If signs could talk…they’d tell you where to go.
If signs could talk…they’d tell you where to go.
Watch ASI install a 100’ high sign in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Congratulations on your new architectural signage system. We hope that the signage will effectively serve your wayfinding and identity needs for years to come. To help you achieve that goal, we have provided easy to follow care and maintenance instructions for your interior or exterior signage.
As you know, some signage systems can range in cost from a good used car to a brand new sports or luxury car straight off the showroom floor. As every car owner knows, routine maintenance and care of the car helps ensure the best performance and longest life for the car. The same can be said for interior and exterior signage.
The following is a list of tips and recommendations for your interior and exterior signage. A more detailed list is available under the “Care and Maintenance Instructions for Architectural Signage” section of the document. Also, bear in mind that these are general “rules of thumb” and that signage can be made from a wide variety of substrate materials and have different kinds of finishes. Therefore, when in doubt, please contact your local ASI affiliate for specific care and maintenance instructions.
Interior Signage (no Braille, raised lettering, silkscreen, or vinyl applied text to the surface)
Interior Signage with Braille or Raised Letters and Logos (InTouch, InTac, Terra, InTac Eco)
Exterior Signage (Aluminum, Fiberglass, Acrylic)
Never Use the Following Items for Care and Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance involves observing a few simple rules and will help maintain the signs’ attractive appearance and ensure a longer life. Clean signs, as well as being easier to read, convey a positive impression to visitors and your own personnel. Regular cleaning in the following way is recommended:
Interior signs with no ADA inserts (raised copy and Braille dots) should be cleaned by means of a soft cloth moistened with a mild detergent (e.g., Dawn or Palmolive).
Interior ADA signs with raised copy and Braille should be cleaned with a soft, dry cotton cloth. For stains or marks, apply a mild soap and water mixture to a clean cotton cloth and gently rub the stain away and blot dry the sign. DO NOT leave any moisture or cleaner on the sign.
Exterior signs should be washed with clean water and car shampoo 3-4 times a year or as required. Car shampoo contains wax to protect and preserve the painted surface.
Graffiti Removal: Simple Rules for Successful Removal on Non-ADA Signs
Treatment with Graffiti remover must never take place in direct sun or on hot panels.
The panel must always be cleaned with cold water to remove dirt such as sand, soil etc. It is always a good idea to test the purchased Graffiti remover on a “non visible” part of the sign to make sure that the surface is not damaged. Graffiti remover is applied using a soft cloth and the entire affected area must be kept wet for approximately 3-4 minutes and must never dry out. If part of the affected area is about to dry out you must apply more Graffiti remover. Finally, wash the panel with cold water. Please try to avoid applying graffiti remover to any applied vinyl text and be careful to avoid the vinyl text during the wash off phase. If graffiti covers the vinyl text, it might be best to have the vinyl copy removed and reapplied.
Cleaning Acrylic Panel Signs and Plastic Parts and Components
Never treat or clean any sign using any of the following items:
Environmental Impact and Frequency of Cleaning and Maintenance
Where the sign is located and what the sign is exposed to can alter the maintenance schedule. Within industrial areas, corrosive particles are more prevalent. Lime, oil based deposits, sulphur dioxide, acids and other types of air born pollutants can all adversely affect painted surfaces if signs are not adequately maintained.
Remove Protective Wrapping: Wrapping is designed to protect the sign panels during shipment and the wrapping should be removed immediately. If left on and exposed to the elements, the wrapping may damage the surface of the sign. Once the protective wrapping material has been removed, regular cleaning is recommended.
Landscape with Native Plants: One simple and effective tip to extending the life of exterior signs is to plant native plants at the base of exterior signs. Native plants are can withstand the local climate and require little maintenance, and they protect the posts and base of the signs by preventing lawn crews from accidentally striking the signs with mowers and weed eaters.
All organizations establish their own benchmarks for Return on Investment (ROI) to successfully prioritize which media approaches; including signage; should receive greater investment based on an anticipated return.
Signs are physical elements that serve multiple roles for a business. A sign can reinforce an organization’s brand, communicate and inform customers, or support an enrichened customer experience.
When it comes to determining investment in signs for their projects, most organizational decision makers use one or a combination of the following three approaches:
Return Based on Sales in Dollars Per Square Foot
More notably, Hospitality, Restaurants, and Retailers make investment decisions based on how much revenue they can generate in a set footprint of space. Commercial Developers invest in properties based on how much they can charge per square foot of space and the entire building value is based on how much can be charged.
Sign design decisions are based on how much it is felt that the sign contributes to the layout and location’s value. This metric used to be more simply applied but is increasingly more complicated and thorough due to other technological approaches to finding destinations such as dynamic digital, virtual, or augmented reality applications, and global positioning software. With the perception and growth of effective wayfinding design based around organizational desired outcomes, one can see that the Signage Design consideration aspect is ever increasing in priority on most new projects.
Brand management has become a significant metric on a company’s balance sheet for measuring value, particularly if the company is publicly traded. Signs reinforce the quality of a company’s brand and have steadily become a major part of a company’s overall marketing strategy. Because of advances made by branding firms, signs and color schemes are often integrated into architecture which increases their overall aesthetic value thus commanding a much higher priority when it comes to design decision making and definition of purpose as applied to visibility and expected impacts within the designed environment.
Return Based on Experience Design Analysis
Experience Design is a relatively new management and decision-making approach as it plays an integral role in the investment process of a company who wants to establish close relationships with its customers. In experience planning, elements of the customer experience are broken into touchpoints and measured.
Touchpoints most important to the customer experience receive greater investment. While companies use a combination of the approaches, they all are unique based on their strategies for achieving success.
Fortunately, many of today’s top companies incorporate effective sign design approaches into their development strategies. The Design Management Institute, in its annual report on design-oriented companies, has measured the returns on design-oriented companies and have found they have increased in value at a much faster rate than other companies. In addition, many top retailers employ effective sign strategies, allowing us to provide a closer look at the effects of those strategies.
Design and Technology
Advances in manufacturing technologies, off-the-shelf custom materials, and graphics applications have afforded architects and designers with fantastic opportunities for impactful design at lower costs. The rise of architecture firms with the ability to integrate signs, graphics and architecture at a higher level has made signs central to the development equation. In addition, the shift of retail from internally focused malls to exterior complexes has put signs at a premium in new renovations. Even the smallest companies have more resources available to them to produce higher standards of signs, branding, graphics, and architectural marketing impacts than ever before.
(The Sign Research Foundation, 2014). Retail signage practices to increase return on investment. The Sign Research Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.signresearch.org/
The Sign Research Foundation supplies academic research on vibrant and effective sign strategies, systems, and codes. A proven resource for education, their research reports help to contribute to more livable cities, thriving businesses, and vibrant and effective sign strategies. ASI Sign Systems Inc. supports The Sign Research Foundation in their efforts to advance the science, technology, design, placement, and regulation of signs.
Liz Kelly – 2018
The science of wayfinding is a comprehensive process designed to orient people as well as guide them to their desired destination. The messages displayed on signs must minimize the natural confusion a visitor feels when arriving at a facility. Signage is the key component of any successful wayfinding solution and they must work together to ensure that messages are clear, legible, in the right place and accessible to people regardless of language or physical ability.
Audience — Identifying the Primary and Secondary Users is Key to Creating a Successful Wayfinding Solution
Displaying Multi-Lingual Messages and Pictograms Ensures Broad Understanding
While English is the majority language spoken in the U.S., the number of ESL (English as Second Language) people has grown dramatically. In addition, more than 9 million adults in the U.S. are illiterate and rely on pictograms and symbols to find their way. Therefore, the most effective solution is to integrate multilingual messages and pictograms on key information and regulatory signs. Although there are a number of universally recognized symbols used in signage, there may be symbols that may have different connotations in other cultural and ethnic backgrounds and thus may offend certain users. We recommend using the following sources for pictograms:
It’s all about Location, Location, Location
You’ve just created the worlds-greatest message and wayfinding solution. It features beautiful map graphics, easy to understand pictograms and a logical wayfnding color scheme. The solution might be perfect, but if the architectural lighting is sub-par and the placement of signage is not at natural decision points along frequently traveled paths, it will not be successful. Therefore, before embarking on designing a wayfinding signage solution, you should:
Keep the Message Short and Simple
The biggest, most common mistake made in wayfinding plans is “over-signing and over-messaging.” Too many signs create visual clutter and cause people to stop and read. This causes traffic jams in busy hallways and can even cause visitors to retreat back to the start if the amount of information is too confusing. Here are some tips to help keep messages short and simple:
Functionality is Key to a Long Lifecycle
Facility managers have a lot to do on a daily basis. Light bulbs burn out, spills ruin carpets, and management and tenants decide to move entire departments or even expand the facility. The last thing they want to hassle with is replacing a multitude of signs when all that needs to change is one or two lines of text or a directional arrow.
By engineering modularity into directories and directional signage, the burden on facility managers is lifted because they only need to replace a panel, not the entire sign. This ensures the directional information and wayfinding solution stays current, which helps keep visitors and staff moving in the right direction.
Choosing the Right Solution for Your Brand and Facility
Dimensional letters can be integrated into custom interior signage, exterior signage, digital signage enclosures, and donor recognition walls. They project your brand identity in professional and substantive manner that intuitively communicates stability in the minds of your clients. To help educate marketplace, we have consolidated dimensional letters options into seven standardized series. These series are:
LF Series: Fabricated Letters LPS Series: Cut Metal Letters
LPL Series: Metal Laminate Cut Letters LM Series: Molded Plastic Letters
LPP Series: Precision Cut Acrylic Letters LC Series: Cast Metal Letters
LTV Series: Cut Vinyl Lettering
LPS Series: Cut Metal Letters
LM Series: Molded Plastic Letters
LC Series: Cast Metal letters
The most commonly recognized and used dimensional letter solution is the LF Series Fabricated Letters. This series can be fabricated using a variety of materials and manufacturing techniques to create visually striking effects for letter and logo forms.
LF Series: Fabricated Letters and Logos
Face-lit Channel Letters
Illuminated from neon or LED’s. Option of wall or raceway mounting. Can have self contained or remote mount transformers. Aluminum construction can be pop riveted or welded.
NOTE: The stroke width of a neon channel letter should never be less than 1.5” thick, or arcing may occur, which could cause a fire.
Halo-lit Channel Letters
Halo-lit channel letters Rated for interior and exterior use Materials: aluminum, brass, bronze, copper and stainless steel Finishes: brushed, polished, oxidized and painted, 140 standard paint colors, custom colors available Illumination options: face and halo with neon or LED Mounting: stud mounting in adhesive grouts for flush mounting or mechanical attachment provided for stand-off requirements
Routed and Cut Dimensional Letters and Logos
Cut from Metal, Acrylic, Laminates and Vinyl Material
In addition to the larger fabricated metal letters and channel letters, letterforms and logos can also be cut from a variety of substrates. The most commonly used substrates are aluminum and stainless steel, acrylic, metal and woodgrain laminates, and vinyl. The material thickness and mounting method varies by material. To help define each option, we’ve created four sections, or series, of cut letters.
LPS Series: Cut Metal Letters
Routed 0.25” aluminum (standard) with threaded studs welded or drilled and tapped for mounting. Nuts used as spacers to reach stand-off distance. Common material choices include aluminum, brass, bronze, chrome and copper. Finishes: brushed, polished and oxidized.
LPP Series: Precision Cut Acrylic Letters
Routed acrylic or Sintra®, 3MTM VHBTM adhesive transfer tape with VHB adhesive for flush mounting. For thicker material, threaded studs can be used for a “pin mounting” effect but it is not a common fabrication technique. These letterforms are rated for interior and exterior use.
LPL Series Metal Laminate Cut Letters
Rated for interior use only. Common material choices include aluminum, brass, bronze, chrome and copper. Finishes: brushed, polished and oxidized. Mounting: VHB tape and silicone adhesive
LTV Series: Cut Vinyl Lettering
Frisket painted or opaque vinyl graphics, for a non-illuminate face. Translucent vinyl on acrylic or fiberglass for illuminated faces.
Letterforms and Logos in Sign Panels and Faces
Routed .090 aluminum face (standard) backed with white translucent acrylic. Vinyl overlays are used for alternate colors. VHB adhesive is used for mounting smaller sizes, and weld-on studs with clips is used to mount larger sizes.
Routed .090 aluminum face (standard) with routed white or clear acrylic pushed through the panel face. The standard projection depth is 0.25”, but the depth is determined by the size the sign and the graphic designer’s intent. V inyl overlays are used for alternate colors. VHB adhesive is used for mounting smaller sizes, and weld-on studs with clips is used to mount larger sizes. Front VHB Tape or Silicon Adhesive Precision cut or routed acrylic or metal laminate Front Front 1.5” 10/24 threaded stud standard 0.25” routed aluminum or stainless steel Material varies Vinyl or frisket paint Front Front Plex clip Weld-on Stud Plex clip Weld-on Stud 3/16” white translucent acrylic standard 1/2” white translucent acrylic standard 1/8” acrylic Front .050” aluminum returns .063” aluminum backs Illumination from Trim-cap 1″
A Comparison Guide for Understanding the Differences, Benefits and Features of Each Category
What defines a commercial sign? It’s easy to identify a commercial sign when looking at popular fast-food restaurants and service stations, but it gets harder to define when the signage solution is a higher-end retail store or “one-of-a-kind” branded signage solution. Architectural signage is usually associated with corporate towers and hospitals, but architectural signage can easily be found in retail or hospitality environments. To help determine the differences, this guide will focus on four common features:
Functionality and Brand Identity Determines What Kind of Signage Solution Will Work Best for the Client
There is an old saying in architectural circles that works for determining signage: Form follows function. Once you determine and define the need or the function that the sign will provide, the form the solution takes will reveal itself. For example, if you need 500 branded signs that all look the same and will fit into the environment the same way, then you need a commercial signage solution. If you need a solution that complements the architectural environment, incorporates brand identity, higher-end building materials, and is built to last, you need an architectural signage solution.
Clients are concerned with properly presenting their company’s brand identity, and promoting the brand identity through architectural signage is just as important to get right as it is in any other form of advertising or marketing efforts. One particular challenge has to do with the architectural style of the facility. This is where commercial and architectural signage head in different directions.
Commercial signage defines the retail “box” structure with branded identity wraps that cover a portion of the facility. Architectural signage, by contrast, serves to complement the architectural design of the facility while incorporating and promoting the client’s brand identity. While brand identity is clearly visible in architectural signage, it is usually not as dominating as commercial signage.
Architectural signage has three requirements:
Commercial signage is usually mass-produced for retail establishments, but this does not mean they are cheaply-made signs. The fabrication techniques require exacting brand replication and performance based on a viewing distance of approximately 20 feet. Because commercial signage is usually mass-produced, it usually incorporates heat-formed or molded plastic elements that fade in color and crack when they outlive their intended life-cycle.
By contrast, architectural signage uses materials commonly found in the exterior architectural design and is built to last. This means aluminum, stainless steel, glass, stone and other natural materials. In addition, there is a higher attention to detail expected, such as no visible seams and screw heads.
Architectural signage materials and construction:
Commercial signage defines a retail facility more than any architectural element or feature. Retail establishments are built to enable frequent tenant changes, and commercial signage providers work within the “box store/tilt-wall” design to create commercial signage solutions that wrap the facade. In addition, stand-alone commercial signs are typically mounted onto large exposed poles, whereas architectural signage is incorporated into the landscape design of the facility.
Architectural signage complements the architectural design of the facility by incorporating building materials used in the facility. In addition, architectural signage is built to last for many years with proper maintenance. In addition, seamless modular panels can be incorporated into architectural signage to allow for brand identity or tenant updates.
Architectural signage complements the facility
Overview of the Guidelines of Universal Design and How it Impacts Architectural Signage
Universal design principles cover virtually every aspect of built environments and commercial products. Architectural signage — when designed and fabricated correctly — is no exception to the principles that govern universal design.
Ronald L. Mace, founder of the Center for Universal Design at the NC State University College of Design, coined the term “universal design.” Mr. Mace defined universal design as the effort to “design all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.” From this concept, seven universal design principles were established.
The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
Flexibility in Use
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities
Simple and Intuitive Use
The design is easy to understand, regardless of experience, language, or knowledge
The design communicates information effectively regardless of ambient conditions
Tolerance for User Error
The design minimizes hazards of accidental or unintended actions
Low Physical Effort
The design can be used comfortably with minimal fatigue.
Size and Space
Appropriate size and space is provided regardless of the user’s size or mobility
Architectural signage is designed to communicate wayfinding and ADA messages clearly and effectively to the majority of people that visit and work in a facility. The universal design principles of equitable use, flexibility, and simple and intuitive are most commonly seen in architectural signage.
While English is the majority language spoken in the U.S., the number of ESL (English as Second Language) people has grown dramatically. In addition, more than 9 million adults in the U.S. are illiterate and rely on pictograms and symbols to find their way.
One of the most effective methods for meeting the “equitable use” universal design principle is by following ADA guidelines and integrating multilingual messages and pictograms on key information and regulatory signs. Although there are a number of universally recognized symbols used in ADA signage, there may be symbols that may have different connotations in other cultural and ethnic backgrounds and thus may offend certain users. Therefore, we recommend using established pictograms.
Equitable Use through ADA-Ready™ Signage:
For a wayfinding plan to work, people should be able to comprehend the intent of the message in under five seconds, and the layout should be uncluttered and easy read. This wayfinding guideline runs parallel to the “intuitive use” principle of universal design.
Intuitive Use Means Keeping the Message Simple
The biggest, most common mistake made in wayfinding plans is “over-signing and over-messaging.” Too many signs create visual clutter, causes traffic jams in busy hallways and can even cause visitors to retreat back to the start if the amount of information is too confusing. Here are some tips to help keep messages short and simple and help achieve the “intuitive use” principle:
Color and contrast of a message on a sign will always be a critical ingredient of creating a truly functional sign. A useful rule of thumb for achieving a functional sign and message that meets the “perceptible information” principle is the 70% Light Reflectance Value (LRV).
While LRV is not the only measurement for creating a sign message that is perceptible, it is helpful tool. When using LRV, the goal is to achieve a 70% Light Reflectance Value (LRV) contrast between sign text and background color. Using the LRV formula following the contrast requirements in the latest ADA guidelines will ensure that sight impaired individuals will be able to read the sign information and find their way to the desired destination, thus meeting the “perceptible information” principle.
2010 ADA Guidelines for Color Contrast:
An Introduction to Regulatory Signage Solutions that Meet ADA Guidelines and EMTALA Standards
Regulatory signs and messages are designed to instruct visitors on what they should or should not do both inside and outside of facilities. Regulatory signs can be found in almost any place, but when considering architectural or built environments, they are commonly associated with stairwells, safety and critical access points, and facility management and maintenance areas. Vehicular or transportation signs also fall into the category of regulatory signs, and common examples include traffic signs (e.g., one way, stop, yield, speed limit). However, for built environments, this information piece will focus on the following regulatory signs:
Function, Location and Message Determines What Kind of Regulatory Sign is Needed
There is no all-encompassing standard or rule for governing regulatory signs and messages when it comes to architectural environments. Instead, best practices are established through professional industry experts and local building code requirements. When determining the form, message and location for a regulatory sign, the best place to start is with the most current Department of Justice ADA Guidelines and work with an experienced signage and wayfinding company to determine what solution will work best. Under the section that governs signage, the current ADA guidelines establish the recommended size and placement of messages and symbols on ADA regulatory signs.
For regulatory signs and wayfinding plans to be effective, it is recommended that regulatory signs and messages serve the language needs of at least 75% of the people who visit the facility. One of the best means of breaking through communication barriers is through the use of pictograms or symbols. For healthcare facilities, a series of universal symbols designed to facilitate wayfinding has been created and adopted by the International Standards Organization. There are 28 symbols that were proven to be most effective at conveying the appropriate information to visitors and patients and also conform to ADA guidelines. For more information and to see the list of symbols, visit http://blog.asisignage.com/2010/12/23/ada-signage-universal-design-universal-healthcare-symbols.
ADA-Ready™ Regulatory Signs
While English is the majority language spoken in the U.S., the number of ESL (English as Second Language) people has grown dramatically. In addition, more than 9 million adults in the U.S. are illiterate and rely on pictograms and symbols to find their way. Therefore, the most effective solution is to integrate multilingual messages and pictograms on key information and regulatory signs.
Although there are a number of universally recognized symbols used in ADA signage, there may be symbols that may have different connotations in other cultural and ethnic backgrounds and thus may offend certain users. Therefore, it is recommended to stay with commonly used and established pictograms for ADA-Ready™ regulatory signs.
ADA-Ready™ Regulatory Sign Recommendation:
Egress and Self-Illuminating Signs
For decades, egress signage and emergency exit regulatory signage was commonly seen as the ubiquitous emergency escape plan by an elevator and the overhead “EXIT” sign at key door ways and stairwells. These are still important regulatory signs for egress, but since 2001 regulations for egress and emergency escape signs and messages integrate a power-failure resistant component: self-illuminating signs through luminescent materials.
These new power-failure resistant regulatory sign codes are most commonly found in new construction for large commercial structures, but many built environments with several floors are choosing to retrofit the egress and emergency escape regulatory signs with self-illuminating signs. In addition, facilities are also choosing to apply self-illuminating strips to stairs along emergency exit routes.
EMTALA Signs and Messages
EMTALA stands for the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, and it ensures public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. The EMTALA Operations Manual specifies signage requirements at medical facilities to properly communicate the individual’s right to treatment:
Design Strategies: Getting the Right Solution at the Right Price
Graphic designers, architects and signage providers are all dedicated to providing the best service and the best solution for their clients. In order to create the right solution that complements the architectural environment, the decision makers must consider the role signage will play early in the overall design and construction process and not wait until the end. The four biggest factors that drive every design strategy and architectural signage solution are:
Getting the Right Design Solution for the Client is More Important than Budget and Timeframe
Signage is traditionally addressed at the end of a construction project. Because projects rarely stay on schedule, the end result is typically not enough time or money left in the budget to get the signage solution the client wants before the project is scheduled to end. When projects are rushed or not properly planned, the chances that a fabricator will cut corners to meet a deadline increases. The consequence is that the signage program usually does not stand up to the test of time. To get the design solution right the first time, the client and any of the key contributors should follow these steps:
Use Standard Systems as Custom Solutions
Taking advantage of the inherent design engineering of a standardized, modular system is a smart move because it allows for easy message updates and makes reordering more efficient. Start with a standard system and consult with the signage provider to explore what design modifications can be made without sacrificing functionality.
Review the system family and take advantage of the pre-defined sign types and sizes and design the custom solution to match the standard sizes.
Improve Delivery Time, Reduce Costs
For custom signage solutions, the biggest challenge and often resulting in increased design costs is the time spent to figure out how to build the solution. By taking a design-lite approach — meaning to make simple modifications to an already built and installed signage solution — clients can improve the delivery speed and reduce the costs associated with a completely custom design, often resulting in the sourcing of several components.
Review existing partner portfolio’s and see select examples of previous design solutions and explore modifications and how that drives budget and timeframe.
Functionality is Key to a Long Lifecycle
When the signage solution is completely custom, the best result and value can be achieved when the designer works in concert with the fabricator.
When working in partnership, decisions can quickly be made based on the best solution for the signage program. Whether incorporating modular components or using alternative materials or finishing processes, clients can see a return on the investment through reduced costs and faster manufacturing times.
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