Monument Sign Tips
A monument sign is the cornerstone of your property identification. Monument signage is essential to a business or residential development. Monument signs give a professional image to your organization and also make your business simple to find. Placed in front of one’s business in a prominent and strategic location, your monument sign directs visitors to your small business. They’re a sturdy and permanent means of creating a lasting impression.
When deciding upon a monument sign one needs to consider the real purpose of the sign. Is it to identify a neighborhood? How about to draw in prospective tenants to an apartment community? Another typical use is to identify a shopping center, or the tenants that lease there. A sign that identifies the tenants in a shopping center is often called a Joint ID sign. In some cities, these signs don’t count against the allowable square footage the tenants can have, so it is in essence free signage for them. The design of the monument sign needs to reflect the real purpose of the sign.
When designing a sign several factors must be considered. The first step is to check with the local municipalities and find out what the allowable square footage is. Placement of the sign is also critical. You typically cannot place a sign in the sight triangle. Also not typically allowed is a sign placed off property. Setbacks from the property and flow lines are also important, so it is imperative to check with the local authorities and find out what is allowed. Next is to take in consideration the “flavor” of the name. What does the name convey? You probably would not use a Victorian theme for a name such as “Wild Bill’s Ranches”. The theme of the sign should reflect the name of the property, if possible. Another important consideration is the existing architecture. I once replaced a sign that was a nice, modern theme with ornate brushed aluminum, set into a western style area. It was a nice sign, but really didn’t fit the area. It is always best to make the sign look like it belongs. This can often be accomplished by using the same materials as the architecture, or similar profiles and colors.
Other design considerations are related to the use of typestyles and negative space. Fonts should be legible, and too decorative is usually hard to read. Another common mistake is using a decorative style in all uppercase letters. It is rare that this works and looks good. Upper and lower case letters are usually more legible. San serif letters are generally more legible than decorative fonts. Don’t be afraid to mix up the font sizes, as occasionally the first letter of each word can be enlarged, and even have its baseline altered.
Negative space is important to the sign design as well. Too much negative space and the letters look stark on the background, not enough negative space and the letters look crowded in the area. There should always be negative space around the letters, and about 15% is the right ratio.
Monument signage can be constructed from many different types of materials. Depending on the life expectancy for the sign, and budget, the materials are chosen to meet the needs. A wood sign is not going to last as long as a masonry sign, but will be much less expensive. However, the ROI is probably going to be better on the masonry sign. For example, if you spend $3000 on a wood sign that lasts 9 years, it cost you $333.33 per year. If you spent $15,000 on a masonry sign that lasts 50 years, then the cost is only $300 a year. So the ROI is more favorable to the masonry sign in this example. Knowing your expectation of the sign is important when choosing materials for the sign.
The use of the sign often dictates the recommended materials. For example, in the multi-family industry, there is often a turnover of ownership. as most new owners like to re-brand, I frequently see these properties changing their monument signage within 10 years. I often recommend using wood signs or expanded polystyrene signage for these properties. Aluminum signs also work well in the apartment industry, usually for the text only. Occasionally a fabricated aluminum cabinet is called for, especially if the sign is to be internally illuminated. For a neighborhood identification sign, masonry works well due to the longevity. I would rarely recommend wood to a HOA, as the life expectancy is low, and most HOA’s need a sign that will last many years.
Typical material types used in monument signs are wood, steel, aluminum, expanded polystyrene, and masonry. Wood is usually the least expensive, and should last 5-10 years. Steel is moderately priced, but prone to rust. A steel sign should last 10-15 years. Expanded polystyrene signs are foam in the core, and coated with a hard shell like fiberglass. These signs hold up well, but don’t have much structural strength. If not tampered with, they should last 10-20 years. Aluminum is a great material to build with, and it will never rust. A well constructed aluminum sign should last 20-30 years. Masonry signs are the standard for longevity. a well constructed masonry sign will last 50 years and more. A good combination is masonry and aluminum, which lends itself to creativity and longevity.
Many monument signs have landscaping around them, so think about whether you’ll be adding flowers or shrubs to compliment the sign. Be careful in your selection of plantings in front of the sign. Avoid plants that will grow and cover the lettering. Seek out plantings that have a low profile when mature, and if they are evergreen that is an added benefit.Taller plantings should encompass the sides and be placed behind the sign.
Whether simple or elaborate, no matter what type you choose, a monument sign causes a statement about your image. It creates that all-important first impression and offers new visitors or customers with a professional image that tells them a great deal about your property.
If you need more information, or a free consultation, call me at 303.888.0078!