Shopping Center Signage: Innovative Signage Solutions for Shopping Centers

Signage plays a critical role in the success of shopping centers by boosting visibility and drawing in foot traffic. A shopping center without proper signage risks losing out on potential customers who simply aren’t aware of the stores and offerings located at the site. According to Vida Signs, “An effective signage and wayfinding program helps shoppers locate where they want to go and informs them about important destinations within your property.”

There are several main types of signs shopping center owners should consider installing:

  • Pylon signs – Tall free-standing signs great for high visibility from the road.
  • Monument signs – Low profile, high impact signs placed near entrances.
  • Channel letters – Eye-catching illuminated letters that spell out store names.
  • Marquees – Customizable screens displaying promotional messages.
  • Directional signs – Guide customers to stores once they are on the premises.

Each sign type provides unique benefits in terms of visibility, customization, and ability to communicate key information to shoppers. This article will explore the most impactful options to improve wayfinding and boost foot traffic.

Most Effective Sign Types for Shopping Centers

When choosing signage for a shopping center, owners should consider the most high-impact options that will maximize visibility and draw in customers. Some of the most effective sign types for shopping centers include:

Pylon Signs

Pylon signs are tall free-standing signs, typically around 20-50 feet high, that are great for providing high visibility from the road. Their height allows them to be seen from further away as customers approach the shopping center. Pylon signs often incorporate the name of the shopping center in large, bold lettering.

Monument Signs

Monument signs are low profile, ground-mounted signs that pack a high visual impact. They are placed near entrances to shopping centers to draw attention. Monument signs create a look of prestige and permanence for the shopping center.

Channel Letters

Channel letters refer to large three-dimensional illuminated letters commonly used for store names within a shopping center. They create eye-catching storefront signage. Channel letters may outline the store name or be filled with LED lights for maximum visibility.


Marquees are customizable screens that allow shopping centers to display promotional messages, advertisements, and updates. Digital marquees can easily be changed to advertise sales or events.

Directional Signs

Once customers enter the shopping center, directional signs help guide them to find the stores they are looking for. Directional signs should be placed at intersections and directory boards displayed to aid navigation.

Creating Signs That Stand Out

When designing your shopping center’s signage, it’s important to make the signs stand out and grab people’s attention. There are several techniques you can use to make your signs more eye-catching:

Use contrasting colors that pop against the surroundings. Bright, saturated hues tend to attract more attention than muted tones. Strategic use of color contrast can make your signs more visible. For example, a bright red sign will stand out against a beige building.

Choose easy-to-read fonts and adequate text sizes. Avoid ornate script fonts that can be difficult to decipher. Opt for simple, bold fonts like Arial or Helvetica in large enough sizes that motorists can read from a distance. Make sure to keep messaging short and direct.

Place signs in high-traffic areas at eye level. Mounting your signs where pedestrians and drivers are sure to look as they enter the shopping center increases visibility. Placing signs too high or too low can cause them to get missed.

Use lighting for visibility during nighttime hours. Backlit halo lighting outlines the sign to make it pop. Neon tubing illuminates from within. LEDs can illuminate sign text and shapes while using minimal energy.

Strategically designed, well-lit signs mounted in optimal locations will alert customers to the presence of your shopping center and stores, driving more traffic to your property. Keep these principles in mind as you plan your shopping center signage for maximum impact.

Complying With Local Regulations

Shopping centers must comply with local sign codes and regulations to avoid issues. According to the ICC Sign Code, sign size, height, placement, and lighting are all regulated. Common sign codes include:

– Size limits – overall square footage and height restrictions

– Placement rules – setbacks from curbs and right of ways

– Permitting process – requirements for permits and associated fees

– Illumination limits – standards for lighting and luminance

Shopping centers should review local zoning codes and planning department regulations. Getting proper permits for new signs is crucial. Strategies to maximize visibility and impact while following regulations include:

– Using the maximum allowable size for high visibility

– Placing signs at the edge of setbacks and buffers

– Using lighting styles and intensities up to legal limits

– Applying for variances if needed for unique circumstances

Working closely with local authorities ensures shopping center signs enhance customer attraction while adhering to municipal rules.

New Innovations in Shopping Center Signage

Shopping center owners are utilizing new technology and innovations to make their signs more engaging and effective. Some of the latest trends include:

Digital Displays

Digital displays and programmable message screens allow shopping centers to showcase vivid imagery and frequently update messaging. Content can be tailored to promotions, events, or seasons. Digital signage boosts engagement and influences purchasing decisions.

Interactive Technology

Signs are becoming more interactive through technology like QR codes. Shoppers can scan the codes to get coupons, enter contests, or learn more about products. These create a memorable shopping experience.

Customizable LED Lighting

LED lighting allows for fully customizable colors and effects. Shopping centers can program lighting to reflect branding, holidays, or coordinated displays.

Wayfinding Apps

Mobile wayfinding apps integrate with digital signs to provide interactive maps and directions. This simplifies navigation for customers.

Case Studies

There are several examples of shopping centers and retailers who have used innovative signage and seen great results:

A jewelry retailer deployed digital signage in their store windows to showcase new products and promotions. This signage resulted in a 15% increase in store traffic during campaigns.

A sporting goods retailer implemented interactive screens combined with mobile integration. Customers could use the screens to look up product information and availability. This improved the in-store experience and increased sales.

A multi-brand shopping center used large, illuminated pylon signs to enhance visibility and branding. Foot traffic at the center increased 30% after the new signage was installed.


The cost of shopping center signage can vary greatly depending on the type, size, materials, and complexity of the signs. Some budget estimates per sign are:

  • Pylon signs – $2,000 – $15,000+ (typically $6,000 – $12,000 for a double-sided 25-30 ft sign)
  • Monument signs – $1,500 – $5,000+
  • Channel letters – $500 – $5,000
  • Marquees – $3,500 – $10,000+
  • Directional/wayfinding signage – $100 – $500 per sign

The average cost for a business sign is $2,000 – $3,000. However, shopping center signs tend to be larger and more complex. Total costs will add up quickly for a multi-tenant shopping center that needs signs for identification, directories, wayfinding, and individual stores.

It’s important to budget appropriately and scale signage to the size of your center.


Strategically placing signs in high visibility areas on the property is key to capturing attention. According to Mega Sign, front and center locations are often the most effective spots to mount outside business signs, even if they cost more. Prime locations include near main entrances, at corner intersections, along busy roads, and at eye level where people naturally look. However, it’s important to follow sign codes and get permits if placing signs in public right-of-ways.

For shopping centers, some ideal sign placements include:

– On the upper facade or roofline of buildings. This grabs attention from further away.

– At the entrance and exit driveways to mark the center’s location. Backlit monument signs here can really stand out. – Near main pedestrian entrances. Wall signs, pylons, and digital displays help guide visitors.

– Along the perimeter roads of the property. Pole signs every 100-200 ft provide high visibility.

– On corners of buildings to indicate what stores are located there.

– Above storefronts to identify each business. Channel letter sets work well here.

It’s also important to have clear directional signage guiding visitors once they enter the parking areas and walkways. A strategic sign plan specifically tailored to the property layout ensures customers can easily find their destination.


Regular maintenance and upkeep is crucial for keeping shopping center signs looking their best, functioning properly, and remaining compliant with regulations. Dust, dirt, and grime can accumulate quickly on signs, reducing visibility and legibility. Exposure to sun, rain, snow, and wind can also cause sign materials to deteriorate over time. It is important to inspect signs at least twice per year and perform any needed cleaning, repairs, or replacements.

For cleaning, use a mild detergent and soft cloth or brush to gently wash signs. Avoid abrasive cleaners or materials that could scratch or damage sign surfaces. For electronic signs, carefully clean display screens and check/replace any burnt out bulbs or LEDs. Check that all lighting is working properly for illuminated signs.

Look for any cracks, peeling paint or materials, loose parts, or malfunctioning electronics during inspections. Make any fixes right away to prevent further damage. This includes re-tightening or replacing any loose hardware or fasteners. For compliance, verify that signs have not shifted or sagged out of place over time. All required permit labels should be present and legible as well. Keeping on top of maintenance ensures shopping center signs continue attracting the maximum amount of attention.



In summary, signage plays a crucial role in attracting customers and boosting revenue for shopping center owners. Investing in high-visibility, eye-catching signs like pylon signs, illuminated channel letters, digital marquees and more can pay dividends by increasing foot traffic and sales.

Strategic sign placement, legible text, contrasting colors and innovative lighting are key factors that make signage stand out. While complying with local regulations, shopping center owners should maximize visibility and impact within constraints.

New technologies like digital displays, interactive QR codes and advanced LED lighting effects allow for dynamic and customizable signage options. As the retail landscape evolves, signage must adapt to catch attention and connect with consumers.

The time is now for shopping center owners to evaluate their current signage situation and consider upgrades to more modern, visible and engaging signs. The right signage can elevate a shopping center, build its brand image, and drive more customers to tenants. Investing in creative, high-quality signage solutions is a proven way to increase visibility, improve brand awareness and maximize revenue for years to come.

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