Achieving Manufacturing Feasibility of Sign Design


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As a firm believer in the power of environmental graphics, we understand their crucial role in conveying messages and enhancing brands. Visual elements act as compelling storytellers, and they help you powerfully share your vision.

However, it is not enough for environmental graphics to be beautiful; compliance with guidelines is equally vital. These guidelines ensure that the graphics meet industry standards and accessibility requirements and adhere to legal and safety regulations.

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In this article, we explore the significance of environmental graphics, their engaging attributes, and how you can create compliant designs, guided by our in-house expert, Senior Graphic Designer Luis Aparicio.

With degrees in environmental design and architecture, a robust 14-year tenure at various architectural firms, and a five-year stint at a Philadelphia design studio, Luis brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Red Elephant. His rich background in architecture synergizes with his passion for design to enrich our team.

Additionally, Luis’s unique experiences in academia, having taught for 13 years teaching at various universities in departments of architecture, landscape architecture, and industrial design, solidify his position as an authoritative figure in the field.

Table of Contents

Most Designers Miss These Crucial Steps

When designing environmental graphics and signage, avoiding the common pitfall of information overload is vital. Providing too much information can overwhelm individuals, prompting them to shut down and seek help. The solution is delivering clear, concise information that effortlessly guides the way forward.

Designing for Clarity

Environmental graphics are so much more than mere words on a wall. A clear message is imperative, and signs must maintain consistency in their design. Every element, from colors to typography, must harmonize, ensuring an intuitive experience.

Any conflicting information can confuse people, making them feel lost. This is precisely why we place so much emphasis on wayfinding because it helps others confidently and comfortably navigate a space.

Designing for Accessibility

At the heart of our design ethos is accessibility for all. We carefully consider visual elements such as contrast and letter size. For instance, a crucial factor to keep in mind is maintaining a 7 to 1 contrast ratio. Light letters on a light background can be challenging to discern for individuals who are legally blind but can still see some shapes. So, the choice of color contrast becomes essential to ensuring visibility.

What makes our team unique is our shared commitment to creating compelling designs that serve their intended function. Good design isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about how the design works and interacts with those using it.

Our designs are not merely pleasing to the eye but genuinely helpful in navigating the environment. This is the reason we love the signage industry. It’s not just about placing a sign; it’s about helping people find their way.

Compliance Mistakes Can Lead to Major Liability

As professionals, we navigate an intricate landscape that not only focuses on conveying a company’s vision and mission to the world but also requires a deep understanding of regulatory compliance and safety concerns.


ADA Compliance

One significant challenge is ensuring compliance with accessibility standards such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Texas Accessibility Standards. Remember that a design element isn’t simply a poster; when embedded in the built environment, it becomes a long-term fixture that must be compliant.

A small detail overlooked, such as the absence of Braille on signage, can lead to substantial legal liabilities. This complexity makes environmental graphic design far more complicated than creating appealing graphics for digital applications.

Local Regulations

Another challenge companies encounter is the variability of local regulations and ordinances, which often differ from city to city. It is crucial to verify the specific signage ordinances applicable to each project location to ensure compliance.

Designing something that worked in one city doesn’t necessarily translate into universal compliance, emphasizing the need for a flexible, location-specific approach.

Safety Regulations

Safety considerations are another critical aspect that can present challenges. Environmental graphics, particularly signage, play a crucial role in emergencies where individuals rely on clear and visible signs for navigation.

In specific scenarios, even the physical design of a road sign, for instance, ensuring that it breaks apart upon impact, is a life-saving feature that needs to be incorporated. This aspect underlines the importance of communication between the building and its users, particularly in emergencies.

How We Achieve Aesthetics and Compliance

Starting a project from design to installation is a powerful way to ensure full compliance. This comprehensive approach allows us to meticulously consider all aspects of the process, including cost, material selection, dimensions, fabrication, and mounting methods.

environmental graphics by Red Elephant (Formerly FSGS)

Our Design-Assist Process

In such a process, operating as a cohesive team is essential. By doing so, we can anticipate and mitigate potential issues. For example, during the design phase, we might consult with the installers to clarify necessary clearances, avoiding later complications during the installation phase.

If an element doesn’t fit, the design and fabrication must be revisited, resulting in costly delays. Thus, maintaining a tight grip on the process allows us to preempt such issues, ensuring a smoother project execution.

Solution-Minded Design

In our team, project managers are the main point of contact with clients. However, our designers are brought in to provide their expertise when the discussion turns toward the design specifics.

Our designers’ roles aren’t just to design visually appealing signs; it’s about understanding and solving a unique set of problems. The solution might not always be more signage. Sometimes, a clutter of information can be the problem, and reducing that clutter could be the solution.

By understanding the client’s problems, we can provide better solutions tailored to their needs and the needs of the end users. This client-centric approach allows us to create efficient, compliant, and effective environmental graphic designs.

Making a Difference for an Elderly Community

An example of this is an elderly community that had been in operation for 60-70 years who came to us. The campus was striking with beautiful buildings, well maintained and charming. However, a significant problem arose when people needed help finding their way around.


Over the years, signage had been added over time, leading to an information overload that needed to be clarified and cohesive. As we assessed the situation, it was clear that decluttering was the first step to making this environment more navigable.

We took on the task and developed a comprehensive wayfinding master plan. We aimed to think of the campus holistically,  how people would experience the space, find their way, and interact with the information presented. We identified the decision points where signs would be most beneficial and considered the type of signs most effective in each location.

When the client reviewed our wayfinding masterplan, they were taken aback, “Why didn’t we think of that first?” they wondered. But that’s precisely why we were there, to analyze the problem and suggest an effective solution. This project emphasized how thoughtful design, user-focused planning, and adherence to compliance can transform a space, making it more accessible and enjoyable for all.

Decode Complexity with Our Experts

Navigating the world of signage and environmental graphics can be complex. However, with our integrated design process and expertise in compliance, design, fabrication, and installation, we can help you anticipate and swiftly overcome potential hurdles.

This approach enables us to create beautifully crafted, easy-to-understand, and fully compliant signs—avoiding frustration, time loss, and potential legal complications.

Let’s work together to transform your space into an extraordinary environment, ensuring every sign and graphic is not just a beautiful piece of art but also a practical guide that enhances the overall user experience.

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About Red Elephant

At Red Elephant, we’re more than just an architectural signage company; we’re pioneers in providing comprehensive and captivating signage solutions. Our reputation stems from our commitment to quality and compliance, which allows us to enhance spaces and forge meaningful brand connections.

Our range of services, extending from design-assist to installation, is anchored in our passion for crafting visually engaging signs that resonate with your brand’s story. We create each sign within our facilities to maintain impeccable quality control, adherence to timelines, and aesthetic excellence. Our commitment to quality is unwavering, and we ensure each sign is installed accurately, consistently meeting safety regulations.

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