so.

In trendy Woolloongabba recently, a number of a-frames  caught my eye. One sign, for a bar, cheekily advertised in chalk its soup of the day – “Whiskey”. Further up the road, a new hipster cafe had assembled magnetic letters to promote an upcoming “coffee appreciation” event. In both cases, the content of the sign (and the materials used in its construction) projected the brand personality beautifully.

Funnily enough, the sign that inspired this post was entirely unremarkable in its design – nothing more than a logo and a business name, in fact. It wasn’t selling coffee, or alcohol, but the National Broadband Network (NBN). You see, I walked past an NBN a-frame that been popped on the footpath. Intrigued, I then noticed the branded NBN vehicle parked nearby, and the employee who was busily connecting lightning fast broadband to the residence.

I’ve noticed several other NBN a-frames since, and the message is clear – the NBN is actively connecting users in my neighbourhood. For a project riddled with setbacks and cost blowouts, this simple form of storytelling is powerful indeed.

A-frame signage isn’t appropriate for all organisations, but the storytelling lessons it provides are valuable:

  • Be yourself and project your brand
  • Stick to a single call-to-action
  • Share content that is functional and useful

Next time you’re out and about, which
a-frame signs capture your attention?