Sign Examples: Types, Materials, Design, Trends

Signage plays a crucial role in representing any business. The right signage helps attract customers, build brand recognition, and convey key information. For small businesses looking to invest in signage, there are many options to consider across various sign types, materials, placement options, and more.

This guide will provide an overview of the main types of business signs, and their common uses. We’ll compare the pros and cons of popular sign materials, from vinyl to LED and beyond. You’ll learn key factors for choosing the right signs, from visibility and design to budgets and regulations. We’ll also highlight some of the latest innovations and trends in business signage.

By the end, you’ll understand:

  • The primary types of signs and when to use them
  • How materials like vinyl, neon, and digital impact durability, visibility, and cost
  • Placement, size, aesthetics, and other considerations for picking ideal signs
  • The difference between indoor vs. outdoor signage
  • New technology and sustainability shaping the future of signs

With this guide, you’ll be prepared to make informed decisions about signage to maximize visibility and present the best face for your business.

Window Signs

Window signs are decals, graphics, or displays placed directly on the glass windows of a business. They come in a wide range of materials like vinyl, perforated vinyl, frosted vinyl, painted signs, neon signs, and more. Window signs provide high visibility and are commonly used for retail stores, restaurants, salons, car dealerships, and other street-facing businesses.

Some pros of window signs include:

  • Increased foot traffic and walk-ins
  • Brand building and recognition
  • Easy to update and change
  • Maximize visual real estate
  • Often don’t require permits

Some cons include:

  • Can block natural light if not designed properly
  • More difficult for second floor or higher businesses
  • Less visibility at night unless lit

Window signs are commonly used for announcing sales and promotions, showcasing products or services, displaying store hours and contact info, and broadcasting your branding across the front of your business.

Wall & Building Signs

Wall and building signs are one of the most common and visible types of exterior signage for businesses. These signs are mounted directly onto the facade or wall of a building. There are several different types of wall and building signs:

Flat wall signs – These are flat signs that are mounted flush against the wall of a building. Common materials are aluminum, acrylic, or vinyl. Flat wall signs are versatile and economical.

  • Pros: Simple, affordable, easy to install
  • Cons: Limited visibility if mounted too high
  • Uses: Ideal for storefronts, retail shops, restaurants

Projecting/blade signs – Projecting signs are mounted perpendicular to the wall and extend out to catch pedestrian traffic below. They are double-sided.

  • Pros: High visibility, can include lighting
  • Cons: Can be prone to damage, permit/code restrictions on size
  • Uses: Retail stores, restaurants, cafes

Channel letter signs – These signs have dimensional lettering that is individually mounted to the facade. The letters can be lit or unlit.

  • Pros: High visibility, illuminating letters stand out
  • Cons: More expensive to fabricate/install
  • Uses: Ideal for multi-story buildings, retail stores

Neon signs – Neon signs use glass tube lighting to create bright and colorful signage.

  • Pros: Nostalgic, high visibility at night
  • Cons: High electricity costs, fragile glass tubes
  • Uses: Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues

Overall, wall and building signs are highly versatile for business signage needs. The right choice depends on visibility needs, aesthetics, and budget.

Monument & Freestanding Signs

Monument signs and freestanding signs are two common types of exterior business signage. Monument signs are ground-level structures that sit directly on the ground, while freestanding signs are mounted on poles or bases above ground level.

Some of the key differences between monument and freestanding signs:

  • Monument signs are shorter, often around 5 feet tall or less. Freestanding signs can be much taller, typically over 10 feet.
  • Monument signs have a wide, solid base and are usually rectangular shaped. Freestanding signs have narrower poles or beams as the base.
  • Monument signs allow for greater design flexibility with shapes and materials. Freestanding signs are limited by the need for structural support.
  • Freestanding signs are more visible from a distance, while monument signs are visible at eye level up close.

Monument signs are a classic choice for businesses, offices, schools, churches, and other organizations. The low profile blends well aesthetically with landscaping. Popular locations are at main entrances, driveways, and parking lots. Monument signs convey a sense of prestige and permanence.

Freestanding signs provide excellent visibility for businesses located further away from the street. The added height makes them stand out. Freestanding signs are commonly used along highways to attract passing traffic. They work well for retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses wanting to draw in customers.

When choosing between monument and freestanding signs, consider visibility needs, aesthetics, budget, zoning restrictions, and how much distinction you want your sign to have over others. Monument signs offer flexible design at eye level while freestanding signs provide greater visibility from a distance.

Directional Signs

Directional signage provides navigational guidance to help people find their way around a location or facility. They are essential for wayfinding and directing foot traffic. Common types of directional signs include:

– Directories – Map-style signs showing an overview of the location and where key areas are.

– Directional arrows – Signs with arrows pointing users in the right direction.

– Informational signs – Provide details like room numbers, names, and directions.

– Street signs – Help vehicles navigate around a property or parking lot.

The key pros of directional signage are improved wayfinding, reduced confusion, and increased accessibility. They provide essential visual cues to guide people seamlessly to their destination. Strategically placed directional signs can significantly improve the visitor experience and reduce frustration.

Potential drawbacks include sign clutter if overdone, and ongoing maintenance to keep signs accurate and up to date. The uses of directional signs are extremely versatile – they are applicable in most facilities from office buildings to hospitals to event venues.

Digital Signs

Digital signs, also known as digital displays or LED signs, are screens that can display anything from static images and text to full motion video. Digital signs have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their versatility, visibility, and ability to display changing content.

Digital signage offers many benefits compared to traditional static signs. Digital displays allow for dynamic messaging that can be changed in real time. This makes them ideal for advertising promotions, sales, special events, and displaying timely information. Digital signs can incorporate video, audio, animation, and interactivity to capture more attention than static signs.

LED displays provide bright, crisp images and text that is clearly visible from a distance, even in direct sunlight. The screens have a long lifespan compared to other display technologies. LED and LCD panels are available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate small indoor signs to massive outdoor billboards.

While digital signage has many advantages, it also comes with some drawbacks. The upfront cost of digital signs tends to be higher than traditional signs. They also require a power source, networking capabilities, and maintenance of the hardware and software. Content management can take more effort compared to static signage.

Common applications of digital signage include:

  • Retail stores – Promotions, pricing, advertisements
  • Restaurants – Menus, daily specials
  • Airports and transit stations – Flight/schedule information
  • Offices – Company communications, visitor info
  • Schools – Announcements, emergency messaging

Overall, digital signs provide impact and flexibility unmatched by traditional signage. When planning signage for a business or organization, digital displays are worth considering as a modern solution for communicating with customers and the public.

Vehicle & Fleet Signs

Vehicle and fleet signage refers to graphics and advertisements applied to the exterior of cars, trucks, vans, and other vehicles used for business purposes. There are several options for vehicle signage:

– Wrap advertising – This refers to large vinyl decals that cover most or all of the vehicle exterior with eye-catching graphics. Vehicle wraps offer high visibility and numerous branding opportunities.

– Magnets – Magnetic signs can be easily attached and removed from vehicle doors and sides. They are a lower cost temporary option.

– Lettering – Vinyl cut lettering and logos applied directly onto vehicles. More subtle option than wraps.

Pros of vehicle signage: extremely high visibility, movable advertising, versatility in graphics and placement, cost effective versus other outdoor ads. Cons: sign maintenance and upkeep, complex full wraps can be expensive, requires installation space/skills.

Common uses of vehicle signage include: delivery trucks, food trucks, ride sharing, contractors, plumbers, electricians, real estate agents. Allows branding on the go.

Sign Materials

When choosing materials for business signs, there are several options to consider depending on whether the sign will be used indoors or outdoors. Some key materials include:


Vinyl is one of the most popular and cost-effective materials for signs. It is lightweight, easy to install, and comes in a wide range of colors. Vinyl can be used for both indoor and outdoor signs. Pros of vinyl signage include durability, low maintenance, and flexibility to create various shapes and sizes. Cons are that vinyl can crack over time when exposed to weather and direct sunlight.


LED signs provide bright, energy efficient lighting. The biggest pro is visibility, as LEDs are designed to be seen in daylight and at night. They also have a long lifespan compared to other lighting. Downsides are higher upfront costs and electricity usage. Frequent bulb replacement may be needed for signs with many bulbs.


Neon tube lights can create vibrant and eye-catching signs. Pros are visual appeal and ability to attract attention. However, cons include fragility, higher energy use, and need for maintenance to replace broken tubes. Neon is best suited for indoor use.


Wood signs with painted or carved lettering provide a classic, artisanal look. Wood is attractive and customizable for many sign designs. But it requires proper sealing to withstand outdoor exposure. Frequent repainting or re-staining may be needed. Overall, wood is a versatile material for customized business signs.

Key Factors in Choosing Signs

When selecting signage, there are several important factors to consider for your specific business and location needs. The key considerations include visibility, sign size and dimensions, aesthetics and design, budget, and differences between indoor and outdoor signage.


One of the most critical factors is choosing a sign placement that maximizes visibility for your target audience. Consider sight lines from the street or parking areas to ensure the sign is noticeable. Also account for potential obstructions like trees or other buildings. High-traffic areas often warrant larger, bolder signs to command attention. Proper placement is crucial for sign visibility and impact.

Size and Dimensions

The appropriate sign size depends on factors like viewing distance and desired visibility. Large signs tend to have greater presence and impact. Consider relevant regulations for maximum sign sizes. Also account for the proportions of your building or property when choosing sign dimensions. Scale and balance are important aesthetic factors.

Aesthetics and Design

The sign design should reflect your brand image and style. Consider complementary colors, typefaces, materials, shapes and visual elements. Many businesses opt for signage that blends with or complements their building’s architecture and exterior design. The sign’s aesthetics influence customer perceptions of your business.


Signage costs vary widely based on size, materials, production methods, permits/installation and other factors. Outline your budget requirements and priorities to narrow down the options. Understand typical price ranges for different sign types and weigh costs vs. value. Quality signage delivers excellent return on investment through brand visibility.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Signage

Indoor and outdoor signs have some different considerations. Outdoor signs require weather-resistant and durable materials. Visibility, glare, and lighting are key for exterior signs. Indoor signs don’t face weathering but still require easy readability. Consider how the signs complement their environments. Follow relevant regulations for indoor vs. outdoor signage placement and construction.

Latest Trends & Innovations

Some of the latest trends and innovations in business signage include a greater focus on digital, interactive, and creative designs as well as a push towards more sustainable materials and practices.

Digital signage is becoming increasingly popular, allowing businesses to display menus, promotions, and other dynamic content that can be changed instantly from a central interface. This allows for more targeted messaging and adaptability. Interactive technologies are also on the rise, with touch screens and motion sensors allowing customers to engage directly with signs to access information, coupons, menus and more. Creative use of shapes, textures and lighting is also a growing trend, with 3D signs and kinetic displays that grab attention in new ways.

Sustainability has become a major priority, with businesses seeking signs made from recycled and renewable materials like bamboo and wood. Energy-efficient LED lighting is also dominant, reducing power consumption. Some companies are also using solar power and other renewable energy sources to run digital displays and illuminated signs. There is also a shift towards signs that can be recycled or repurposed at the end of their lifespan.

By leveraging the latest innovations in digital interactivity, creative design, and sustainability, businesses can stay ahead of the curve with their signage and merchandising displays.

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