You need more than a sign company to rebrand your organization’s signage. Here’s why

You need more than a sign company to rebrand your organization’s signage. Here’s why


Robert Sokoloff

A rebrand is a major undertaking, one that involves a plethora of stakeholders, interdependencies, and logistics. And nowhere is all that complexity more apparent than when it comes to signage. Far from “just putting up new signs,” you must contend with a host of complexities in order to convert your signage to a new brand identity. From budgeting and design work to technical specs and permitting, you’ll need to prepare for a multistep process.

We don’t have to tell you that revamping your entire organization’s suite of signage is far from an everyday marketing project, and because of that, the process details are likely unfamiliar. It would be easy to underestimate the legwork required—but if you do that, you risk undermining your budget, timing, and brand consistency.

You’ll need to answer a lot of questions about rebranding signage. Who will design your signs, and who will produce them? What should you budget for this initiative, and how long will it take to pull it off? And the biggest question of all: how exactly should you go about creating a plan of action?

You might think that your best bet is to simply hire a signage company. After all, shouldn’t they be able to tell you what needs to happen, and in what order? While sign companies are no doubt experts in manufacturing and installing signs, most simply aren’t set up to guide you through the entire process, from strategy and internal alignment to final installation. For that, you’ll need an independent specialist — one that understands your strategic objectives, the smart tactics being used by other companies in your industry—and how best to navigate your signage project to an on-time, on-budget conclusion.

BrandActive is that specialist. We don’t try to fill the role of your creative agency or your sign production company. Rather, we work to provide a bridge between the design intent created by your agency and your signage manufacturer and that your signage program is delivered on time, on or below budget, and according to your brand’s high expectations. Here’s what we’ve learned over two decades of helping organizations implement their rebranding across exterior and interior signage.

Key considerations for a signage rebrand

You must take a multitude of factors into consideration when planning to rebrand your organization’s signage. And if your organization is national or even global, these issues will only be magnified. Before embarking on a signage initiative, you’ll need to consider:

  • Strategic planning. Start by bringing together the people in your organization who need to be involved in this initiative. That includes Marketing, who often “owns” the brand, Facilities, who is usually responsible for paying for and maintaining the signage, and any others. The goal is to align around goals, key considerations, and responsibilities.
  • Budgeting. How much will it cost to transition all of your signage to your new brand identity? Can this initiative be partially or fully funded as a CapEx expense per your organization’s capitalization requirements? Who needs to review and approve your budget before you can move forward with your signage project?
  • Signage design. Your signage should represent your new brand through its design, use of materials, and the way it is applied in your physical spaces.
  • Technical specifications. What are the precise technical requirements for each sign, including materials, construction, and special features (like illumination)?
  • Site selection. Where will each sign be located? What site-specific considerations (such as site prep, local regulations, and permitting requirements) do you need to be aware of?
  • Prototyping. Your signs might look great on the drawing board, but how will they actually work as 3D, full-scale objects on a building, for example? By answering these and other questions, sign prototyping ensures that every detail—from materials and letter spacing to color tolerances—work as they should before expensive decisions are made final.
  • Vendor selection. Signage companies can build almost anything with the right guidance. But in order to achieve the results you’re looking for, you’ll need to select vendors with the right capabilities, timeline, and prices. Remember, if your organization operates at the national or global level, you’ll likely need to partner with more than one sign company.
  • Permitting. Which permits are required to install each sign in each of your organization’s locations?
  • Production: How and where will your signs actually be produced?
  • Installation. What preparations (such as excavation and construction preparation) do you need to take in order to install your new signs? Who will install your signs, and what equipment is needed to do so?

How to rebrand your organization’s signage

Managing a signage program is a time-consuming undertaking — with many risks to navigate. With the right process and support, however, you can execute efficiently and seamlessly while at the same time protecting your brand’s quality and consistency.

10 steps in a signage rebranding process

Before embarking on rebranding your signage, you will need to consider a multitude of factors. Learn the 10 steps in a signage rebranding process.

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At BrandActive, we’ve helped hundreds of clients implement their rebrands. Along the way, we’ve developed a proven process for rebranding signage (either as part of a comprehensive rebrand or as a standalone project). With our highly structured approach, we minimize the inherent risks of rebranding your signage and maximize impact.

Our process includes the following three phases:

Phase one: design and development

Our first step is to get to know your organization and your rebranding objectives. To begin, we put together a core signage team composed of key stakeholders from your marketing, facilities, and brand teams. Together, we start identifying strategic objectives, taking stock of your signage portfolio, and modeling various budgeting scenarios.

At the same time, we visit a representative sampling of the different types of your organization’s sites (e.g. corporate office buildings, manufacturing plants, sales offices, etc.). While there, we gather detailed information about each site’s existing signage. We use these representative samples to build out a detailed and accurate picture of your organization’s overall signage portfolio. In addition, site visits allow us to design signage that is custom-built to fit your organization’s uses and environments.

Next, our team of experienced signage designers will work to convert your two-dimensional logo into signage concepts that support your brand and reflect your unique signage needs. Then, we produce prototypes to test and prove that your signs will work as expected in the real world.

From there, we develop a sign family, or a standard kit of parts that our clients can use to design multiple signs. We start to apply technical specifications, including materials, illumination, and construction.

Phase two: signage recommendations

Once we’ve completed our initial design and development phase, we prepare a comprehensive set of signage recommendation books.

We produce a separate signage recommendation book for each of your organization’s individual locations. Within each book, we present a map of the location that displays the geolocation of all of the signage on that particular site (including any new signage that is to be added). The recommendation books include photographs of each sign’s existing or proposed location.

Next, we meticulously document each existing sign’s specs and offer our in-depth suggestions for how to convert it. We also provide recommendations for where and how to add new signs to round out your signage portfolio. Along with digital renderings of each sign in context, we provide technical specs and pertinent information about each sign’s location.

With our recommendation books in hand, your organization now has a holistic and comprehensive signage plan to work from.

Phase three: implementation

In the implementation stage, we take the lead in identifying, vetting, and qualifying signage vendors. We review their pricing and help you identify the best vendors to produce and install your signage.

Once you’ve landed on a set of vendors, we manage vendor activities to efficiently and accurately complete permitting, review of technical drawings, manufacturing, shipping, and installation processes. As you might expect, each of the steps required in this final stage involves many activities and moving parts. By ensuring your organization takes all the right steps at the right time, BrandActive minimizes your risks and keeps your signage project on track.

By providing the bridge between high-level brand design and signage production and installation and expertly managing logistics, BrandActive ensures that your organization’s creative vision and strategic objectives are accurately reflected in your finished signs.

Interested in learning more about how BrandActive can help your organization rebrand your signage? We’d love to hear from you.