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Through research and education, the Signage Foundation, Inc. analyzes and communicates the societal benefits of on-premise signage.

*Application for the 2016 Signage Foundation Board of Trustees is now open!*

The Signage Foundation is searching for several engaged and talented professionals to serve on our Board of Trustees for the term of 2016-2017. Board trustees are leaders who are committed to SFI and its mission to provide world class signage research and education that transforms communities into vibrant places. As a working board, members volunteer their time and resources for the benefit of SFI and its stakeholders.

SFI strives to find a strong balance and values diversity of knowledge and experience in sign manufacturing, design, research, urban planning, academia, architecture, engineering, marketing, and many other disciplines. Each term is two years and all leaders may be nominated to serve a second term. The following general criteria will be considered in selection of a board candidate:

  • Energetic, committed individuals who will make a contribution to the board and to the foundation
  • Understanding and respect for academia, education and research
  • Personal characteristics of integrity, confidence, and expertise in their field

To apply, please read the Board Expectations document and complete the Board Candidate Application.

2015 NSREC Highlights: Better Sign Codes in Urban Areas 

The 2015 National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC) focused on how signage impacts the urban experience, with a number of presentations providing information to help better understand the importance—and potential—of urban signs.

The conference was held this fall at the University of Oklahoma and is one of the Signage Foundation, Inc.’s signature events.

Now in its fifth year, NSREC brings together academics, planners, consultants and designers to discuss issues related to on-premise signage.

Among the highlights of 2015:

Renowned architect and urban designer, Martin Treu explored design precedent’s role in creating effective models that balance smart growth and urban development. “It is time to reconsider on-premise signs not as boorish intruders in the commercial landscape, but as essential contributors,” Treu wrote in his presentation.

Ron Frantz, Associate Professor of Architecture, looked at how old signs can offer a three-dimensional history of a town’s commercial activities, recreational offerings, professional services and merchant’s names. “Collectively, signs project the personality of a neighborhood, community, or entire town. Quality signage illuminates quality businesses and services. Older signs boast business longevity while contemporary signs show that the next generation is now open for business,” he wrote in the project’s summary.

Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum, and second-generation sign maker Jim Gleason, provided an overview of how communities around the U.S. have used historic signs to revitalize urban areas.

University of Oklahoma professors Stephanie Zeier Pilat and Shawn Michael Schaefer discussed their String of Pearls project which encompassed a three-mile stretch of historic Route 66, using signage to attract locals and tourists alike.

Craig Berger, Chair of the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, previewed his forthcoming research, “Retail Signage: Practices to Increase Return on Investment” and “Retail Wayfinding Best Practices,” both of which will be released by SFI in early 2016.

Ellen Babcock, associate professor at the University of New Mexico, detailed archival and historic material about the development of the southwestern Route 66, hoping to inspire creative reuse of underused or empty road signs.

Attendees also heard presentations from digital signage expert Bob Klausmeier, sign historian Jim Conkle and professors Vikas Mehta, Henry Hildebrandt and Christopher Auffrey during the two-day event. Mehta, Hidebrandt and Auffrey presented research that showed “that a community’s contextual environments influences the communication effectiveness of on-premise signage and that in turn, how the on-premise signage melds with the contextual environments influences the community’s sense of place and quality of life.”

The next National Signage Research & Education Conference will be held in Fall 2017 at Michigan State University. For more information on The Signage Foundation or NSREC, please contact SFI Executive Director Sapna Budev at

“Best Practices in the Regulation of Temporary Signs” Research Offers Valuable Insights

The Signage Foundation Inc. (SFI) has recently published the results of a novel study that examined one of the most perplexing aspects of any sign code: temporary signs. “Best Practices in the Regulation of Temporary Signs,” researched and written by SFI Board Member Wendy Moeller, AICP and owner of Compass Point Planning, capsules the experiences of numerous communities to provide some relief to the temporary sign dilemma.  The research also extended beyond survey responses and documented various sign codes through interviews, her own experience and internet review of specific codes.  

Moeller, who is also a past president of the Ohio chapter of the American Planning Assn. (APA), addresses some important topics, such as distinguishing temporary signs from temporary messages, and differentiating off- and on-premise temporary signs. Additionally, she emphasizes the need for temporary sign regulations to be integral to the overall sign code and not treated as a separate entity. Typically, regulation of temporary signs falters due to lack of enforcement, and Moeller addresses how modern technology can provide some solutions. Overall, her “best practices” include guidance on size, number, time limits, locational regulations, and how to classify “new” types of temporary signs that existing regulations haven’t considered, including the advent of live “people” signs.

The results of the study can be viewed on the SFI website at:  

Signage Foundation, Inc. Adds Yarger and Miller to Board of Trustees

The Signage Foundation Inc. (SFI), Washington, DC, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the educational, research and philanthropic purposes of on-premise signage, has named John Yarger and Dave Miller to its Board of Directors. They will replace former SFI chairman Ken Von Wald (Denco Sales, Denver, CO) and Board member Roy Cox (Trav-Ad Signs, Huntsville, AL).

Dave Miller Dave Miller is the Managing Director and General Manager for Nova Polymers, Inc. (Fairfield, NJ), a company that specializes in architectural and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signage. Consequently, he represents the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) on the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI A 117 committee. Miller also serves on the ISA board of directors and, for the past few years, has chaired its annual Converge conference as a member of the ISA Tradeshow Advisory Committee.

John Yarger John Yarger is president and CEO of North American Signs, Inc. (South Bend, IN), a national, electric-sign company, where he has worked since 1996. He is a third-generation president. Yarger also currently serves as president of the Midwest Sign Association and on the board of directors of the International Sign Association. With a degree in economics from DePauw University and a legal background, Yarger will provide significant practical experience to the SFI board. His father, Noel, was one of the co-founders of the Signage Foundation for Communication Excellence, the predecessor to SFI.

SFI Board Chairman Duane Laska noted “Dave’s and John’s vast experience and broad expertise will enable the Signage Foundation to further develop strategic collaborations”.

The Challenge

On-premise signage is one of the backbones of commerce. Centuries before the advent of the printing press and today’s modern graphic and electronic communication media, signage played a significant role in advertising the availability of goods and services. And signage, in all its various forms, is no less important a communication medium now than it was then. Despite its many contributions to retail vibrancy in our economy, questions are continually being raised about the value of signage and its social and economic impact and value. Until recently, there has been no single organization on the national level devoted solely to the development of peer-reviewed research and education that addresses on-premise signage for all concerned constituencies. That is where The Signage Foundation Inc. comes in.

The Signage Foundation, Inc. (SFI) works to promote signage in the societal sense, educating the public about its social, economic and aesthetic value to the at-large society, emphasizing to users how to maximize their communication effectiveness. The Foundation focuses on bringing education to sign users and to those who interact with sign users, including advertising agencies, lenders, appraisers, attorneys, regulators, business form franchisers and small businesses.

SFI works to develop the most effective means possible to deliver information on the economic, social and communication value of on-premise signage to the end-using public and those who regulate it.

The Foundation builds relationships with academic and governmental organizations to develop and enunciate public policy for on-premise signs. The Foundation develops basic research on the social, economic and aesthetic benefits of on-premise signage. The resounding message throughout the work of the Signage Foundation, Inc. is the goal of establishing full and unconditional acceptance and endorsement of the time, place and manner focus as a commitment to storefront signage.

Signage Industry News

The American Bar Assn. held a March 26 webinar entitled, “Three Approaches to the Regulation of On-Premise Signs.”

Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between On-Premise Digital Signage and Traffic Safety

Case studies and overview of the legalities of amortization.

Arts & Science of Sign Design
Latest research into applicable scientific principles.

P.O. Box 14392
Washington, DC 20044
Phone: 336-260-3197 Phone: 336-260-3197
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