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Choosing an Exterior Sign for Your Business

4 minutes read

Choosing an Exterior Sign for Your Business

How to Choose an Exterior Sign

Size, colour, proportion, design, materials, lighting, and mounting methods are some of the key factors to consider when choosing your exterior sign. Thinking beyond the basics will save you time initially and will give you the maximum ROI (Return on Investment). What does that mean, to think beyond the basics?

Sign maintenance and how your sign will handle the weather are primary considerations. You may also need to consider other factors, such as vandalism. What if a graffiti artist decided to use your sign as his canvas? How easy would it be to return it to good-as-new condition?

Of course, your immediate concern is the sign’s 24/7 visual appeal. Remember, your sign won’t exist in a vacuum. Other signs, traffic, and lighting conditions are just a few of the things competing for your prospects’ attention. And what if your logo changes next year? Signage professionals take all of these possibilities into account when they design your exterior signs. From updating old neon signs to weighing the way consumers view LEDs, vinyl graphics, and wayfinding signs, you have a lot to consider.

Channel Letter, aka 3-Dimensional Letter Signs

Professional, effective

Channel letter signs are high-profile, professional-looking and easy to read. Sometimes called 3-D or three-dimensional letter signs, many retail businesses, restaurants, medical and professional offices and institutions utilize channel letter signs, incorporating their logos in the sign to reinforce their brand image.

Channel letters are internally illuminated, easy to read in the day or night and upscale in appearance. They allow for creativity in presenting the business brand to effectively draw the attention of potential customers.


The two primary categories of channel letters are face-lit and halo-illuminated. Face lit channel letters are those letters in which the light from within the letter comes through the front face. Signs that have individual coloured letters visible at night are face-illuminated. Halo lit or reverse illuminated letters are those letters in which the characters are dark at night but have a glow that forms an outline, or halo, effect.

Why choose one over the other?

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of taste. In other cases, municipal codes dictate sign type or illumination methods. Some municipalities allow halo-illuminated, but not face illumination, letters because the illumination source for halo-illuminated letters is directed back to the building rather than outward, leading some to believe this is less obtrusive on surrounding businesses and homes. Also, the lumen rating (a measure of light) for halo-lit lettering is lower than for face-lit lettering.

Direct or raceway Mount?

Channel letter components and specifications are details you can’t afford to overlook if you want a high-quality sign that will properly identify your business for many years to come. It’s sometimes difficult to spot critical differences between well-crafted letters and flimsy ones – until it’s too late. Working with a sign company that makes a UL-approved product and has a host of references is the most reliable way to make sure you’ll get a reliable sign.

To ensure your letters are properly constructed, your sign company should identify the specifications of the letters. Key areas to inspect in the work order:

  • Letter backs should be .063 aluminium, ACM or Dibond (not 040 aluminium)
  • In most cases, the side (known as “returns”) of the letters should be no less than .040 aluminium. Rarely, thinner material is specified, for example, if letters are required to bend.
  • The trim cap should typically be 1” Jewelite or Wagner

Light source products are not created equal

The primary brands of LED are GE Gel core and Sloan. There are also several lesser-known brands that are equally as effective. However, every product carries different warranties, and ultimately, those can affect the long-term investment in your sign.

Cabinet Signs

Generally, they provide quick ROI

Whether recessed or tiered, illuminated or two-sided, cabinet signs can promote your business and can be customized to convey the look and image you want. A standard cabinet sign is generally quite economical, offering a quick return on investment. (ROI) A variety of materials can be used in cabinet signs, and cabinet signs can be designed to be wall-mounted, or installed to be used as free-standing signs.

A cabinet sign is a cost-effective option for a new business with a limited budget. While cabinet signs offer a low-cost alternative to other signage, when done well they can effectively brand your business.


The starting point for an internally illuminated cabinet sign is a high-quality aluminium extrusion cabinet with a durable polycarbonate face with vinyl graphics. You can step up the appearance of a cabinet sign by utilizing an aluminium face with routed graphics, backed with Plexi. Another upgrade many businesses select is the addition of dimensional, push-thru graphics with raised acrylic lettering that will illuminate.

Illumination and energy use

The standard illumination for sign cabinets is fluorescent lamps. More energy-efficient T5s and T12s are increasingly popular lighting options. A greener alternative that does add cost but will ensure less service work is a cabinet illuminated with LEDs. Discuss the options with your Neon Nights sales representative.

Call (021) 880-215 to Discuss Your Needs Today

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