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If you know you want a sign, but that’s about as far as your knowledge extends, read on. We can help you get what you want and make the whole process a lot simpler…

All sorts of people and all sorts of businesses want all sorts of signs for all sorts of reasons. Signs being what they are, the chances are remote that many are actually identical to each other. It’s the basic individuality of signs, and the numbers of ways it’s possible to make them, that results in sign buying and briefing sign makers appearing to be a far from simple undertaking.

This article will help anybody who is buying signs, whether for the first time for a start-up business, or for a longer established enterprise, to make sense of the process and to help themselves by understanding what makes for an effective briefing process.


Graphics Design Process in action at Voodoo DesignWorks


Inspecting an acrylic letter for an illuminated sign prior to being glued into a routed aluminium tray with opal acrylic diffuser


We install etch effect graphics

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Signage serves one of a number of fundamental purposes. Some signs inform, some direct, still others may advertise or promote the interests of the business or of a brand. Generally speaking, all signs, regardless of their area of application, need to be legible, attractive in their context, and suitably durable so that they last for the time required in whatever environment they find themselves.

Among the most popular and frequently seen types of sign is the so-called fascia sign or shopfront sign. Shopfront signs are typically mounted so as to span the available space above the windows and doors comprising the frontage of a retail business, a restaurant, or some other enterprise that needs to promote itself.

The would-be buyer of the shopfront sign has a number of decisions to make up front before seriously engaging with the design process or other parts of the journey that will ultimately deliver the signage that’s needed. The biggest decisions, perhaps driven by budget, revolve around whether the sign needs to be illuminated, and if so by what means, or non-illuminated.

Illuminated signs for shopfronts typically occupy what might be called the premium pricing bracket. However, the cost of the sign is driven by materials and the complexity that underpins its construction, rather than simply providing it with a means of illumination. Put another way, illuminated signs can, on occasions, actually cost less than non-illuminated variants.


Exterior Front Lit Sign
Metal letters pinned onto a textured wall in a casino
Restaurant Signage

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A good place to start in specifying such a sign is with an idea that can be articulated as to what the sign might look like. A new business that’s just starting up may have a logo locked away somewhere in its proprietor’s mind and nowhere else. In such circumstances sign companies should have articulate and creative people who are able to work in such a circumstance and commit individuals’ sparks of ideas to paper. When engaging a sign company therefore, it pays to work with one that has signage design expertise aboard and is not simply a manufacturer.

A good sign company will listen to ideas communicated in an abstract sense and try to distil them to a physical visual that can be put in front of the would-be buyer, so confirming that the design is it least on nodding acquaintance with what the potential customer desires. Another advantage of working with a signmaker that has design capability, is that any design that is proposed will be practical to produce at reasonable cost.

Once a sign design is on the table for debate, broader analysis can be made as to the types of material, the size of the finished sign, and any other features or construction techniques that the sign may embody. 

Signmakers have a huge range of materials to choose from. Wooden signs for example can be made from the very material itself or from something that closely simulates it. Perspex signage and letters comprise a great many fabricated business signs and are to be found doing a great job in the wider world.

Pencil sketches of a custom logo design in production for a Shopping Centre
Shopping Centre Signs Design
Signage Specification drawing for a Shopping Centre

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Plastics and wood are by no means the whole gamut of materials that a modern sign company can work with. Metal lettering in combinations with plastics in constructions such as rimless lettering, or rim and return designs are also available. Signmakers with a capability that encompasses precision cutting and assembly can make signs with push through letters which look very attractive.

Any sign company worth its salt should be able to show prospective customers these and other types of lettering and constructions, explain how they work and what aspects they embody that might recommend them. They should also give the prospective customer an idea of cost in the context of his or her own project.

Given that the subject can be quite complex and the amount of choice available daunting, the Voodoo DesignWorks has created a system for connecting customers to a source of expertise within the company called Voodoo Connect.

The system allows the prospective customer to sit down at a computer and to see a live streamed presentation which can be discussed in real time with an expert. The presentation revolves around real props which can be explained in detail and effectively puts the sign shop right there in front of the customer. The quality is extremely high and the presenter can’t see the prospective customer.

It’s easy to make an appointment to use the service, simply a matter of clicking a link which reveals our experts’ diaries, and choosing a date that suits. Once you’ve spoken to an expert in this situation, you’ll find briefing the project much easier and you’ll leave the online meeting with an idea of costs, timing, and what the signage might actually look like.

Rim and return metal letter with an illuminated acrylic face
Rimless lettering for Horders in Bristol
Push through acrylic letter signage for Space NK Apothecary

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As we’ve established, Signs come in all shapes and sizes just, like the applications they serve. It follows then that briefing a sign company is something of a moving feast. We like to pride ourselves here at the Voodoo DesignWorks, that we welcome briefs and expressions of interest at the most primitive of stages. Even if you know nothing about Signs and how they are constructed, and only have a flicker of idea as to what you want, a conversation with us would be a productive one.

Similarly, highly developed briefs describing highly inventive signs will often meet with blank looks from the other sides of the tables some sign companies. We would like to think that we represent the polar opposite. No matter how outrageous your idea, you’ll find us engaged and very eager to help you turn your imaginings into practical reality.

In short then, briefing a sign company is a matter of describing what you want accurately and very well if you’re engaging a company that’s simply interested in making things. On the other hand, consider coming to The Voodoo DesignWorks with nothing more developed than a scintilla of direction or a spark of an idea. We will help you very quickly unravel the complexities that stand between you and getting the sign you want. That’s our business.

It doesn’t cost anything at all to bring your brief for discussion to The Voodoo DesignWorks. We also think you’ll be delighted to hear the prices that get signs manufactured and delivered here too. If you represent a large brand that knows signs inside out and backwards, we welcome your call too. We have some deeply creative talent under our roof and we know how to manage huge projects down to the tiniest detail.

If you need to brief a sign manufacturer. Brief Voodoo.