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Commercial Outdoor Signs

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Product Information for Custom Outdoor Business Signs

What are the 7 best sign materials for outdoor use?
Here is the definitive list of the top 7 business sign materials used to manufacture outdoor signs:

1. Dibond
Invented in 1965, Dibond has stood the test of time outside as one of the most durable construction materials available in the entire sign industry. Rigid, aluminum-plated Dibond custom sign panels are:

  • Unusually versatile
  • Strong
  • Waterproof
  • UV stable, and
  • Unaffected by hot & cold temperature extremes.

2. Alumalite
The engineered, honeycomb structure of Alumalite provides 240% greater panel strength for areas prone to high winds. The impressive, weather-resistant characteristics of Alumalite signs are the same as Dibond.

For rectangular or square shapes, Alumalite remains one of the best materials to use for exterior signs. Other types of materials are preferred when custom sign shapes are required.

See All 7 of the Industry's Top Outdoor Signs

About the author:

Tim Harrelson was destined to become one of the leading experts in the sign industry. With over 36 years of experience working with local & national brands, he has accumulated a lifetime of experience & knowledge. Tim's expertise and innovative approach to sign manufacturing has been featured in Charleston’s Post & Courier Newspaper and National Sign Magazines including Signs of the Times. Tim continues to share his insights helping businesses & organizations of all sizes navigate the complex world of custom signs.

Exploring the Versatility of Shape in Outdoor Business Signage for Business

Sign shapes play a crucial role in outdoor signs, as they not only help in conveying messages effectively but also contribute to creating a unique identity for a brand or business. Shapes are particularly important because they allow people to quickly and easily recognize a sign's purpose or the company it represents. The brain processes shapes faster than words, so utilizing distinctive shapes can create a lasting impression on potential customers, aiding in brand recall and recognition.

How does custom-shaped exterior business signage contribute to brand recognition?

Branding is a critical aspect of any business, as it helps establish an identity that distinguishes the company sign from its competitors. Sign shapes can significantly contribute to a brand's image, as they can be used to express its values, personality, and goals. A well-designed customized sign shape can evoke emotions and create a connection with the target audience, making it more likely for them to remember and choose the brand over others.

  • Studies show that consistent branding across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.
  • Color psychology plays a significant role in sign shapes, with different colors evoking specific emotions or associations (e.g., blue for trust, red for urgency).
  • Innovative sign shapes, like those incorporating 3D elements or interactive features, can further enhance audience engagement and brand recognition.

At, you can have your customized outdoor business sign manufactured with absolutely any custom shape imaginable.

The weatherproof outdoor sign materials are contour cut with precision using computer controlled machines like lasers and table top CNC routers.

Custom Sign Shapes

Distinguishing your brand: The strategic importance of uniquely shaped building signs.

Uniqueness in sign shapes is vital for businesses, as it allows them to stand out in a competitive landscape. With numerous outdoor signs vying for attention, having a unique shape can help capture the interest of passersby and potential customers. This can also give a sense of exclusivity to the brand, making it more appealing and desirable to the target audience.

Differentiation is another critical aspect of sign shapes, as it enables a brand to set itself apart from its competitors. By utilizing a distinctive shape, an outdoor commercial sign can effectively communicate its unique selling proposition, making it easier for potential customers to identify and remember the brand. This, in turn, can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer retention.

Exploring Standard and Custom Shape Options in Outdoor Signage.

Standard shapes in outdoor signage have long been established as an effective means to convey information to the public. These shapes often serve as the foundation for custom signs, with businesses building upon them to create unique and eye-catching designs. As a custom sign maker, serves as a single source for standard and custom-shaped signage.Some common standard shapes include:

  • Rectangular – Often used for informational signs, billboards, and banners, the rectangle provides ample space for text and graphics.
  • Square – With equal sides, square signs can create a sense of balance and symmetry, making them a popular choice for logos or simple messages.
  • Circular – Known for its association with unity and harmony, the circular shape is frequently used in logos, as well as traffic signs such as speed limit and no parking signs.
  • Octagonal – Widely recognized as the shape for stop signs, the octagon is a powerful shape for conveying important messages that require immediate attention.
  • Triangular – Typically used for warning or caution signs, the triangle shape is known to alert people to potential hazards or situations that require extra caution.

In addition to simple standard shapes, businesses often turn to deluxe, custom-shaped signs to create a unique and memorable brand identity. By utilizing distinctive exterior shapes and designs, these signs can stand out from the competition and capture the attention of potential customers.

Five prime examples of personalized signs for outdoor displays include:

  1. Mascot or character-based signs – Incorporating a brand's mascot or a recognizable character into the shape of the sign can create an instant connection with the target audience and enhance brand recognition.
  2. Logo-shaped signs – By designing a sign in the shape of the company's logo, businesses can reinforce their brand identity and create a cohesive look across all marketing materials.
  3. Product-shaped signs – Signs that mimic the shape of a business's product, such as a giant coffee cup for a cafe or a giant shoe for a shoe store, can create a visually appealing and memorable display that highlights the company's offerings.
  4. Geometric or abstract shapes – Businesses can use unconventional shapes, such as polygons, spirals, or organic forms, to create a unique and visually engaging sign that sets them apart from competitors.
  5. Illuminated or 3D signs – Combining custom shapes with innovative lighting or 3D elements can result in a visually striking sign that stands out, especially during nighttime or low-light conditions.

The availability of both standard and custom shapes in outdoor signage provides businesses with a wealth of options to create a distinctive and memorable brand identity. By carefully considering the shape of their outdoor signs, businesses can convey important messages, engage their target audience, and ultimately, increase brand recognition and customer loyalty.

Prioritizing safety with universally recognized, commercial outdoor sign shapes.

Safety is an essential factor when it comes to outdoor signs. Certain sign shapes, such as octagons or triangles, are universally recognized as symbols for specific warnings or instructions. For example, an octagonal sign is often used for stop signs, while a triangular sign is used for warning or caution signs. Using these shapes in outdoor signs ensures that the message is understood by a wide audience, promoting safety and reducing potential risks.

  • The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) standardizes sign shapes and colors in the United States, ensuring consistent messaging and enhancing road safety.
  • Research has shown that well-placed and easily recognizable signs can significantly reduce accidents and improve overall traffic flow.
  • The Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, an international treaty signed in 1968, established a set of standardized sign shapes and symbols to promote road safety across multiple countries.
  • Clear and consistent outdoor signage helps to reduce driver stress and confusion, contributing to a safer driving environment for all road users.
  • Highly visible and recognizable sign shapes are especially critical in poor weather conditions, as they enable drivers to quickly process and respond to critical information.
  • Certain sign shapes, such as the diamond shape, are universally used to indicate potential hazards or changes in road conditions, enabling drivers to anticipate and react accordingly.
  • In addition to traffic signs, various industries also utilize standardized sign shapes to ensure workplace safety and effectively communicate potential dangers.
  • The use of internationally recognized sign shapes facilitates a consistent understanding of safety information for travelers, tourists, and foreign nationals, reducing the risk of accidents due to unfamiliarity.
  • Incorporating high intensity reflective materials in outdoor sign shapes further enhances visibility and recognition, especially during nighttime or low-light conditions, improving overall safety.

Strategic marketing: The role of easily recognizable customized sign shapes in outdoor building signage.

Recognition is a critical aspect of sign shapes, as it ensures that the target audience can easily identify a brand or business. By using a consistent shape across various outdoor signs, a company can create a cohesive and recognizable brand image, leading to increased awareness and recall. Additionally, using familiar shapes can improve the overall effectiveness of the sign, as people are more likely to trust and engage with something they recognize.

Customized sign displays also allow businesses to incorporate their logo or other branding elements seamlessly into the design, further enhancing brand recognition. This cohesive approach to outdoor signage can be an effective marketing strategy, as it creates a visual connection between the physical sign and the brand's online presence, making it more memorable and increasing the likelihood that potential customers will engage with the brand.

  • Research has shown that outdoor signs with simple shapes and limited text are processed more quickly by the human brain, making them more effective in capturing attention and conveying information to passersby.
  • The shape of a sign can affect its visibility from a distance. For example, circular or oval signs tend to have better visibility from multiple angles, while rectangular signs may be more easily obscured when viewed from certain perspectives.
  • Some businesses use unconventional, one-of-a-kind sign shapes to create a sense of intrigue or novelty, drawing attention to their brand and encouraging potential customers to explore their products or services further.
  • Sign shapes have evolved over time, with early civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans using distinctive shapes and symbols to convey important information or represent specific businesses, a practice that continues today in modern signage.
  • In some cases, local governments or community organizations may impose restrictions on sign shapes, sizes, or designs to maintain a consistent aesthetic in the area, preserve historical character, or prevent visual clutter. Businesses must be mindful of these regulations when designing their outdoor signs to ensure compliance and avoid potential fines or penalties.

The versatility of shape in outdoor business signage is a powerful tool for businesses to stand out, convey their unique selling proposition, and establish a strong brand identity. By carefully considering the role of shape in their outdoor signs, businesses can create a lasting impression on potential customers and significantly improve their brand recognition, ultimately contributing to increased revenue and customer retention.

Discover the Perfect Material for Your Custom-Shaped Signage Needs.

  1. Acrylic: A versatile and durable plastic material that can be easily cut, shaped, and molded, making it suitable for various custom sign applications, including illuminated signs and lettering.
  2. Aluminum: Lightweight, rust-resistant, and durable, aluminum is an excellent material for outdoor custom shaped signs, as it can withstand harsh weather conditions and retain its appearance over time.
  3. Alumalite: A composite material made of aluminum sheets bonded to a corrugated plastic core, Alumalite offers the benefits of aluminum with added rigidity and durability, making it suitable for larger custom shaped signs.
  4. Armour-Wood: The Durable Choice for Custom-Shaped Outdoor Signage. Armour-Wood is a robust and versatile sign material that offers an ideal solution for custom-shaped outdoor signage. This composite material is constructed with a core of exterior-grade plywood sandwiched between two sheets of durable aluminum.
  5. Dibond: A sandwich panel composed of two aluminum sheets with a polyethylene core, Dibond is known for its lightweight, weather-resistant, and rigid properties, making it ideal for long-lasting custom shaped outdoor signs.
  6. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): A lightweight, durable, and weather-resistant plastic material, PVC can be easily cut and shaped, making it an excellent choice for custom indoor and short-term outdoor signs.
  7. HDU (High-Density Urethane): A versatile foam material that is resistant to moisture and rot, HDU can be easily carved and shaped, making it an ideal choice for custom dimensional signs and intricate designs.
  8. Polycarbonate: A strong and durable plastic material with high impact resistance, polycarbonate can be cut and shaped for various custom sign applications, including outdoor signs and window graphics.
  9. Corrugated Plastic (Coroplast): Lightweight, waterproof, and cost-effective, corrugated plastic is an ideal material for temporary custom shaped signs, such as yard signs, event signage, or political signs.
  10. Western Red Cedar Wood: Offering a natural, warm appearance, wood can be custom shaped and engraved for a variety of sign applications, including outdoor signs, plaques, and dimensional letters.
  11. Vinyl: Flexible, durable, and weather-resistant, vinyl can be cut and applied to various surfaces to create custom shaped signs, banners, and decals.
  12. Fabric: Often used for custom shaped flags, banners, and displays, fabric materials like polyester or nylon can be printed with vibrant colors and cut to desired shapes.
  13. Stainless Steel: Known for its strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion, stainless steel can be cut and shaped for custom outdoor signs, plaques, and dimensional letters.
  14. Glass: Offering a sleek, modern appearance, glass can be etched or printed with custom designs and cut to unique shapes for various indoor signage applications.
  15. Neon: Known for its vibrant, eye-catching glow, neon can be bent and shaped into custom designs for signs, logos, and artwork.
  16. LED (Light Emitting Diode): Offering energy efficiency, long life, and vibrant illumination, LEDs can be used in custom shaped signs, channel letters, and illuminated displays.
  17. Foamcore: Lightweight and cost-effective, foamcore is suitable for temporary custom shaped signs, presentations, and indoor displays.
  18. Gatorboard: A durable and rigid foam board with a wood-fiber veneer, Gatorboard is an excellent choice for custom shaped indoor signs and displays that require added strength and durability.
  19. Magnetic: Flexible and easy to install, magnetic materials can be cut and printed with custom designs for removable vehicle signs, menu boards, and promotional signage.
  20. Sintra (Expanded PVC): A lightweight and rigid PVC material, Sintra can be easily cut and shaped for custom indoor signs, displays, and dimensional letters.
  21. Stone: Offering a timeless, elegant appearance, stone materials like granite, marble, or slate can be custom shaped and engraved for plaques, monuments, and outdoor signs.

Your options for Custom Outdoor Signs:


  • Aluminum: Custom aluminum signs are strong, lightweight and super durable. Aluminum is the thinnest of all metal sign composites.
  • Alumalite: Alumalite is a metal sign panel made of a corrugated plastic core sandwiched between 2 large aluminum sign boards.
  • Dibond: Dibond is a metal sign panel made of a solid plastic core sandwiched between 2 large aluminum sign boards.
  • ARMOUR-Wood: ARMOUR-Wood is a metal sign panel made of a solid wood core sandwiched between 2 large aluminum sign boards. This is the strongest metal sign composite.
  • Coroplast: These are made from a durable corrugated plastic and are therefore extremely lightweight. They are also waterproof, making them preferable to foam core mounting board, and more professional looking than poster board.
  • Dura-Wood: These classic wooden signs are still popular for a number of reasons. They are extremely strong and weather resistant. We also use rot-safe wood.
  • A-Frames: A-frames (also called sandwich boards) are a sharp looking and easy-to-install way to display your outdoor signs on sidewalks or in the center of town plazas. We have a wide selection of styles and sizes for your signage.

The Importance & Physical Characteristics of Legible Custom Outdoor Signs for Businesses

Legibility plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of custom-designed outdoor business signs. The readability factor of outdoor advertisements directly impacts brand visibility, recognition and customer engagement. Creating legible and visually appealing outdoor signs is essential in attracting new customers and driving business growth for companies of all sizes.

Studies have shown that a well-designed and legible outdoor sign can generate 2.5 times more foot traffic than a poorly designed one (Sign Research Foundation).

In fact, 75% of consumers have entered a store or business simply because of its outdoor signage (FedEx Office Survey). With these statistics in mind, let's explore the physical characteristics and design elements that contribute to the legibility of commercial outdoor signs for businesses.

Proper Typeface & Font Selection for Professional Building Signs

The word "font" comes from the Old French word "fonte," which means "a casting" or "a founding." It originally referred to the process of casting metal typefaces for printing presses. In modern usage, "font" refers to the specific style, size and weight of a typeface, which is stored as a digital file on a computer for sign makers to use. The choice of typeface, style & font plays a significant role in the legibility of custom-designed signs displayed outside.

What is the difference between a sign font, a typeface and a typestyle?

The terms font, typeface and typestyle are often used interchangeably in the sign industry, but they have distinct meanings in typography.

A typeface refers to a family of related fonts, such as Times New Roman or Aria which companies often use for 3D Letters. Each typeface for bespoke signs includes a range of fonts with different weights, styles, and sizes. For example, the Arial typeface includes fonts such as Arial Regular, Arial Bold, Arial Italic, and Arial Black giving sign designs more personality.

A font, on the other hand, refers to a specific weight, style, and size of a typeface. For example, Arial Regular in a 12 inch size is a font, while Arial Bold in an 18 inch size is another font.

Typestyle refers to the variations within a font family. For example, a font family may include regular, bold, italic, and bold italic type styles commonly seen on billboards. Each style of type has a unique appearance but retains the same basic characteristics of the typeface adding variety for creative sign companies.

To summarize, a typeface is a family of related sign fonts. Fonts designed for customised signs are a specific weight, style & size of a typeface and type style refers to the variations within a font family.

How exactly does the letter size affect legibility in outdoor signage?

Larger sign letters are more visible and easier to read from a greater distance. As the size of the letters increases, so does the optimal viewing distance. This is particularly important for outdoor signs, as they are often meant to be seen from far away, such as by drivers or pedestrians. Smaller letters may not be easily discernible from the intended viewing distance, reducing the effectiveness of the sign.

Visual acuity:

Human eyes have a limited ability to distinguish small details, especially at a distance. Larger letters displayed on signs allow the viewer's eyes to recognize the shapes and contours of the characters more easily, improving legibility. Smaller letters may blur together or be difficult to differentiate, leading to confusion and reduced comprehension.

Reading speed:

Larger letters are generally quicker to read on large outdoor signs because they are more easily recognizable. Smaller letters can slow down reading speed, as the eyes need to work harder to identify and process the information. In outdoor settings, where viewers may have limited time to read and comprehend the sign (such as when driving), larger letters can improve the effectiveness of the sign's message.

Contrast and visibility:

Larger letters provide more surface area for contrasting colors between the text and the background. This increased contrast makes the message on outdoor advertising displays stand out more, making it easier to read, especially in environments with varying lighting conditions.

Viewing angle:

Larger letters are more legible from a wider range of viewing angles. This is important for outdoor signs, as viewers may approach the sign from different directions or viewpoints. Smaller letters may become illegible or distorted when viewed from wider angles, reducing the overall effectiveness of the sign.

The size of the letters affects legibility in outdoor signs due to factors such as viewing distance, visual acuity, reading speed, contrast, and viewing angle. Designing outdoor signs with appropriately sized letters ensures that the sign’s message is effectively communicated to the intended audience.

The International Sign Association recently updated their recommendations regarding letter legibility for 2023.

The maximum readable distance for a 1 inch tall letter on an outdoor sign is approximately 25 feet. Every additional inch of letter height on exterior road or wall signage adds 25 feet of viewing distance. The previous study on sign legibility conducted 37 years ago suggested 30 feet for every 1” of letter height.

Contrasting colors serve a critical role in the legibility of custom exterior business signs on buildings.

Color theory is critical in creating legible and attention-grabbing outdoor signs. Signs that use high contrast colors are 80% more legible than those with low contrast (Sign Research Foundation). Complementary and contrasting colors enhance visibility and help businesses stand out from the competition. The background color also plays a vital role in sign legibility, as it can either enhance or diminish the visibility of the text and graphics.

The level of contrast between colors directly affects the ease with which potential customers can read and understand the message being conveyed. A high-contrast combination of text and background colors ensures that the sign is easily discernible from its surroundings, making it more likely to capture the attention of passing motorists and pedestrians.

This aspect of visual communication in outdoor settings is particularly vital for businesses aiming to attract customers in competitive environments or in areas with heavy foot or vehicular traffic.

How does color contrast enhance the readability of exterior commercial signs for the visually impaired?

The effective use of color contrast in outdoor signage is also essential for catering to a diverse audience with varying visual abilities. Proper color contrast can enhance the readability of signs for individuals with low vision, color blindness, or other visual impairments, ensuring that the business's message reaches the widest possible audience. By considering factors such as ambient lighting, glare reduction, and weather conditions, businesses can choose color combinations that maintain optimal legibility under different circumstances, further enhancing the sign's effectiveness.

Color Selection for Brand Consistency in Outdoor Signage

Selecting the right color combinations for outdoor signage also contributes to brand consistency and corporate identity. By choosing colors that align with the company's logo, marketing materials, and overall branding, businesses can create a cohesive and memorable visual impact. High-contrast color combinations can reinforce brand recognition and help the company’s custom signs stand out from competitors, ultimately improving the return on investment in outdoor advertising.

Optimizing Storefront Sign Legibility with High-Contrast Color Pairings

Several studies have explored the impact of color contrast on legibility, providing valuable insights for businesses seeking to optimize their outdoor storefront signage. The International Sign Association (ISA) and the Sign Research Foundation, among other organizations, have published guidelines recommending specific color combinations that offer the highest contrast and, consequently, the best legibility. Some of the most effective pairings include black text on a white background, white text on a black background, and other combinations of dark text on light backgrounds or vice versa.

Graphics, Logos and Borders: Color Contrast in Exterior Signs

In addition to text and background colors, color contrast in other visual elements, such as graphics, logos, and borders, can also influence the overall legibility and effectiveness of custom exterior business signs. Ensuring that these design components maintain high contrast with their surroundings can help to create a more visually appealing and cohesive sign. By carefully considering the interplay of colors throughout the sign, businesses can maximize the impact of their outdoor signage, ensuring that it successfully captures attention, conveys the desired message, and reinforces brand identity.

Professional Sign Layout and Composition Tips for Custom Building Signs for Business.

Effective use of white space, hierarchy in design elements, and proper alignment contribute to the overall legibility of outdoor signs. Outdoor signs with a clear hierarchy of design elements are 40% more effective in conveying information (Sign Research Foundation). With an average of only 3-5 seconds to read an outdoor sign (Sign Research Foundation), businesses must prioritize the most important information and ensure it is easily accessible to passersby.

Improving Outdoor Sign Legibility at Night with Illumination and Lighting

Proper illumination is essential for maintaining legibility during both daytime and nighttime hours. Illumination and lighting, as they pertain to outdoor signs, are closely related but not exactly the same thing. Both concepts play a critical role in the effectiveness of outdoor signage, particularly in terms of visibility and legibility during nighttime or low-light conditions.

Illumination refers to the use of light sources to make the sign visible and readable in low-light situations. This can involve internal illumination, where the light source is embedded within the sign (such as LED lights or backlit signs), or external illumination, where the light source is directed at the sign from outside (spotlights, floodlights, or gooseneck lights).

Lighting, on the other hand, encompasses a broader range of considerations, including the type, positioning, intensity, and color of the light sources used to illuminate the sign. Good lighting design ensures that the sign is evenly lit, with minimal glare or shadows, and that the colors and text remain clear and visible.

Properly illuminated outdoor business signs can increase nighttime legibility by up to 65% (International Sign Association). Businesses should consider using energy-efficient lighting techniques, such as LED lights, to enhance the sign’s visibility and reduce energy consumption.

Custom Sign Materials and Durability

Weather-resistant materials are crucial in ensuring the longevity and continued legibility of custom outdoor signs. A variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and vinyl, can be used to create durable signs that withstand the elements. Regular maintenance and cleaning will prevent fading, cracking, and peeling, ensuring that the sign remains legible and visually appealing.

Outdoor Digital Building Signage

Digital outdoor signage offers numerous advantages, including increased flexibility and the ability to incorporate dynamic content. Digital signage has been shown to capture 400% more views than static signage (Out of Home Advertising Association of America). However, businesses must ensure that digital text is readable and accessible, adhering to the same principles of legibility as traditional signs.

The importance of legibility in custom outdoor signs for businesses cannot be overstated. Incorporating the right typeface, color contrast, sign layout, illumination, and durable materials will ensure that outdoor signs remain visually appealing, legible, and effective in attracting customers. By following these best practices and understanding the impact of legibility on business success, companies can create powerful outdoor signage that drives growth and brand recognition.

Incorporating Technology for Enhanced Legibility

Beyond digital signage, businesses can explore innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to enhance outdoor sign visibility and engagement. These cutting-edge applications offer opportunities for creating interactive and immersive experiences, bridging the gap between physical and digital spaces.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations of Outdoor Business Signs

When designing custom outdoor signs, businesses must be aware of local and federal regulations that govern sign size, placement, and content. Zoning laws, permits, and approval processes vary by location, so it's essential to understand the specific requirements for your area. Additionally, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that signage is accessible to all individuals, regardless of their abilities.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

As businesses become increasingly environmentally conscious, it's essential to consider the eco-friendly materials and production methods used in creating outdoor signs. By selecting sustainable materials, employing energy-efficient lighting, and implementing strategies for reducing waste and pollution, businesses can minimize their environmental impact while still creating legible and effective signage.

Case Studies and Best Practices

Examining successful examples of legible custom outdoor signs can provide valuable insights and lessons for businesses. Paying attention to the design elements, color schemes, and layouts that have proven effective in attracting customers can guide the creation of your own signage. On the other hand, learning from the mistakes and pitfalls of poorly designed or illegible signs can help businesses avoid similar issues.

Common Sign Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Some common mistakes in outdoor sign design include using inappropriate fonts, insufficient color contrast, overcrowding the sign with too much information, and failing to maintain the sign's appearance over time. To avoid these issues, businesses should adhere to the principles of legibility outlined in this article, ensuring that their signs remain attractive, readable, and effective in conveying the desired message.

The Future of Outdoor Signage

As technology and design trends continue to evolve, businesses must stay up-to-date with the latest developments in outdoor signage. From incorporating interactive digital displays to utilizing sustainable materials and production methods, the future of outdoor signage promises to offer new and innovative ways for businesses to communicate their brand message and attract customers.

Legibility is paramount when designing custom outdoor signs for businesses. By understanding the importance of typeface, color contrast, layout, illumination, and material selection, businesses can create visually appealing and legible signs that effectively convey their message and attract customers. Staying informed of legal and regulatory considerations, embracing innovative technology, and learning from successful examples will help businesses achieve lasting success with their outdoor signage efforts.

How does driving speed impact the legibility of roadside business signs?

Driving speed significantly impacts the legibility of roadside business signs. As the speed of a vehicle increases, the time a driver has to notice, read, and process the information on a sign decreases. Consequently, this affects the effectiveness of roadside signs in capturing the attention of potential customers and conveying the intended message.

  1. Reduced viewing time: At higher speeds, drivers have less time to read and comprehend signs, as their focus is primarily on driving safely and monitoring traffic conditions. A general rule of thumb is that a driver has only about 3-5 seconds to read an outdoor sign (Sign Research Foundation). When driving at high speeds, this window of time can be even shorter.
  2. Increased viewing distance: As the driving speed increases, the distance from which a driver can read and recognize a sign also increases. Therefore, it is essential for roadside signs to be designed with larger fonts and higher contrast to ensure legibility at greater distances.
  3. Sign placement and visibility: The placement of roadside signs is crucial when considering driving speed. Signs must be positioned in a way that allows drivers to see them from a sufficient distance, giving them enough time to read and comprehend the message before passing the sign. At higher speeds, signs should be placed further ahead of the business location or any crucial decision-making points (such as turns or exits) to provide drivers with ample time to react.
  4. Impact of motion blur: At high speeds, motion blur can affect the legibility of roadside signs. The faster a driver is moving, the more susceptible their vision is to motion blur, which can make it difficult to read and process information on signs. To counteract this, sign designers should use bold, simple fonts and high-contrast color combinations to enhance legibility.
  5. Simplification of design: When designing roadside signs for areas with high-speed traffic, it is essential to prioritize simplicity and clarity. Drivers have a limited time to read and process the sign, so it is crucial to convey the core message using concise text, clear graphics, and a strong visual hierarchy.

Driving speeds have a significant impact on the legibility of roadside business signs. To ensure that signs remain effective and legible at various speeds, businesses should consider factors such as viewing time, viewing distance, sign placement, motion blur, and design simplicity when creating their roadside signage.

The choice of typeface and font plays a significant role in the legibility of custom outdoor signs.

The choice of typeface directly affects a sign's readability, making it a crucial factor in designing effective custom outdoor signs for businesses.

A well-chosen typeface can increase the overall aesthetics and visual appeal of your outdoor advertising display, further attracting potential customers and increasing brand recognition. Considering factors such as traffic speed, viewing angle, and surrounding environment can help businesses select the most suitable typeface and font size for their custom outdoor signs, enhancing legibility and effectiveness.

  1. Highway road signs: A practical and widely recognized example of the use of sans-serif fonts for outdoor signage is highway road signs. These signs often use fonts like Highway Gothic or Clearview, which are specifically designed to be easily readable at high speeds and from a distance. The clean lines and simple design of these sans-serif fonts ensure that drivers can quickly understand essential information such as exits, speed limits, and directions.
  2. Fast-food restaurant signs: Another familiar example is the use of sans-serif fonts in fast-food restaurant signs, such as McDonald's, KFC, or Subway. These businesses often use bold, simple, and easily recognizable fonts like Helvetica, Futura, or Gotham to create clear and legible signs that can be seen from a distance. The use of sans-serif fonts helps drivers and pedestrians quickly identify the restaurant's location, enhancing brand visibility and attracting potential customers.
  3. Retail store signs: Large retail chains like Walmart, Target, and IKEA also utilize sans-serif fonts for their outdoor signage to improve legibility and brand recognition. These fonts, such as Helvetica, Univers, or DIN, allow for easy readability from various distances and angles, helping customers locate the store quickly and efficiently. The simplicity of sans-serif fonts contributes to a clean and modern look that appeals to a wide range of consumers.
  4. Gas station signs: Gas stations, like Shell, Chevron, or BP, often employ sans-serif fonts on their outdoor signage for prices and branding. The use of clear, legible fonts such as Arial or Eurostile ensures that drivers can quickly assess fuel prices and make informed decisions while driving at high speeds. The effective use of sans-serif fonts in these signs enhances the customer experience by providing essential information in a clear and concise manner.
  5. Public transportation signs: Bus stops, train stations, and subway platforms frequently use sans-serif fonts on their signage to display essential information such as schedules, routes, and directions. Fonts like Frutiger, Helvetica, or Transport have been specifically designed for legibility in public transportation settings, ensuring that travelers can quickly and easily find the information they need. The use of sans-serif fonts in this context not only enhances legibility but also contributes to a cohesive and user-friendly design across various transit systems.

How do serif fonts affect the legibility of signs displayed outdoors?

Serif fonts, characterized by small lines or strokes attached to the ends of letters, can have both positive and negative effects on legibility, particularly in outdoor signage. The impact of serif fonts on legibility depends on factors such as font size, viewing distance, and the medium on which the text is displayed.

Positive effects:

  • Improved readability in print: Serif fonts are often considered more readable in printed materials, such as books and newspapers, because the serifs can guide the reader's eyes along the lines of text, making it easier to follow and maintain reading flow.
  • Enhanced character distinction: Serifs can help distinguish similar-looking letters and provide a more defined shape to each character, reducing the likelihood of confusion between similar letters (e.g., 'i' and 'l').

Negative effects:

  • Reduced legibility at small sizes: Serif fonts can become less legible when used at smaller sizes, especially for outdoor signage. The intricate details of serifs can blur or merge together, making the text difficult to read from a distance or at a glance.
  • Compromised legibility at long distances: In the context of outdoor signs, serif fonts may be harder to read from far away or when viewed quickly, such as by drivers passing by at high speeds. The serifs can create visual clutter, making the letters less distinguishable from one another.
  • Difficulty in low-resolution displays: Serif fonts can be challenging to reproduce on low-resolution displays, such as digital screens or LED signs. The small details of serifs can become pixelated or distorted, compromising legibility.

While serif fonts can offer improved readability in printed materials, their use in outdoor signage may lead to reduced legibility, especially when viewed from a distance or at small sizes. For outdoor signs, sans-serif fonts are generally recommended due to their clean lines and straightforward appearance, which contribute to enhanced legibility in various viewing conditions.

Determining the appropriate letter size for outdoor signage is a crucial first step in the design process at

By focusing on letter size initially, clients can ensure that their signs are legible and effectively communicate their intended message to potential customers. The size of the letters directly impacts the viewing distance, with larger letters being more easily readable from greater distances. This approach ensures that the sign captures the attention of passersby, whether they are pedestrians or drivers, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of the sign in promoting the business or conveying essential information. Crafting Cohesive Sign Designs with Optimal Letter Size

Once the ideal letter size has been established, can then determine the overall size of the sign based on the graphics and content included. This process involves carefully considering the balance between text, images, logos, and other design elements to create a visually appealing and cohesive sign. By starting with the letter size, clients can be confident that their sign will maintain optimal legibility while still accommodating the necessary graphics and content. This approach also helps to avoid overcrowding the sign or creating a design that detracts from the primary message, ensuring that the final product is both eye-catching and effective in conveying the desired information.

Importance of Prioritizing Letter Size in Creating Custom Signs Designed for Outdoor Advertising.

In addition to enhancing legibility, the process of determining letter size first and then adjusting the overall sign size based on graphics and content allows for greater flexibility and customization in the design process. Clients can work with to create a unique and tailored sign that meets their specific requirements and reflects their brand identity. By prioritizing letter size, businesses can ensure that their signs are not only visually appealing but also functional in terms of attracting customers and promoting their brand. This approach ultimately leads to the creation of custom outdoor signs that are both effective in their purpose and a true reflection of the business they represent.

Contrasting colors serve a critical role in the legibility of custom exterior business signs.

The level of contrast between colors directly affects the ease with which potential customers can read and understand the message being conveyed. A high-contrast combination of text and background colors ensures that the sign is easily discernible from its surroundings, making it more likely to capture the attention of passing motorists and pedestrians.

This aspect of visual communication in an outdoor setting is particularly vital for businesses aiming to attract customers in competitive environments or in areas with heavy foot or vehicular traffic.

How does color contrast enhance the readability of exterior commercial signs for the visually impaired?

The effective use of color contrast in outdoor signage is also essential for catering to a diverse audience with varying visual abilities. Proper color contrast can enhance the readability of signs for individuals with low vision, color blindness, or other visual impairments, ensuring that the business's message reaches the widest possible audience. By considering factors such as ambient lighting, glare reduction, and weather conditions, businesses can choose color combinations that maintain optimal legibility under different circumstances, further enhancing the sign's effectiveness.

Strategic Color Selection for Brand-Consistent Outdoor Signage

Selecting the right color combinations for outdoor signage also contributes to brand consistency and corporate identity. By choosing colors that align with the company's logo, marketing materials, and overall branding, businesses can create a cohesive and memorable visual impact. High-contrast color combinations can reinforce brand recognition and help the company stand out from competitors, ultimately improving the return on investment (ROI) in the signage.Working with an experienced design professional at will ensure that these design components maintain high contrast with their surroundings. This approach can help you create a more visually appealing design for all your signage displayed outside.

Sometimes, all you want is the bottom line!

  • Our online Outdoor Sign pricing tool instantly calculates the exact prices on Outdoor Signs.
  • At, shipping for all Outdoor Signs is free for orders within the continental US greater than $125 for ground and greater than $400 for freight.
  • Orders outside the state of South Carolina are tax-free!
  • We do offer quantity breaks at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, 2500 and 5000.

The Future of Custom Designed Outdoor Business Signs

alternating day and night front lit channel letters for restaurant
Traditional craftsmanship combined with modern technology
to produce professionally designed outdoor signage.

Merging Artistry and Innovation in Sign Design
In the evolving world of business signage, the fusion of traditional craftsmanship and modern design is creating a new paradigm. Today's custom designed outdoor business signs are not just tools for visibility but artistic statements that reflect a brand's personality and values.

A Blend of Old and New in Modern Custom Sign Production
The artistry of traditional sign-making, with its attention to detail and handcrafted quality, continues to hold significant value. When this craftsmanship is combined with modern design elements like sleek graphics and innovative materials such as vinyl, metal, and weather-resistant plastics, the result is a sign that stands out in both aesthetics and durability.

Ensuring Sign Legibility with Contemporary Design
A sign's primary function is to communicate a message. Therefore, legibility remains a crucial element. Modern designs still incorporate fonts like Arial and Arial Black, which are known for their readability. The use of typography and font weights enhances the message's clarity while maintaining a stylish appearance.

Innovative Use of Durable, Outdoor Sign Materials and Colors
Advancements in sign materials like LED’s, vinyl and plastics have opened new avenues for creative and long-lasting outdoor signage. High performance vinyl graphics and metal elements add depth and texture, while neon and LED technology offer advanced illumination options. Color plays a pivotal role too. The effective use of color contrast can significantly increase brand recognition and visibility.

Augmented Reality in Signage - The Digital Leap
Augmented Reality (AR) is revolutionizing outdoor signage, transforming traditional signs into interactive platforms. This fusion allows brands to engage directly with their audience, offering an immersive experience that elevates the sign from a mere advertisement to an interactive engagement tool.

Designing Outdoor Signage to Enhance Recognition

Every aspect of the sign, from the choice of typeface to the overall design, reflects the brand image. It is essential to understand the target audience and tailor the signage to meet their preferences and expectations. Here, a graphic designer's role becomes crucial in marrying traditional elements with modern design trends.

Weather Resistance and Sustainability

Outdoor signs face the challenge of weather and environmental factors. Selecting weather-resistant materials not only ensures longevity but also speaks to a brand's commitment to sustainability.

The integration of traditional craftsmanship with modern design in custom designed outdoor business signs represents the future of business branding and advertising. This balanced approach ensures that signs are not only visually striking but also convey the brand's message effectively.

Excellence Guaranteed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Custom Outdoor Business Signs

Here is the definitive list of the top 8 materials used for custom-designed outdoor business signs:

  1. Aluminum is the single most popular metal sign material due to its corrosion resistance.
  2. Alumalite metal sign panels are available in ¼” and ½” thickness.
  3. Armour-Wood sign boards combine an armour-plated aluminum surface with a wood core for exceptional strength and outdoor durability.
  4. Dibond metal sign panels - Both aluminum & magnetic-receptive steel sign boards are available.
  5. Dura-Wood sign boards are still one of the most durable sign materials in the sign industry.
  6. HDU - Custom, High Dimensional Urethane sign foam is completely waterproof and never rots.
  7. Lexan Plastic is utilized to make the world’s most break resistant sign faces. These plastic inserts are ideal for replacement backlit sign faces.
  8. Western Red Cedar remains one of the most weather resistant and beautiful wood materials to use for custom wood signs.

The world’s longest lasting outdoor business signs include TheSignChef’s custom 3D metal letters, logos, and solid metal plaques which come with a Lifetime Replacement Warranty.

Other Forever products include solid & deep formed dimensional plastic letters.

Exceptionally durable sign materials like High-Density Urethane & Western Red Cedar can last for decades outside.

Digitally printed custom signs for use outdoors range in durability from 2 to 15 years, depending on the grade you select.

Yes, we will gladly assist you with the layout and design of all your custom signs, free of charge. All orders come with a 100% Design Satisfaction Guarantee or Your Money Back.

Customized outdoor signage is crucial for businesses as it serves as a first impression, visually communicating your brand's identity and values. It not only attracts attention but also helps in distinguishing your business from competitors. Effective signage can increase foot traffic, aid in branding, and reinforce customer recall, making it a vital tool for business growth and visibility.

Outdoor signs are made visible at night through various lighting options such as LED backlighting, front-lit channel letters or spotlight illumination. Highly reflective sign materials are also used to enhance night time visibility. These methods ensure that your sign is not only visible but also visually appealing after dark, enhancing both its impact and functionality for 24-hour brand visibility.

Exterior signage is weatherproofed using durable sign materials like Aluminum, Acrylic, Dibond, Lexan, Plexiglas along with High-Performance Vinyl Graphics. Sign-grade protective coatings are also used to resist water, UV rays and corrosion. We use specialized fabrication techniques to ensure the sign's surface and structure can withstand various weather conditions, ensuring longevity and maintaining its visual appeal over time.

Determining the best size for custom signs mounted outside is similar to a Chef crafting the perfect dish. It involves a blend of ingredients, each measured to perfection, ensuring the final result is both delightful and fitting to the occasion. Here’s TheSignChef’s inspired take on properly sizing outdoor signage.

  • Purpose of the Sign - The Main Ingredient
    Just like a main ingredient sets the tone for a dish, the purpose of the sign is fundamental. Whether it's for branding, direction, advertising, or information, each serves a distinct role. The main outdoor sign for an organization, like a hearty main course, needs to be larger to satisfy its role, while a directional wayfinding sign, akin to a side dish, can be smaller yet still significant.
  • Viewing Distance
    The further away the sign needs to be read, the larger it should be. There are general guidelines that suggest for every 10 feet of viewing distance, the lettering on the sign should be at least 1 inch tall. However, this can vary depending on the complexity of the message and the speed at which viewers are passing by.
  • Local Regulations and Zoning Laws
    Many areas have specific regulations about the size of outdoor signage. It's important to check with local authorities to ensure compliance with any size restrictions or permit requirements.
  • Space Availability
    The physical location where the sign will be placed also dictates size. The sign should fit comfortably within the space without appearing cluttered or overwhelming.
  • Design and Readability
    In cooking, balance is key, and the same goes for sign design. A sign that's too large for its content can be like an over-seasoned dish – overpowering and unappealing. The design should enhance the content, creating a harmonious balance that is easy to digest visually.
  • Budget and Material Considerations
    Just as a chef must work within a budget, choosing the right ingredients without compromising quality, sign makers must balance the cost of materials and installation with the overall impact of the sign.
  • Environmental Factors
    In areas with high winds or harsh weather, overly large signs might be prone to damage. Durability should be considered alongside size.

In essence, there's no one-size-fits-all in sign making, just as there's no universal recipe in cooking. Each sign, like every dish, is unique, tailored to fit its specific context and purpose

The cost of an outdoor wall sign varies based on factors like size, material, design complexity, and installation requirements. Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. For an accurate Sign Quote tailored to your specific needs, please contact us with your sign specifications.

The term channel letters is derived from the method of their construction, wherein each letter is formed from a channel of aluminum or stainless steel material. The hollow channel that forms the stroke of each letter, provides structure, depth and the ability to incorporate lighting for enhanced visibility and aesthetic appeal.

Outdoor signs are constantly exposed to elements like sunlight, rain, and air pollution, which can cause them to fade over time. To ensure the longevity and vibrancy of custom signs, special materials and coatings are used.

Commercial, Sign Grade Paints
High-quality paints specifically designed for outdoor use play a crucial role in protecting custom signs from fading. Brands like Sherwin Williams offer commercial, sign-grade paints that are formulated to withstand harsh outdoor conditions. These paints contain pigments that are more resistant to UV rays and weathering, helping maintain the color and finish of the sign over extended periods. Their specialized composition ensures that the signs retain their brightness and clarity, even with prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Clear UV Protective Laminates
Another effective way to protect custom signs from fading is through the use of clear UV protective laminates. These laminates are applied over the surface of the sign, acting as a shield against UV radiation, moisture, and pollutants. The laminate not only prolongs the life of the sign by preventing fading but also adds a layer of physical protection against scratches and abrasions.

Extended Outdoor Durability
Combining high-grade, UV-resistant paints with clear protective laminates results in extended outdoor durability for custom signs. This dual protection ensures that the signs can withstand various outdoor elements, from intense sunlight to varying temperatures and moisture levels. The outcome is a sign that remains visually appealing and legible for a longer time, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses.

The key to preventing outdoor signs from fading lies in using the right materials and protective coatings. Commercial, sign-grade paints and clear UV protective laminates are essential components in this process, providing resilience and longevity to outdoor custom signage.

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