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Whether travelling by foot or speeding by in a vehicle, the single most visible element of your business to the passing potential customer is, in most cases, your exterior signage. Options for outdoor signs vary wildly in construction, design, functionality, and – you guessed it – cost. Further complicating matters, exterior signage is subject to the laws and building codes of each particular town and region and, in most cases, involve applying for the appropriate permits.

 If you’re thinking of refurbishing your MI store’s appearance, a new approach to the operation’s exterior presentation is one that packs serious “bang for the buck.” If you’ve got the budget, the creativity, and the inclination, then the sky’s the limit when it comes to exterior design (and having any exterior signature features that might make your operation a “landmark” is never a bad thing), but for now we’ll stick to the basics. Below is a summary of nine popular signage types that you may want to consider when contemplating a visual overhaul for your store.

 

 

1. Outdoor Illuminated Storefront

Lightbox Sign

Description: This is, very literally, an aluminum box (back, sides, top, bottom) containing a power source (ballast or transformer) and an appropriate number of fluorescent lamps with an acrylic or Lexan face. The face will have either a translucent vinyl or a translucent print.

Pros: Maximum road/lot/ visibility, day or night; 24-hour advertising; Legitimacy.

Cons: Can be very expensive; Extensive installation (possibly a crane truck, or bucket truck.); Sign installer(s) and/or electrician; Maintenance & repair (changing lamps, changing text or artwork).

 

2. Outdoor Storefront Box Sign/Frame Sign

Description: Also an aluminum box (back, sides, top, bottom) or an aluminum frame with an aluminum face. The face will have either a cut vinyl or a print.

Pros: Less expensive than the previous option; Maximum road/lot visibility during daytime, or 24-hour advertising, when side-lit with installed lights. Legitimacy.

Cons: This also involves extensive installation (possibly a crane truck, or bucket truck), sign installer(s) and/or electrician (for lights, if that option is chosen), and maintenance/repair (changing lamps, changing text or artwork).

 

 

3. Channel Letters (w/Neon)

Description: Routed Aluminum letters (aluminum sides and back) w/ acrylic or Lexan faces and illuminated with neon gas tubes or LEDs.

Pros: Classic; Can be very dynamic; Built for almost any logo or font.

Cons: Can be very expensive; includes extensive installation (possibly a crane truck, bucket truck), sign installer(s) and/or electrician, maintenance and repair (changing out neon, changing text or artwork).

 

4. Dimensional Letters

(Side- or Top-lit)

Description: Your company logo made from formed plastic, metal, or even wood and then painted in any color.

Pros: Very versatile, dynamic, and any punch that is lost from not being inwardly illuminated can be countered with the right lighting

Cons: Less so than previously mentioned options, but still expensive; installation (possibly a crane truck, bucket truck); sign installer(s) and/or electrician (for side lighting).

5. Blade Sign (lit/unlit)

Description:  Any sign, bracket-mounted to the building/storefront that protrudes perpendicular to the building.

Pros: Perfect to be seen by street traffic. Time-honored.

Cons: This is probably more of a “secondary sign.” It cannot be seen from directly in front of the building

 

6. Pylon Sign (lit/unlit)

Description: Most commonly seen on the roadside entrances to strip malls, usually facing perpendicular to the street. Often a large sign with many individual acrylic faces representing each tenant.

Pros: Highly visible, 24-hour advertising if lit; Can be low cost (if it’s an existing sign that involves your business only covering the cost related to your own section.)

Cons: Your operation’s presence may get lost in the shuffle amongst all the other tenants featured on the pylon unit, if it’s multi-store signage.

 

7. A-frame Sign:

Description: Any freestanding, double- or single-sided sign; Can be made from plastic or metal, and usually using coroplast inserts surfaced with prints or cut vinyl.

Pros: The perfect sign for sidewalk traffic. Great for advertising sales, special deals.

Cons: Subject to wind/weather, thievery, or vandalism.

 

8. Banners

Description: Can be anything from the most basic cut vinyl text, to the most elaborate full window prints.

Pros: You can really get your message across with some bold, large text or completely transform the look of your storefront with large format vinyl prints.

Cons: Lettering done on the outside of windows might suffer in high traffic areas. Though, if done on the inside of the windows, the sign might lose a little impact.

 

9. Window Lettering,

Cut Vinyl/PrintDescription: Can be anything from the most basic cut vinyl text, to the most elaborate full window prints.

Pros: You can really get your message across with some bold, large text or completely transform the look of your storefront with large format vinyl prints.

Cons: Lettering done on the outside of windows might suffer in high traffic areas. Though, if done on the inside of the windows, the sign might lose a little impact. 

 

Daniel O’Halloran is a New England-based graphic designer and contractor with over two decades’ worth of experience in the design, construction, and installation of exterior and interior retail signage. O’Halloran has also created custom artwork for albums, book covers, and corporate logos. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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