What Types of Signs are Most Commonly Used?

A significant way to divide the sign industry is into “electric” signs (which have internal illumination) and “commercial” signs, which are non-illuminated. For approximately three decades, a trade journal for the sign industry, Signs of the Times, conducted surveys of sign companies as to how their businesses were faring. These were called State of the Industry (SOI) reports. A stock question asked what types of signs each company sold.

For electric signs, “cabinet” signs (essentially, enclosed plastic shapes with fluorescent or neon illumination inside) and “channel letters” (three-dimensional, individual letters shapes with the open area filled with neon or LEDs, and plastic that covered both the lighting and opening) have been the staples.

% of Electric Signs Sold in the US

In Signs of the Times‘ most recent Electric SOI report, sign companies said channel letters accounted for 32.3% of their overall business. Cabinet signs were next at 26.3%. Third were “main identification, freestanding signs,” which meant they were set on the ground and weren’t attached to a building or any other structure, at 19.3%. Electronic message centers (EMCs) rated fourth at 10.3%. The full report can be read in the online edition at http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/STMG/sott_201407/index.php#/78.

For commercial signs, banners and vehicle graphics have dominated.

% of Non-electric Signs Sold in the US

In Signs of the Times‘ most recent Commercial SOI report, respondents said vehicle graphics (which includes the recent popularity of “wraps”) account for 26.7% of their business, followed by banners at 18.7%. Next came “dimensional signs” (routed, carved, sandblasted, etc.) at 10.1%, and window graphics were essentially the same at 9.9%. The full report can be read in the online digital edition at the following link.http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/STMG/sott_201408/index.php#/72

Wade Swormstedt

Wade Swormstedt

Wade is the former Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry and the former Editor and Publisher of Signs of the Times magazine.

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