Much is written in the Architectural Sign Industry about “modular signs”. Is this current frenzy really substantive or is it much ado about nothing?

After reading many of the articles on the subject, and after thirty one years in the industry, I am still not sure what “modular signage” is. A recent article in Signs and Digital Graphics has left me more confused than ever. The article was replete with statements such as “Modular signage is perfect for way-finding purposes …”, “it is very important that sign shops have a modular sign system to offer their customers”. But nowhere did I see a definition of what Modular Signage” really is. The article ends off with “Tips for Selecting Signage” which list, among others, the following tips:

  • Choose a sign system that is easy to install and update even by in-house staff.
  • Choose a sign system that has a modern contemporary and clean look.
  • Check the product inside and out; ask for data sheets that reflect the specifications of the system.
  • Check the range of available sizes.
  • Look for a sign system that will support the entire project.
  • Choose a sign system that is compatible with Braille sign methods.
  • Look for a sign system that offers both modular-pre made and custom made solutions.

Well, one could argue that any sign system should include the qualities listed above but it is in the last tip that I see the most confusion and perhaps a clue to what we are really talking about when we talk of “Modular Signs”. It seems to me that the issue rather than being one of “Modular” v “Non-Modular” signs is one of “Standard off the Shelf or Component Signage” or “pre-made” as our tipster defines it, as opposed to “Custom Signage”. Fundamentally, the Standard Pre made signs are components, extrusions, and so forth already made and in inventory, that can be drawn on at a later stage for assembly and finishing such as painting, graphics and so forth and custom signs are those made for a specific client drawing on raw materials as opposed to standard pre-made components for completion.

I do agree that sign companies should have a pre-made component based system in their arsenal of products for all these reasons that are usually cited for having a “modular system”. Chances are I have left everyone who reads this even more confused than by my hypothesis than I was before writing it.

– Selwyn Josset
VP Affiliate Services 

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