Do you want reverse channel letters for your business? But feel lost about where to start?
We’ve got your back. You can handle this article as your complete guide to reverse channel letters. It will cover what these signs are and how they are made. But also how you can design them to be useful.
What are reverse channel letters?
Let’s jump right into the deep end and cover what reverse channel letters are.
The world of signs is vast. There are so many different products and options available for business owners. It is easy to get lost with all this information.
In brief, channel letters are metal letters that you would typically use as building signs. They are lit up by LED light bulbs. The standard signs are front-lit, which means that they are illuminated from the sign face.
On the other hand, reverse channel letters are often backlit. This means the light shines from the back face. They are mounted slightly away from the building so that the light is typically projected onto the wall. It creates a unique “halo” like effect.
No matter what type of channel letter you choose, they are the perfect way to make your building stand out. It will light up your storefront even at night.
That is why they are a brilliant solution to put up your company’s name.
The lowdown on their fabrication
It might sound unnecessary, but if you want to commission reverse channel letters, it can be useful to know the basics of their construction.
First off, they are three-dimensional signs. The body of the letters is made from aluminum and acrylic.
The front face and sides of the structure are mostly metal to prevent light from passing through. The back is polycarbonate or acrylic to make your sign shine.
This means that the face and body of the letter usually appear dark but is outlined with light.
Pros of reverse channel letters
So why do you need to choose these signs for your business?
There are many different exterior signs that you can use on your building. But the unique features of reverse channel letters make them particularly suited for getting viewers’ attention.
Take a look at the benefits that make these signs really standout:
- Thanks to the materials, these letters are lightweight. This makes mounting and handling just so much easier.
- The signs are durable. They are long-lasting and weather resistant.
- They’re suitable for use outside.
- The halo effect creates a warm atmosphere for your storefront.
- LED diodes are energy efficient and can be a fantastic green solution.
- There is a range of customization options.
- The lighting provides exceptional visibility no matter the time of day.
- They are lightweight.
You can use channel letters for any type of business. However, it will probably be the most useful for ventures like restaurants that stay open at night too. In this case, you want to draw the nightlife in.
What is effective and what is not might seem obvious. But whenever it comes to signs and their design that isn’t necessarily the case. You have to decide what the right outcome is for your company.
To do this, you need to assess two critical things. Your target audience and your goals.
The target audience is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. In terms of goals, it’s up to you to figure out what you want to achieve with your channel letters.
It is all about making your signs work for you. You want to see results from the products.
Experts know that each of their designs needs to be created with specific objectives in mind.
So a pro tip is to make this a vital part of your design process.
The way to get results is through intelligent design. You need to pay careful attention to each element of sign. We will look at the most important of these features down below. But first, we will give you a guide to the actual creative process.
Follow these simple steps to design a successful reverse channel letter.
1. Set up your objectives
Risking repetition, we have to look at how exactly you can decide on your aims. Ask yourself what your business is missing.
Do you want to inform new customers about your business? Or are you just trying to make your storefront more visible to existing customers? Does it have to be visible during the day or at night?
On top of this, you’ll have to figure out what you want to convey with the sign. A toy store wants to look fun and perhaps even whacky. The owner can choose to use pops of color and funky fonts. But this will look seriously out of place and also inappropriate for something like a pharmacy.
If you’ve hit a wall, call in your team and ask them for advice on what you want to accomplish. People in different positions will have different perspectives on what your business needs.
Make a list of priorities, every single thing you can think about. Then rank them from most important to less important. This is a fantastic way to narrow down the list and find a few aspects that you should focus on.
2. Define your audience
We can’t stress enough that you need to develop a complex picture of your target audience. This step goes hand in hand with setting up your objectives.
Together with deciding what you want to achieve with the sign, you should determine who you want to reach with it.
Is the target market new clients or existing clients?
Then figure out who these people are. There are two main ways you can do this. First, you can research the primary customers for your own company or companies with similar products and services. Secondly, paint a picture of the type of clients you would like to attract.
Create several possible audience profiles based on people’s demographics, their needs, their likes, and dislikes.
With that grind out of the way, you can have a bit of fun. If you like being creative, that is.
Brainstorm about possible ideas for your sign. You will probably only have your business’ name on the sign. But sometimes you might want to add something a little extra like a founding date or so on.
Also, come up with ideas about all the possible elements for the letters.
You can do this by yourself or with members of your team. Or, if you are planning on hiring the services of a pro, you can collaborate with them.
4. Develop drafts
By this stage, you are probably sitting with more ideas than you know what to do with. But that can be a good thing. In this stage, you will narrow down those ideas.
You will also get to develop the best of the drafts.
Take a break between brainstorming and this step. This will mean that you can look at your ideas with a fresh perspective.
Now you can scrap the really bad or impractical ideas and refine the others.
If you can, focus on five or so designs. You will need them for the next step.
5. Hire a sign company
Next, it should be about time to hire a sign making company. It will be necessary to get their input.
To start off, you should look for several companies who can fabricate the sign.
Ask for a quote from each of them. It might be necessary to arrange a meeting to show the company’s representatives your design ideas. This will probably influence what they are going to charge for them.
You should try to ask all the critical questions about their signs like the fabrication time, the materials used, their durability, and longevity.
A pro tip is to take a look at their portfolio. Specifically, ask for examples of similar products that they’ve made.
All of this information should be able to help you decide on the right sign company for you.
6. Finalize your design
Finally, all that’s left to do is to finalize the sign.
It can take an expert eye to streamline the finer details. And to see whether a sign will work in practice or not. A designer’s advice can be beneficial during this step.
Remember that many sign companies, like us here at Signarama, offer a variety of creative services. They should be able to tell you what is impossible and what isn’t for their fabrication system.
You might think that there is just so much that you can do with letters. However, you’ll be surprised.
One of the best features of reverse channel letters is their customizability. Using this to its full effect is what will allow you to create the ideal signage solution.
Designs need to be original to be exceptional. You need to combine all the must-have elements into a unique whole.
Here are four of the most crucial aspects of the sign:
- Lighting effects
You probably guessed it, but the most crucial feature of channel letters is undoubtedly the typography. The sign is focused on words, after all.
So you need to pay attention to the font, spacing, and the size of the letters.
First, let’s look at the font. Flowing script is gorgeous and elegant. But will people be able to read it? Your sign should be readable during the day and night from a distance. This should be the most prominent consideration.
Also, keep in mind that different fonts convey different feels. This is key to creating an atmosphere.
Second, the more words or letters you use, the more crucial the spacing becomes. If you don’t do it right, the results can be unfortunate, to say the least.
Third, tiny letters aren’t going to cut it. VIsibility and readability are, once again, the fundamental guidelines.
Brand identity is only beneficial if you keep it consistent. That’s why your signage should reflect this too.
You can convey this by using your iconic typeface or color combinations.
This will help your customers to recognize your business from a mile away.
Choosing the mounting
Standard channel letters are usually installed flush to the wall unless you request otherwise. Sign makers call this direct mounting.
On the other hand, reverse channel letters aren’t attached straight onto the wall. You can’t create the “halo” effect if it doesn’t stand away from the building.
In this case, manufacturers usually use raceway mounting. This means that the letters are attached to a metal box in which you will house the electrical wiring and power supply.
Ask your sign company if they have more than one option for mounting. You will probably be able to choose whether the raceway blends in with the channel letters or with the building on which they are mounted.
It’s a good idea to check local building regulations about mounting to make sure your sign complies.
Write your name in lights
Shiny! Need we say more?
Perhaps just a little bit. Your sign company will be able to tell you how you can customize the lighting effects on the letters.
You should ask about the size of the halo that the light creates. Do you only want to create a thin outline around the letters? Or do you want to paint the wall in lights?
Next, you should consider the color of the lights. It doesn’t have to be the standard white or cream. You could choose colored acrylic for the back face of the letters or colored LED bulbs for a different effect.
Hopefully, this guide will help you to design efficient and successful reverse channel letters. It boils down to taking all the information available to you and use it.
A great way to learn about design is to look at examples. So if you are eager to learn more, check out exterior building signage examples: what to do & what not to do. This will help you prepare your own signs.
Our article on what to look for from a sign making company + questions to ask is also a fantastic resource to read before you hire a company.
As a business owner, you know some business concepts are timeless. For instance, playing fair and providing quality products or services are tried & true ones. But, as the world changes, things like technology, transportation, and communication can change, the lay of the land in the business world changes with them. The advent of the internet age has opened a myriad of new channels for businesses to spread their messages. And that means, you’ll certainly have new questions to ask and answer for your company—questions like can you use emoji in marketing?
Business for the 21st century
Certainly, a business owner wouldn’t have asked that 100 years ago. Naturally, you have plenty of other questions, too. For instance, you may be wondering how often is too often to reach out to customers on social media or via email. Additionally, you could be mulling over whether you need to be on social media at all. Or you might simply be considering which modern media and technologies your company should choose.
Today, let’s set aside most of your other Cyber Age questions and zero in on emoji in marketing. Why? It’s simple—July 17th is World Emoji Day. So it’s a perfect time to address these remarkably popular little visuals. 😍🎉🙌
Emoji vs emoticon
Some may use the terms emoji and emoticon interchangeably. But, here today, we’re talking about those little pictures you’ll find on your texting keyboard and elsewhere. Don’t get us wrong we’re not knocking emoticons — the punctuation “faces” used to express emotion. (Like the : ) emoticon or the ; ) emoticon). We’re just not talking about them today.
Can I use emoji in marketing?
Let’s say you’re sitting at your desk masterminding your business strategy for the next year (or two or five). You’re brainstorming ways to appeal to your customers and clients, and emoji is on the table. You use them all the time in personal communication, maybe even while you’re talking to co-workers or clients. But you’re wondering if you can use emoji for other purposes, too.
Can you use emoji in marketing? 🤔 Of course, you can! 😊 Maybe you even should. And if you do, you’ll be joining the ranks of other companies, even big ones, who are doing it.
From Hilton Hotels to Ford Motor Company to Chick-Fil-A, you’ll find emojis in the social media feeds of major companies. If they’re doing it, you can too. Even Walmart gets in on the emoji action, too. And The Royal Family uses emojis on Instagram and Twitter. Which tells us something about the social acceptability of using the graphics on social media.
Can I use an emoji in my logo?
Aside from emoji in marketing, you may also be wondering about using them in a logo. This is a great question. If emoji are good for your business, then the more the better, right? Perhaps you think a logo emoji would be the perfect way to craft a whimsical, fun-loving company image.
You might be tempted to find the nearest emoji and send it off to your graphic designer. After all, we’re used to having them near at hand and using them at will. But before you use one in your logo, you need to look into your legal obligations. The blog at LizerbramLaw.com addresses some relevant content in their article Are Emoji Protected by Copyright?
If your company already has an attorney, check with them first. If not, it may be time to consult one before finalizing your logo. (Or even before designing it, depending on the stage you’re in). On the other hand, your logo’s graphic designer may also be a source of information on the topic.
Market with your company, your medium, & your clients in mind
Crafting great marketing media for your company or organization could certainly include emojis. Naturally, you want to take what your group does into account and harness emoji (or not) accordingly. Remember that you can have too much of a good thing.
Additionally, emoji in marketing might be great for some businesses, but unnecessary for others. If you’re a food truck or a local cafe crafting social media posts, emojis might be just the thing. For a funeral home creating marketing emails, emoji could appear tasteless.
More than emoji in marketing
Of course, emoji in marketing is just one part of the marketing picture. There are other things to consider, too. To get you started, check out The Importance Of Brand Awareness To The Success Of Your Business. Also, try 5 Of The Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Promotional Materials.
One of the vital uses of signs is to mark your business. You want to catch people’s eye, to stand out. And to draw them into your storefront or offices. LED channel letters can be a brilliant tool to make this happen. These signs are perfect signs for presenting your name to the world.
Read this article to find out more about channel letters and how you can customize them. We are going to look at different examples to get you inspired.
Why choose channel letters?
So what exactly are channel letters?
They are a type of building signs that you can use outdoors. People use them for all kinds of businesses, from restaurants to offices.
Manufacturers build them with metal sign backers and an acrylic sign face. They are three dimensional and are typically lit with LED bulbs.
The best part of these signs is that you can pretty much customize them as much as you want. You can decide on the color, shape, size font, and more for the letters.
Generally, companies design them to be front lit. This means that the illumination comes from the face of the sign and shines through the letters. But this isn’t your only option. You could also choose reverse channel letters or have them backlit.
All of these options will have different effects. But their main goal remains the same, to get you noticed.
Benefits of LED channel letters
In the past, sign companies might have used a variety of bulbs for their products like neon tubes. But now most of them primarily rely on LED lighting. This is what they usually use for channel letters too.
Here are the key advantages of choosing LED channel letters for your building signs:
- Impact: It’s all about making a statement. A well-designed channel letter will help get you noticed. But even more importantly it can make it more memorable as well.
- Visibility: Another crucial factor is that they can be far more visible than other signs. The lights mean that you can see it better even at night and from a distance.
- Energy efficiency: Do you want to go green? If being environmentally friendly is a primary concern for you, then LED’s are the way to go. They can use up to 75% less energy compared to other bulbs.
- Durability: Manufacturers typically use aluminum to make their channel letters. Thanks to this, they are pretty sturdy and can withstand a lot of punishment. This can save you from costly repairs.
- Longevity: Because they are durable, they can last a long time too. You probably won’t need to replace the bulbs as often. So they are quite cost-efficient. Besides this LED bulbs can last as long as ten years.
- Bright and bold: One thing that distinguishes these letters are how brilliant they are. They can produce quite the shine and can be very colorful too.
- Customization: Don’t forget the range of customization options that are open to you.
Guide to customizing LED channel letters
Customization is all about making the best out of the sign. You need to personalize it to fit your business’ unique needs. But also to suit your brand’s identity.
The core of this is to think carefully about the design of your signage. You could do this yourself. But the modern market is too competitive. Getting some help and input from an expert might be just what you need to give you that edge.
A pro tip is to ask your sign company whether they offer any creative services.
A few of the essential factors to consider in sign design are:
- Lighting effects
These are the main elements through which you can customize your channel letters. You can personalize each of these individual factors to create the perfect whole.
Now, let’s look at all of these principles in more detail with examples, of course.
1 – Shapely
First of all, we need to consider how you can use shapes in customizing your signage. Traditionally, channel letters were single separate letters that were put together to spell out the specific words that you want.
This is still an excellent choice for building signs and is undoubtedly the most common kind out there.
However, not everyone has the same requirements. For example, your business’ name could double up like your logo, so it needs to be shaped a certain way. And if you always use it that way it might not make sense to do it differently specifically for your name sign.
Luckily, modern technology gives you alternatives to the standard format.
Nowadays, your sign company should be able to help you with a lit sign capsule. They are basically oversized channel letters in custom shapes.
So when you hear channel letters, don’t think you are limited to typical letter shaped signs.
2 – Too big?
No matter what sign you want, you always need to consider the size carefully. Two key terms here are visibility and legibility.
First, you need to make sure that people will be able to see the sign. Secondly, they need to be able to read the words on the channel letters too.
You need to work out what the view distance for your sign is. In other words, from how far away should the audience be able to look at the sign.
Besides this, your specific size needs are probably going to depend on the space available to you and local regulations about signage.
For all these reasons, calculating the size is a crucial part of designing your own custom channel letters. You will have to give this information to the sign company that you’re planning to hire.
To do this correctly, figure out exactly how long you want each side of the sign to be.
Remember that when it comes to channel letters, you need to consider how thick the sign is going to be. Because they are three dimensional, you should keep in mind that people will be able to see parts of it from different directions.
This can also influence what effect you create with the lighting.
3 – Font
Another critical factor in customizing your own channel letter is to pick a font. Some companies will have lists of fonts that are available from which you choose. But it won’t always work this way.
In other cases, you will need to or want to use a unique font. Typography forms a core part of creating a brand’s visual identity.
Your business will probably already have a preferred font that you use in your brand. Or if you don’t, now might be the ideal time to decide on one.
If you do have a particular font, it’s a good idea to use it for your building signs, like channel letters. Consistent fonts will help your audience recognize your brand.
Overall, the font you choose needs to fit your business. It’s vital for creating the right feel and experience for your business. And it plays a role in attracting customers.
For example, you don’t necessarily want to choose a serious and professional looking font for a frozen yogurt store. Instead, you want a font that is fun and inviting or perhaps even playful. But a more professional and elegant font can be excellent for an attorney’s office.
Read this article for more information on choosing the right font for your business’ visual identity.
4 – Color me
Now let’s get more colorful. Like with any other type of sign, color is an essential element. It’s such a crucial part of our visual perceptions that you need to take it into account.
One reason why LED channel letters are so popular is the bright colors that you can select. Just take a look at the neon green in the example.
Best of all, you don’t have to pick just one! You can practically make your channel letters a rainbow of color. Blue, purple, green, red, you name it.
The color in LED channel letters can come from several sources. First, companies can make the sign housing from colored plastics or other materials. Second, they can use all kinds of colored LED bulbs to light up your sign.
Yet again, if you have already figured out your brand’s visual identity, this should be reflected in the colors you choose. If your customers know that your primary colors are blue and white, stick with it.
A pro tip is to look at the surroundings and walls of your storefront and to choose a color that will stand out well against the background.
5 – Graphics
Yet again we come to the question of what more you can do with channel letters?
With innovations like lit sign cases, you can add graphics to your signage too. This can be an excellent way for you to add some color and life to your storefront. Carefully chosen and drawn graphics can contribute to attracting new customers.
And if you have a well-known logo, you could potentially add it onto your channel letters as well.
Although, you should remember that you don’t necessarily want to make the picture too elaborate and detailed. It can overwhelm your customers and at a certain point, make it more difficult to comprehend from a distance.
For the most part, simplicity is king.
6 – Lay of the land
This point is more relevant for business owners who have a lot to say with their channel letters. These are cases where you might have more than word in your name or even if you want to add a short slogan or abbreviation.
So, you have to figure out how to achieve this with little space and still make it look neat and professional.
You can solve this problem with some good layout design practices.
One of the most straightforward solutions is to stack the words in a hierarchy.
To do this, you need to figure out what your main heading and sub-heading are going to be. The title is the most important word or words and should be on top. It should also be larger than the sub-heading to distinguish it.
There are a few formulas like this you could follow, but this is a tried and tested pattern.
But in essence, it’s all about balance, striking that right mix between being making it uncomplicated and exciting.
7 – Light up the night
The thing that really makes channel letters stand out is the LED lighting. They will literally make your sign shine. You can’t go wrong with illumination if you want your sign to catch people’s eye and to be more visible even at night.
Generally, standard channel letters are front lit. Most of the times, they are an excellent option for you if you want the sign to be lit evenly throughout.
But this might not always be the look you are going for. As we’ve said, you can also choose backlighting where the sign is illuminated from behind. With this type of lighting, you can create a halo effect around the letters.
Many business owners love to use this to create the perfect atmosphere for their business. For example, it can work brilliantly for restaurants and bars.
Are you looking for something different? All you need to do is think out of the box. Take a look at the example above where red LED’s were placed channel letters without a front face to create an old school effect.
Be sure to ask your sign company about the different customization options that they offer for lighting effects.
8 – Mounting
Last but not least, we need to talk about mounting. This is another possibly crucial but easily overlooked part of customizing channel letters.
Your two primary options are direct mounting and raceway mounting. Which you choose will depend on building regulations, lighting effects, and the overall picture you want to paint.
Directly mounted letters are flush to the wall. All the wiring and fixtures need to be built into the surface of the building. With this, you can create a clean and neat look. However, local building regulations often prohibit this.
In raceway mounting, the manufacturers attach the letters to an aluminum box that houses all the wiring. This housing is then attached to the surface of the building. It is an excellent alternative if you want to create some depth with your sign.
On top of this, it’s the best option if you want to backlight. It is vital to helping you get that halo effect.
Customizing your LED channel letters is all about tailoring it to suit your business. You want it to match your style. But also draw in crowds.
Before making the final decisions about the right outdoor signage for your business, read our complete guide to building signs. It covers information about the dimensions, design, and installation of these products.
Pylon signs are a very common sign option. And they might just be the winner when it comes to signs with a unique name. Some people call them pole signs. But why would you, when you can call them by their own intriguing moniker? They’re immensely popular, as a simple drive around a city will tell you. So, let’s talk about how you can tap into their potential for your business, then we’ll dive into some pros and cons.
Match your sign with what you do
First up, select a pylon sign that makes sense for your particular company. A sign with a visible pole may be appropriate for a pit stop. But if you’re looking to cultivate a sleek, professional image for your brand, you might head a different direction. For a professional company or medical complex, your sign poles might not be visible. You may even choose a sign that’s supported by side brick columns.
Safety is a part of success. Not only do you want to actually be safe, but you also want to appear safe. Which means an ancient, rusty pylon sign that looks like a danger to society doesn’t do you any favors. It may be structurally sound, but if it looks like it’s about to topple over, it’s not helping your company image.
Be tidy & professional
Don’t leave spent light bulbs languishing in your illuminated signs. Maintain signs well and replace as needed. After all, if you want people to know your company is the best choice, let your sign reflect that!
Go for good graphics
Shoot for amazing graphics so your pylon signs will really shine. Naturally, a top-quality structure will look even better when it stars great visuals.
Watch what everyone else does
Observe carefully what the norm is for your area. You’ll notice some spots are full of pylon signs. And if that’s the case, you’re probably in the clear to follow suit. Just give thoughtful consideration before installing pylon signs in an area where it will be the only one of its kind—it might appear out of place (even an eyesore).
Cons of pylon signs
Even though it may seem backward, we’re going to start with the cons of pylon signs before we get to the pros. After all, why not save the best for last?
As you’ll notice below, we’re counting pylon signs’ height as both a pro and a con. This illustrates well the point that good signage is signage that fits its placement location appropriately. The height of a pylon sign could be a negative if it looks obtrusive against the area’s backdrop.
Obviously, pylon signs require a lot of material. Plus, they’ll require knowledgeable designers and installers. Any time you create a tall structure like this, you need to engineer and build it for safety and stability. (Because a sign that puts passersby at risk would be the very definition of a bad sign.)
All of this could mean you have a higher bill for a pylon sign than for some other, smaller types of signage. However, it may be well worth it.
When you choose illuminated signs, you elect to be visible to customers round the clock. Generally, that’s a great thing. Customers will always be able to find you, even on the darkest of nights. However, there is a drawback to this otherwise positive situation.
Your illumination won’t be foolproof. And if one light goes out and the others continue to shine, the result is a sign with a completely new message. Depending on your sign’s letters, this could transform the sign into simply a visibly broken one displaying a nonsense word. Or it could actually create a humorous new word. In which case it might not be all bad—after all, making customers laugh is often a good thing.
Nevertheless, when the lights do go out (or anything else occurs for that matter), your repair efforts could be a little more difficult than with a shorter sign.
Pros of pylon signs
As sign professionals, of course, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. Naturally, we like to extol the virtues of signage. So, it’s time to talk pros of pylon signs.
Is your company surrounded by businesses, signs, roads, trees, & shrubs causing you to worry that your signage will be lost in the busyness? Well, worry no more! There’s a sign specially-designed to rise into the sky, elevating your message for all to see.
If you’re a shopping center, a pylon sign is good news for you. After all, how will you list all the attractions your space offers unless you have significant space to do so? When you have a lot to say, a pylon shopping center sign can offer the sign real estate you need to say it.
When your sign brings both height and space to the table, how could you not be visible? That’s why pylon signs might help if you’re looking to unexpectedly catch the attention of people who didn’t set out to find you.
In certain areas, you might find pylon signs are the sign of choice for quite a few businesses. For instance, shopping malls and gas stations near the highway. And while it isn’t always a wise idea to do what everybody else is doing, when it comes to pylon signs it could be. Shoppers may be used to finding their way around by identifying these tall signs. Going with the flow could help them out.
Pylon signs speak up
Pylon signs are a great option for businesses to be seen. And if you’re about to have one installed for your shopping center, definitely head to How To Create The Perfect Shopping Center Sign To Draw In The Crowds to help you plan a good one. Additionally, as you display your name prominently, check out The Importance Of Brand Awareness To The Success Of Your Business.
Social media is part of nearly everyone’s life. Often, it’s used for personal reasons—like when individuals connect with friends, family, and acquaintances. But it also has tremendous potential for businesses, too. And many businesses have tapped into the power of social media to strengthen their brand, cultivate customer relationships, and more.
Soaring social media
“In the most recently measured period, 79 percent of U.S. Americans had a social media profile,” according to Statista. So, it’s likely that some (or even many) of your business’s customers & clients have a social media profile.
Of course, they won’t all be using the same platforms necessarily. But then again, neither will you. But with social media such a popular venue currently, we thought we’d celebrate Social Media Day with you. That’s why we’re offering eight tips to get the most out of your signs and reuse them on social media.
1 – Begin with the end in mind
Granted, this phrase isn’t our own. But it’s applicable to your sign pursuits. If you know you want to reuse signs or put them to double use, then begin with that idea on the table. This way, you can form all your plans with this multipurpose perspective. Thus, putting designs or graphics to alternative uses will be intentional—not an afterthought.
2 – Work horizontally
Here we want you to envision tangible marketing/advertising media—the kind you can touch. Imagine all your “signs” spread out on a table, from brochures to yard signs to light boxes to channel letters to billboards. (Okay, we know you can’t spread a billboard out on a table, but bear with the image for a moment).
Think of all these marketing and branding materials as being on the same playing field. However, the key point is that you can share graphics among these signs. For instance, the graphics that appear on your billboard can be refashioned for use (in a smaller form) as a countertop lightbox.
Additionally, the visuals you’re using for the front of your trifold brochure may be tweaked and put to use for a vehicle wrap. They could even be used in cyberspace, though that’s a little less tangible. Graphics on physical signage could become website headers or social media cover photos. (Note that we still count this as a horizontal use of your sign—sharing it among all your different types of “signs.” However, it’s not the same as using your sign graphics “vertically” which we’re just about to dive into).
3 – Use dates cautiously
Dates on a sign can be useful, letting viewers know when they can expect an event. But they can also give the sign an expiration date, so to speak. If you want your signs to be usable as long as possible, consider creating a long-term sign that can have short-term add-ons as needed.
Then, when you have an upcoming event, you can supplement your sign with a plaque, magnet, sticker, banner, etc. with the date. Once, the event date has passed the initial sign is still useful—simply remove the add-on. Basically, this gives your sign a longer shelf life.
4 – Work vertically
Here we’re talking about taking already developed and finalized signs and using them again on a different media. For instance, once you have some amazing new vehicle wraps, it’s time to take photos and put them on social media. Obviously, your vehicle visuals are reaching customers on the highway. This way, they’ll also be reaching customers on their computers and cell phones—popping up before consumer’s eyes wherever they happen to be.
So, that’s what we mean by vertically. Instead of a tangible sign product that’s sharing graphics with other sign products, you have a derivative marketing tool. A photo of the product. If you already have social media accounts up and running, that’s a major place where this content can be featured. Alternatively, if you’re not active on social media, it may be time to dive into a social media platform that’s right for your company.
5 – Take stellar photos
When it comes to derivative marketing tools, make them good ones! Honestly, why post a picture of your sign that’s less than flattering? If you have a great sign, then it deserves a great photo.
For those who have no photography experience (and no desire to acquire any), consider working with a professional. Or, if a professional is out of budget, find an amateur or student looking to build their portfolio.
6 – Go for good lighting
Keep in mind that lighting has a tremendous impact on a photo. Some photos will need an abundance of bright, natural light. Others might need much less light (like a neon sign displayed at night). Time of day can also be important for photos.
7 – Use photos that will integrate well with the rest of your content
The aesthetic you’re shooting for could differ depending on the social media platform you’re posting on. If this means you need to take more than one photo, do so. For instance, your Instagram account may cultivate a fresh, light appearance, precluding nighttime photos. Whatever you do, ensure that your photos fit cohesively with the rest of your content.
8 – Be open with your designer
Maybe your sign company is also doing the design. If so, let them know you’re planning to get extra use out of your sign graphics. That way, they can help you mastermind the looks for maximum impact.
Grow your sign smarts
Get ready to take your sign’s utility to a new level—making it do double duty for your business. But before you use your signs two (or more) ways, be sure you start the sign on a solid foundation. Take a look at 6 Elements You Must Include On Your Sign | Tips On Layout & Design. Or read Tips And Tricks To Creating The Most Effective Signs For Marketing.
Regulatory signs are all around us. But if you don’t happen to know them by that name, you could be in the dark about what they are. (Unless, perhaps, you’re a teen studying for your driver’s test). Yet once you know what they are—you’ll realize that you encounter them regularly.
Take a moment to reflect on the most recent time you drove. Perhaps this morning or maybe yesterday. Did you stop at a stop sign or check for oncoming traffic at a yield? Did you note whether you needed to slow down for a school zone because you were within the school hours time slot? Did a no smoking sign catch your eye as you went about daily business in your town or city?
Regulatory signs – what they are
True to their name, regulatory signs regulate behavior. They tell you what you can and can’t do. Broadly, they give you these instructions for driving and for being in some public areas. For instance, when driving, one iconic octagonal regulatory sign alerts you to STOP at intersections. Another regulatory sign warns that if you park in a certain area, your vehicle may be towed—the “Tow Away Zone” plaque.
Regulatory signs – why they exist
You could say that living in a civilized society entails having a group of people bound by the same rules. And that’s actually part of the function of regulatory signs. If a hundred drivers need to use a given intersection in a 10-minute period, it’s not going to work unless some kind of order is imposed. Structure and rules aren’t just structures that bind us and make us miserable. They’re the bedrock of a functioning society.
Once you have some do’s and don’t to impose order on that intersection, all 100 drivers can indeed get through and move on to their destination. And that’s where regulatory signs come in—they communicate the rules that regulate that intersection. When drivers see them, they take appropriate action. Consequently, a large volume of individual vehicles and drivers can travel our highways and byways effectively.
Regulatory signs – who comes up with them
Obviously, with a name like “regulatory sign,” it stands to reason that these signs have some sort of authoritative value. They’re not mere recommendations. And when you have a sign whose message must be followed, it makes sense that there’s authority behind that sign. Here, we can trace it back to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
All good rules need to be written down somewhere (well, many of them anyway). And the rules for regulatory signs are no different. They find their home in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. (It’s also known as the MUTCD—we’ll call it that from here on out, for simplicity’s sake).
And as we help you sift through the relevant regulatory sign information, that’s our guidebook. Let’s take a look at the exciting rules it offers.
Regulatory signs – why you need them
Of course, we scratched the surface of the “Why?” question a moment ago with our intersection example. Regulatory signs exist in part to make ours a livable and convenient civilized society. But there is another reason. And it’s the equivalent of the “Big Boss” saying “because I said so.”
Here it is—straight from the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.
Now, there are places where these rules do not govern. And there may be exceptions granted, too. However, both of those are outside the scope of today’s article. So, while we won’t be dealing with places these rules don’t apply, just know that they exist.
Two reasons you need regulatory signs
So you see there are really two reasons you need regulatory signs. First, because the government says so. Second, because they help a large number of people function together well in shared spaces. You could call the first one the hard reason and the second one the soft reason if you like. Nevertheless, they’re two very good reasons.
Shape of regulatory signs
According to Chapter 2B of the MUTCD, “Regulatory signs shall be rectangular unless specifically designated otherwise.” However, as we well know, not all signs are rectangular—like the octagonal stop sign or triangular yield sign. For specific dimensions of a given sign, scroll down to “Regulatory sign specifications.” There, you’ll discover where to find measurements for your signs.
Color of regulatory signs
The MUTCD even identifies the colors that are acceptable for use on regulatory signs. They list 13 and link most of them to certain meanings. However, two colors (coral and light blue) don’t yet have meanings assigned.
Here are the colors for regulatory signs as, lifted from the MUTCD:
Appearance of regulatory signs
In addition to the color legend above, the MUTCD also offers guidance for the reflective appearance of signs. Generally speaking, they need to be “retroreflective or illuminated” according to Section 2B.01. You can learn more about what that requirement means in the section Retroreflectivity and Illumination.
Regulatory sign specifications
The MUTCD provides an extensive list of regulatory signs. They list a given sign’s alphanumeric designation. And they add the dimensions the sign should be depending on where it will be placed. They also provide a link to the relevant section of the MUTCD that provides a deeper description of the sign’s specification. (Which saves you from having to scroll through the entire document to find the sign you’re wondering about).
If you need instructions for a particular sign, this is definitely the place to start. Take a look at it—it’s Table 2B-1. Regulatory Sign and Plaque Sizes. If you know the name of the sign type you’re looking for, you can scan the left column until you find it. And if you don’t know what the sign type is called, simply search through the column until you find something that sounds like it may be what you need. Then, you can dig deeper to see if it will indeed fit the bill.
12 Regulatory signs you may recognize
Let’s take a look at some regulatory signs you might be familiar with. And if you need to construct one, we’ll also send you in the direction of more information. As you read on, note just how ubiquitous signs are in our neighborhoods and all over the U.S.
Do not pass signs
Often, passing is a way to keep traffic moving along quickly and smoothly. However, passing isn’t always safe. Nor is it always allowed. Enter Do Not Pass signs.
- See it: Take a look at what signs restricting passing can look like. And you’ll also get a glimpse of signs that direct motorists to stay left or stay right & more.
Fines signs & plaques
You’ve seen them before—the signs that warn you that you can be fined for exceeding the speed limit in an area.
- See it: Need a visual for these signs? Check out what signs & plaques alerting you to fines can look like.
No hitchhiking signs
Sometimes, pedestrians are allowed to request rides from passing motorists. However, this isn’t allowed everywhere. Which explains why no hitchhiking signs might be needed.
- See it: Take a look at these images to understand what no hitchhiking signs look like. (And check out the other pedestrian signs while you’re at it).
No parking signs
Turns out there are a whole host of ways to use signs to prohibit or limit parking. And it makes sense because a parked vehicle could present a semi-permanent obstacle when parked in an inconvenient location. Those who are blocked by the improperly parked vehicle have limited options. For instance, they may be forced to wait until the owner returns or until the vehicle can be towed.
- See it: Get a feel for what signs that limit or exclude parking could look like. (And view more signs limiting parking here, too).
No turn on red signs
As a driver, you know how helpful the freedom to do a right turn on red can be. It could get you to your destination a little faster as it can eliminate the time spent waiting for a green light. However, turning on red isn’t always allowed. Which means sometimes we need signs prohibiting turns to make that clear.
- See it: Actually, there are quite a lot of signs that restrict turning. Get an idea of what no turning signs can look like.
Road closed sign
A road closed sign is a disappointing sign to encounter unexpectedly. Yet, it’s vital if it’s keeping drivers away from an unsafe stretch of road.
- See it: Take a look at road closed signs.
Roundabouts are an effective way to handle a convergence of roads. Instead of having to stop (as at a stop sign) motorists have to yield the right of way if other cars are already in the roundabout.
- See it: Here’s what roundabout signs can look like.
Selective exclusion signs
Here are some big words for a pretty simple concept. Basically, selective exclusion signs tell certain vehicles, “You can’t drive here.” Generally, we think of public roads as being for everyone. And they are, for the most part. However, sometimes authorities do have to restrict access.
For instance, some roads are off-limits to pedestrians, equestrians, bicyclists, and/or roller skaters. Plus, some roads aren’t open to commercial vehicles. Ironically, some roads or paths are not for motor vehicles.
- See it: Get an idea of what selective exclusion signs can look like.
Speed limit sign
We see speed limit signs regularly while driving. Even so, they’re easy to miss, leaving drivers wondering just how fast they’re supposed to be going.
- See it: Take a closer look at what speed limit signs look like.
Stop or yield for pedestrian signs
Signs noting how drivers must act toward pedestrians can have different terminology. Either way, they have important work to do reminding drivers to give pedestrians the right of way. (And to leave a safe amount of space when doing so).
- See it: Take a closer look at pedestrian signs with this figure.
Stop sign & yield sign
Both stop and yield signs can have supplemental signs mounted underneath. For instance, that could look like a stop sign with a sign below that says “Except right turns.”
- See it: Check out this figure if you need to visualize the signage we’re talking about.
Weight limit signs
Now here are some useful signs that help vehicles stay within safe weight parameters. While it could be frustrating to discover that your vehicle exceeds the safe weight for using a certain roadway or structure, the alternative is worse. Using a road for which your vehicle is too heavy could have dangerous repercussions.
- See it: Get an idea of what weight limit signs can look like.
Our very own “caution sign”
When it comes to purchasing and placing regulatory signs, take care to understand and follow applicable guidelines. Do your own due diligence. If the job is yours, take responsibility to determine what signs you’re required to have and where.
Procure and place signs
Once you know what regulatory signs you need, you’ll need to find a source for procuring them. If you’re looking for a local source, check with a good sign company in your area to see if they do regulatory signs. Or perhaps you’ve discovered that regulatory signs are not what you’re actually looking for. Wondering what type of sign you do need? Check out A Glossary of Sign Definitions & the Distinctive Features of Each.
Building signs are a great way to get your message to people before they even walk in the door. Whether it’s 3D letters, an illuminated sign box, or custom metal signs, building signs are an important way for your business to reach customers. Still, not all building signs are created equal. So we thought we’d bring you some exterior building signage examples—highlighting both the good and the bad.
Not all exterior building signage examples are repeat-worthy
Yes, you heard that right—the bad signs. We’re not going to take a pie-in-the-sky approach that makes it look like all companies nail their signs every time. In fact, there is such a thing as a sign fail. And when it comes to sign fails, here’s all we know—you don’t want it to be your company.
What not to do
That’s why you can afford to take a moment to learn what others have done wrong. Once you know what they’ve done that hasn’t worked out so well, you can avoid doing it yourself. So let’s start with a few building sign “don’ts.”
Don’t misspell critical words (or any words at all)
Not only should you be shooting for sign copy that’s going to be effective, but you should also be looking for quality. And that means you need to proofread. After all, you want your potential customers and clients to take you seriously. So you need to present your company as a place where people know what they’re doing.
Naturally, this includes spelling. A misspelled word is a painful thing to behold. You may think twice about sending your child to an education center that can’t spell correctly!
Or take your cue from the window signs at the car dealership in this photo from the Press-Enterprise. It looks like lending fraud isn’t the only problem this story highlights. Whether intentionally or not, we’re getting a front row seat to a very visible spelling error.
What the dealership wants to say is, “Bad Credit? You’re Approved!” What they actually say leaves a lot to be desired. Where is an apostrophe when you need one?
Don’t leave characters crooked
Whether it’s channel letters, dimensional letters, or address numbers, don’t affix them to your building in a topsy turvy way. Instead, ensure that they’re placed so they line up neatly—both with the building itself and with the other letters in the group.
Don’t fail to replace broken lighting
Many of us have seen this one before—a lineup of front-lit channel letters with one or more of them conspicuously not illuminated. Don’t let it happen to you. For one thing, it will look just plain broken (and who wants their business to project an image of brokenness?).
Second, it could turn your company into a completely different business. Like the Burlington Coat Factory that lost illumination for the o in Coat and became the “Burlington Cat Factory.” That one probably takes the cake for the fastest way for a business to change industries—from a clothing store to a pet store.
What to do
Now that we have the not-so-good exterior building signage examples out of the way, let’s take a look at the positive side. Time for a healthy dose of success and positivity. Here are some signs from which we can learn a few things worth imitating.
Do go big if you need to be seen
Teeny tiny letters are not going to help clients take an unplanned turn off a highway exit to visit your restaurant or grocery store. Obviously, visibility is important. Unless, of course, you’re actually trying to hide your business’ location so nobody can find you. Which you might do if you’re the Secret Service operating out of an unmarked building in Washington D.C. However, most likely you’re not the Secret Service, so we’ll assume you want your customers, clients, and community members to see you.
Depending on your situation, getting seen could call for going big—big letters, big logo, etc. However, don’t confuse big with wordy. Big signs could actually have very few words. For example, check out the sign Turner Sign Systems made for Uncle Julio’s. It’s succinct, very visible, and—may we say—big.
Do match your sign to the feeling you’re trying to create
Let’s have a thought experiment…Imagine for a moment that two groups with well-recognized logos are going to swap logos for the duration of their existence. Hmm, you think, that’s not a terrible idea. It could work.
Yes, it could work—until you learn which two entities and what two logos. So, here goes. Let’s say that the United States Marine Corps is going to switch logos with Walt Disney Pictures. Right—now it’s getting concerning. What’s wrong with that picture?
Well, the symbols that represent those two groups carry a lot of meaning. And if you tried to switch the two, you’d have what we could call a sign mismatch. (Not to mention a lot of armed and angry Marines and not few upset Disney fans).
Really, this is a great way to visualize the idea that you need a sign that “matches” your company. For instance, with a name like Smiling Moose Deli (see photo 1)—you need an imaginative, even whimsical sign. In the same way, when your building aesthetic says ‘classic’ or ‘old fashioned’ and you embrace timeless professionalism, then it’s time for a sign that evokes a classic feel.
Look, listen, & learn
As you select your own building signs, do your best to learn from these exterior building signage examples. Model your sign after those who have done well, and avoid the pitfalls of those whose signs didn’t quite cut it. But don’t stop there—keep learning about what you should do to craft great signage for your company. Take a look at The Importance Of Good Signage & The Psychology Behind How It Works. Then, try 6 Elements You Must Include On Your Sign | Tips On Layout & Design.
As a business owner, you certainly want to make decisions in the best interest of your company. But sometimes, when you’re presented with a lot of options, making decisions could seem overwhelming.
And business signage is one area where there are plenty of options to choose from.
Since we don’t want all the options to be overwhelming and mind-boggling, today we’ll offer some basic sign definitions to help clear things up.
Interestingly, some signs could actually fit into more than one of these sign definitions at once. So, keep in mind as you read through that these aren’t necessarily hard fast lines or rules. To help you understand the purpose of each sign a little better, we’ve also included fictitious examples of how businesses and organizations might utilize them.
ADA signs / engraving
ADA signs are designed to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. And they may have visuals, writing, and/or Braille engraving. They could mark handicapped parking or wheelchair accessible entrances. And they could include high-visibility ADA compliant directional way-finding signs & braille room plaques.
Example: Sushi Spot, a newly-opened restaurant, needs a sign to highlight that there is a wheelchair accessible entrance to their building.
A flat yet flexible sign that is printed with a message to be hung on a surface like an interior or exterior wall (or a fence). Often made of vinyl. Can include words & graphics. May be made of mesh to allow air passage.
Example: Southside Karate Studio hopes to enroll the maximum number of students in their summer Karate4Kids class. So, they decide to print a banner for their building’s exterior. With stunning graphics, they promote their 6-week class, including its great pricing and sign-up date.
Customizable letters that are most commonly used on the exterior of a building outside a storefront, strip mall, public buildings & offices. Often channel letters are front lit, meaning the illumination comes from the front of the letter through the sign face. But they can also be backlit (halo) with the light coming from behind.
Example: Berryville Meat Market stays open late because a lot of their customers work from 9 AM to 5 PM. Since they’re open for business even after the sun goes down, they know they need signage that’s going to be visible in the dark. Thus, they’re selecting front lit, red letters that complement their gray logo and their red front entrance.
3D letters used indoors or outdoors as signage. See also channel letters.
Example: Dinotto manufactures artisan Greek yogurt. They ship worldwide from their 50,000 square-foot facility. Until now, they’ve had a bland sign at the end of the facility’s driveway. Now, they want halo-lit metallic dimensional letters on their building’s facade (which faces the highway).
Donor recognition walls
Walls that show appreciation for those who have contributed to an organization’s success. May list names of individual donors or even companies. Also, may be constructed with different materials like metal, plastic, and wood.
Example: A local community college almost closed its doors for good last year. However, individuals and businesses in the community rallied around it. And thanks to their generous support, the college raised all the money it needed. College administrators and board members want to set up a donor wall with separate tiles grouped according to how much individuals or entities contributed.
Designs and messages constructed on a floor (including floors of carpet, ceramic tile, or concrete). At Signarama, we construct them using heavy-duty floor laminate. Possible applications: tradeshows, grocery store aisles, gym floors, in-store retail promotions, hotel lobbies, casino carpeting, school hallways, sports arena steps, concrete warehouse floors, & sidewalks.
Example: Fast Forward Fitness has constructed a gigantic complex with something for everyone in the community. They’re trying to combat their area’s lax attitude toward health & wellness. Thus, they created a 3-mile sidewalk that loops around and through their complex. And they used floor graphics to create colorful and motivating sidewalks with games exercisers can play as they walk.
Interior light boxes
3D signs with illumination on the inside and a message or logo on the exterior surface. May be rectangular, square, or circle.
Example: Elegance Salon incorporated their logo into an interior light box. Then, they placed it on their sign-in desk alongside a dish of free candies in salon-branded wrappers.
LED message centers
An electronic display that can be changed as desired. Not only can you personalize the words, but you may also be able to change how it’s displayed. For instance, the sign may display a message statically. Or it may present one message after another (slideshow). On the other hand, it may display words in succession (rolling messages).
Example: The Mount Terrence Volunteer Fire Department wants a way to communicate better with the community. They selected an LED message center so they can change their message according to their own and community needs. For their first week, it will announce: “We need firefighters—sign up today!” Then, next week, they’ll wish the very best to their local Little League team.
Signs placed in a building’s lobby or other interior areas. May display the company or organization’s name by placing it prominently on a wall. And may be constructed using plastic, metal, or foam dimensional letters.
Example: Taylor, Tarrantino, Payne, & Willis, Attorneys at Law have experienced 30% revenue growth year after year since their inception 15 years ago. As a result, they’re ready for an office upgrade. And they secured one of the first available suites in a brand new high rise building. They have a lot of freedom to design the new area. So, they’re choosing to use cursive bronze-finish letters spelling out the company’s name on the main lobby wall.
Meeting & event signs
Signs designed and constructed for a particular occasion. Thus, this could include many different types of signs. For instance, it could take any of the following forms: pop-up displays, directional signs for meeting spaces, bulletin board signs, crowd control/directional signs, easel foamcore or coroplast signs, full color banners, temporary wall graphics, custom dye sublimated table covers / throws, photo standups, feather flag banners, fundraising thermometer signs, floor graphics, outdoor directories, & custom scoreboards.
Example: The Fight Alzheimer’s Coalition of Thompson (FACT) is holding an informational & inspirational meeting for their own city and others nearby. Since their theme is Hang in & Help Out, they know they’ll need these words alongside graphics and other information. Consequently, they’re looking for printed yard signs, at least 5 full-color banners (to place around the area), and a pop-up display for their sign-in table.
Example: Charlotte’s Candy Treats has both a storefront and food truck. And that means that the company needs menu boards for both setups. So, for the food truck, they want a custom designed A-frame that they can easily put up at the beginning of the day. It won’t list all their options so they’ll have some painted signs on the truck itself. Then, they’ll need a sign (or several) on the wall behind the counter at their storefront. Plus, they want an A-frame sidewalk sign so when their signature cotton candy truffles are available, they can alert patrons.
Signs placed on or near the ground in an organization or company’s yard. These signs may be near the road or at the end of a driveway announcing the presence of a business, church, office park, or apartment complex. And they may be made of stone, brick, or wood (or at least appear to be). Actually, we recently dug into monument signs.
Example: Tarwood Pediatric Dentistry just opened in a leased office space. There is no existing signage at the road. But, of course, the business does want to be seen. So, they’re electing to use a monument sign constructed of a panel resting on and between gray, stacked stone.
Signs made of illuminated tubing. Sometimes, these are displayed in windows (think of the classic “Open” sign) or on walls. Also, they may be multicolored, a single color, or they may be a simple yellow or white light.
Example: A children’s bookstore wants to go beyond the classic illuminated “Open” sign in their front window. Instead, they’re having a neon sign constructed for them. It will be a brightly-colored outline of a child reading a book with the word “open” beneath. Whenever the store is open, the sign will be illuminated.
Point of purchase displays
Marketing materials and signs used to enhance products for sale in a retail environment. Generally located in the checkout area or other location where the purchase decision is made, these displays are meant to help increase unplanned purchases. Could include kiosks, end cap displays, checkout countersigns, and ceiling hanging signs.
Example: A roadside convenience store is trying to sell more locally-made products. Since there’s a small chocolate company in a nearby town, they’re beginning a partnership with them. Thus, they want a customized point of purchase display that gets the candy right by the checkout. That way, passing motorists who stop for a snack or a soda can’t help but see it.
Pole or pylon signs
Tall signs that may be supported by a pole or poles.
Example: A new shopping center is home to three apparel and accessories stores. Plus, there’s also a bookstore, four restaurants, and a petstore. A pylon sign at the edge of the parking lot ensures that drivers on nearby roads will be able to see what’s available in the center.
Post & panel signs
A message-containing surface placed between two posts. Often, they’re meant to be short term (as in real estate signs or construction & development sites). However, they can be manufactured out of durable materials to provide a long-lasting solution as well.
Safety signs & decals
Signs to improve or demonstrate the safety level of your facility. This could include caution signs, biohazard Signs, chemical hazard and identification signs, ANSI signs, danger signs, and more.
Example: Tracta Labs uses chemicals to manufacture consumer products like perfumes. But they have to make sure that chemicals that could be hazardous are stored properly and appropriately. Certainly, they want their entire environment to be safe. So, they need a sign company that can manufacture chemical hazard & identification signs for them.
Tradeshow displays & exhibits
Short-term or portable signage for use at business events. May include a pop-up display with a full back wall.
Example: GenTen Technologies relies on tradeshows and conventions to reach future clients and connect with current ones. And they’re highly-skilled (experts, actually) at what they do. Thus, they want their signage to reflect the quality of service they provide. That’s why not just any convention setup will do. Instead, they opt for a full back wall with their logo.
Signs that extend over the surface of a car, van, trailer, or food truck.
Example: Unplugged is a 24-hour plumbing service that promises to get your water and sewer problems fixed in a day. With five vehicles on their fleet, they’ve decided it’s time for some uniformity. So, they’re getting vehicle wraps for each one.
Wall murals & wraps
Signs designed to to be applied to wall surfaces. Can spread the message and artwork over the space of an entire wall or more with custom designed wallpaper vinyl.
Example: The Ruckville Public Library has recieved a grant to renovate their children’s area. So, they’re planning a full-wall mural depicting heroes from American history.
Signs alerting viewers which way to go to reach their destination. May appear outside a large complex of buildings or inside a multitenant building.
Example: The Wharton Memorial Hospital is a sprawling complex. Many times, patients express frustration at not being able to find the right building and office in time for their appointment. Thus, the hospital has designated a portion of next year’s budget to purchase wayfinding signs for seven key locations on the campus.
Example: Jack & Jill’s Gelateria sells delicious gelato. While they already have a sign above their entrance, they would like their hours posted on their plate glass window. Instead of using a paper or electronic sign, they choose window graphics with the appearance of etched glass. However, they’re grateful they can have the etched look for a very reasonable price tag.
Signs designed to be inserted in the ground. Usually, they’re made of a corrugated plastic called coroplast. And they’re often placed on metal prongs which can be stuck in the dirt of a lawn or other location.
Example: John Brandt isn’t very happy with what his city council members have been doing (or rather not doing). In fact, his neighbors are also disappointed. One of them suggests John run for a seat himself, and the others agree. So, John decides to do just that. Naturally, one of his strategies for reaching voters in the area is to plant yard signs all over the district.
Beyond sign definitions
Of course, there’s plenty of other relevant sign terminology we passed over in this article. So head over to Sign Terminology: Negative Space, Optimal Distance, Typography & More if you still have questions. And once you select what kind of sign you want, you can begin planning your sign content. Start with Tips And Tricks To Creating The Most Effective Signs For Marketing. Then, take a look at The Importance Of Good Signage & The Psychology Behind How It Works.
With June already upon us, we know summer is certain to follow quickly. But before we mark the official start of the warm and sunny season, we pass another notable date.
In the United States, June 14th is National Flag Day. So we thought it would be appropriate to reflect on flags—items that may be inanimate but certainly, aren’t silent.
Flags for war
Travel back along the timeline of flag history and we find an early use for flags that makes sense—war. Upon reflection, we can see why flags would have been involved in early conflict. Flags are uniquely suited to be seen. If we envision the chaos of fighting, we understand how a flag could be useful and necessary. It could enable certain locations or people to be seen by others working with them.
Flags for water
The ocean provided another use for flags, and we stop here next on our history timeline. Imagine you were sailing the high seas without the benefit of modern technology. Obviously, the expanse of foaming waves would present a hurdle for communicating with the crew and passengers of other ships.
And yelling across the waves to establish one’s identity would certainly be off the table. However, flags offer non-verbal communication assistance. They require no spoken words to provide a message that others can then receive. Sometimes, viewers received a distinctively unpleasant message (as in the case of the ghastly skull and crossbones flag). Yet they did indeed receive a message.
Digging deeper from our bird’s eye view of flags, let’s talk a little about our own flag. Yes, the Old Glory immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s famous song—the song that is our national anthem.
The United States of America’s own flag
In popular American history, the first American flag was sewn by Betsy Ross. However, it seems this may not be definite historical “fact” after all. Actually, we may never know for certain whose workmanship produced this initial American icon.
Perhaps the first flag didn’t come from the fingertips of Betsy Ross. Instead, maybe it was some other accomplished seamstress in the newly united colonies. But whoever it was, America owes them a debt of gratitude.
Of course, what we do know about that first flag is that it was comprised of red, white, and blue. Certainly, this is one element of our flag that has remained constant. However, more white stars had to be added to the blue field as more states were added to the union.
Flags to mark territory & more
Now, fast forward to more recent American history and think about the symbolism involved in certain iconic placings of American flags. For one, there’s the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. Then, there are the American flags that have taken up residence on the moon. Additionally, American flags on Earth have reached as far as the South Pole.
American flags flown by private citizens around the country often function as symbols of patriotic feeling. Thus, perhaps we could say they serve as fabric statements of support. In addition, the way in which a flag is hung also sends a message. Flying a flag upside down is a distress signal. And, flown at half-mast, the American flag signals collective mourning.
By the standards of general flag history, the United State’s Flag Day is a relatively new celebration. Observing June 14th as Flag Day was instituted in 1949, so it’s a young holiday. For instance, compare it to our Independence Day celebration. Arguably, we’ve been celebrating that momentous occasion for years numbering in the hundreds.
Interestingly, flags are not limited to their official capacities as standards of nations or military units. In fact, if you look around, you’ll see flags all over that may not be official symbols but still speak about the preferences and alliances of their owners. For instance, perhaps your neighbor flies a flag for their favorite sports team. Or a local company may raise a flag with the company logo to catch the breeze. Plus, some homeowners like to celebrate the transition from one season to the next with seasonal flags.
Flags & businesses
While businesses often choose to fly their nation’s flag outside their buildings, they’re not the only business-related flags. In fact, when you’re looking to send a message tailored to your business, feather flags could be the answer. Plus, of course, businesses have plenty of signage options other than flags. And you can check out our guide to sign types to get a feel for some of them. Before you start designing yours, check out our 6 Elements You Must Include On Your Sign | Tips On Layout & Design.
The function of signs is quite simple—say something so others can see it. Nevertheless, beyond that basic idea, there are so many ways to get the job done. This is why building signs are just one way to tackle message sharing. Still, there is an array of options available even when you’re on the hunt for building signs.
Building signs are actually everywhere, but you may never have thought of them by that name. In fact, businesses of every type on every street corner use them. So, let’s take a closer look at these signs. But be prepared—once you start looking at building signs, you’ll never see your own city the same way.
Dimensions of building signs
It would be great if we could start dishing out numbers and telling you exactly what length, width, and depth your building sign needs to be. Actually, though, it depends to some degree on what your own situation is. And also on what appearance you’re trying to create.
That said, you should begin your dimension planning by checking for applicable rules. For instance, if you have a business in a suburban shopping center, check what codes or rules apply to you.
So let’s outline some general principles to use as a starting point to consider your sign dimensions. Then, if you’re still not sure about sign size, check with your own sign specialist. After all, if they’ve created signs upon signs upon signs, they may have a thing or two to add.
Select a sign to fit the space
Obviously, you want to do a good job with the space you have. If you have limited space, don’t overload. Instead, go for a sign that’s proportional to the amount of space you’re working with. And steer clear of a sign that would look unbalanced. (Unless, of course, having an oversized name & logo is a calculated part of your branding).
Different types of signs have different depths, too. For instance, illuminated sign cabinets or channel letters will probably be deeper than rigid aluminum sign panels or banners. Yet, that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Think about it in terms of your own space—will something flush with the building’s surface look better than something 3D?
Also, consider “keeping up with the Joneses.” Or in your case, with other businesses nearby. Let’s say you look around and notice that every business in your strip mall has channel letters of similar size. Well then, you may want to think about doing that too. Whether it’s a requirement or not, the uniformity may help establish a cohesive look in the area.
Solid sizing decisions
In the above strip mall example, you have some sizing ideas to go on. What several others are doing may be a sound choice for you, too. However, you might not always have a benchmark like that to go by.
When selecting a size for your sign, think about this. One of the most important things is for your sign to be seen—by the people who need to see it when they need to see it.
Who needs to see it & when
For a moment, think about the who. Does your sign need to be visible to pedestrians? Or are you trying to reach drivers on a nearby road? Alternatively, is your sign supposed to be reaching out to motorists passing by at 65 mph on a nearby expressway? Obviously, a sign needs to be large enough to effectively reach its target audience from the spot where they’ll be viewing it.
Considering when your target should see your sign might prompt you to think about illumination. If your target is supposed to be able to see your sign at night, then you’ll want it illuminated somehow. Similarly, if you know your target’s going to be passing by your building when driving, be sure you take that into account. For instance, ensure that your sign can be read from the driver’s vantage point at their likely rate of speed.
Now, to tackle the when question from a slightly different perspective, keep in mind that not all building signs are designed for the same timeframe. In fact, while your company name and logo will probably be there for a while, some building signs may be temporary. For instance, you could use a building banner to promote a weeklong sale. Or you could design window graphics for a month-long campaign you’re running.
Note: Some of you may want a more technical perspective on sign dimensions. If so, take a look at the International Sign Association’s Design and Placement of Signs.
Design of building signs
Your sign is so much more than just the materials it’s made of and where it’s placed. Actually, the design is a vital part of the whole picture here. You could have a sign that’s impeccably made but looks terrible. And, frankly, at that point, is anyone really going to care that it’s been faultlessly constructed? If it looks terrible, it looks terrible.
Obviously, you want a sign that speaks well of your business. And you also want a sign that sends the right message. Different types of signs could be better at sending certain messages than others. So take some time to isolate your message—what is the message you actually want your sign to send?
To illustrate why companies might choose different building signs, let’s imagine five situations. Five different companies, five different signs. And we’ll explore how the design of their signs varies.
The Jolly Juice Bar
Here’s a brand-spanking new business located in a busy suburban area. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are the main attraction. But since they get a lot of lunchtime visits from business professionals working nearby, they also offer sandwiches and salads.
When the Jolly Juice Bar takes stock of their sign options, they know they want something peppy & fresh. Since they sell happy, healthy, great-tasting food, they want their sign to look as happy and healthy as a sign can.
Based on their needs and wants, the Jolly Juice Bar plans for their sign to be made of halo-lit channel letters. Plus, their logo will be right below. And they’re electing to put the channel letters and logo on a raceway instead of straight on the building. They’re choosing bright colors, and they’re thrilled that the halo-lit letters will look cheery and exciting even at night.
Paragon Wealth Advisors
Not too far away from the Jolly Juice Bar is a company owned by 5 financial advisors. The business has been around for 20 years, and it has a loyal client base. Recently, the owners have decided they need to expand their attempt to recruit new clients. Consequently, they’re rethinking their signage.
They operate from an office on the 1st floor of a large multi-tenant office building. Currently, their signage is limited to the wayfinding monument sign outside their building. It notes that clients can find Paragon Wealth Advisors at Suite 101. (And, of course, their glass door says “Suite 101”).
However, they are on the ground floor of the building. And they recently discovered that they would actually be allowed to install a building sign of their own outside their door. Here’s what they’re thinking of: a rigid aluminum sign panel. They’ll want it cut in a custom shape, and they’re thinking they’ll opt for a black field with gold lettering and outlining. Clearly, they need to keep their look professional and trustworthy.
Now, let’s enter the case of Crunch Time. It’s a bare-bones type of gym, just waiting to be discovered by workout enthusiasts who don’t need all the bells and whistles. Since Crunch Time is committed to keeping things low-key by design, they want their sign to be low-key also.
Thus, they’ve opted to use a banner printed with their name and logo. Likely, it will take its place above the main entrance door of their brick building. As for the print on the sign, is it any surprise it will be simple and minimal? Just the words “Crunch Time” alongside the company logo (which is a stack of barbells).
However, this banner building sign is a short-term measure to some degree. Once the company has signed up enough members, it plans to paint the logo straight on the building front.
Data moon is a frantically busy tech startup. They have data management and data analysis solutions for just about everyone. And it seems just about everyone is asking for them. How such a small company handles so much work is anyone’s guess.
Since most of their clients find them via the internet, they’re really not worried about winning deals because of their signage. Still, the whole team agrees that they’d rather come into work and be greeted by a professional sign. (Currently, the outside of the building features blank walls.)
Data moon’s logo is a waxing gibbous with its name curved to fill in the lower left section of the circle. Since the name and logo combination makes a full circle, they’ve decided their sign will be round. And they want a custom cut metal plate. Underneath there will be a second plate that’s black (reminiscent of the night sky). And standoffs will mount the front plate to the rear plate.
Spark Electrical is a supply store for area electricians. Since the advent of online shopping, they have a lot of competition from online stores that sell electrical supplies. However, they do have one advantage—if you buy from them, you don’t have to wait for your product to ship. Thus, they want to attract busy electrical contractors who need their supplies today.
That’s why their priority when it comes to building signs is being seen. They want to be very visible both to contractors looking for them and for those who happen to be driving by. Thus, they decided on an illuminated sign cabinet that’s large enough to see easily from the road. And because they want it to be taken in at a glance, it will be simple. It’ll just have their name and logo (which is a lightning bolt).
Combination signs & more
Of course, some companies will elect to combine different types of signage. As an example, a gas station might have 3D letters on one side of their canopy. But on the other side, they might choose to have the same name/logo painted on the canopy itself.
Even among the options we’ve listed, there’s still plenty of room for personalization. Say you’ve chosen an illuminated sign cabinet for your company. Of course, you’ll be able to choose what the front panel will look like. But you may also be able to choose whether it will be squared-off or rounded at the edges.
Similarly, even a basic rigid aluminum sign panel will have design options to offer. For instance, you may be able to choose among different colors, fonts, finishes, and even shapes.
Installation of building signs
There are some signs that you don’t want to try to install on your own. Generally, if it requires a bucket truck, ladders, and scaffolding, you might think about steering clear. Still, don’t worry about it, there are companies who specialize in this kind of work. Chances are, just like manufacturing a sign is something you need an expert for, so is installation.
One thing you can do is find a company that does both the manufacturing and installation of your signs (and maybe even the design, too). This makes it a one-stop shopping experience for you. And your company will be with you and your sign from the ground up so to speak. It could even make them more invested in the project.
Installed by an expert
When it comes to the installation of building signs, hiring an expert means you should be getting someone who knows how it’s done. Plus, if they’re the ones who manufactured your sign, then they may know more about that particular sign and how to install it.
However, there may be times when you can install your sign on your own. For instance, in the case of a large banner on an exterior wall, you may be able to tackle the job yourself. It could call for screws & grommets, or you may want to use hooks.
And here’s another thing to keep in mind with installation—find a company that’s licensed and insured. For one thing, heavy machinery and heights carry inherent dangers. Thus, you want a company that will handle them responsibly. Additionally, you want a company that will take responsibility if things go wrong on their watch. And, obviously, you want to find a company that has any required licenses to operate.
Keep in mind
Before installing signs, you’re responsible to be sure you’re following local guidelines—applicable codes or rules for the area you’re in. Your sign specialist may be able to help here. And we recommend selecting a company that’s knowledgeable about local rules and regulations. That way, it could ease up some of your job.
Not just any sign
Once you’ve decided to use building signs to reach your customers and clients, there’s still plenty to do. Of course, you’ll need to design a sign that presents your business in the right light. So check out The Importance Of Good Signage & The Psychology Behind How It Works to get you thinking. Also, take a look at Tips And Tricks To Creating The Most Effective Signs For Marketing.