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Buying and installing new system can be often mean a significant capital outlay, especially when implementing wayfinding signage for a large outdoor location. The good news though is that there are many ways to greatly reduce the cost of wayfinding signage and how it is implemented and in this post, I explain about costs reductions through using existing structures for placing signs.

Using existing structures for placing signage

New versus Old Structures for Placing Signage

One of the considerations when planning the implementation of a signage system is to decide whether or not existing structures will be used, or if brand new structures will be needed. The answer is not straightforward in that it depends on a few criteria, these including:

  • Your budget;
  • What type of signs are being added and why;
  • If the signage is intended for temporary or permanent use;
  • If existing structures will enable you to add signage at the right height and be suitable for all weathers.
Car park signs and using existing poles to reduce the cost of wayfinding signage

An airport car park and a structure perfectly suited for demarcating the areas of the car park (such as Area A, B, C etc.)

Budget and Temporary Signage

For lower budget signage implementations, using existing structures makes sense given that this can greatly reduce the overall costs incurred. Likewise, for events, festivals and shows, the signage is likely to be temporary (and budgets limited) and, for this reason, structures such as existing lamp posts, fences and the such like, can be good locations for signage. Do though consider if:

  • You have permission to use these structures. Find out who owns the structure/s you plan to use and ensure you have permission to attach signage to these structures. In bucolic areas, you may need to ask landowners or the local council. Even within an airport, for example, a specific area might be privately managed and thus any signage that might go up in that area should have the permission of those who manage that area.

Wayfaring and navigation signage for bus tours

Creating New Permanent Custom-Made Structures

Bay trail signage

If the signage is to be permanent and you have the budget available, then there are a number of advantages to creating brand new structures that are custom made (bespoke), including:

  • Solid structures can be designed that ensure that the signage is designed for all users, meaning that the signage issues such as height can be planned well. Signage, for example, needs to be view-able for wheelchair users and you will have control over the height of the signage you custom make.
  • There is scope to design signage that really reflects the design, style, colours and structure that best suits the reason for your signage. In the image above, for example, this type of signage is quite befitting for a bay or wilderness trail.
  • Creating your own structure also means the opportunity for appropriate placement (if you have permission) and size.
  • The signage can be designed more appropriately for all weathers.

Signage design training

Thoughts – So when designing a new implementation, do consider if you really need to make brand new structures such as posts, for placing new signage. Think carefully about the lifeline of the signage and balance against available budgets.


Pre-existing poles can be a great location for saving on the cost of wayfinding signage and implementation.

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Dr Paul Symonds has a PhD in Wayfinding from Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK. Paul works with the signage industry, airports and other locations providing wayfinding audits, consultancy and training.