Making Your Sign Stand Out and Show Up

obscured sign

If they can't see your sign, it isn't there.

Your business’s external outdoor signs should be of sufficient height and size without being obscured by objects such as trees, lampposts and so on.

Its content, both text and logo, must be legible.  It must stand out from its background.

If you hope that drivers and passengers in cars will see your sign, refer to this chart when selecting the size of your sign(s):

Speed of traffic

Legibility Distance

Size of Outdoor Signs Needed (height)

55 mph



50 mph



45 mph



40 mph



35 mph



30 mph



25 mph



A sign has less than two seconds to capture a consumer’s attention. Remember these tips:

  • simple message
  • direct message
  • highly visible letters
  • easy-to-read type styles
  • illumination
  • contrasting colors
    • The most readable background colors are white and yellow
    • The most readable letters are black, dark blue and red
  • a border can help your viewer absorb your information 26% faster

If you customers can’t see your sign, all is lost. Make sure your sign stands out and shows up!

Preventing Outdoor Sign Failure | outdoor signs

Why do some outdoor signs fail?

We at Sign Clemente like to  take a look at why some outdoor signs fail so we can ensure that yours don’t.  Take a look at the photo.  These letters are what is called in the industry, “foam and plex”, meaning that they are made of acrylic (“plex”) laminated to foam.   We make lots and lots of outdoor signs out of these materials.   It is hard to say what ruined  these outdoor sign letters, it could have been the weather, but in Southern California, it is doubtful.   Birds like to peck at foam sometimes, and that is the more likely scenario .
What can be done to prevent this?  We like to add a stucco finish to the edges of the foam on outdoor signs.   Stucco finishes are really just thick paint that has been mixed with sand.  The rough edges give the letters a creative-looking texture, but more importantly, the coating provides a great deal more protection against hostile elements than paint alone.  Birds don’t enjoy pecking at stucco, and the thicker coating is just more durable.

Metal Letters and Outdoor Signs

Another way to prevent sign failure with outdoor signs is by going with metal letters.  Sure they do cost more, but they last a lifetime.  The industry used to incur failures when metal letters were made of sheet metal.   Sheet metal is a soft alloy that usually has a galvanized coating.  However, it is primarily a ferrous metal and can rust even with the best paint job when used for outdoor signs.  Sometimes you see rusting letters with streaks of rust running down the wall.  Not a pretty sight!  That sign owner would be better off without outdoor signs, because a failing sign like that represents a failing business in the mind of a would-be customer.

The best prevention of  rusty  outdoor signs is aluminum.  Sign Clemente rarely uses sheet metal these days, relying on aluminum.  This metal is more expensive, especially because its manufacture is so labor intensive.  However, paint sets up well on aluminum and it will never rust.  And speaking of paint, we like to use automotive-grade enamels that look great and last for years and years on outdoor signs.
Another failing that we all see often is when  neon outdoor signs becomes defective.  Sometimes the entire sign goes completely dark, but more often you see some of the letters lit, and some out.  When you see a neon sign partially out for weeks and week, you have to wonder how well the sign owner manages its business.  The cause can be several things:  detoriorating wiring, broken or cracked neon or just a transformer that has finally failed.   It often takes a sign installer hours to repair a neon sign by the time he diagnoses the problem and runs off to secure the replacement parts and reinstall.

Who Turned Out The Lights in Those Outdoor Signs?

The remedy for neon failure is LED lighting.  We rarely use neon either.  Not only do LEDs require about 1/10th the power, but they are much more reliable when used for outdoor signs.  You can expect to have problems with your neon sign in about three to five years.  However, LEDs are usually rated for at least 100,000 hours.  Even if one or two LEDs go out, there are enough LEDs in a letter to disguise the fact that one has failed.

Having great-looking and long-lasting outdoor signs requires a little planning and sometimes a bit more investment up front.  But the payback is outdoor signs that keep on selling for you day in and day out for years to come.

Postscript:  You just might get a kick out of this blog from Signs of the Times Magazine:

It’s Better Outdoors | Signs of the times

For years, I’ve been driving past this sign that appears to be in the process of being swallowed by the tree it’s nailed to. Finally today I stopped to take a photo, and I discovered there are at least three of the  outdoor signs.

Publish Date: 02/28/2012 22:08

First-time Customers Find You with Your Outdoor Signs

Your outdoor signs should be your first consideration in your marketing and promotion plan.

Why?  Consider these facts:  Since 1997, a group of 488 Southern California businesses collectively polled their 7,200 first-time customers asking how they found out about them.

Here are the results:

  • Your  Outdoor Signs –  46%
  • Word of Mouth  –  38%
  • Newspaper Ads  – 7%
  • Yellow Pages – 6%
  • Radio Commercial – 2%
  • Television Commercial – 1%

Clearly two conclusions about outdoor signs jump out:

  1. Their outdoor signs were effectively speaking to potential customers.
  2. Signs are the most effective form of advertising for the small and independent businessperson who has a public store or office.

When buying outdoor signs, don’t be too concerned about how much you can save on outdoor signs. Be more concerned about how you can bring in more paying customers. If you do that, the signage will pay for itself many times over.

What’s more, outdoor signs work for you 24/7, never need a break, never get sick and rarely need maintenance.  If you amortize the cost of a sign over its ten year useful life, you find that outdoors signs are a bargain indeed!

*Signtronix Survey, 2003

See what others are writing about outdoor signs:

The Differences between LED Outdoor Signs and Indoor Signs

The Differences between LED Outdoor Signs and Indoor Signs There is a vast array of.

Publish Date: 02/17/2012 3:45

You Can’t Afford Cheap Orange County Signs

restaurant's V-shaped sign
After: More effective sign brings in more business

Orange County Signs on the Cheap?

Often businesspeople buy signs as an afterthought.  They wait until their budget is nearly cleaned out and attempt to get away with buying the cheapest Orange County signs they can get away with.  These are signs you can’t afford.  If you are not confident that your new sign will pay for itself, then your wasting your money.

The purpose of Orange County signs is to attract new customers, brand your location in the minds of consumers and create impulse sales.  A sign is often the only visible cue that a business exists!  Therefore, it should be to predominant feature of your building.

Consider the case of Frenchy’s Bistro, opened by a husband and wife in the mid-1990’s.  It is located on a four-lane road with lots of traffic in Southern California.  After healthy growth, revenues leveled off at $250 thousand and wouldn’t budge.  They attracted a local clientele from the immediate neighborhood and were known as “that restaurant next to the paint store.”  Their signage was so poor, that they were not bringing in hungry passing motorists.

A friend suggested a better sign.  They selected a V-shaped sign, internally illuminated,  to mount to the side of their building.

Great Success with Great Orange County Signs

The result?  Their sales grew 16% in the first year.  Sales in the second year increased to 32%.  By the fourth year, they expanded into a space next door and grew a total of 322% or over $823,000.

The Hot Tip with Orange County Signs

Tip: Spend time and money to ensure you have Orange County signs that make a positive impression on your marketplace. Your Orange County signs should be conspicuous, reflective of your company’s look and feel, and remain easy for your customer to recall.

 And take a look: Terrible Restaurant Signs

Terrible Restaurant Signs. In: Fun. 9 Feb 2012. Share. Whether it’s getting lost in translation or due to an overall lack of intelligence, the following restaurants failed when it came to Orange County Signs…

Publish Date: 02/09/2012 8:29

And that’s it for Orange County Signs!


Irvine Signs | Spectrum International

The latest addition to Irvine Signs

New Irvine signs at Spectrum International’s new corporate headquarters

The newest Irvine signs are found at Spectrum International.  They selected Sign Clemente for their

Irvine signs.  Spectrum International is in the business of high-end auctions.  They have a wine division and a coin division, just to name two. Their building and Irvine signs can be seen right off the north-bound Newport Freeway just before the Dyer exit.

What are those Irvine Signs?

 Spectrum has three new Irvine signs.  The photo shows non-illluminated acrylic on foam that rises above their entrance.  A proud and exquisite look!  The other two Irvine signs face the freeway.  Both are lighted  Irvine signs using power saving white LED’s.  One is for Spectrum Wine Auctions, the other is for Spectrum International.

Shining Irvine Signs

Lots of studies show that Irvine signs can be the best marketing investment a company can make.  Think of the thousands of pairs of eyes that will see those shining Irvine signs as they travel up the freeway.   These  signs will be invaluable for years to come for establishing market presence.  Survey after survey shows that business report getting more new customers from their signs than radio, print advertising, television or direct mail.  Further, the cost per contact, which is defined as each time someone sees your message, is absolutely the least expensive of all.

See our guest blog on another Irvine sign:

Irvine Signs | Irvine Signage

An article about lighted signs in Irvine CA for OC Bumper & Body.

Publish Date: 01/02/2012 12:44

Lobby Signs | Spotlight on Honeywell

lobby signsNew Lobby Signs

Honeywell International bought out Sperian Safety Products which required the latter to need new signs: specifically lobbys signs.  So who did Honeywell turn to when they needed new signs?  Why Sign Clemente of course.  Honeywell’s lobby signs are fairly simple, although they are fairly specific as to their color matching.  For Honeywell’s lobby signs, we went with 1/2″ thick PVC sheeting enameled white.  Then we used acrylic for the letters for their lobby signs.

Add Dimension to Your Lobby Signs

Adding thickness to lobby signs elements adds dimension and makes the the sign more interesting.  A back panel like the one you see in the photo adds the right background color instead of relying on whatever the color of the wall happens to be.  In this case, a clean white background provides the most pop for their lobby signs.  The letters are 3/4″ thick for these lobby signs making the name “Honeywell” prominent.  Because the letters “Safey Products” are smaller, we went with 1/4″ thick letters.  One thing about dimension and lobby signs:  if letters are too thick, they become difficult to read from an angle.

The Right Materials for the Right Lobby Signs

The right materials can mean the difference between great lobby signs and mediocre lobby signs.  We like acrylic because of its durability, its clean edge when cut from a router, and the way enamel paints look.  For lobby signs, we call acrylic the “king of the plastics”.   For the back panel, PVC works well for lobby signs.  Because PVC sheeting is injected with air, it weighs less than other materials, so the entire sign is lighter and the danger of the sign weighing too heavily on the wall is not a factor.   Receptionists often worry about the lobby signs right behind them coming down during an earthquake!

Read a little history about Honeywell….  Interesting how much their products touch our lives.

And read what our friends in San Jose are writing about lobby signs:

What kind of Lobby Sign? Lobby signs– Revisited

Office Lobby Signs

Now take a look at some great looking lobby signs.  See one that you would like in your office or lobby?  Give Sign Clemente a call!

Thanks for reading about our lobby signs!


Shine On Irvine Signs | Spotlight on AbregovParrino

Lighted Irvine Sign Shines Above the Rest

AbregovParrino, a CPA and investment management firm in Irvine has a spectacular set of Irvine signs.   We originally created and installed two lobby Irvine signs for them that now greet clients as they enter the firm’s lobby.  Months later, they continued to enhance their marketing efforts by adding a new lighted building sign for their Irvine signs.  Again, the firm turned to Sign Clemente.

A “Reverse” Letter? The Making of Irvine Signs

To be a stand-out amoung Irvine signs, this illuminated sign needed to be extraordinary.  We acheived this by constructing reverse channel letters.  These are letters that are literally made to be turned around.  The letters shine through the back, rather than the front thereby creating the halo effect you see in the photo.  The lighting comes from white LEDs.  LED technology is prooving advantageous to neon, because for Irvine signs, it saves significantly on power and long life.

Irvine Signs Shine Over Irvine

Their Irvine signage shines over Irvine Center Drive right off the 405 Freeway and can be seen both day and night.  The sign is a proud addition to Irvine signs as drivers pass it all day long.  It sells for AbregovParrino 24 hours a day.

In other news…

OK, this is pretty snarky, and maybe offensive to some- but interesting to read about restrictions on Irvine signs.

Dumbass News: Irvine Signs and Signs of the Times

In other words, screw the local laws about this kind of thing, I am about to tell you the way things ought to be concerning signs in any city in the USA, say like Irvine signs in Cal-ee-forn-ya for example. Why Irvine? I chose Irvine over

Publish Date: 01/17/2012 21:01

Remember, Sign Clemente can help you with all your signage needs, which includes getting your sign permits through your respective city.  Some like Irvine, are tougher than others.  But we have successfully pulled lots and lots of permits over the years. 

Thanks for reading about Irvine signs and please see our other blogs.



Irvine Signs | Spotlight on Irvine Law Firm

New Lobby Irvine Signs

The law firm of Dack | Marasigan choose Sign Clemente for its new Irvine Signs.   For their lobby sign, the newest addition to Irvine Signs, they choose a design similar to the Milan Institute sign you see in our lobby gallery.

Millan Institute loves their reception signs as they reorder one each time they open a new location.

Construction of the New Irvine Signs

The new Irvine Signs– the new lobby sign- is of clear acrylic.  When clear acrylic is routed from flat sheets to make Irvine signs, the router bit leaves the edges with a frosty look.  It is a striking and unusual look as you can see in the photo.  The large elements of this one of Irvine signs is 1″ thick.  The smaller letters are 1/2″ thick.  The faces of all the letters are brushed aluminum.  The bar is face painted black enamel.  An attractive lobby addition to our Irvine signs!

Lobby Signs and Irvine Signs

Business is vibrant and growning in Irvine.  What a better way to cement your corporate image in the minds of your clients and potential clients with a lobby sign.  They are among the most effective of Irvine signs, as they show your customer that you are here to stay, a professional, and are proud of your firm.  Lobby signs build credibility, and in so doing, make your selling job that much easier.

Thank you for reading about Irvine signs!


Irvine Signs | Irvine Signage, The Bumper Guy

The Bumper Guy Gets New Irvine Signs

Congrats go to the The Bumper Guy for new Irvine Signs.  The Bumper Guy, part of OC Bumper & Body, choose Sign Clementefor Irvine Signs.  The customer choose to go with an illuminated set of letters.  The construction is no-rust aluminum, the faces are acrylic.  The black and white faces that you see in the Irvine Signs photo consist of white acrylic with a black vinyl inset.

LED’s and Irvine Signs

LED’s have become so much more practical and economical than even two years ago.  We almost always use LED’s now for Irvine Signs.  Neon, the choice of
customers in the past, requires 12,000 volts, special wiring that has to be shielded, and lots of power consumption.  Neon also requires servicing about every five years.  When ever you sign illuminated Irvine Signs the have letters that are not lighting, you can bet it is neon.  LED, on the other hand, is rated for about 100,000 hours of use.  Even still when LED powered Irvine Signs have an LED failure, it is usually only one of the lights, which means the other lights will still be working.  So when LED powered Irvine Signs have one light go out, you can’t tell because the other lights are still shining.

Irvine SignsThe Bumper Guy and Irvine Signs

Shine on, Irvine Signs

OC Bumper and Body now has two Irvine Signs– their original sign and now, their The Bumper Guy Sign.  The first one was produced by another sign company, and the new one was produced by Sign Clemente.  The Sign Clemente sign literally outshines the old one!  The white outline looks like edge neon– it shines that bright.  Now you can see their sign off Irvine Center Drive, to the left of the Big O Tire sign and just to the right of the VOLVO | SAAB sign.

And read our other blog about Irvine Signs

Irvine Signs | Irvine Signage

Publish Date: 01/02/2012 12:44

An interesting article about Occupy Irvine…

Occupy has cost Irvine more than $8600 | city, protesters,  irvine signs.

Occupy has cost Irvine more than $8600 | city, protesters, irvine signs

Publish Date: 12/08/2011 16:18

And that is it for Irvine Signs;  Thanks for visiting!

New Signs for Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery | Newport Beach Signs

Newport Beach Signs

This lobby sign greets patients visiting the Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery

New Newport Beach Signs

The Gallery of Costmetic Surgery gets new Newport Beach Signs.  Shown here, their lobby sign looks particularly attactive.  This one of Newport Beach signs is made of acrylic sheeting and cut on a computer-driven router.  The ‘G’ of this one of Newport Beach signs are 3/4″ thick and the smaller elements are 1/4″ thick.  The text is 1/2″ thick.  The ‘G’ also has beveled edges.  This all gives this one of Newport Beach signs more depth and dimension.  The acrylic gets its color from a high grade industrial enamel.

This sign did offer a challenge among Newport Beach signs, and that is that is was to be mounted to a concave wall.  Usually Sign Clemente lobby signs go on completely flat walls.  Fortunately, acrylic has enough bend to it that it was a problem– aluminum would have been.

Newport Beach Signs Create Image

The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery was most concerned about image.  Being in Newport Beach, and considering the upscale nature of the practice, the customer was concerned about creating an elegant image with its Newport Beach signs.  Therefore, we were extra careful with helping them select the best shades of color and materials.

Newport Beach Signs for the Building

Next up, the Gallery will get new letters on their building which can only attract new patients.  It will be dark bronze “foam and plex” with a stucco finish on the edges to deter birds and make this one of Newport Beach signs last a good long time.  Stay tuned for this one– we just need to get the biggest boom lift we can find and get those letters up there!

And that is it for Newport Beach Signs!
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