Designing signage | Brisbane City Council

Designing signage

Sensitively-designed signs can draw attention to a business, enhance a building or precinct’s cultural heritage significance and contribute to the character of the streetscape.

These guidelines provide advice on appropriate signage for heritage places/precincts and character buildings.

Signage requirements will vary depending on function – directional, advertising or ornamental.

General design principles

Historic signs should be retained and restored using best practice conservation techniques.

Unless there is sufficient documentary and physical evidence to reconstruct an original sign, new signage on a heritage place should complement but preferably not try to replicate a ‘period’ style.

Ensure the new or replacement signage:

  • retains the significance of a heritage place or precinct 
  • enhances a building’s architecture and setting.


Well-designed signage can enhance a character streetscape or historic area. While a  mismatched cluster of signs on a row of shops or historic precinct can generate clutter and confusion rather than attract attention.

Signage should be used with discretion and an understanding of the intrinsic quality of the streetscapes and precincts of traditional buildings.

Well-maintained buildings will have a strong presence in the streetscape and draw more attention from passers-by than any signage.

Special lighting effects, which highlight the architectural features of a building, can often be the most effective form of advertising.

Statutory requirements

Signage on buildings listed on the Queensland Heritage Register is subject to the provisions of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.

Before lodging a sign application on a heritage place, precincts or commercial character building in City Plan 2014, contact Council's Heritage Unit to discuss the most appropriate approach for signage.

More information on signage

The Council fact sheet Planning new signage may provide further information.

For more information contact Council's Heritage Unit.

29 June 2014