Five Steps to a Great Sign or Sign System Concept


Whether you are developing a single identity sign outside your office to an expansive wayfinding system with dozens of different sign types, there is a process that results in good design every time. We at IDS follow this approach when working with our clients, architects, and designers. The IDS solution is based on the many great experiences we have shared over many years working with leading environmental graphic designers, architects, engineers and fabricators and incrementally developed into our own IDS unique process. Whenever you are considering a new sign or system, these five steps are a great start.


Find Your Inspiration

You wouldn’t buy the first house or car you see – the same rule applies with any design project. Before starting, it is important to look around and find the things that inspire you. Inspiration doesn’t only have to come from signs. Architecture, materials, and other references can provide the fuel you need when sitting down with a designer or fabricator. Ideas are drawn from a wide range of sources and you should be skeptical of any group you work with that only uses their own work for inspiration.



Before starting the design process, you will be given a palette of colors, materials, and modular systems that will be used. Make sure to see some of these materials in person. What looks nice on a computer screen may not have the same exact look and feel in real life.


Write it Down and Link to Pics

Along with visuals, key words are important when exploring the design process. Do you want something “modern”, “traditional” or “both” and what does that mean to you?  Comparing what you say you want with visual inspiration is a great way to focus your ideas and communicate with designers.

A modern identity with traditional touches and materials

A modern identity with traditional touches and materials


Concept A, B or maybe C

After starting the process, it is typical to work with three concepts. The first two ideas tend to be complimentary and the third should be completely outside the box. Sometimes it is a good idea to see something a little differently, which could generate fresh design ideas.


Place in the setting

It is easy to drop your design concept into a picture of your setting – a great way to try out your ideas at the right scale. The old adage is true, “A picture is worth 1,000 words!”

A concept drawing in a setting, quick and easy to realize an idea, but adds tremendous value to the decision making process.

A concept drawing in a setting, quick and easy to realize an idea, but adds tremendous value to the decision making process.


We can help!

If you are a company, architect, or designer and have an idea for a project, from one sign to a comprehensive wayfinding system, contact IDS. We have a free process that can help you get the creative juices flowing!




Phone: 585.266.5750

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