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A Sign is Worth a Thousand Words

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Signage always says more than a company’s brand name. The materials used, the form and shape, the placement and the size all contribute to an instant judgement that passerby make about your brand. Every physical sign is an opportunity to create something unique that leaves a lasting impression on your audience in the physical world. “What about boring signage,” you ask? Well … that says something too, but I can’t remember what.

In this post I’ll dive into a few of the different elements of impactful signage to consider, along with examples designed here at ST8MNT.

MATERIALS How are materials interpreted?

Signage materials add to the overall aesthetic and feel of your brand. Acrylic letters have a completely different vibe than a shiny metal. Choosing the right materials can elevate your brand’s physical presence and further your brand’s story.

The Bobby’s Garage sign uses materials to tell the story of the moto-themed dive bar. Weathered metal suggests a grungy edge while the neon is reminiscent of beer brand signage commonly found bars. The sign suggests quality and also a laid-back feel, inviting guests to come in for a good time that’s a bit rough around the edges.

The Vault neon sign on a metal base
The Vault — Neon & Metal
Union Station Hotel metal signage outside extruding from bushes in front of the hotel
Union Station Hotel — Metal
neon and metal Bobby's Garage logotype sign on a brick wall above a door and garage entrance
Bobby’s Garage — Neon & Weathered metal
copper emblem and dark blue logotype metal signage on patterned tile background
Castlerock Asset Management — Metal mounted on tile


FUNCTION Great signage serves a purpose.

We recently branded the RCS headquarters in Orem, Utah, complete with informative wall murals, interior decor and branded signage. The signage system works together to establish the brand’s ethos to visitors and employees alike. Detailed pop up banners and wall graphics explain the company’s cash management process, making a complex process simple to understand.

RCS — Frosted Glass
Wall graphics and pop up banners with cash management graphics and brand messaging for RCS
RCS — Banners and Wall Vinyl
RCS headquarters lobby with Transform Cash Management mural
RCS — Wall Vinyl and Wood Cloud Chandelier
White LED tubing letterforms spelling out the word INNOVATION on glass panel with background reflections
RCS — LED Letterforms on Glass
RCS clock mural with wall clock hands that reads always in real-time we never miss a move
RCS — Wall Vinyl and Mounted Clock Arms


LOCATION Make the most of your surroundings.

Whether it’s putting a bus on a hotel roof or mounting wooden letterforms for a festival photo op, utilizing your surroundings in an unconventional way will stick in the minds of your audience.

The Durham Farms splash pad would have been a hit with kids without any graphics at all. Who doesn’t like to run through water on a hot day?! Instead, we made the most of the space by putting a vibrantly colored “splash” ground mural design on the splash pad. This clearly marked the area of the splash pad for the community, and accentuates the fun experience for kids and those looking after them.

A group of festival attendees taking a photo in front of Planet Roo wooden letterforms
Bonnaroo’s Planet Roo — Wooden Letterforms
Large black and white USH tile mosaic in front of Union Station Hotel entrance
Union Station Hotel — Tile Mosaic
Greyhound bus sitting on a rooftop bar with BOBBY painting on side
Bobby Hotel — Painted Greyhound Bus on Rooftop with Retrofitted Interior Lounge
Blue and orange illustrated graphic on the ground of a splash pad with water jets streaming up into the air near a pool
Durham Farms — Painted Splash Pad
Red neon signage that reads TAVERN with an arrow pointing upstairs in a concrete garage
Tavern at Bobby — Neon Sign

WAYFINDING Guide your audience.

Clear and concise directional signage needs to do 2 things:

  1. Guide your audience, giving them clear instructions of what to do or where to go next
  2. Reinforce your brand through physical aesthetics and messaging tone of voice

The O.Z. Typer distillery wayfinding signage does just this, using weathered metal and bourbon distilling imagery as the setting for clear directional signage.

OZ Tyler wayfinding weathered metal with oak barrel imagery sign that says Tasting Room and Tours
O.Z. Tyler — Weathered Metal Sign
OZ Tyler wayfinding weathered metal with oak barrel imagery sign that says Processing Room
O.Z. Tyler — Weathered Metal Sign
OZ Tyler free standing wayfinding weathered metal with oak barrel imagery that features logo and arrows pointing to gift shop, tours and administration
O.Z. Tyler — Free Standing Weathered Metal Sign
Acrylic vibrant aqua and white Tot Lot sign with playground rules and swing set in background
Durham Farms — Wood and Acrylic
Wayfinding signage suite for Durham Farms
Durham Farms — Wood and Acrylic


TEMPORARY Built to (not) last.

At ST8MNT we’ve had the pleasure of designing countless stage backdrops, tradeshow and event signage graphics and more than one giant boombox. It’s true that most signage needs to be a timeless and an accurate representation of a brand for years to come, temporary signage allows for more exploration into current trends and timely graphics that represent the current landscape.

The event signage we created for CMA Fest ran the gamut. Logo lockups were created for each stage under the overarching CMA Fest brand and applied to stage graphics, directional signage and large mesh and acrylic signs to define the festivals spaces. The signage allowed the festival to transform downtown Nashville into every country fan’s dreamland while staying true to the letterpress style and authentic grit of Nashville’s country aesthetic.

Stage graphic mesh banners The Other stage at Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo — Mesh Stage Banners
Stage graphic mesh banners This Tent stage at Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo — Mesh Stage Banners
Stage graphic mesh banners for Which stage at Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo — Mesh Stage Banners
Red tent top with people standing underneath and Prius standee event signage for Toyota Rock Your Run
Toyota Rock Your Run — Outdoor Event Signage
Toyota Rock Your Run event and tradeshow signage including oversized boom box background
Toyota Rock Your Run — Event Signage
Render of Toyota Rock Your Run boom box backdrop with geometric shapes and imagery of people running
Toyota Rock Your Run — 3D Event Signage
Fan Fair X and SoBro Row event signage at CMA Fest
CMA Fest — Mesh and Acrylic Signs
Banner Bike Wrap for SoBro Row at CMA Music Fest
CMA Fest — Bike Rack Wrap
Large Riverfront Stage mesh backdrop at CMA Fest
CMA Fest — Mesh Stage Banner


So … what’s your sign?

In today’s world where we’re more physically distanced than ever, physical signage remains undeniably relevant. An attractive sign can transcend its physical space and serve as an Instagrammable landmark. Physical representation of a brand is a clear way to establish credibility and serve as a repeated source of exposure for your local audience.