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The Architect's Guide to Channel Lettering

Every business, no matter the industry or business model, needs to have a steady revenue stream to stay operational. For the vast majority of businesses out there, that means attracting consumers and convincing them to convert into paying customers. The first step in that process involves getting them through the door. Business signage is one of the most important tools in a business arsenal to introduce their business to consumers on the street. Channel lettering is the preferred approach for many business signs. So what do you as an architect need to know about channel lettering?

What Are Channel Letters?

To start, it’s a good idea to understand what channel letters are. Channel letters are three-dimensional signage letters that are designed in such a way that they form a channel. Most of the time, channel letters have a front face, sides (also called returns), backs, and trim caps. These letters can either be illuminated or not. The ones that are lit generally utilize LED lighting.

How to Design a Channel Letter Sign

If channel letters seem like a good option, the next step is to design the sign. There are a few different things to consider. One of the first is the size of the sign. Channel letters need to be at least 1.5 inches thick if they are going to be illuminated. Otherwise, there isn’t enough room for the lighting element.

Matching Your Sign to Your Brand

Signs are crucial to branding. When designing a channel letter sign, it is absolutely critical that the sign match up with the existing branding. Remember, signs are meant to make it easy for customers to identify a business. That is far easier to do when elements such as color, proportions, and font are consistent with existing branding materials. If the sign is too different, customers may get confused and think that the sign is for a different business.

Avoid Clashing with Existing Architectural Elements

One other design element that must be considered is the material for the letters. For example, you don’t want to design a sign that is blinding because highly reflective metals or acrylics were chosen. A properly designed sign will also account for architectural elements that already exist on the storefront, such as siding materials and window placement. Whether or not the sign is shaded or there are overhangs will matter, too, as will the distance from which the sign should be visible.

How Channel Letters Are Made

Channel letters are fabricated with the help of special machinery. Automated routers, water jets, and lasers are a few examples of the equipment used in the process. A base is created, after which the returns are connected to it. For signs that incorporate lighting, the lighting system is then installed. From there, the trim cap is notched and cut, attached to the faces, and then attached to the rest of the channel letter.

How to Install Channel Letters

You need a permit to install a channel letter sign. The nature of channel letters means that they are more difficult to install than your average vinyl sign. The letters must be installed on the face of the building with attention given to their weight, the surface of the building, and letter spacing and alignment. While technically you could do this yourself, that isn’t generally the best course of action. Installing channel letters is extremely easy to get wrong, even for highly experienced technicians and handymen.

We permit and install channel letter signs. We strongly recommend you allow Resource 4 Signs to install your channel letters for you. You can rest assured that the job will be done correctly. You’ll also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you won’t be running the risk of taking a nasty fall if something were to go wrong during the installation process.

Channel letters are a common signage option, and for a good reason. It’s tough to match their ability to stand out and to be customized to suit the needs of a business in terms of appearance. There are, of course, considerations that need to be made during the design process in order for the sign to be effective. If done properly, channel letter signs can be just the thing a business needs to make its location easily recognizable to customers on the street.