Development Signs Make Powerful Branding Statements


Development Signs that are Branding a Community


Several years ago Holiday Signs became involved with constructing the development signs for the Harper’s Mill community in Chesterfield, a neighborhood that markets its natural setting. The unique entrance signage has become an iconic feature at the entrance to the large subdivision with multiple neighborhoods of varying price points, a school, and an amphitheater in their plans. There is also a retail element planned for later.

Close-up of the massive twenty-foot tall cut limestone end column and two-tiered pool complete with waterfall and fountain at the entrance to Harper's Mill.Richmond-based landscape design firm, Higgins & Gerstenmaier, LLC, designed the impressive signage structure and Holiday Signs managed the project for Oakridge Development, the developer of the Harper’s Mill property. Holiday Signs got the job because of our knowledge and experience with iconic environmental design projects, especially those involving technically challenging aspects of concrete construction. Henry Moore, Holiday Signs project manager, consulted with the landscape architect on the substrates and structure to help come up with an effective design.

As with any new construction project, the first hurdle is being able to envision the end result as you stare at a pile of ungraded earth. “Figuring out where to put the foundation in the midst of a big dirt pile and power line takes planning,” said Henry. An important element of large projects is being able to effectively coordinate things between the developer, the architect, the county, the utility companies and various trades and professions. Holiday Signs consulted with a surveyor to get the foundation placed exactly right and, working from his reference points, the huge limestone structure was placed just where it needed to be.  Many of the limestone blocks weighed 400 pounds and the end column with the community’s brand was 20′ high. Daniels Masonry handled the concrete and limestone part of the project.

The sign boasts a waterfall and fountain. A company from California provided the waterfall, and a local company installed the fountain. “The biggest challenge on larger projects like this is getting the concrete foundation right the first time to make sure all the subsequent pieces will fit together,” said Henry. “ The end product has to convey what the original design concept was all about. As project manager, you have to be able to look at all the parts and pieces in advance to make sure they will all go together as planned. If you miss one part, you have to do a lot of manipulation to make it all come together.” The value in utilizing an experienced sign company is an important aspect for consideration when constructing such an icon for the area.

It was the desire of the developer to build a modern, up-to-date community with walking trails and all the many amenities found at Harper’s Mill. “The sign is distinctive and different and it helps a lot with the marketing of the development,” commented Mark Sowers, president of Oakbridge Development, Inc. “It’s the focal point when you come in and it sets the tone of the community. It really helps us. We have a lot more projects out there and we’ll be using Holiday Signs again,” he said.


Harpers Mill Panoramic (1)


Contact: Mark Hackley, Account Executive  (540)416-3154







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Retrofit Neon Signs to LED to Save Money & Go Green


Brand image is the overall impression in a consumer’s mind formed from all sources, including electric signs. The purpose of any branding sign is to draw attention to the brand in a positive way, but many times due to inconsistent sign lighting, a positive branding statement is compromised.  Many channel letter signs, for instance, were put in service when neon lighting was the only option, or the least expensive choice until recently. Unfortunately, because of high maintenance requirements and cold weather reliability, neon has a lower performance level than LED, leaving a brand vulnerable to projecting negatively in its market.

Improvements in technology have brought down the price of LED’s and now the majority of today’s custom electric channel letter signs are made using LED’s. LED’s require much less maintenance and use almost 1/20th the electricity of neon. LED is also a low voltage system as opposed to high voltage neon which means that LED installations are less invasive, preserving building aesthetics and integrity while maintaining a positive branding statement.

Consider the following 6 reasons to switch your electric channel letters to LED:

  • Reduced energy costs by up to 94%
  • Long Life – 50,000 hours (Conservative estimate equal to 11 years of nighttime use)
  • Less service/reduced maintenance costs (provides more consistent brand for customers, year-round)
  • Less insurance risk (reduced fire and shock hazards)
  • Improved performance in cold weather (provides more consistent brand for customers, year-round)
  • Fewer required primary electrical circuits


Because neon is more bulky than LED, neon signs tend to be a little wider and taller than its LED counterparts. That is usually not a big issue for most window and wall applications. The biggest difference is depth. An LED sign can be as little as 1” thick whereas a neon sign must be at least 3.5” deep since the glass tubing must extend away from its backing.

Existing neon channel letters can be upgraded to LED for longer life and reduced energy consumption. The result is a sign that is not only “green” and eco-friendly, but also budget-friendly, more evenly lit, and maintenance free.

LED For perspective, 80 linear feet of neon draws as much power as twenty 42” flat screen TV’s. The same 80′ of LED has the equivalent power draw as one TV. That’s a huge difference! From an environmental standpoint, neon signs are much less environmentally friendly. They use loads of power and also contain mercury. The “green” qualities of LED can also be a helpful factor in the permitting process.

Holiday Signs offers free estimates for custom neon-LED conversion projects which provide consistent branding statements and at the same time reduce operating costs. How’s that for a deal? In addition to securing a positive brand, the chart below shows the tremendous annual power savings gained by conversion to LED using the 80′ example:





power cost chart

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Written by Jason Maggard and Mark Hackley, Holiday Signs


Contact: Mark Hackley,



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We worked with AREA Properties, LLC of Rockville, Maryland, who recently renovated the Rockwood Square Shopping Center in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Prior to its makeover, the center had a high vacancy rate, but after all the renovations it is now 98% full, much of which is attributed to the new signs according to Gary Modjeska of AREA Properties. “Signs were a very, very important part of the repositioning of the property,” he said.

 Since the property was not a high end shopping center, the client wanted signage that would not be real expensive to potential tenants. Gary worked with Holiday Signs project manager, Allen Twedt, to come up with a new design for the center’s signs. Before renovations, the center had plain, rectangular-shaped box signs with flat faces and poor hodge-podge designs. The client originally planned to replace everything with channel letters but asked us what we thought. We told him we could come up with a nice design for box signs that would include some architectural amenities, and if there is a tenant change all that would need to be done is swap out a new face, keeping a new tenant’s costs down in the future versus them having to come up with money for a new set of channel letters.

Allen and the Holiday Signs design team utilized an interesting lighting sconce detail forBlog Blurbs 9-9 the box signs and the main pylon that tied all the signage together. The detail also appears on the under-canopy signs as well. The owner also liked the idea of keeping all the tenant signs consistent and uniform regarding colors and layout. The sign backgrounds are opaque, so at night all that is seen is the copy and the lighted sconces giving the retail center a classy look instead of the typical image portrayed by standard illuminated white-background box signs. Adding the simple architectural details and keeping all signs consistent in design supports a unified theme that is attractive to customers and has helped the center grow and thrive again after the re-imaging.

sconce detail

Sconce detail on the wall signage. By utilizing box cabinet signs for the center’s tenants versus channel letters, it makes them all consistent, easier to change, and less expensive than custom channel letters. If not a high end property, lower up front costs attract and keep more long-term tenants, and there are many creative ways to keep costs down while promoting a consistent and eye-catching sign design.

This was the first project we provided for Gary at AREA Properties, LLC, but he said he will use us again on future projects because he was so pleased with all aspects we provided him.

pizza place        








Contact: Mark Hackley (540) 416-3154


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September 2013-Retail Re-Branding


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Source for Digital Sign Content Marketing




If you’re like most people in business these days, you see value in content marketing. Consider the following 2013 trends:

  • $118.4 billion will be spent on content marketing in 2013. (Brafton Editorial)
  • 90% of businesses use content marketing. (B2B Marketing Insider)
  • 77% of people understand that an organization’s goal for custom content is to sell them something, but are OK with it as long as it provides value. (TMG Custom Media)

The website, blog and social media outlets tell all about the special events, and the digital sign at each location should broadcast supportive content to lead people in.

When we think of content marketing strategies we think of blogging, case studies, white papers, website landing pages, e-mail, and so on, but digital messaging plays a big role in any well-rounded content promotion program. After all, a digital sign is just a big, exterior-grade computer monitor able to share custom content with more than a million viewers a month. (A two-sided sign on a busy road like Jefferson Davis Highway in Fredericksburg, Virginia with an average traffic count of 30,000 cars a day has 1.3 million potential monthly views based on the U.S. average of 1.5 persons per vehicle.*)

*VDOT 2012 Traffic Data (


Leveraging Online Content

Many customers of Holiday Signs operate hotels, restaurants, banks, and car dealerships and utilize prime road frontage for digital advertising. They understand the value of reaching real-world traffic in addition to traffic online. Digital signage can utilize text and also static and video images that tie in with elements of virtual marketing campaigns. Marketing themes from on-line content can be linked in to electronic messaging signage and customers entering the door become a measure of the campaign’s success rate.

Blog Blurbs 9-3Many times chain customers ask about the process involved with setting up a central computer where content is designed and used to send scheduled messages to pylon signs at each of their locations, sometimes across several states. Recently, marketing managers of a 23-store nursery chain, a 9-branch bank chain, and a growing retail healthcare organization were delighted to hear that this process can be part of the normal installation these days, easy to configure and train employees. (See June 2013 Article about Augusta Health.) Nowadays it’s also possible to utilize RSS feeds for live data like stock prices, news clips, emergency information, and other data that an organization may want to feature on its signs.

Read More About Electronic Sign Control Software

Customer Realization project managers regularly demonstrate to customers how adding digital signage to their existing marketing programs can help them grow sales. At first they are very cautious. It usually takes a little while, but once they realize the tremendous size of their captive audience pool and understand the huge value of potential customers right at their doorstep, a light goes on. Then, as they compare the cost of other media to reach so many in their direct market, they begin to understand the value of digital messaging, eliminating their perceived risks in making the investment.


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