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Architectural Lettering In Our Modern Age

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Architectural Lettering In Our Modern Age

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In these days of discount stores, we are most familiar with the lettering we can buy at the store, which can be glued to any surface. But unless you are an architect, few people think about architectural lettering as a modern-day method of adding information to a landmark.

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945 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line Distribution Date and Time: 2008-11-11 12:12:00

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Architectural Lettering In Our Modern Age Copyright (c) 2008 Morris Timlen Bronze Plaques Blog www.bronzeplaquesblog.com/

In these days of discount stores, we are most familiar with the lettering we can buy at the store, which can be glued to any surface. But unless you are an architect, few people think about architectural lettering as a modern-day method of adding information to a landmark.

The Historical Past

Through centuries of historical architecture, architectural letting has always been an integral part of a buildings' design. It wasn't until the modern generation where people began to put less focus on aesthetic beauty in design and more focus on the functional use of the space, within specific budget parameters.

As sheet metal began to replace brick on a storefront, the ornate architectural lettering of yesteryear started to pass away. As neon began to replace signs on the main streets of America, old-world beauty and function began to be replaced by glitz and flash.

According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts, architectural lettering began to disappear from buildings immediately after WWII, with the rise of the International Style of architecture.

Famous Architectural Lettering On Buildings

Probably the most famous architectural lettering in the world is the words "New York Stock Exchange", carved into the marble above the doorway of this world-renowned building at the corner of Wall and Broad Street. (www.nyc-architecture.com/LM/036H.jpg)

But, architectural lettering is not limited to Wall Street in NYC. Most post offices, court houses, and other government buildings in small towns across America, if built before the 1960's and built in the style of the Greek Acropolis, will have architectural lettering on the outside of the building, above the Greek-inspired pillars at the front of the building (see: www.architecturestockphotos.com/slides/ADT1173.jpg and www.teslasociety.com/pictures/engineers/ny_library2.jpg).

The New Style Of Signage And Architectural Lettering

Prior to WWII, the signage was engraved directly into the building. Since WWII, the physical location of the business became more transient, and businesses began renting office and retail space, rather than constructing their own buildings.

But, businesses still need to tell their customers where they are located and what the name of their business is.

In modern day, most of us tend to think about signage in terms of the plastic, backlit type signs as used by McDonald's, Burger King, and Wal-Mart.

Other companies that offer a bit more permanence prefer to utilize the modern-style of architectural lettering that is often preferred by hospitals, banks, major corporations, and municipalities around the country. (Examples: socalbronze.com/images/bronze1b.jpg and www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/illinois/chicago/ibm/5.jpg)

Many Styles Of Signage Lettering

Whether used indoor or outdoor, a lot of variety can be brought into the decision on how to present a message to one's potential and existing customers.

Plastic, neon, acrylic, aluminum, bronze, brass, zinc, and stainless steel can be used outside or inside a building. Indoor signage can also use glass and wood lettering.

Architects, building managers and marketers understand the importance of using signage inside and outside of a building, but more importantly, they understand the importance of making the signage match the style and prominence of the building to which the signage is affixed.

The Graphics Designer

A graphics designer is nearly as important as the choice of materials used in the architectural signage. A graphics designer, who understands the implementation of architectural lettering, can put together the right fonts, font sizes, font spacing, and coloration mixtures, to ensure that an architectural sign not only tells the story that it needs to tell, but also does so with style and elegance.

Think back to the IBM logo. The logo tells the story of the IBM in its styling, and it was so potent that we all remember the way it looks and the business it represents. That is one of the benefits of finding and hiring a good logo designer (graphics designer).

With the best display of your company name in your company's signage, your business name can stand out and still tell the message of your business. Your choice in a graphics designer will ensure that your message is told in a way that best represents your business.

A Difference In Style

Consider the signage of McDonald's restaurants. Its red message board and yellow "M" is known around the world. A great logo and signage design has that kind of power - the power to help your company to be recognized as a "stand out" in a sea of commercial signs.

Of course, the McDonald's signage is one that is pressed from one sheet of plastic to be displayed at thousands of worldwide locations. Its thousands of signs are mass-produced, just as its billions of hamburgers served have been made. The important point to make here is that even McDonald's customers realize that their signage is mass-produced.

When architectural lettering is used in signage, a business has the opportunity to show its company as having more depth than a cookie-cutter business model. Not only does architectural lettering bring a three dimensional effect to one's signage, but consumers see it as an indication that the business may bring more commitment to its customer service than what has come to be expected from cookie cutter type businesses.

Forget The Can Of Paint

When it is time to put a sign in front of your business, please forget the can of paint. Yes, a can of paint might be cheaper, but a can of paint and a hand-painted sign might leave your potential customers' with a sense of unease about the permanence of your business.

Architectural lettering will permit you to design a sign that exhibits class, style and permanence in the minds of consumers, and if you take the time to explore the possibility, you might just find that it is not nearly as expensive as you might imagine.


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Morris Timlen maintains the Bronze Plaques Blog, which specializes in the study of the history and style of commercial signs, and the many materials used in architectural lettering, including bronze, plastic, neon, acrylic, aluminum, brass, zinc, stainless steel, wood and glass. If you are in need of commercial signage for your business, please visit Morris's website for more information: www.bronzeplaquesblog.com/



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