Behrends has Strong Alberta Roots with a Global Reach

Behrends Group of Companies started in Edmonton, Alberta over six decades ago and although we are a locally-owned, family-run business with strong roots in our province, our reach has extended far beyond our municipality, region, and even continent since we started doing business. Behrends Group started in Alberta because this province has always been the perfect place to build a dream and see it quickly become reality. And no company has shown this to be truer than Behrends.

We have very humble beginnings in Edmonton – in fact, our very first major contract was with the Edmonton Public School Board to create name plaques for classrooms back in 1952 and they continue to be our longest standing continuous client since that time.

From there, we started garnering contracts for municipal governments in Edmonton and surrounding areas, as well as across the province, through the provincial government, with the provincial parks system and in other areas of the country as well. At the more personal level, regular people, as well as small and large businesses have patroned us across our region since our inception. Since that time, we have expanded our reach out east to the main manufacturing areas of Canada and even into the Maritime provinces as well.

Federal government contracts have continued to ensure that the Behrends style of foundry signage, plaques and the like have become the uniform of our country. From your neighbour’s custom address plaque to signs along the Trans-Canada Highway, Behrends Group’s touch has shaped the look, feel and memories of our country.

As much as our work moved into the rest of Western Canada and out East, it also traveled to the south as well to the United States where Behrends landed a number of important contracts and continues to do regular work with clients. Internationally, we have shipped custom metal signage to almost every major world region including Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. We are proud to say that while we stay true to our roots, our reach has gone far beyond the boundaries of the beautiful province we call home – bringing that Alberta and Behrends touch to people all over the globe.

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Interior Directional Signage for Finding the Way

Interior directional signage, sometimes called modular signage, is critical for helping patrons and clients who enter your business or organizational spaces find their way. In fact, directional signage is the most common type of sign in the industry which tells you a lot about how necessary these signs are for facility navigation. When individuals enter your built spaces, they need guidance that is clear and communicates not only where they need to go in intuitive ways, but also which tell them something about the branded environment which they are entering.

Interior directional signage should fill their expectations by appearing in places that people have come to look for guidance – eye level, turning corners, hanging from the ceiling, at consistent points along the path to reaffirm the direction they are going and so forth. These signs should also communicate in ways that individuals have come to expect when entering certain types of spaces, including using particular fonts, the size of the writing, and the content of what is communicated.

What can be communicated via interior directional signage? Since this is the most common type of signage, one can imagine that the communication possibilities are numerous and include office, prohibition, communication area, washroom, emergency and many other types of infrastructural signs which guide people to specific places.

What we communicate is just as important as how it is communicated. Interior directional signage is one way in which you can consistently reaffirm messages about your brand as well. Modular signs can include logos, colour scheme, typefaces and other visual cues that help develop a cohesive environment. This kind of cohesion is comforting to the people that patron your facilities and can also be used to show a high level of professionalism, a sense of legacy and other values held by your business or organization.

The other important point to consider when it comes to interior directional signage is its adaptability to the changing needs of your space. Your signage should allow for future growth without breaking the bank every time you need something changed. Modular signage in particular comes with its own set of flexible possibilities to ensure that you have the tools you need, with the design quality you require, to upgrade as needed.

When it comes to interior directional signage, Behrends Group has a host of in-house design experts who want to work with you to bring your vision to life. Our foundry and architectural signage strategy teams have a diverse array of materials available to complete your cohesive wayfinding system, minimizing business disruption so you can do what you do best and leave the rest to us.

 

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Designers Working With Designers

At Behrends Group, our design team is made up of talented and experienced individuals who have worked for our company for many years. As such, they know what is possible when it comes to the manufacturing of signage based on particular design visions. This know-how is invaluable when it comes to determining if a design is manufacturable and can be made more economical for the patron.

That being said, our designers are not a replacement for external designers working in our field. In fact, when we come together, we create a cohesive team. Behrends Group consists of our designers working with your designers for a single purpose: to create the highest quality signage possible.

Our team enjoys the challenge brought on by creating the most innovative and fresh signage products. We are here to assist the work of external designers and make their brilliant visions into a product that can be fabricated effectively, efficiently and which will last. We combine aesthetic needs, a deep understanding of structural requirements, knowledge of local by-laws and budgetary factors to come up with design solutions that exceed client expectations while filling everyone else’s needs.

Whether we develop your signage design or work with your design team, Behrends Group is full of experts who have critical experience in bringing these designs to life through quality, custom materials and based on past knowledge. Your experience of working with Behrends Group starts with thorough consultation and planning to determine the very best designs, materials, placements and installation techniques for projects based on the timeline required and budget available.

Creativity is our forte and is the foundation of everything we do at Behrends Group. It is the reason why designers love working with us. Brilliant ideas from external designers are invigorating to the craft of creating signage and help us by engaging with active members of the design community at large. We get to know how their particular talents and visions to help shape built environments across the municipalities we inhabit together, and can draw on these talents to combine with ours. The result is a cooperative spirit aimed at putting beautiful, branded signage into the world together.

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Brent and Cassandra and Adam Collaberting Consultation

 

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Metal Signage Materials

Metals have been essential to human technology and art for millennia. In sign building and design they are an automatic choice of material for anyone who wants a sign that communicates permanence, individuality, and style. With their diverse characteristics, there is a metal to suite any style and signage solution. Some of the metals our foundry works with include:

 

Bronze

Bronze has been in use since the fourth millennium BCE – also known as the beginning of the Bronze Age. It is an alloy mainly of copper, with tin and sometimes other metals and metalloids. As an alloy, bronze is stronger than copper alone, and the ability to add a variety of alloy substances means that bronzes can have various properties such as a range of ductility (ability to stretch, for example, into a wire) and stiffness. Cast bronze is one of our most popular choices for signage; particularly for heritage signs and other projects with a traditional or timeless appearance. Bronze is durable and ages attractively. If the copper in the alloy is allowed to oxidize, bronze will take on a green patina which has instant connotations of age, tradition, and permanence. Even without this distinctive patina, bronze has a deep, brilliant tone that evokes timeless tradition.

 

Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the most abundant metal elements on earth, but it is rarely found naturally in its metallic form, instead appearing in combination with many minerals. Aluminum metal was first produced, in an impure form, in 1825. Until the 1890s, when the current process for producing metallic aluminum was developed, aluminum was so hard to produce that pure aluminum was more valuable than gold! Aluminum now offers an economic, yet stylish and versatile, alternative to metals such as stainless steel. It is light weight, soft, and resists corrosion, and varies in colour from silver to grey. It can be given a variety of finished looks including mirror polish, textured, and brushed, making it an excellent choice for projects with a sleek and modern look or fresh, contemporary style.

 

Brass

Like bronze, brass is a copper alloy, but with zinc rather than tin. Forms of brass have existed alongside bronze since prehistory, but it was not until the early modern period that it was understood as a copper-zinc alloy. In the sixteenth century metallic zinc replaced zinc vapour in the production of brass alloys. Like bronze, varieties of brass can be made more or less hard and soft depending on the proportions of zinc and copper. Aluminum can also be added to the alloy to make it stronger and more resistant to corrosion. Brass’ low melting point makes it good for casting, and its softness and workability make it ideal for applications such as brass instruments. Its golden colour makes it highly decorative. It can have a highly polished appearance or an antique aged finish, both of which communicate prestige and a classic look.

 

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The Total Language of a Sign

The total language of a sign – not only what it communicates but how it communicates – must be considered for signage to be maximally effective. There are multiple components which make up the total language of a sign and must be considered by designers and manufacturers to properly execute a spatial vision for their clients.

Before we consider what components go into the language of a sign, we must first consider the purpose of a sign or signage system. Different signage elements combine to assist the primary functions of orientation and information. Signs orient and they inform. They organize spaces, clarify one’s sense of direction, and help determine both the flow and behaviour of users within an environment. When signage is standardized to a specific communicative language, it brings visual harmony to a larger space, as well as coherence. This coherence affords users a sense of comfort by providing them with readable information, understandable by all. They will feel welcomed and structured within a space, contributing to their sense of personal security.

In order to create this sense of personal security, the total language of a sign must communicate effectively. This means that users of your space should be able to read, absorb and use the message of your signage instantly.

Total signage language includes the following elements:

  • Content: Once a client is attracted to a sign, it must communicate something to them. This can be done through language most readily; however, language should be kept simple, concise and to the point. Wordy signs that use too much jargon will be immediately dismissed as clients seek out simpler, usable information about the environment.
  • Graphics: If your sign does not use written language, it might use graphics to communicate a message. These could be directional cues (in the case of arrows) or identification images (figures to signify the function of a certain space). These should follow universal images wherever possible as users will come to expect certain methods of graphic communication. New imagery can confuse how they interact with your space.
  • Shape: The shape of a sign should be intuitive. This is not always as straight-forward as it sounds and includes considerations about the environment in which a sign appears, what other design elements are around and what is appearing on the sign itself. Oftentimes, the simpler the design is, the better it functions so keep shapes straightforward according to your needs.
  • Colour: Colour can be very helpful for communicating information about your brand or for separating regions within a larger architectural space, particularly when different areas are marked for different functions or services. Colour can also be detrimental to a sign if it makes language difficult to read or graphics difficult to see. Pick appropriate colours to communicate most effectively.
  • Location: Of course, where a sign is placed is part of its overall language. People have come to expect that signs (particularly directional signs) appear in certain places such as overhead, before rounding corners, or in front of elevators. Follow these standardized placements to make sure your sign is seen and communicates most effectively.
  • Lighting: Signage lighting is crucially important because it ensures that all of the thought you have put into your sign is worth it in the end because, ultimately, the sign can be seen. Lighting can include design elements within the sign itself (whether using front or back lit letters or lightboxes) or can be part of the architectural design of a room (in the case of spotlighting a sign). Either way, visibility is a major consideration in the total language of a sign and ultimately allows it to fully communicate.

 

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A Perfect Blend of Artisanal Work and Technology

A long legacy of experience in artisanal work and techniques is only as good as it is adaptable. These days, being adaptable means incorporating technology in ways that streamline processes and increase quality and efficiency without affecting the craftsmanship of the final product.

Behrends Group has a combined experience of at least 205 years in our foundry alone and these experts use the human touch and eye to execute every project to the highest standard of perfection. Having long-standing employees – many of whom have devoted their entire career to working with Behrends Group – means that the creative possibilities are endless. By having a strong foundation of knowledge and experience, such a team is better able to push the limits of what can be done with the designs and the materials at hand.

At the same time as this experience is central to the quality of products we offer, being at the forefront of technological innovation has always factored heavily into our work as well. Our design team is proficient at using the best technology to craft designs (whether two-dimensional drawings or three-dimensional renderings) that will exceed your expectations. Our fabrication team uses all kinds of advanced machinery as well as 3D printing and other innovative techniques. Finally, our installation –team uses the best tools of the trade and know-how about environmental factors and material quality to ensure that what we have spent time designing and developing also looks its absolute best.

This perfect balance of knowledge-keeping and experience while being open to new innovations sets Behrends apart. It is easy for other companies to replicate where we are at with technology, but without the advanced repertoire we have accumulated over the years, testing and crafting every type of project imaginable, there are still limits on the possibility of both signage design and execution. We have said it before and we will say it again: Every sign is a learning situation and, at Behrends, we love to be pioneers in the industry, pushing the boundaries of what is possible while delivering high-quality, custom signage every time.

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