Weaving Signage Strategy Into Your Master Planning

How to Create an Elevated Brand Experience

In the development and construction world, signage isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, its impact on people’s daily lives is significant. Whether it’s residents in a building or visitors to a commercial space, signage is a product that people interact with regularly. It guides, informs, and enhances the overall user experience.

Prioritizing signage master planning early in a project is crucial for developers and owners. It allows for the seamless integration of signage into the architecture and design of the space, creating a cohesive and harmonious environment. Moreover, early planning ensures that the final product aligns with the vision and meets everyone’s needs.

In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of proactive signage master planning, its benefits, and how it can transform a space into an extraordinary environment.

Article Summary

  • Incorporating signage into your master plan allows for more creative signage solutions that can step outside the box of city ordinances.
  • Proactive signage planning, as seen in the Grandscape development, creates unique signage that sets expectations for visitors and keeps them coming back.
  • Neglecting signage in your master plan can make it look like an afterthought and could cause additional costs.
  • Allocating time for early collaboration between the sign manufacturer, design team, and other stakeholders ensures a successful signage master planning strategy.

The Importance of Early Integration

Signage is an integral part of our daily experiences. It guides us through spaces, helping us navigate and understand our surroundings. Whether in a commercial building, entertainment venue, or multifamily building, signage is crucial in shaping how you feel in that space.

Incorporating signage master planning into your overall master plan of a project is essential. It influences the overall look and feel of a building, and it’s something that developers and owners should consider delivering with their master plan. While it may not seem as crucial as other trades like plumbing and electrical, signage is a product that can elevate your space immensely. It’s vital to identify the types of signs needed, their locations, and any necessary steps for a successful installation, especially if they need to be illuminated.

Initiating the process ahead of time enables the choice of appropriate materials and the identification of sign types and locations. Initiating this at the beginning of the process also simplifies adding or removing signs as required, compared to handling change orders at a later stage, which can lead to extra expenses.

Another crucial aspect is the permitting and installation of electrical signs. Ensuring that everything goes through the proper process with the city and having all the elements ready for installation is vital when putting the signs up because it allows you more creativity and options.

Creative Signage Solutions & Brand Elevation

Being creative is our default behavior. However, we often find ourselves constrained by city ordinances and regulations. It can be frustrating for both our clients and our design team. Telling our clients they can only be as creative as they want within a small box defined by rules and regulations is not fun, but these regulations are necessary.

There’s a workaround for those involved in master planning for commercial real estate, though. By incorporating signage into the master planning process, you can take a different route. There’s a process with the city called the Special Provision Sign District (SPSD), which allows you to incorporate a sign package with your master plan, and it gives you the opportunity to step outside the box and be more creative. You can develop different monument signs, wayfinding signs, and more.

When you incorporate this into your master plan and go through the city, your sign package gets reviewed by a board. The board then grants permission for certain signs that would otherwise have to adhere to city ordinances if done later on. Going through the City Review Board and getting approval prior can circumvent the typical process.

And when tenants move into the building, all the signs are already in place. They simply have to follow the guidelines you’ve set out, making the process smoother for everyone involved. By doing this, we can balance creativity with compliance, achieving the best results for our clients.

signage master planning - Pegasus Dallas TX

Real-World Potential of Proactive Signage Master Planning

A prime example of the benefits of early signage planning is the Grandscape development in The Colony, Texas. When construction began, a giant chair was erected even before the Nebraska Furniture Market was built. This intriguing installation sparked curiosity, leading to questions about what was coming to the area. Nebraska Furniture Market was built as the development progressed, and the area evolved into what is now known as Grandscape.

As the development continued, unique signage appeared, unlike what you would see in a typical commercial real estate development. This was made possible by incorporating signage into the master planning process. When you visit Grandscape, you are greeted by a towering LED board over 75 feet tall. The board displays the Grandscape branding, upcoming events, and marketing for the tenants. It sets the expectation for visitors, letting them know what to expect and who is there. The dynamic nature of the signage keeps visitors coming back.

For those not in the signage business, visiting a place like Grandscape might involve following directions to reach their destination. However, it’s an opportunity for industry professionals to observe the finer details. There’s a lot to take in, from the monument signs at the entryways to the wayfinding signs, the marketing for future tenants, and the banners or window graphics on empty spaces. We enjoy looking at all these details and considering how to incorporate them into our projects, whether multifamily, commercial real estate or office buildings.

While only some projects can go as big as Grandscape, elements can still be incorporated into smaller developments. For example, the illuminated channel letters on the fountain at Grandscape are typically something other than what you can do at the size they did. However, by integrating signage at the initial stages and presenting it alongside the master plan of an entertainment district, they successfully navigated the board and obtained approval for these entertaining and inventive signs.

The Risks of Neglecting Signage in Master Planning

Leaving signage to the end of a project can make it look like an afterthought, as it won’t be seamlessly incorporated into the architecture of the building. Conversely, we can work closely with the design teams to integrate their materials into the signage when we’re involved in the beginning. Whether it’s woods, different textures, or colors, we can ensure that the signage is cohesive with the space.

Another consideration is the impact on the General Contractor (GC) constructing the project. GCs have a lot on their plate, and we want to avoid adding to their headaches. If they’re rushing to get signs up for an inspection, it can cause issues. By taking signage into account from the beginning, we can predict the demand for specific safety signs and collaborate with the fire department to understand their requirements. This way, there won’t be any surprises later on.

It also allows us to research upfront to understand what the city allows regarding signage. We can then get creative within those parameters, so there are no surprises when you design something and later find out it can’t be built. We’ll do the research first and then come up with something creative that is feasible and can be built.

Incorporating your signage master plan into the early stages of a project is crucial for a cohesive and well-thought-out design. It also helps the project’s GC and ensures the signage complies with city regulations. By collaborating with us from the start, you can achieve creative and feasible signage that enhances the overall project.

Best Practices for Crafting Your Signage Strategy

For a successful signage master planning project, allocating sufficient time in the initial phases is crucial for collaboration among the sign manufacturer, the design team, and other stakeholders. This could be a marketing firm building the brand or interior designers selecting materials. The essence is to foster communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.

We often receive bids from GCs later in the process, leading to unclear materials or client expectations. Without access to the design or specific information, communication is disconnected. This forces signage professionals to make assumptions about the sign’s appearance or construction, which isn’t ideal.

Inviting a sign consultant early on to share the building’s vision and desired signage can be invaluable. Using us as a resource before bidding helps us understand what’s feasible. And when a project goes out to bid, it ensures everyone is bidding on the same specifications, leading to competitive and consistent bids.

If stakeholders are more receptive to involving us from the outset, we can offer a wealth of resources and information. This proactive approach can prevent future headaches for GCs and provide clarity for owners.

signage master planning

Maximize Your Signage Master Plan

The realm of signage and environmental graphics can be intricate and challenging to navigate. But with our comprehensive design process and proficiency in compliance, design, fabrication, and installation, we’re here to help you foresee and effortlessly tackle any potential obstacles.

Our approach allows us to produce elegantly designed, easy-to-comprehend, and fully compliant signs—eliminating frustration, saving time, and preventing potential legal issues.

Transform your space into a remarkable environment where every sign and graphic is a stunning work of art and a functional 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, 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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