Market Bakery and Groceries in Metal Channel Letters Attached To Brick Building

6 Common Types of Commercial Signs

While there are many different sizes, styles, and uses for commercial signs, not all of them are relevant to property managers. Below are 6 types of commercial signs that are regularly used by commercial properties and facilities. Property managers can learn how each type of sign is constructed, including common materials, typical uses for each, and property types that regularly use each type of commercial sign.

1. Pylon Signs

Lincoln Automobile Dealership Pylon Sign For Types of Commercial Signs Blog

What are pylon signs?

Pylon signs are free standing high rise signs used to attract the attention or drivers and create visibility for a property. They are characterized by having covered support poles, as opposed to expose metal pipe. In many cases, the supports are covered in materials designed to match or fit the aesthetic of the buildings at the property.

Pylon signs can be double or singled sided. They can use illuminated or non-illuminated boxes. Depending on budget, they can include LED message centers as well. Property managers can use pylon signs for both single and multi-tenant locations as well. High end pylon signs can cost over $100,000 and replacing or installing one is a great example of a CapEx project.

Where are pylon signs commonly used?

Pylon signs are commonly used at properties to increase visibility. They are an extremely common type of commercial sign and often food along major roads and highways. Properties that regularly use pylon signs include:

  • Retail strip centers
  • Car dealerships
  • Hotels and motels
  • Shopping malls
  • Restaurant chains

These properties use pylon signs because they extend high above the ground, allowing them to be seen from a distance. Pylon signs featuring light boxes or LED message centers can generate even more visibility.

2. Monument Signs

Mount Rushmore Monument Sign With Stacked Stones For Property Manager Insider

What are monument signs?

Monument signs are ground level signs characterized by a low profile. They are freestanding signs, combining a well constructed base with architectural elements. Monument signs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. As a result, they are defined by their height and profile, not a single material, style, or design.

Monument signs are often found at the entrance to properties. Unlike pylon signs that extend high above ground, monument signs are designed to draw eye level attention. High end monument signs can also integrate custom lighting, illuminated letters, and LED message centers.

Where are monument signs commonly used?

Since monument signs come in all shapres and sizes, they can work for almost any property. In fact, they are one of the most common types of commercial signs at both multi-tenant and single tenant properties. Properties that regularly use monument signs include:

  • Office buildings
  • Apartment communities
  • Condominium complexes
  • Industrial parks
  • Corporate campuses

Monument signs are proven to increase visibility and traffic to properties. According to the Sign Research Foundation, businesses see up to a 10% increase in sales after installing a monument sign.

3. Channel Letters

Wells Fargo Channel Letters Sign On Front Of Bank Branch Are One Type Of Commercial Signs

What are channel letters?

Channel letters are custom made signs cut and assembled from metal or plastic and physically attached to a building or structure. Each letter, numeral, or physical element is an independent piece of the sign. Another key characteristic is illumination. Channel letters are almost always front or back lit with each letter having its own lighting element.

While channel letters come in almost any style, font, or color, they do follow general sizing guidelines. Heights generally range from 15″ to 24″ while the side depth, or return, run anywhere from 3″ to 12″. Since channel letters are custom made, they can certainly be manufactured in almost any size.

Where are channel letters commonly used?

Channel letters are another extremely common type of commercial sign. They are used heavily in retail spaces and by corporate brands. Properties that regularly use channel letters include:

  • Retail centers
  • Freestanding retail stores
  • Hotels and motels
  • Shopping malls
  • Office buildings
  • Restaurant chains
  • Corporate headquarters

It is important not to confuse channel letters with dimensional letters. In fact, they are distinctly different for two reasons. Dimensional letters are used on a sign, such as a monument or pylon sign, and are not physically attached directly to the property. Second, dimensional letters are not independently illuminated. They are illuminated by elements built into the sign structure itself.

4. Post and Panel Signs


What are post and panel signs?

Post and panel signs are eye level height signs constructed using two poles with a connecting panel. The two poles are often wood or metal that can be wrapped in plastic or left exposed. They are buried and secured into the ground to create the physical structure for the post and panel sign.

The two poles are then connected by a panel, which contains the actual signage. The panel is often made of wood or plastic and fitted with dimensional letters. Post and panel signs do not typically use LED message centers or illumination elements.

Where are post and panel signs commonly used?

Post and panel signs are one of the most commonly used types of commercial signs. They are extremely versatile and can be found at almost any type of property or facility. Properties that regularly use post and panel signs include:

  • Distribution centers
  • Apartment communities
  • Condominium complexes
  • Industrial parks
  • Corporate campuses

One of the most common uses of post and panel signs is for directional signage at large campus style properties where price is important. While a shopping mall might invest in a monument sign to indicate where stores are located, a distribution center could opt for a cost effective post and panel sign.

5. Blade Signs

Starbucks Blade Sign on Building for Property Manager Insider Blog on Types of Commercial Signs

What are blade signs?

Blade signs traditionally have a vertical orientation and are attached to the outside structure of a property. They hang perpendicular to the flow of foot traffic are designed to generate visibility to a business or property. As a result, blade signs are always double sided.

Blade signs trace their origins to hanging wooden signs for inns and taverns and date all the way back to the 14th century. Modern blade signs are often constructed using metal, plastic, vinyl, or occasionally even wood. Like many other types of commercial signs, they can be illuminated using internal lighting elements.

Where are blade signs commonly used?

Blade signs are frequently used in urban areas and indoor shopping malls because they are an excellent way to attract attention and foot traffic to a property or business. Other properties that regularly use blade signs include:

  • Retail centers
  • Urban retail storefronts
  • Hotels and motels
  • Shopping malls
  • Outlet malls
  • Restaurant chains

Many of the world’s most iconic retail and dining brands, such as Starbucks, rely heavily on blade signs to drive customer traffic to their locations.

6. Electronic Message Center Signs

Electronic Message Center Sign On Top of Hotel

What are electronic message center signs?

An electronic message center sign, often called an EMC for short, is a sign that is capable of digitally displaying words, symbols, figure or images. The display is remotely controlled using software, making it incredibly easy to update and change content. Electronic message centers can use a single color, such as orange against black, or be multi-colored.

Electronic message center signs most frequently use monument and pylon style supports and structures. They are normally constructed using LED displays because of their long life and brightness.

Where are electronic message center signs commonly used?

Electronic message center signs are regularly used at properties that want to convey frequently changing information. This is because electronic message center signs can be regularly updated and changed, unlike signs using dimensional letters or graphics. Properties that regularly use electronic message center signs include:

  • Shopping centers
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Conference centers
  • Retail centers
  • Freestanding retail stores
  • Bank branches

While electronic message center signs seem like digital billboards, they are actually different in many ways. Click here for a list of differences between electronic message center signs and digital billboards.

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