Signage for Airports: Wayfinding Systems, Kiosks, Murals & Electronic Displays

(Part 1 of our series Planes, Trains, & Parking Garages: A Guide to Signage and Transit)

Airports are some of the busiest places in the world with thousands of passengers, and in the case of airports like Atlanta hundreds of thousands of passengers, arriving and departing through their gates each day. This isn’t even including all the employees who make these airports run, including everyone from the flight crew, to the TSSA safety attendants, to the staff who keep the airport property and all its services running. It’s no surprise then that signage plays an essential role in how an airport functions, from the essential wayfinding signage that gets travelers where they need to go, to the electronic signs and kiosks that many interact with to check-in and to find their flights, to the graphics and murals that provide a sense of place and often a welcoming message to the city where passengers are arriving and departing. In this part 1 of three of “Planes, Trains, & Parking Garages: A Guide to Signage and Transit” we breakdown signs’ importance in the airport industry.

  1. Art, Graphics, & Murals
MIKI Yoshihito from Sapporo City,Hokkaido., JAPAN, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Travel can be disorienting for many, whether you’re a first time flyer or a seasoned business pro, and one of the ways airports can make you feel at home when you’re miles away is to show you a sense of place.

Airports often achieve this through signage promoting the locale you’re in, and also through signs with messages specifically welcoming you to the airport, the city, and perhaps the country for international airports, that you’ve arrived in.

  1. Electronic Signs

Perhaps one of the most essential signs at airports for passengers are the digital displays that are setup at each gate, at check-in, and at luggage pick-up, highlighting the progress of flights. “On Time”, “Delayed”, and “Canceled” are some of the most important words and phrases one needs to check for when flying, and to be able to see this quickly and easily is crucial.

Thankfully the development of electronic technology, through TVs and display screens, has made this a significantly easier process than in the past to implement. This is why these displays are pretty much ubiquitous at nearly every airport throughout the world.

  1. Kiosks

Before touchless technology really started taking off, such as QR codes and mobile apps, kiosks and self-service stations became the go to mode for people to more quickly, and ideally with less lines, accomplish what they needed.

At airports, kiosks are often sources of quick information, whether it’s a kiosk with a visual map or guide, or the kiosks setup at check-in which allow for boarding passes to be printed. Even as boarding passes go mobile, kiosks can still be set up to scan QR codes on apps, should passengers prefer a printed boarding pass for their flight.

4. Directional and Informational Signage

Aside from the digital displays, the only signage perhaps matching in importance in airports is the directional and informational signs that guide you to where you need to go along with the signs identifying where you’ve arrived at. In particular, wayfinding systems that help passengers find their gates are especially crucial. Whether you have time to leisurely stroll, or you’re rushing to catch your flight, these signs are what get you to where you need to go.

What Business Owners Should Know About Sign Insurance

Sign Insurance 101

Signs may be at risk of storm or accidental damage, so we highlight how insurance can help protect your business investment in your signage.

    Are My Signs Covered By Insurance?

    We breakdown all you need to know about insurance and signs!

    What Type of Insurance Covers Signs?

    Signage is covered under the umbrella of “Commercial Property Insurance”.

    Do Tenants or Property Owners Pay for Insurance?

    While lease agreements may vary, tenants are generally required to purchase the signs for the business. Therefore tenants are also the ones required to secure commercial property development insurance to cover said signage.

    On-Premise vs Off-Premise

    Depending on your lease agreement, you may need to acquire insurance that covers your on-premise signage.

    School Signage Guide for Elementary, Middle, and High School, Colleges, & Universities

    Signs enhance the school experience.

    Signs exist in every part of the school campus, and as varied as they can be they all have their purpose.

      Signs Are Integral to Schools and Campuses

      Here’s some education to help understand how signs work for your school.

      What Sign Types Do Schools Use?

      Schools and campuses are so varied that nearly every sign type could be (and may be) used at a school.

      Electronic Message Centers

      Schools need to share messages out to students, family, and the community throughout the year. EMCs are making that jobs easier than ever before!

      ADA Signs: Compliance and Access

      ADA signs are required in most buildings; however, for schools the idea of accessibility goes beyond simply checking the legal requirements boxes.

      Photocells and Signs: Uses, Costs, Pros & Cons

      Let us en-lighten you.

      Photocells help keep your signs on when you want them to be on and off when you want them off. Here we discuss their role as well as the pros and cons of their uses in signs and signage.

        All You Need to Know About Photocells

        Let us shine some light on the usage of Photocells.

        Are Photocells One Sign Fits All?

        Photocells can be used on a variety of lit signs, including neon signs, channel letters, lit pan faced signs, and lit wall mounted signs.

        Savings of Photocells

        Though photo cells do require an initial investment upfront, the costs are not often prohibitive, and the savings pay for themselves in time.

        Photocells and Timers Together

        Used together, they can save energy and allow the business owner to keep a more set schedule while conserving energy.

        Signage for Primary and Secondary Schools, Colleges, and Universities

        Long gone are the days of the one room schoolhouse, where students of all ages sat in one space to learn. Now even smaller schools, and especially colleges and universities, are becoming sprawling campuses, where finding your way around is becoming more and more of a necessity and a struggle simultaneously.

        Signage is therefore crucial for visitors, students, teachers, and staff alike, to know where they are, where they need to go, and in some cases where they shouldn’t be. In this blog post we breakdown the different ways schools, colleges, and universities use signs, and the different types of signage that helps schools satisfy their wayfinding needs.

        Wayfinding Signage in Elementary School, Middle School, and High School

        When you think of schools most often you’re thinking of primary and secondary schools. Though there’s often a level of routine, especially for elementary and middle schools, as to what students, faculty, and staff do each day, wayfinding systems can help new students, staff, and faculty members orient themselves faster and more easily.

        Likewise should visitors arrive, be it for an open house, a family visitation day, or other special events, these signs will help direct visitors where to go and not to go.

        In the case of an emergency too, these signs will be relied upon to help faculty and staff lead their students through any protocols that may be in place.

        Signs for Colleges and Universities

        Colleges and Universities often have the same needs as elementary, middle, and high schools, but on a grander scale. Students are also often freer to roam without permission, or a guide, and thus rely increasingly on wayfinding systems.

        Even with a comprehensive tour, no doubt most students on their first day feel a sense of disorientation, and with the help of these directional and wayfinding signs they will find their classes and overtime get the hang of their new surroundings.

        Dorms and Residence Halls

        Aside from a small selection of secondary schools, dorms and residence halls are often unique to colleges and universities. These require signage similar, if not precisely like, other apartment and residential complexes, and these can include everything from visiting hour signs, to room #’s, to rules in public spaces like laundry rooms or other common areas.

        Food Courts

        Likewise the average primary and secondary school does not have a food court, and while some colleges and universities only have cafeterias serving their own food, many also include franchises be it Taco Bell, Starbucks, or other known food and beverage businesses.

        These are not always regulated in the same way as a franchise; however, these businesses do often have their own rules for signage, and they will need to be taken into account too for school management and the sign companies who work on these projects.

        Electronic Message Centers

        Thus far we’ve discussed primarily wayfinding signage; however, monument signs, pylon signs, and other exterior signs play an important role as well in both welcoming people and marketing news, events, or the school’s values to the public.

        One tool that’s become increasingly essential for delivering these messages is the use of electronic message centers. These can be placed either on a monument sign or a pylon sign, depending on the school’s preference and permit allowability through the local municipality.

        Campus Curb Appeal

        Though many primary and secondary schools students are zoned to these schools, even they, along with private schools, colleges and universities, must consider how signage can help with the overall ‘curb appeal’ of the school.

        Curb appeal quite simply is the look and feel of a place as it appears when walking or driving by said place, and for schools that especially have to recruit students this can be a major component of a student’s first impression of a school and especially its campus.

        Signs play an integral component here, and Electronic Message Centers can help, but also road banners around the campus, or on main drives through the campus, along with vinyl signage on exterior windows that help brand the school.

        ADA Signage

        ADA Signage is a crucial component with all wayfinding signage in all schools, as it is required in any public building or institution. Schools more and more are ensuring that they are fully accessible places, and even without government mandates they turn to ADA signage specs to ensure they fulfill their own mission to be fully inviting and open.

        ADA signage isn’t simply just about putting braille on a sign as well, so it’s important to work with a sign company who understands what goes into ADA and can fabricate ADA signs for your needs.

        Branding, Exterior, & Interior Signs for Franchises and Franchisees

        Though each franchise business is unique and has its own guidelines and procedures determined by their parent company, what is common between them all is a sense of uniformity with branding across the branches owned by the franchisees. That way no matter whether you’re in a franchise in Miami, Florida, or Juneau, Alaska, you recognize what establishment you are in and you get a similar sense of place. If you are a first-time franchise owner you’ll be given a lot of information from your corporate headquarters to let you know what you can and cannot do with your business. Today we wanted to break down what those guidelines could look like as it relates to branding, exterior signage, and interior signage.

        Exterior Signs

        Though the physical location of a business can vary drastically, especially in rural places compared to metro cities, the exterior signage will usually be incredibly consistent. One example of this can be found with Starbucks. Starbucks may have stand alone properties in suburban areas, and sometimes they’ll take up a tenant space in a larger commercial property. While the larger, suburban business space may have more signs and a drive-thru (not typical for all Starbucks), there will usually be one or more signs on the building itself that you can find at every Starbucks in the world.

        Starbucks as well is a great example as they over the last few decades have increasingly franchised into other businesses, such as Target, Food City, hospitals, and colleges and universities. This means they are not the dominant business in the property; however, they still need to brand their space and traditionally do so with exterior signage to let visitors know they are present.

        Interior Signs

        The world of interior signs is often far more vast than people realize, and it can include everything from ADA signs, to menu boards, vinyl graphics, electronic message centers, electronic kiosks, environmental graphics (i.e. wall art or mural art), and interior neon and LED signs.

        While the interior of a business allows opportunities for franchises to customize their space to match their community, it’s also a space to use familiar branding and signs to create a familiar sense of place.

        Panda Express is one such business that due to the layout and interior colors and graphics presents very quickly to customers a sense of who Panda Express is and a familiarity with all other Panda Express locations. Even in universities with Panda Express, where there is often less physical space and perhaps competing restaurants in a food court environment, once you approach the cashier you’ll see familiar colors, designs, vinyl/graphics, and menu colors.

        This isn’t just true with fast food establishments though, as franchises include everything from hotels to escape rooms to travel and gas centers and more. Hotels especially are often licensing the branding from a major company, be it Marriott or Hilton, but the hotel itself is run by a franchisee and not the corporation itself.

        No matter how small the business or how large the property is, the use of interior signs and branding can help visitors immediately feel at home in these businesses.

        Exceptions to the Rule

        Again each franchise has their own rules, but there have been a few notable exceptions to the rule that “all must match”, as some corporations have now started to allow for increased personalization to promote community ties.

        In 2021 for instance, 7-Eleven reached out to local artists to commission murals for their stores exteriors and interiors.

        “We kicked off our mural program with a local artist at a new 7-Eleven Evolution Store, an experiential testing ground where we test new concepts, products and services before we scale them across the 7-Eleven system,” said 7-Eleven Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Jarratt. “It’s been a hit so far and I’ve seen my fair share of excited customers stop what they’re doing to take Instagram-worthy photos in front of the larger-than-life mural. This positive customer behavior and feedback has encouraged us to expand the concept to more stores in 2021.””


        Covid’s Impact on Franchisee’s Signs

        Covid also meant individual franchisees had to adapt especially to any local restrictions imposed by their municipalities. Though this hasn’t changed permanent signs as much as it has temporary, it still means that you can walk into one Taco Bell and see an touchscreen menu board off to one side, while the next may simply have antimicrobial screens at the counter.

        For a fun example showing specific exceptions to the rule with McDonald’s check out’s “Non-Standard McDonald’s Architectural Design” list.

        Guide to Establishing Your Brand Identity

        Branding is what we do.

        If you’re opening a business, then you’ll want to develop a unique brand identity to stand apart. Here we share our expertise to help you do just that!

          All You Need to Know About Brand Identity

          Let Ortwein Sign be your guide to branding.

          What Makes You Unique?

          Your brand identity is a key component of your unique value proposition. WHY your business exists is as important as WHAT your business does.

          Identify Your Values

          What does your company stand for? You may have values you represent externally, and then values you hold internally, but whichever values you have they need to be something you stand for and something that helps how you communicate to your clients and employees.

          Speak with One Voice

          Companies now more than ever need to find their voice and try to use it for their communications internally and externally.

          What Business Owners Need to Know About Sign Insurance

          Signs are a key part of a business owner’s plan and assets, and like the rest of your property, business owners will often want to make sure their signage is insured.

          In this blog, we breakdown what you need to know for your signage insurance.

          What type of insurance covers my signage?

          Signage is covered under the umbrella of “Commercial Property Insurance”.

          According to,

          “Commercial Property Insurance covers your business against everything from a minor hiccup to a major loss.

          For example: 

          • A fire could destroy your building and the contents inside
          • A burst water pipe could damage valuable documents
          • A storm could damage your outdoor sign”

          Weather in particular is a common reason for signs to be damaged. Wind, hail, snow, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all reasons why a sign may incur damage.

          Is Commercial Property Insurance different from General Liability Insurance?

 defines General Liability Insurance as insurance that “helps protect you from claims that your business caused bodily injury or property damage. It can also protect you if someone sues you for advertising injury.”

          This is different from Commercial Property Insurance, which “covers your business’ physical location and equipment, whether you own or lease it.”

          These insurances may often be paired together in a package by your insurance company; however, you should double check with them to be sure.

          Who provides Commercial Property Insurance?

          Commercial property insurance is covered by many large and small insurance companies alike.

          Does insurance differ for on-premise signs and off-premise signs?

          Depending on your lease agreement, you may need to acquire insurance that covers your on-premise signage.

          If you have a roadside sign like an Electronic Message Center then you should consider insurance for your sign. These signs are often more costly than on-premise signs, and their positioning can sometimes make them easier targets for weather, accidents, and vandalism.

          I’m leasing a tenant space in a commercial property development. Do I cover my sign’s insurance or does my landlord?

          While lease agreements may vary, you as a tenant are generally required to purchase the signs for your business. Therefore you are also the ones required to secure commercial property development insurance to cover said signage.

          Does my sign company need to engage with my insurance company when my sign is damaged?

          In the case of a damaged sign, if it needs to be fully replaced then your insurance company may reach out to the fabricators of the sign to determine the original cost. If it needs to be repaired then they may reach out to a local sign company to get a quote for the potential repair costs.

          How much will my sign coverage cost?

          According to, costs will be determined largely by “the size and location of the sign.” Also under consideration will be if the sign is “in an area prone to extreme weather, such as wind, which could damage the sign.”

          All You Need to Know About Project Management

          Project Managers are the backbone of our team at Ortwein Sign. They oversee the project from the time it’s sold to the time we drive our crew off your lot after successfully installing your signage. To get even more detailed, they handle permitting, work day to day with our fabrication team, and hand off all the needed notes to our installers, while ensuring they have the needed information to do their job. Simply put, our Project Managers make things go smoothly. So in this blog we thought we’d not only give a shoutout to our great team, but we would also break down what makes an effective project management team. So you can see not only how our team works, but also we hope you can take away some pointers for your business.

          What is Project Management?

          Project Management in many ways is just what it sounds like: managing a specific, or multiple, projects from start to finish. Project Management is used for projects of all sizes, scopes, and industries. For companies without a Project Manager or Project Management team, having an expert project manager on your team can be a revelation to really see how effective and essential a Project Manager can be.

          What is a Project Manager’s Role?

          While the nuances of a Project Manager’s day-to-day work varies based on the work itself, essentially they oversee the completion of a project from start to finish. This includes creating a timetable for the completion of said project, scheduling and delegating tasks to the team, checking-in on the progress and completion of said tasks, assessing what needs aren’t being met and where needed pulling in additional resources, and all of that while reporting routinely to their supervisors, the relevant parties involved, or both, the overall status of said project.

          What is the Project Management Triangle?


          The Project Management Triangle is how a project manager manges the quality of the job. The three lines making up the triangle are: scope, time, and cost. You may have heard the old adage “you can have it cheap, you can have it fast, or you can have it done well” This speaks to the very push and pull that makes up the triangle and the struggles of a Project Manager’s role in balancing these demands.

          Do Project Managers Need Expertise in the Industry They’re Managing?

          While it certainly helps, there could be an argument that the industry elements may be less required than general know-how on simply effectively managing the many elements of a project from start to finish.

          At Ortwein Sign, we’ve had Project Managers enter with little experience in the sign industry, but with training we were able to work together to get them up to speed with the nuances of the sign industry.

          At the same time, we’ve had Project Managers with experience in our field, and while that’s certainly sped up the onboarding process, what we relied on from them most was their ability to organize, delegate, and manage all aspects of the projects they were given.

          What Skills Do Project Managers Need?

          Project Managers need a variety of skills, including:

          Detail-Oriented Thinking

          Projects can vary in scope, but as is so often said “the devil’s in the details”. It’s these details where an excellent Project Manager shines, because by overseeing all the smaller elements of a project they help the full project come together.

          Time Management

          Though many projects may have deadlines coming from leadership, or some external deadline, a Project Manager may need to set these deadlines, and certainly they’ll need to work within deadlines given to them. Project Managers therefore often rely on timelines and progress charts to keep up with where the completion of the project is and also the status of each individual contribution to the greater project.

          Communication Skills

          Communication Skills may seem obvious as a need for any employee; however, for Project Managers its essential. Not only do Project Managers need to communicate to employees up and down the chain of leadership, but they also need to really listen and grasp the information they’re being given by everyone involved. Oftentimes they’ll have to take the information from the top of the chain and relay it down and vice versa.

          Ability to Run Meetings

          Though essentially a component of communication skills, one aspect we’d like to single out is the ability to run meetings. Now a smaller project may not require many people to be in a room at one time; however, whether the meeting is small or large, this is another time where the Project Manager will have to field questions, listen closely to all that’s being said, transcribe these notes and often relay them after, and more.

          Organizational Skills

          These almost needn’t be said; however, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and that is to say that Project Managers absolutely require organizational skills. Organizational skills are essential at every level, as it’s needed when constructing a timeline, when coordinating notes, when preparing for meetings, etc.

          Do Project Managers Need to Be Certified?

          Some companies may require certifications, while others may not, but if a Project Manager is looking to get ahead then there are certifications out there established specifically for Project Managers.

          One such certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. The PMP is offered by the Project Management Institute.

          For more details on the Project Management Institute, visit their website:

          What Pushbacks Do Project Managers Hear Most Often?

          Project Managers are an essential tool for many companies; however, that doesn’t mean that the inclusion of Project Managers on a team isn’t sometimes met with doubt and skepticism. Many employees may feel they’re already “handling” their projects just fine, and while that may be true, Project Managers often allow managers, sales team members, and others more time to do the job they were hired for.

          Likewise, Project Managers are like a safety net for any missed moments in a project. While it’s ultimately up to the employees working on the project to complete their portion of the job, Project Managers act as a guide and safety line. They make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

          What’s the Biggest Struggle for Project Managers?

          Project Managers in many ways are the unsung heroes of an office. They usually do not have direct authority over those working on the project, but ultimately their job is ensuring the projects success. Therefore they are incredibly reliant on the work of their team. They often lack “sticks” to ensure success, but they can and should use “carrots” to encourage and support workers up and down the line who help bring the project together. Project Managers can be asked to relay difficult messages to higher-ups, and line workers; however, they also have plenty of opportunity to pass along praise. It’s a difficult balancing act for sure, but an excellent Project Manager rises to these challenges every time.

          Guide to Sign Permits front page of downloadable pdf booklet

          Our Project Managers are sign permit experts. Let us share with you all we know about sign permits.

          Download our FREE guide today!

            Guide to Sign Permits

            Guide to Sign Permits front page of downloadable pdf booklet

            Let us share with you all we know about sign permits.

            If you’re opening a business, then sign permits may not have been front of mind. Here we share our expertise to help you out!

              All You Need to Know About Sign Permits

              Let Ortwein Sign be your guide to the world of sign permitting.

              Why Are Signs Permitted?

              Sign Permitting began as a way to develop a homogeneous look for communities. This has evolved over the years; however, the intent still remains mostly the same even with the advent of form-based code.

              Sign Variances

              Sign Variances are requests by companies to extend their signage beyond the present rules of a municipality or jurisdiction.


              No sign permits are not free, and no they’re not one sign fits all. Let us at Ortwein Sign be your sign permit guide!