While some wayfinding signage platforms require custom-made solutions, off-the-shelf modular signage systems are appropriate in many other instances. Off-the-shelf modular signage systems can help sign shops hit tight deadlines and even save on costs. Both large and small orders can be accommodated, and off-the-shelf modular signage systems are compatible with a variety of surfaces. But before purchasing an off-the-shelf modular signage system, it’s important that a sign shop understands its needs.
Benefits Of Off-The-Shelf Modular Signage
As regulations of the Americans With Disabilities Act have recently changed, many sign shops are finding they have to make quick modifications to their systems in order to remain compliant. When ordering off-the-shelf signage systems, a sign shop can expect to receive it as soon as the next day, says Adam Larson, sales consultant for modular wayfinding signage provider Sign Pro Systems, division of Orbus in Bolingbrook, Ill.
“Time is money,” Larson says. “If a sign shop can get the frames the next day, it could help avoid paying fines or any consequences that come from building inspectors.”
For some suppliers, off-the-shelf modular signage systems are also less expensive, says Ophir Yerushalmy, public relations manager of Vista System, a provider of modular wayfinding signage systems in Sarasota, Fla. As custom-made signs are made from scratch, there is typically a higher price tag that comes with the labor, and even shipping for custom-made signs can slow down the process.
“Custom-made signs take much more time to manufacture and are very expensive and slow to ship around the world as they cannot be sent disassembled in many small-sized packages,” Yerushalmy says. “Modular signs are much cheaper and can be shipped quickly and efficiently around the world.”
Wayfinding is an especially prevalent type of off-the-shelf signage. (Photo courtesy of Vista Imaging)
Many off-the-shelf modular signage systems are made from aluminum and plastic while the inserts are composed of flexible materials, such as polycarbonates, vinyl, paper and plastic, Yerushalmy says. Larson finds that anodized aluminum works especially well for off-the-shelf modular signage systems. Anodized aluminum is a durable substrate that won’t rust, weather or fade, and it matches many interiors.
“A lot of people are going to brushed-aluminum fixtures for their doors and lights,” Larson says. “This has a nickel finish, and it matches more modern buildings. We do have the black option, as well.”
Features To Consider
Often, end users install off-the-shelf modular signage systems in large areas, such as office buildings, hospitals and universities. With so much space to cover, it is important the signage system can serve a wide variety of needs, Larson says. Some areas may need directory signage while other areas require simple nameplates. The needs may differ throughout the building, but the look should remain cohesive.
Picking a high-quality product is also important. While determining the quality of the manufacturer isn’t always a simple process, a sign shop can request data sheets for an off-the-shelf modular signage system that outlines its specifications, ability to withstand the elements, and compatibility for indoor and outdoor use, Yerushalmy says. Both before and after assembly, a sign shop should inspect the stability of the components. A flimsy finished product could demonstrate a divergence in the system’s components.
“Check for compatibility with the types of graphic and sign-making equipment you currently have available in your shop without making further investments in new technology and equipment,” Yerushalmy says. “It is advisable to choose a flexible system that allows for a wide range of signage and graphic techniques. Systems that have been designed to ‘frame’ or ‘hold’ other substrates usually prove to be more flexible and accommodating both to the customer and the designer.”
Selling Off-The-Shelf Modular Signage Systems
For a sign shop to effectively sell off-the-shelf modular signage systems, it should consider displaying the frames in its showroom, Larson says. There are so many options for off-the-shelf modular signage systems, and it’s helpful for clients to see how the various frames look in a real environment.
The aluminum frames, manufactured by SignPro, a division of Orbus, blend into many environments. (Photo courtesy of 12-Point SignWorks)
“It is important to keep an off-the-shelf signage system on hand,” Larson says. “A lot of customers like to touch it and see it rather than just look at it in a brochure, though we can always send out just the brochures, which most people keep.”
When a sign shop is on the go, it can carry a sample kit that opens to display an assortment of frames, which can be personalized for specific clients, Larson says. For instance, if a sign shop has a sales meeting with a bank, it can load that bank’s artwork to give the client an idea of exactly how its brand would appear in the frames. The sign shop can even alter the frames to show both the silver and black finishes.
Yerushalmy suggests looking for a manufacturer that provides a variety of sample kits that can accommodate most budgets. There are even some manufacturers that provide sample kits at or below cost as long as the sign shop pays for shipping while others are willing to customize sample kits for the sign shop’s specific needs.
During the sales process, the sign shop should be sure to find out where the client plans to mount the off-the-shelf modular signage system, Larson says. While Larson hasn’t necessarily seen any mounting limitations, the type of wall and location can change the installation. A textured wall could require a different mounting than a painted wall, and an outdoor sign could have its own specifications as opposed to an interior sign.
Depending on the application, tape could be necessary, and the sign shop might have to drill holes in the frame. Although tape and predrilled holes do not come with off-the shelf modular signage systems, Larson says, directions can be provided.
Looking forward, Yerushalmy expects the modular signage to increase its popularity because of its flexibility. More sign shops are realizing the advantages of selling modular sign systems, such as their ease of modification, which better allows sign shops to service the unique needs of each client.
“This flexibility gives the system many advantages over old-school modular and custom-made solutions as it offers both modular and custom-made solutions at the fraction of the price of traditional custom-made signs,” Yerushalmy says.