Drive down any major interstate in the US, and you’ll see big blue signs near most exits with business logos on them. Here’s who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much they cost.

Interstate Logo Signs

These big blue signs are generally called these “Interstate Logo Signs.”  Unsurprisingly, they aren’t solely there to help out motorists, as they also provide monetary benefit to businesses and the state. While some states administer their own advertising programs, most use dedicated contractors. One of the biggest of these is a company called Interstate Logos, which works with Department of Transportation agencies in 23 states to not only install the advertising panels, but also to work with businesses to run the programs.

Who can be on the signs?

If you own a business that falls into one of these groups—attraction, pharmacy, camping, lodging, food and gas—and your business is located near an exit on a state highway, then you’re eligible to get your business on an advertising sign. Getting your business’s logo on the sign is a different matter. State’s requirements are rather strict, specifying things like distance from the highway, hours of operation, required services, and number of parking spots available.

For example, we gave a shout to our friends at and they tell us that Texas requires that any gas station on a specific service sign be within six miles of the highway, and be open at least 16 hours a day, 360 days a year. In addition, the station must offer water, gas, and oil, as well as public restrooms and a public telephone. Requirements for food facilities are similarly specific, stating that facilities must operate continuously for 12 hours a day, must be within six miles of the highway, and offer 24 or more seats, a public bathroom, and a public telephone

Cost to businesses

The cost of getting on a specific service sign varies by state, but in general, it spans between about $500 and $2500 per year. For some states, the annual fee depends solely upon which kind of sign a business is renting, though other states base the annual fee on how much traffic that particular road sees.

For example, Texas charges a flat fee of $850 per sign so advertising on both sides of the road—one sign for each direction—means businesses have to pay $1,700 each year to advertise on the highway. Add the annual fee to the cost of making the sign, and any removal/change fees, and businesses could end up spending close to ten grand per year for the advertising for a pair of signs. Needless to say, if traffic is heavy enough, and the business is well-recognized, this could be worth it.

Revenue to the State

As for the states involved, they love the additional revenue. Kentucky, for example, logo signs, gets 35 percent of all logo sales and six percent of what are called “directional signing” (text-only directional signs). On the Kentucky DOT website it says that Kentucky made $618,904.91 in 2012. That’s great for the state, and according to the report, of the businesses on the 1,568 signs in the state, only 1 to 2 percent of the advertisers (businesses) leave annually. They obviously must be working.