Posted in education on August 11, 2015 2:45 pm EDT

Straight Talk

The latest developments in church signage.

Church digital signage, image courtesy of X2O Media.











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TAGS: communication, community connection, design, digital signage, signage, sustainability,


By Keith Loria

Dunwoody Baptist Church, Dunwoody, Ga., courtesy of APCO.

There’s plenty to think about when designing a church, but oftentimes signs are overlooked by the architect or designer as being an integral component of the process.

Technology has had a major impact on signage in the past five years, especially in the areas of printing and cutting. Direct, flatbed print technology has vastly expanded the graphics capabilities of most sign companies, enabling high resolution printing of multi-color graphics, images and photographs onto virtually any rigid substrate. This has in turn offered the end user much more vibrant and image-intense sign solutions, with substrate options suitable for any budget. Along the same lines, laser-jet and water-jet cutting technology have enabled sign manufacturers to offer a much more creative range of custom shapes and configurations for signs, and in a more cost-effective manner than in the past.

Digital wayfinding

Eric Henry, signage solutions lead at Tightrope Media Systems in Saint Paul, Minn., says interactive touch directories and wayfinding kiosks are rapidly gaining momentum and being deployed in worship facilities. Video walls and large LED panels are also being deployed at large facilities where visual impact is key.

“Video encoders have reduced latency and IP networks are now able to handle increased traffic from streaming video, allowing churches to stream their services throughout their facilities over their data network,” Henry says. “In addition, media players have improved their live video playback capabilities to allow churches more choices in delivering the content to the player end points. There are also more content delivery networks (CDNs) available for churches to utilize in providing live streaming of their services.”

Interior Options

Dillon Cobb, vice president marketing of Atlanta-based Apco Signs says that when it comes to a worship facility’s interior signs, he is noticing a trend of churches putting a little more emphasis on signs in general, desiring better-looking and higher quality solutions than in years past.

California Baptist University, Riverside, Calif. Image courtesy of APCO.

“Currently, satin anodized aluminum, clean/crisp graphics and light-color wood accents are being used in the more contemporary settings,” Cobb reports. “Signs really do make a difference, not only in terms of directing and informing, but with a facility’s image, too.”

Along these lines, facilities are incorporating decorative wood laminates and finishes into their signage designs. Although this does add more cost on the front end, it’s a great way to tie into the space’s existing interiors, or to simply enhance the look of the environment. “We’ve also seen an increase in the use of signs with laser-printed inserts that can be updated in-house by the church staff,” Cobb says. “These solutions have been around for years but seem to have been adopted more by the worship community in the past several years as the importance of an easily updatable sign program is being recognized.”

California Baptist University, Riverside, Calif. Image courtesy of APCO.

On the Outside

There are plenty of exterior sign trends that architects and designers should be keeping track of, as well. Cobb notes that churches and their design partners have been wanting more customized, unique solutions for exterior signs—especially for the main ID signs.

“This hasn’t necessarily meant an entire shift away from the modular sign approach, but in many cases, just the addition of unique shapes and finishes to help create a custom look for what otherwise might be an off-the-shelf sign product,” he says. “We’ve also seen more emphasis put on branding with the exterior sign program. As part of this trend, we’ve seen more requests for logos and church names to be incorporated not only on the main ID sign where one would normally expect [it], but with other signs in the exterior program as well. This helps create a powerful, consistent image for the church.”

Digital Signage

Many modern houses of worship are truly multipurpose sites with a myriad of activities and groups utilizing the facility throughout the week. “Dynamic digital signage allows the church to quickly change gears and provide targeted messaging related to each group as well as a unique look and feel, if desired,” Henry says. “In addition, churches are continually looking for ways to encourage community within their congregation. Engaging the congregation through dynamic digital content such as upcoming events, recent news, or videos highlighting the recent mission trip help members stay plugged in and informed.”

Church digital signage, image courtesy of X2O Media.

Lyle Bunn, an analyst and long-time member of the faculty of Digital Signage Expo, Las Vegas, says houses of worship are turning to digital signage when there are large congregations and a large number of programs offered to attendees. “Digital signage provides another forum for profiling the programs that are available,” he says.  continued >>