Strategies for Branding Buildings High In the Sky

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MeadWestvaco Sign Case Study

Special Considerations when Branding High Buildings


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Designing signs for high-rise applications and attaching them to buildings is not a typical capability of the average sign company. Holiday Signs recently provided the branding signage for the MeadWestvaco (MWV) Corporate Headquarters building in Richmond, Virginia. The building’s striking design above the James River is signed with the corporate brand making the MWV building a noticeable and visually attractive addition to the downtown.

The project involved the design, manufacture and installation of MWV logos for three sides of the skyscraper viewed 24 hours a day. Using prototypes may seem like an unnecessary use of materials at first glance, but when considering large scale signage and costs of manufacture and installation of high-rise work, prototypes make good sense..


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There are three important benefits of using sign prototypes for high-rise applications:


● Cost Reduction

Resource Conservation

● Achievement of Best Results

Because of our experience with high-rise and other technically challenging projects, we know it’s best to get it right on the ground and get a strong sense its going in the right direction with signage prototypes before committing to build the whole thing.


mwv proto



The MWV corporate philosophy embraces sustainability as part of their ethical business strategy and proactively partners with vendors driven by the same commitment. MWV consciously took steps in reducing its carbon footprint by purchasing locally, and by using LED lighting for illumination. But perhaps the biggest sustainability aspect here was the agreement to utilize prototypes in the manufacturing cycle saving more than 50% in material, labor and fuel costs of working in high-rise conditions.

The MWV logo was designed by an independent design firm. The first prototype was made based on the original design specifications. After critically viewing the first version of the illuminated corporate logo from the ground, a team of senior executives immediately wanted it taken down and redesigned. Both the lighting and framework were redesigned and a second prototype was prepared. Before this could be approved for production, a third prototype was ordered because MWV re-designed their logo.


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Prototypes saved valuable resources and helped make sure installation and future service costs were kept to a minimum. In this case, the design of channel letters for mounting on very expensive glass panels was coordinated with the architect and engineer to make sure the attached logos did not over-stress the glass or building structure. Without the use of prototypes, the customer would have incurred significant costs for the design, manufacture, installation and removal of the logos.


The completed corporate image was a big success! It fits the building and surrounding environment while making a lasting impression on the MeadWestvaco brand in Richmond!




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Mark Hackley
Account Executive
(800) 229-9443




If you liked this article here are some of equal interest:







(Reprint of a previous case study.)

Who manufactures, installs and provides maintenance for high-rise signs, tall building signage, signs at high elevations, signs requiring crane trucks, or sign projects of extreme technically challenging aspects?  *We do…Holiday Signs…serving clients in: Richmond, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Roanoke, Tysons Corner, Fairfax, McLean, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Baltimore, Washington, DC or any city with a skyline! Branding buildings for over 30 years!


We Work In Your Town: Electric Signs- Staunton-Waynesboro, VA

STAUNTON-WAYNESBORO…August 2014- We Work in Your Town- Staunton-Waynesboro

Holiday Signs is Central Virginia’s premier custom electric sign company and, just in case you haven’t noticed, we work in your town too!

We’ve been turning traffic into customers for over 40 years and look forward to the chance to help your organization attract attention in your part of Virginia.


August 2014- We Work in Your Town- Staunton-Waynesboro footer


Mark Hackley, a former Augusta County-based sign company owner, lives in Waynesboro, VA, and is an Account Executive at Holiday Signs.

You may contact him anytime at 540-416-3154, or by e-mail at


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See stories about other projects we’ve done around Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County, VA and all over the Commonwealth of Virginia:


City of Manassas Digital Welcome Signs

Roanoke Regional Airport Wayfinding System

Historic Sign Renovation Case Study

Branding an Anniversary

Advertising Healthcare Services in Augusta County, VA

Luck Stone Entrance, Manakin-Sabot, VA

Rosemary & George Dawson Inn, Lynchburg, VA

Branding the Capital Ale House, Harrisonburg, VA














Who makes custom electric signs, electronic message centers, digital signs,

pylons, channel letters, directional signs, wall graphics, neon signs, wayfinding signs, new construction signs,

and provides electric sign service in Staunton, Waynesboro, Fishersville, Verona, Stuarts Draft? We do!! Mark Hackley was former founder of Tree Street Signs of Crimora, VA.

When at the Beach, Act Beachy


Everything is Local


If you build a new retail store in the mountains, make it look “mountainy;”

In the city, appear “urbanesque.”

Therefore if you build a supermarket at the beach, it makes sense that you should at least be “beachy.”

That’s exactly how Food Lion appears in Oak Island, a beach town near the very bottom of North Carolina. We visited there and several other Carolina beaches for our vacation this year. 

It was kind of cool to see a blue and black Food Lion sign, which are their official branding colors, although most stores I’ve seen in Virginia tout white wall-mounted letters on brick or stucco backgrounds. The store at Oak Island was very nautical and matched the of many other stores on the street.

Three main take-aways from vacation:

1) Sea Turtles’ innate ability to return to the same beach to lay their eggs after years of traveling the seven seas blows my mind and makes me wonder why I can’t even find my beach chair after returning from a 20-minute walk down the beach.

2) Sunset Beach, NC can almost be legitimately given that unusual name for an Atlantic Beach since the beach faces south and you can see the sunset on the right over the sand dunes as you face the waves. Even though trademarks are sacred things, sometimes it’s okay to alter them a little to fit a particular environment. The bright blue words with the black iconic lion make up the standard logo of Food Lion stores. At the beach, the retail chain utilizes the pure brand and adds architectural embellishments to the buildings to match the beach. Around Richmond, the store goes with red brick and stucco buildings and sometimes alters the standards to keep it’s brand readable while at the same time blending it’s stores in with the local environment. After all, isn’t meshing with a community part of branding? And isn’t everything local when it comes to marketing a brand?

Happy end of summer!



Many Other Interesting Stories:


Tags: Electric Signs NC-VA, Virginia Beach Property, Channel Letters for Supermarkets and other retail stores 

Sustainability Options- Will Your Next Sign Project Be Green?


green sign companies


Normally when you think of sustainability and signs, electric power reduction in lighting first comes to mind. Over and above the usual LED lighting upgrades and considerations of solar power supply alternatives, there are two basic elements of green signage that most buyers overlook:

  • buying local;
  • reducing the number of trips made to the site during signage production and installation.



One may never know how much dealing locally shrinks the carbon footprint! I’ve seen many sign buyers opt for products made out of state. Not only does this add cost and their chances for product damage and potential work delays, but it’s wasting valuable energy resources.

We encourage customers to let us facilitate creative ways to eliminate trips during the fabrication and installation process. Some greener suggestions could include:

  • manufacturing pre-assembled signs in our shop with faux brick, or stucco components rather than on-site excavation, masonry and stucco work;
  • engineering provisions for efficient sign maintenance (another key aspect of future cost control and energy reduction.)

If you consider simple sustainability options like reduction in the early project stages, you’re well on your way to a greener sign project.


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(This is a reprint of an earlier Newsletter Topic.)

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Community College Signs I’ve Seen



Simple Interior Sign System

I was at an outdoor community event in Charlottesville last week and had to venture inside to find the restroom. I had never been in this particular building before and I had no idea where to go. It was used by a local Virginia Community College System.

As a sign designer and salesperson, I am always interested in neat signs, but who would have thought I’ find signs worth taking pictures of out in the hallway on my way to the men’s room? Was I ever surprised!

Here are a few neat little interior sign designs that work.

The signs are all simple flat PVC panels. Some are rectangular, some are rounded. Some use a white background while others are gold.

There are three mounting methods used in the interior sign system. One method is a flag mount where the one or two sided panels slip inside a vertically mounted wall bracket.

Another mounting method is wall-flush mount, where the PVC panels are adhered to the wall with double-back tape and/or clear silicone sealant. The final method is flush mount, but on a wall corner. The corner mounted signs look rather neat and they really caught my attention.

I was so involved in admiring the cool signage that I forgot all about the bathroom!  Wow, what a sign nerd, huh?

Holiday Signs can handle sign projects of all shapes and sizes. Here are some Sign Case Studies:





Holiday Signs is an established electric sign company serving Central Virginia, Eastern NC, and all of VA, MD. and DC.

Branding a Virginia College Athletic Center


Case Study: Signage for Ferrum College’s Hank Norton Center





  • Our client had built a new building with help from generous donors;
  • They wanted to name the new athletic center in honor of legendary former football coach and athletic director, Hank Norton;
  • They sold room naming rights to attract additional funding and needed to mention donors throughout the building on room signs and also in special donor recognition areas.


  • We worked closely with the office of the president and the development department to create effective ADA compliant interior signage with flexible donor and room naming;
  • We used existing colors and architectural elements in our designs;
  • We incorporated a new, updated campus map into the project that included the new facility.





  • The customer was very satisfied with the look and function of the new branding and wayfinding system for the facility;
  • We completed the project in time for their Open House as promised, and donors were excited to see recognition for their contributions;
  • The new building signage became part of news stories and photos in the college’s PR and marketing of the new facility;
  • We helped with more signs when renovations were made to the football stadium press box.







If you purchase or influence signage, you may also like one of these sign stories:



2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design



Contact: Mark Hackley