Bringing Architectural Signage into a Commercial Retail Environment
It may seem like architectural signage and commercial signage are interchangeable for exterior signage, but in fact they’re quite different. Though both types are good visual indicators for wayfinding purposes, each serves its own specialized function. Commercial signs are mass-produced for usage in multiple locations where they are meant to be seen from afar. As a result, the finished products contain little detail and the building materials used in their manufacture generally are cheaper. Conversely, because architectural signs are intended for permanent display in very specific sites, greater attention to detail and quality materials go into their seamless construction.
Be sure to check our InfoSeries, “Architectural Signage vs. Commercial Signage: A Comparison Guide.”
However, localized companies often need to add something extra to their advertising efforts in order to make an impact on regional markets. One way in which many small businesses are hoping to accomplish this goal is by incorporating architectural design elements into their development of signage for retail outlets. This emerging trend can be effective in increasing awareness about your company as long as you closely adhere to the following principles of architectural signage.
One way in which architectural signage is similar to commercial signage is that both should clearly announce your brand. Your company’s logo or likeness should be plainly visible on a display so that people can easily identify it for wayfinding purposes. Combining this immediately recognizable indicator with accurate directional information will assist users in knowing exactly where to go in the least amount of time. Also, your brand will receive a promotional boost if they can associate your logo with functionality and efficiency. Any such display, however, should match its architectural environment. A moderately sized display with a muted color scheme will appear less imposing than traditional commercial signage, which tends to dominate the eye with overly large displays and bright colors.
Integrating signage into an environment so that it looks completely natural is a central tenet of architectural design. Commercial signage often is characterized by exposed poles, seams and fasteners, but architectural signage should complement the landscape surrounding its respective facility, as well as the building itself. As a result, signage displays for retail facilities should be built with the same materials that went into the construction of the original facility. Also, they should be reflective of your company’s business model. If you operate a tech-based company, your signage should incorporate modern design features and a futuristic font. In addition, while brand identification is still important, architectural signage should provide the best solution for wayfinding because of its on-site location.
Materials and Construction
Commercial signs usually consist of heat-treated or molded plastic that is prone to fade and crack over time. These materials are acceptable for this kind of signage, as it is intended for temporary use. High-quality architectural signage, though, is built to last with materials that can withstand the elements. These can range from metals like aluminum and steel to natural stone like marble and granite. Glass and fiberglass also provide retail establishments with a classy and sophisticated edge. But, again, any materials that you use in the creation of your signage should already be present in the structure that houses your business, and you should avoid leaving anything like screws and brackets visible or exposed.
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