Everyone’s heard of it, but could you identify precisely what signage is and the specific purposes it serves? Of course, it’s everywhere you look, every time you leave the house, from hoarding signage to sports and retail signage, among numerous other examples. Some of it’s functional, some of it’s snazzy, some of it may even try to be funny, but every sign has its own purpose.

But it’s so ubiquitous that you may sometimes even stop noticing or thinking about signage.

As industry specialists, we’ve put together this guide to what signage is, and its different types, to give you a better feel for the issues involved.

What is Signage?

From road signs to hospitality and office signage, there is a different model for just about every type of environment you’re likely to find yourself in.

In fact, there’s nothing new about signs – the earliest ones date back to Greek and Roman times when stone ‘signs’ had particular symbols denoting businesses from taverns to workshops. In fourteenth-century England, Richard III decreed that every establishment selling ale needed a sign in front of its building. Gradually, businesses saw they needed increasingly sophisticated affairs to stay ahead of the competition.

Of course, things have rather evolved since then, from the ornate hand-carved wood, gold leafing and wrought iron of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through to today’s neon-lit megacities of London, New York or Tokyo.

One definition holds that a sign is ‘any kind of visual graphics created to display information to a particular audience’. It can be divided into exterior and interior signage or classified as wayfinding signage where it helps visitors find their way around an office or other corporate environments, or described as hospitality signage in a setting such as a hotel.

Equally, especially when it comes to sports and event signage or hoarding graphics, it may be installed in a large-scale format.

This type of visual branding graphic comes into its own at exhibitions and similar gatherings, whether in the form of floor graphics or wayfinding signage. Additionally, retail signage is especially important for highlighting promotions, giving directions and showing shoppers what they can find where while encouraging them to buy.

What Are the Main Uses of Signage?

If you’re devising a business branding strategy, there’s clearly a vast amount to think about. But don’t overlook the importance of signage as a key part of your vision, given how many benefits it brings and its numerous important uses:

A Form of Advertising That Draws in Customers

Exterior signage, in particular, serves as a form of advertising that’s free once it’s in place and attracts the attention of passing trade and makes people aware that your business is there, and of what it does. Sports signage advertises forthcoming major events. Meanwhile, hoarding signage around new retail or housing developments creates excitement ahead of an opening and stimulates interest and curiosity.

Wayfinding and Directing People

There are countless settings where people rely on signage to find their way around, from retail environments to exhibitions, trade shows and similar events. That’s especially the case at larger, potentially confusing events such as major sporting occasions or big conferences, or busy periods in shops like Christmas or sales time. After all, if people can’t find their way around a venue, it can sour their whole experience – and they’re far less likely to spend money.

Fully Functional

There’s more to signs’ uses than branding – at times the emphasis needs to be on clear communication and functionality. Health and safety signage is a classic example, providing site visitors, members of the public and employees with warnings of potential hazards and, of course, the Health and Safety Executive sets out the regulations surrounding this type of signage. Another function could be keeping those people away from a particular site who shouldn’t be there.

Brand Recognition and Consistency

Wherever you have your signs, they can help reinforce brand identity and recognition, bearing, for example, the same logo you see elsewhere on the corporate branding. This means the message is always the same. A coffee shop chain, for instance, wouldn’t have different types of signage on different branches in two separate towns. The same goes for office signage, so that staff are always inspired by identical messaging. At its most basic, signs are about helping people to identify and recognise places.

Sometimes it Just Looks Good

Often, whether it’s hospitality, retail or corporate signage or anything else, signs can just enhance the overall visual appeal of your space. That could be especially relevant, say, in a place such as a football stadium where there are a lot of ‘blank canvas’ areas. This kind of signage could incorporate wall murals, floor graphics or frosted window graphics.

Our Signage Production and Installation Services

So the importance of physical signage should never be underestimated. At Rocket Graphics, we specialise as experts in this area, from floor graphics to vinyl and acrylic signage and a lot more besides. Our policy of continual investment in our business means we can print large-format graphics with our state-of-the-art large-format cutting and printing equipment.

Over the years, we’ve created and installed all manner of signage for some of the world’s eminent brands and creative teams, in a huge variety of settings. We could help you, too. Get in touch today for an initial formal chat about your needs, with no obligation.