average cost of signage

Is There an Average Cost of Signage for Commercial Developments?

Published on: June 6, 2019

Many companies assume there’s a standard ballpark price for signage and graphics. Architects often counsel their clients to budget X amount per square foot for signage, so companies request bids with this figure in mind. You might get through the design phase of a project, sometimes all the way through construction documentation, before ever discussing the bottom-line amount. When the final bid comes through, you could be completely blindsided by how much signage and graphics actually wind up costing—all because of the myth that all signage comes with an average price tag.

There is no such thing as an average cost of signage for a commercial development. Designing signage for a local health center is incredibly different from outfitting a complex like Broadcom’s headquarters in San Jose. Clients like these are looking for very different things when it comes to cost, scale, and design complexity. It’s impossible to compare their projects just based on an average price per square foot alone.

While you can safely assume that there’s going to be incredible variance in price for your interior and exterior signage program, that doesn’t really help your company set appropriate budget expectations. If you’re interested in developing a better cost estimate for your upcoming project, consider the following five variables.

5 Factors Contributing to the Average Cost of Signage

Whether your signage project is for a 6-building office park or a single-story accounting firm, you’ll want to consider the following factors in order to determine an appropriate budget:

Square Footage

First and foremost, how large is the property? Are you operating on a single floor, or 27? Does your property include multiple wings, buildings, or campuses? The total square footage of your project is the first factor determining how much your signage program will cost. For instance, you might need identification signs for each conference room, cubicle, and individual office in a corporate complex. As you can imagine, those numbers increase significantly for every 5,000 square feet of office space you add on. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to include wayfinding signage to help visitors and employees navigate the property as well as ADA and code-related signage for every restroom, storm shelter, stairwell, and fire exit. The more square footage, the bigger the signage cost.

average cost of signage

GNU Group’s Sign Profile Analysis™ identifies all areas of horizontal and vertical circulation.

Amenities

If your offices also include a wide variety of amenities, you’ll need to include them in your signage estimates, too. Let’s say there’s a cafeteria in the corporate headquarters. That large space will require more than a handful of signs to direct foot traffic in a way that’s both efficient and effective. Not every project includes amenities that will require additional custom signage—but those that do can expect a higher overall program cost.

Parking

One signage cost that often gets overlooked is vehicular wayfinding. Does your commercial development involve a garage? You’ll need both vehicular and pedestrian-level signs to direct traffic into your facility and help visitors find their way back to their vehicles when they’re ready to leave.

Parking lots also require additional identification and navigational signs that need to be factored into the budget for your signage program—and they’ll need to be created with specialized heavy-duty materials which can withstand the elements for years to come. Commercial developments without these outdoor signage elements will have a much lower cost.

average cost of signage

Public vs Non-Public Spaces

When considering the average cost of signage, you’ll also want to consider public spaces separately from non-public spaces. Most companies pay more for signage that clients or customers will see—while keeping bare bones signage everywhere else. Consider the lobby of a major tech tower versus the warehouse of a fulfillment center. Both would have a wildly different price for signage. If your property has a large percentage of public space, you can expect your signage costs for that project to be higher.

Interior Finishes

Materials are perhaps the most flexible factor that plays into the total cost of your signage project. Most often, the interior finishes of your property will dictate the quality of signage materials you’ll want to purchase in order to create a consistent brand experience. A high-end hospitality franchise, for instance, might want to invest in higher-quality signs than a local insurance agency.

A good signage consultant will be able to present you with a few different price points for materials that would fit your interior aesthetic. If you’re looking for a way to trim down your signage budget, consider partnering with a signage design firm that’s willing to be creative in helping you control material costs.

How to Nail Down Your Custom Signage Budget

average cost of signage

GNU Group’s Sign Profile Analysis™ provides a high/low budget estimate early on for better control of project budgets.

Every signage project varies in size, scope, and complexity. It’s time to drop the “one size fits all” thinking that’s often applied to the signage industry. The final budget for your upcoming signage project will depend on the five variables above, along with an expanding number of smaller factors that are entirely specific to your company’s needs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t estimate costs before signing a contract.

The best way to manage costs is to partner with an environmental graphic and signage design firm that will perform a comprehensive analysis of your needs before setting a budget. Signage is ultimately an investment and a Sign Profile Analysis™  is the best way to create a detailed high and low budget range of all the signage elements your property might need—including branding, wayfinding, identification, and regulatory signs—before ever starting the design process. This helps accurately estimate your project’s scope, allows you to make more informed design decisions, and enables you to better control project costs.

You may not be able to count on an average cost of signage. But with an accurate cost analysis in hand, you’ll be better equipped to make meaningful budget decisions and select a design approach that meets your needs.


At GNU Group, we’ve built a reputation for accurate signage proposals that put the overall costs up front for our corporate clients. Our proprietary tools, including Sign Profile Analysis™, help us to create highly-specific budget projections for commercial properties in California and across the United States. Control your signage costs by investing in an accurate assessment of your property’s needs. Connect with our team today.