Signage Terminology Made Simple: P to Z

There is nothing worse than an industry so full of complicated jargon that both clients and contractors have difficulty navigating its vocabulary just to get the job done. Signage and graphic design are both no exception to this so we have decided to compile some important “words” to help everyone navigate the industry a little easier. When you want professional help, starting with the group that defines the terms of the industry (in practice and in writing) is the best place to start. And, Behrends Group is doing just that. You can find more terminology on our first Sign & Signage Terminology post.

Sign Terminology

Photosculpt –  This is a bronze casting technique that recreates recreates photographic images on bronze signs and plaques for a detailed and realistic effect. A picture is worth a thousand words and Photosculpt can be used to convey a beautiful and timeless message on grave markers and memorials, pet memorials, in recognition systems, on historical markers and plaques, and so much more.

Post-and-Panel – This term refers to two free-standing posts that are supporting a panel that displays the sign and its information. Depending on the material and construction, these structures can be temporary such as in the case of a real estate or construction sign. There are also, more commonly, permanent post-and-panel signs, particularly for businesses or business plazas, offering directions (wayfinding) or displaying some other kind of important information.

Push-Through Lettering – This is when lettering or a logo has been cut out and mounted on a sign substrate directly over the place where the same shape has been cut out and removed. The lettering is usually back-lit from within the sign to illuminate the space between the substrate cut-out and the mounting. Depending on the material and treatment of the letters, the sides might be lit up (illuminating the outline of the letters) or the face and sides will both be lit up. Usually the substrate is made of either stainless steel or aluminum with acrylic lettering.

Pylon Signs –  Pylon signs refer to free-standing structures (medium or large-scale) that are often used to mark shopping centers, gas stations, hotels and industrial complexes. This large, roadside signage usually indicates the presence of multiple tenants and businesses. They can be double-sided and are usually made of aluminum, steel and can be illuminated.

Regulatory Signs – These signs are important for indicating rules, regulations and requirements as they pertain to a particular location. These can include indications regarding traffic, parking or even no-smoking signs. In order to be effective, the imagery chosen and the words used need to be clear and simple. They should be widely recognizable and standardized to ensure optimal visual communication.

Sign Box – A sign box is a panel with applied graphics that is then mounted on a box which contains LED or fluorescent lighting illuminates the graphics. The graphics or panel are easily changed allowing for versatility without needing to change the entire box out.

Sign Planning – This is the process by which we develop effective wayfinding systems for  your built environments. Information should be communicated through consistent visual and linguistic language; it has to be relevant and strategically placed to guide people through a space with little to no effort.

Sign Systems – This refers to multiple signs used in a “family” to form a consistent sign language in a particular environment. These work together for effective communication throughout a space, especially for wayfinding purposes. Consistent use of symbols, terms and strategic placing in relation to each other ensure that a visitor is left with an easy navigation experience.

Subdivision Signs – These architectural signs appear at the entrance of subdivisions and contain information about the name of the community. They convey a beautiful and positive first impression while setting the tone for the community’s aesthetic. Operating as markets for distinct, unified communities under a shared image or name, these signs lend elegance to new areas of the urban landscape.

Typeface – Typeface refers to a set of fonts that share common design features but might differ in terms of size weight and style. For example, Times New Roman is a particular type face, while italics Times New Roman refers to a font. One useful way to classify certain typefaces is in Serif, Sans Serif, Script and Decorative Type Styles. Each of these can further be divided into classifications based on style and even history. This a term that is now commonly used interchangeably with the word “font” (though not everyone agrees on that!)

Vinyl – This material is a type of plastic that is a versatile and economical alternative to metal signage. It is great for wayfinding systems, office buildings, and interior signage but also has exterior applications such as in information boards, historical markers and much more. Its appearance can be customized to virtually any graphic design and is cold/heat resistant keeping your signs protected from temperature fluctuations.

Wayfinding – Wayfinding systems help your patrons make a mental map of your facility, using directional and architectural signage to make navigating from one part of your space to another simple and intuitive. At Behrends, we create wayfinding systems that reinforce your brand identity and enhance the visual appeal of your workplace, incorporating custom design elements, colours, and materials. The most effective wayfinding systems create a positive navigating experience that reflects well on your company.

Wordmark – This is a typographically distinct logo made of the company’s name or even an image that turns an organization’s name into a memorable, visual symbol. It can be especially useful in creating a brand presence for your company and a visual language associated with your business.

TactileLetters/Tactile Type – This type of raised lettering gives depth and textured to your signage. It can be used in Signage for people with Visual Impairments. Raised letters or translations into Braille are available as well. The placing of signs needs to be accessible, at locations that can facilitate touching or close-up reading. For signs that are not at arm or eye level, lettering should be large, sans serif type and in high contrast tones.