Easy Planning: 3 Factors for Smart Sign Budgets
3 Factors & 3 Levels of Signage with Budget Ranges to Help You Plan Early
🐘 Budgets can be the elephant in the room, can't they?
How do you budget signs that don’t exist yet?
Answer: Start early, pick a level, and ask for help!
For most projects, the general contractors we work with have a rough idea of the overall level of products that will be involved in the project. Many times you can put this level into a good, better, best type of scenario. We too have created a Bronze, Silver, and Gold package levels for signage. With these package levels, combined with floor plans, and the final use of the space (for example healthcare, education, corporate, hospitality etc) we are able to create a budget range for signage together.
Here are the 3 Most Impactful Factors to Your Sign Budgets:
- Level of Sign Design
- Material Selection
- Size and Complexity of the Facility
1. Level of Sign Design
For budgeting purposes we’ll explain our 3 Levels of Sign Design here:
Bronze is the most standard offering with acrylic panels, applied copy or basic photopolymer with integral text and Braille. Materials will be a quality design and product that integrates well to any environment. This level does not include laminates, fine woods, or metals.
Silver allows for more custom aspects that could include subsurface graphics, multi-layer construction, and minimal standoff. The materials used for the Silver line take advantage of ambient light using clear and/or frosted finishes. ADA needs are met with either an applied copy and Braille or a photopolymer with integral text and Braille. This level could include the addition of minimal accents and is a good option for integrating some simple architectural elements.
Gold is the most custom, highest designed, and most quality materials. This version allows for thicker and higher-end acrylics (green edge, mattes, or patterns) and multiple layers. This level makes a distinct statement and is idea for any architectural environment.
2. Material Selection: Value Engineering and Sign Design
Value Engineering: A thoughtful use of budget without compromising design intent.
This is also where we can get creative by “value engineering” designs if we need to help dial in budgets. Through value engineering, our goal is to give similar product options that will help loosen the budget while not compromising the design intent, functionality, and overall quality.
Material selection can make a big difference in cost. For example, there is a substantial difference between a painted silver acrylic panel, a ¼” thick aluminum panel, and 1⁄2” thick stainless steel panel. While they are all “silver” in appearance, each version has benefits and drawbacks.
Painted acrylic will be super cost-efficient, and have a good look to it, but wouldn’t be appropriate for exterior environments, may not hold up as long, and would not have any metal ‘grain’ to it.
¼” aluminum would be a better look of metal at mid-range pricing and appropriate for interior or exterior while also having the option of routing or curving.
½” stainless will look beautiful, have great dimension at that thickness and last forever, but it will be heavy, expensive, and not very flexible for routing, curving, or installing.
Sign Design: Utilize “Front of House” and “Back of House” designs for signage
Another way to thoughtfully budget signage is to create a “front of house” and “back of house” designs. Basically, by having a simpler version for the back of house signage funds These designs can be the very same design with just simple product swap out or they can be different designs altogether. The goal is to stretch your budget a little further for the signs that people see on a regular basis by skimping a little on those signs that are not viewed by the public.
3. Size and Complexity of the Facility
Wayfinding and Traffic Flow: How much is really needed for your facility's intent?
Wayfinding (getting from point A to point B, and back again) and traffic flow patterns are very important to review for hospitals and higher education projects. In these environments, visitors need to be able to get pretty far before they need someone to help them. On the flip side, in a corporate setting and K-12 school projects the common goal is to have visitors check-in at the front desk. Either way, having a good understanding of the use of a facility and the goals of the visitor experience is relevant to signage planning and budgeting. Also keep in mind that over-signing is as ineffective as undersigning, so to create effective budgets the use of the space is taken into consideration.
Graphics and Brand: Create a lasting experience for your visitors.
Another aspect of the visitor experience is the impact of your brand. Those feelings people have in your space and they take these with them. In companion with the interior design of a facility, environmental graphics and effective branding can create a lasting experience by creating feelings and a memorable experience. These experiential features will want to have a budget put to them even if you don’t know precisely what it will be yet.
What do they look like? How much are they?
Below are images of a basic ADA room sign in each of the 3 levels of signage: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Pay special attention to the side view (left or right of sign face) to see the thickness and layering of the different types.
Budget Range Examples
For all three levels, it's important to consider design and installation into legitimate project budgets. The examples below are just that, examples. In a thorough & complete budget discovery, product application and actual site location is required to appropriately budget for installation which is typically 15%-25% of the estimated product cost depending on scope, difficulty, and other factors. On the design side, we typically budget 12%-15% of the estimated product cost.
In this example, we used a corporate space with 3 floors. In a corporate setting we take into account ADA Room Signs, Changeable Office Signs, Basic Wayfinding, and Code Signage (Stairwells, Restroom, Evac Maps).
*No exterior signage is considered.
Typical budget ranges for each level of signage:
Bronze Level Signage: $11,000-$16,000
Silver Level Signage: $16,000-$21,000
Gold Level Signage: $19,000-$24,000
About the Author: Michele Jensen, Inside Sales Department Estimator
Michele’s “get-it-done and do it right” attitude is a perfect fit for working with developers and general contractors on budgets and contracts for upcoming projects. She joined us and began her sign career in 2006 in project management. In 2015, she joined the estimating team and brought her attention to detail with her.
What is Michele's favorite part of her job?
The challenge of covering the scope of work when the documents are vague.
Have a question or some vague documents for her? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Developing a wayfinding system is not so simple. There is a science to directing people to their desired destination. It must be simple, clear, and placed in the appropriate location. Here are 4 Keys to Wayfinding Signage on College Campuses.
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