Signage for Sports Teams: Stadiums, Arenas, Courts, & Facilities

As anyone who’s been to a UT Vols football game can tell you (or an Alabama game if you prefer), there’s no excitement like that feeling you get when you’re in your seats, cheering on your team, and if you’re having a good day – seeing your team win. What’s not always as fun is trying to arrive at the stadium, as the crowds can be overwhelming, parking is often a mess, and if its your first time you might be quite lost on how to get where you need to go. You certainly don’t want to miss kick-off right? Fortunately that’s where signage comes in. Whether you’re attending a Major League Soccer game in Nashville, a Major League Baseball game in Atlanta, a college football game, or any other sports event, you may not realize how much you truly rely on signage, as do the venues and teams themselves.

  1. Wayfinding Signage
GEORDIS Park signage in Nashville, TN

Perhaps the most crucial signage you need as a fan is wayfinding signage. Wayfinding signage includes everything from parking lot signs telling you where you need to go, and for after the game where you parked, along with signs directing you to different seat sections in the sports arena. Even after you’ve found your seats signs can help you find the bathrooms, the concession stands, and the merch booths.

  1. Electronic Signs and Scoreboards
1940’s Fred Medart Basketball Scoreboard from David T. Howard school in Atlanta, GA

One sign you’ll encounter at many indoor and outdoor sports event, that for some is becoming increasingly more obvious, is the importance of digital signage and scoreboards. Scoreboards have not always been digital, but they’ve always been an important way of conveying the score to anyone who’s needing to know, along with other key details. Back in the day these could be changed out by hand, but now they’re run by sophisticated digital LED displays which allow for quicker, easier changes. Many of these digital displays also help with the entertainment between innings or plays, i.e. kiss cams, fan catches, and a myriad of other traditions unique to each team.

  1. Advertisements and Marketing

Now these messages may not be a fan’s favorite, but undoubtedly for teams looking to capitalize on their audience, digital displays, wall graphics, murals, and many other types of signs, help allow them to sell space or time to make money by displaying advertisements. Of course these are also used for marketing of the team itself, as they can highlight announcements for future games, or events taking place in the stadium, and also reminders to buy more concessions and shop for more merch.

4. Signage On the Road

Everything we’ve covered thus far pertains largely to the facilities where sports teams play. Yet signage doesn’t just stop and start at the stadium. Teams want to make themselves known as they travel, and that often includes wraps for their tour buses, as exemplified here by one of the Chattanooga Red Wolves touring buses. These wraps can serve as moving marketing machines for the team, as they hope to garner attention and fans even well beyond the city they’re based out of.

Times Square NYC: Evolution of Place & Signage

Recently our Marketing Specialist took a trip to New York City, and of course had to see all of the signage in Time Square. Everywhere you look there are signs from the sides of buses, kiosks in and outside of stores, and of course most famously the large digital screens showcasing ads that are truly larger than life!

Times Square in the Early Days

According to TimesSquareNYC.com, Times Square was originally known as Long Acre. While it was home to William H. Vanderbilt’s “American Horse Exchange”, aside from that and a few apartments, it wasn’t obvious of the future that lay ahead for this part of NYC.

Times Square Gets Its Name

That started to change when Adolph S. Ochs, American newspaper publisher and former owner of The New York Times and The Chattanooga Times (now the Chattanooga Times Free Press), decided to build the TImes Tower. The Spring before the building’s construction was completed, the 2nd larges in NYC at the time, “Mayor George B. McClellan signed a resolution that renamed the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue from Long Acre Square to Times Square.”

Fun fact: New Years Eve’s Times Square celebrations began after “Ochs staged the first event to commemorate the new building and crowds still gather today to bring in the new year.”

Times Square Evolves

From the 1960s on, Times Square began to develop a reputation as the seedy center of NYC, and theaters of all varieties cropped up on the square. Signage was largely developed to advertise these businesses and their shows at that time. Zoning was also often ignored at this time, which led to a wild west-like environment for businesses, signage, and more.

From Neon to LED

SignsoftheTimes.com in their article on Times Square signage, they state “1996, Morgan Stanley’s installation of a three-tiered message center, built by Daktronics (Brookings, SD), created a new signature look for digital signage in Times Square by introducing LED-lit signage and video displays.”

Future of Times Square

Times Square’s present and its future planning now greatly contrasts with the time from the period from the Great Depression on the the 90s. Now, according to timessquarenyc.org’s Vision of Times Square, they have a specific vision and tenets they hope Times Square can be including:

  • a hub that captures and celebrates our culture, in every sense of that word: our artistic and creative culture, our popular culture, our diverse cultures.
  • a vibrant and democratic public space that exemplifies the civic, cultural and commercial life of our city, and of all great urban places.
  • a place by, of and for New Yorkers, that we can then share proudly with the rest of the world.

Times Square Signage Gallery

TimesOut.com has a gallery showcasing an array of Times Square signage over the years.

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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.””

        (Source: https://corp.7-eleven.com/corp-press-releases/mural-mania-7-eleven-adds-local-color-to-stores-across-america)

        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 BoredPanda.com’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 Nationwide.com,

          “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?

          TheHartford.com 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 Obierisk.com, 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.”