A lasting first impression from custom outdoor signs can be the difference between making a sale and a potential long term client, versus yet another missed opportunity for your business.
Your outdoor signage is often the first taste of your company’s mission and purpose that reaches the vast pool of potential customers, so it is imperative that you approach your custom outdoor sign investment with care.
When planning, designing, and installing your custom outdoor signs, consult this guide to ensure that you are making the right choices for your business type, location, and goals.
One of the foremost purposes of signage is to boost branding; signage is a critical element of any brand promotion strategy. Displaying your company logo in public locations maximizes the brand’s exposure while serving such primary functions as identifying retail and office facilities and directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Logos must be treated respectfully in regards to sizing, placement, materials, and colors to preserve their value and positively reinforce the company’s public image.
Types of custom outdoor signs
When choosing the right custom outdoor signs for your needs, it is important to be aware of the various options.
A free-standing sign is any sign that is not affixed to a wall.
Types of free-standing signs include monument signs, pylon and pole signs, and post/panel signs.
A monument sign is a freestanding sign that stands directly on the ground or ground level foundation. Also referred to as low-profile signs, this type of sign will often include a brick or stone base structure supporting the sign cabinet. A monument sign is often used to mark a place of significance or the entrance to a location. Schools and churches often will have a monument sign identifying their institution and the monument sign may include an electronic message center for keeping the public informed about upcoming events.
Pylon and pole signs
Pylon and pole signs are an effective way to rise above the crowd. This monolithic styling is used for primary site identification, directions, and information. Pylon signs feature high visibility and make a strong statement. These signs are often used for businesses that have highway frontage or large businesses such as car dealerships and retail shopping centers.
When companies want to establish prominent commercial markers, they often turn to post and panel signs. Post/panel signs are designed to produce a clear, high-impact impression and to attract attention from far away, including passersby (such as pedestrians and motorists).
There are many different styles of post and panel signs from decorative alternatives that serve ornamental purposes to basic setups for short-term use on job sites. By breaking down the post and panel signage options, we will guide you in your decision making.
Post and panel signs defined
A flat panel that is mounted between two poles is known as a post and panel sign. These markers are freestanding and are considered a type of monument sign. When choosing a post and panel system, one of your main considerations will be materials. Primary materials include signfoam, aluminum, wrought iron, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and wood.
These are the main materials used for many different property types, including local parks, large commercial office parks, luxury vacation resorts, and more. Each has its own unique qualities. For instance, signfoam and PVC can stand up to the elements in all weather conditions. If timeless elegance suits your business’s goals and objectives, wood and wrought iron are excellent choices. Let basic functionality and desired visual effect be your guides as you choose the right materials for you.
Go big or go home with custom outdoor signs
The size of your post and panel sign will be determined by what you plan to achieve with your marker. For example, if you want motorists to be able to see custom outdoor signs that show where your parking lot is, a bigger panel is necessary. Small businesses, retail stores, and restaurants that want to catch the eyes of pedestrians and motorists will also want to opt for larger signage. For wayfinding and directional applications on a property, smaller post and panel signs are usually appropriate.
Your exterior sign can be enhanced in several ways. Decorative sign headers, T-straps, base caps, post finials, iron scrolls, and other supplemental accessories can create more of a visual impact. A post and panel display with decorative fittings will inspire onlookers to learn more about your message, location, and brand, leaving potential customers wanting more…and encouraging them to stop in to learn about your products and offerings.
Commercial and residential real estate signs
If you are looking to lease out different units within a building, vinyl cut banners are an excellent option, since they are easily changed to reflect the square footage, cost, and other information for a specific office, apartment, or condo.
If you are trying to find tenants for a house or building that has yet to be completed, one option is to post a large sign that includes an architectural rendering of what the facility will look like along with a floor plan. The more information buyers have, the more likely you are to sell.
Even if your listings are advertised on the Internet, you must supplement your marketing with real estate markers. When potential buyers see a vibrantly-colored real estate sign, they will know they have found their potential new home.
Custom outdoor signs on your building will oftentimes be the first impression your client has about your business. Having a high-quality exterior sign on your building will establish your identity as well as brand your business.
Some wallmounted sign types include illuminated channel letters, lightboxes, 3-D letters, and flat or fabricated metal signs.
Channel letter signs
You see them everywhere: in retail shopping centers, strip malls, downtown storefronts and commercial office and industrial buildings. Lighted letters, otherwise known in the trade as illuminated channel letters, are one of the most effective and economical types of signs you can buy.
These 3-D letters can be manufactured in a variety of styles to fit the image you are trying to project. LED channel letters are more efficient and environmentally-friendly than neon signs, containing no neon tubing which can be dangerous to the environment and is also known to require frequent maintenance.
For strip malls, downtown storefronts, retail shopping centers, and industrial and commercial office buildings in the Chicago metro area, channel letters are the most popular signage choice. You are probably quite familiar with the effectiveness of these signs if you have ever driven by any commercial business area at night. Illuminated channel letters are the ideal option for helping clients find your storefront from far away in any type of weather.
Channel letter signs can be mounted on a raceway or individually to your building.
- Reverse Halo Lit – Also known as “halo lit letters” due to the light coming from behind the letters, these signs are only made of aluminum, and the back is left open. All of the light, then, comes from the back. The letters are then offset mounted about two inches from the wall to allow the light to shine on the wall and create a halo effect. It has an elegant effect at night and is easy to ready during the day.
- Back Lit – In addition to light coming out of the back of the letters, back lit channel letter signs are also illuminated through the front face. You get an intriguing effect with the soft halo coming from behind the letter in conjunction with the crisp lit face.
- Open Face Lit – Despite the name, these signs are not really open faced. Instead, onlookers are able to see the lighting source inside at night because of the clear acrylic face.
- Non-Illuminated – For non-lit channel letter signs, high gauge aluminum is used. They are routed into shape with smoothly welded edges and deep returns. They are then primed and painted with car-grade paint. To create a soft shadow and more depth, these letters are commonly mounted with a standoff.
- Standard Front Lit – Housed in aluminum frames, LEDs shine through an acrylic face of any color with standard front lit channel letters. Due to its durability and rust free qualities, aluminum is most often used for the housing.
Would you like your business to stand out from the crowd? Or, do you need a way to advertise your company on a tight budget? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then it is time to consider a cabinet sign.
What materials are used to make cabinet signs?
Cabinet signs are made from high quality extruded aluminum. Heavy duty paint with a powder coating is added to protect the cabinets in the harsh Chicago weather. The use of plastic or aluminum push through elements for the face give cabinet signs their signature appearance. We also have vacuum formed faces for additional strength.
Types of cabinet signs
Cabinet signs in Elmhurst, IL come in many different forms. There are also illuminated varieties that are referred to as illuminated cabinets, electric sign cabinets, or lightbox cabinet signs. Below are the cabinet signs we get the most requests for:
- Custom Cabinet Signs – Cabinet signs can be created any way you can think of, including dramatic angles, smooth curves, and rounded edges. From permitting and design to manufacturing and installation, we will take care of every step of the process.
- Single Sided – These signs are built to last a while. There is little chance of the elements effecting this cabinet sign with its interior weatherproofing and UV resistant coating. And, as with all of our signs, they can be mounted directly to your building, used as a monument sign, or placed on a pylon or pole.
- LED Illuminated Lightboxes – There are many reasons why we used LED illumination instead of neon or incandescent lighting. With energy efficient LEDs, you save as much as 30 percent on your energy bills. LEDs will not cause safety or fire hazards. And, they remain unaffected in the cold winter weather. Plus, they are ideal for signs on top of pylons, since the bulbs last for more than a decade of continuous use.
- Double Sided – These cabinet signs are perfect for installing on top of a pole or pylon, since they are readable from two directions. This inexpensive marketing solution will benefit any business. They can be integrated into an existing foundation or stonework.
- Wide Fab Cabinet Signs – When square tubes or large pylons must pass through a sign without making shadows, wide fab cabinet signs are the perfect choice. Plus, they can be fabricated to be any shape.
- Hinged Framed – You can get your message across with a clear, protected hinged face. These are great outdoors and in. Plus, they are designed to hold anything from marquee message boards to posters. In addition, you are safe from vandalism, since they come with a lock and key.
In the vast world of three-dimensional letters, there are a broad range of alternatives available for the metropolitan Chicago area. The types of materials and custom designs available for these exterior signs are heavy duty, durable, and benefit all kinds of organizations, businesses, and establishments. And, the best part is that Vital Signs USA can handle every aspect of the sign process from permitting and design to installation and maintenance.
What are your material choices?
Common 3-D sign materials Just about any material can be used to make 3-D letter signs, also known as raised letters or dimensional letters. Some of the best options include:
- PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – PVC has been used for 3-D letter signs for quite some time. This is because it is simple to paint PVC any color you need.
- Cast Metal Bronze – Metal is used to make our most durable raised building letters.
- SignFoam – This material has taken the signage industry by storm due to its versatility and the fact that it is eco-friendly. SignFoam lasts longer than PVC and acrylic.
- Wood – Wood can be used for custom exterior raised letters.
- Flat Cut Metal – Made from steel, brass, bronze, copper, or aluminum, these letters can be laser cut or routed. Flat cut 3-D letters can be mounted directly on buildings or on raceways. They are typically mounted with standoffs to create the 3-D effect. Available finishes include custom painted, oxidized, anodized, or polished.
- Acrylic – Acrylic letters can be painted to match your business’s colors, or there are an array of standard color to pick from. This is the perfect solution if you are looking for a glossy finish.
- Cast Metal Aluminum – These letters are available in a wide selection of flat or prismatic styles. Anodized, natural, or painted aluminum are among the finishing alternatives.
Who benefits from 3-D letters?
The best uses for outdoor raised letters in Chicago are
- Professional buildings
- Apartment complexes and HOAs
- Community and senior centers
- Arenas and stadiums
- Local government buildings
- Bowling alleys, arcades, play centers, and other gaming establishments
- Parking garages
- Legal, medical, and accounting buildings
- Daycare centers and preschool buildings
- Auto dealerships and vehicle service centers
- Retail stores
- Grocery and convenience stores
- And more!
We can incorporate your logo into your 3-D letter signage or even make the letters match the typeface found on your company’s marketing materials. This is crucial for building your brand.
These dimensional letter signs do not have a lighting source. See our channel letters page for illuminated letters. However, we can incorporate an external landscape light or spotlight to make your 3-D letters visible at night. The options are up to you.
Outdoor panel signs
Outdoor panel signs are one of the most popular signage alternatives we provide due to their distinguished appearance and versatility. The first impression customers get of your business is often your custom outdoor signs. And, nothing gets your message across and grabs attention quite like outdoor panels. Fortunately, Vital Signs USA specializes in outdoor panel markers. We are the experts when it comes to designing, fabricating, and installing these signs for all of the Chicago area.
Outdoor panel sign varieties
There are an array of different materials that can be used to make outdoor panel signs. We typically use a durable aluminum composite panel that is either flat or “pan-formed.” We then adhere heavy duty vinyl graphics with your company logo, name, and colors to the panel. There are also single or double-sided options to pick from. The most common uses for outdoor panels include:
- Post and Panel Signs – We get so many requests for these signs that they get their own page.
- Wayfinding Signs – Outdoor panel markers work well in assisting patrons of your building complex locate the best entrance for different tenants. These work great for parking as well.
- Building Signs – Any sign that is mounted directly to the façade of your facility is known as a building sign. This is the most common form of outdoor panel sign. We can make your marker fit in or stand out from its surroundings as well as match your corporate branding. It all depends on your vision and goals.
- Yard Signs – Usually, you will see yard signs that are flimsy and meant to be used temporarily. Outdoor panels provide a heavy duty alternative. These are ideal for realtors seeking a reusable option along with contractors who want to market on the construction site.
Companies that benefit from outdoor panels
Vital Signs USA has created panel signs for an array of different enterprises in the Chicagoland area. Here are some of the best uses we have seen:
- Construction, earth moving, plumbing, general, electrical, and other contractors
- Hair salons
- Funeral homes
- Restaurants and breweries
- Public libraries
- Art galleries and museums
- Insurance companies
- Grocery stores and supermarkets
- Law and accounting firms
- And many more!
If you are open after dark, you might want to take lighting options into consideration. We do not incorporate illumination into the panels, but we can install landscape lighting or spotlighting to make your sign visible at night. LEDs are ideal for this job, since they are energy efficient and long lasting. At night, lighting will give your custom outdoor signs an extra level of elegance.
When you get in touch with us, we take care of every step of the process. From the initial site survey and permitting to installation and maintenance, we work within your budget to give you precisely what you want.
How Vital Signs USA can help
No matter your business type, Vital Signs USA has custom outdoor signs for you.
Banks and financial institutions
Signs play an integral part in directing your customers in and around your financial facility. In addition to wayfinding signage, banks, credit unions and other financial institutions display a range of messages offering different promotions to their customers. At Vital Signs USA, we can provide the full array of signage for your financial facility including, electronic message displays, ATM and drive-thru signage, window graphics, and various brand identity signs. Look to us to fulfill all of your signage needs whether you are a single unit location or one of several branches.
Commercial and industrial organizations
Business and industrial parks, as well as the individual businesses that reside within them, depend on custom outdoor signs to direct motorists to their destination as well as to identify and brand the company’s building. From directional signage to monument signs and dimensional wall letters, Vital Signs USA is the clear choice for all types of commercial and industrial signage.
Commercial real estate companies
Vital Signs USA is the national leader in providing complete signage solutions to commercial real estate professionals. Our valued clients include Newmark Grubb Knight and Frank, Cushman & Wakefield and CTK Partners, to name only a few. Our superior project management team has become the single point of contact for national real estate companies who manage their custom outdoor signs centrally. With our comprehensive network of affiliates, we can quickly respond to signage needs in every state.
Recognizing the time-critical nature of the commercial brokerage business, streamlined ordering and invoicing processes facilitate quick turnarounds on orders. We provide valuable services such as:
- Quick turnaround on quotations
- Conducting site surveys
- Customized order forms
- Procuring permits
- Emailing digital photos of completed work
- Assisting with signage design
- Maintaining digital archives of art files, logos, and digital pictures
- Consulting on optimum sign placement to maximize marketing impact
- Providing weekly status reports
Contractors and developers
The surest way to attract attention to your new development or construction site is with a bold, vibrant sign. At Vital Signs USA, we have been the leader in producing large construction project site signs for many new developments. We use the finest-quality wood products and secure posts in concrete piers. Fortified with special back-bracing, our signs can hold up to even the strongest wind conditions you will find.
There is perhaps no environment that requires accurate directional signage more than the healthcare facility. Patients and visitors alike are usually unfamiliar with their surroundings. Room identification signage, staff directories, and interior and exterior wayfinding signage systems are just a few examples of the products that Vital Signs USA can offer healthcare facilities.
Municipal and government
Cities and towns prefer signage that presents an image consistent with their community’s values and specific needs. Custom outdoor signs must be highly functional, properly located, and durable to ensure tax dollars are wisely spent.
Numerous types of permanent and temporary signs are needed for:
- Municipal complexes
- Fire stations
- Police stations
- Parking lots and garages
- Recreation centers and playgrounds
- Water parks
- Athletic fields
- Auto fleets
- Avenue lightposts
- Special events (festivals, parades, ceremonies, golf outings, races, safety campaigns)
Having supported numerous communities and government organizations in their permanent and temporary signage campaigns, Vital Signs USA has developed a wealth of expertise in these areas.
When it comes to restaurants, poorly-done custom outdoor signs can make or break your business.
Exterior signs that illuminate and attract attention will certainly help bring in customers. Once inside, other eye-pleasing graphics or wall-mounted dimensional signs will help make the customer savor the dining experience.
Retailers rely heavily on their façade signage to attract customers with their custom outdoor signs. Our experienced craftsmen can build high-impact signage for your retail storefront.
We will handle the permit process, landlord approval, and installation of your sign to make a worry-free experience for you. Illuminated channel letters, lightboxes, or dimensional wall letters are all options for catching the eye of your potential customer.
No matter which one you choose, Vital Signs USA can design, build, and install it for you!
Schools and churches
Schools and churches are the backbone of every community. Their custom outdoor signs are often used as the messenger to the public, delivering important information about upcoming events.
The sign that stands in front of your church or school is an indication of the level of pride that exists for that institution. At Vital Signs USA, our signs carry the esteemed UL certification, meaning they are built to meet the toughest standards.
This is why we carry the best warranty in the industry. Let us work with you to build a quality sign that fits your church or school’s needs and budget.
The bottom line
Vital Signs USA travels to many different communities to provide top quality custom outdoor signs. Vital Signs USA’s service area includes all of metropolitan Chicago, including Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, DuPage County, and Schaumburg.