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Design & Trends

Your Guide to Signs: Part 1, Sign Types

You may be wondering if the type of sign you choose for your business matters. And the short answer is yes. A good sign is visible, eye catching, and most importantly, adheres to your brand aesthetic.

But what are the different sign types and what benefit does one have over the other? In this post, we’ll explore the most common sign types and their variations and explain some of the advantages of each type.

Most Common Types of Signage

1.  Channel Letters are deep set, 3-D lettering that allows for a big, bold look and are oftentimes lit from within. They can be open faced, showing off the interior lighting which is an appealing option if you choose faux neon LED or another attractive LED lighting option.

Another option for channel letters are closed, which means a colored facing is put overtop of the lighting elements. This is beneficial if you choose a less attractive, but more cost-efficient internal lighting option, want the sign to be displayed in a specific color, or want something that has simpler maintenance and service needs.

2.  Cabinet Signs are signs that are a closed, generally rectangular shape that houses the internal lighting with the facing acting as the actual sign. It can be used on monument platforms to create a monument sign, a pylon to create a pylon sign, or directly to the façade of building. This makes it one of the most adaptable sign types because of the numerous places a cabinet sign can be installed. In addition to its versatility, a cabinet sign is also a cost-effective economic option that’s easy to upkeep with regular service.

3.  Routed Letters are individually crafted letters that are of solid construction and are generally fairly flat. These are great if you have a specific font you like to use for your brand. Routed letters are a great, modern option that allows you to play with external light fixtures, seamlessly blending your interior design with your exterior.

This type of sign is also a unique option for interior signage whether you want to bring in more personality with fun signage. It is also ideal for directional signage.

4.  Blade Signs are signs affixed perpendicular to the side of your building or storefront. You go with a simple non-illuminated style, often found in strip malls and outlets which are easily visible as customers walk along the shops. This type of blade sign is made of wood, type of plastic, or other non-electrical housing material, and hangs on a bracket. Another type of blade sign is an illuminated blade sign, generally a type of cabinet sign, which is a small cabinet sign that sticks out from the side of a building.

5.  Fabricated Letters probably allow for the most diversity, merging the best of channel letters with routed letters. Illuminated fabricated letters can be face-lit, side-lit, back-lit, and halo lit with the lighting happening behind the lettering. It can also be a combination of these depending on the aesthetic you’re looking to achieve. Non-illuminated fabricated letters can be externally lit from an outside light fixture.

Because they are smaller and thinner, you have the option to choose from a variety of fonts, similar to what you might find with routed letters. Unlike routed letters, fabricated letters have more of a 3-D quality to them, like channel letters, without the overt boldness of channel letters that requires it to be open-faced or the facing to be covered.

6.  Neon Signs are probably what you most associate with Vegas and the mid-west. Those old, rusted signs displayed in reds, and oranges, and blues with loopy letters in bright lights. Neon signs undoubtedly say something. Boldly and brightly. And neon lettering, or neon style lettering is making a comeback.

Traditional neon is an artform that is slowly losing artists. Bending neon is a time-consuming process that requires know-how, finesse, and years of experience to properly execute. And for a lighting type that isn’t the most environmentally friendly, it’s a dying artform. At Triangle, we are fortunate to have a neon expert on site at our fabrication shop located in our Baltimore headquarters, keeping this artform alive for clients who understand the value and unique feeling a neon sign can communicate to your customer.

Taking the place of traditional neon is what we call faux neon, an energy efficient alternative LED material that looks strikingly similar to the real deal. It’s easier and cheaper to fabricate, translating to a more affordable sign for you, while still delivering a unique sign that your customers will love.

Choosing the Right Sign

This basic overview of sign types doesn’t cover the gamut of what a full-service sign company can offer your business. If you have specific ideas, or want to take your design to new heights, a good sign company can help design, fabricate, and install your signage. The best sign company can help you integrate lighting, both interior and exterior, as well as be your electrical needs expert. (Are we talking about Triangle Sign Services? Yeah, yeah we are.)

Remember, you don’t have to stick to one sign type for all of your stores. Different types of signs are more impactful in different locations. Sometimes you need something bigger and bolder, like what channel letters or a cabinet sign might deliver, while others would benefit from the cool, modern effect provided by fabricated or routed letters. You know your brand best—get a company that knows signs so that together, you’re creating the best visual impression for your customers.

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