Apr 28, 2019


Episode 1 Recap: We introduced some of the classic types of signfails. We then described how placement, design, and content of signage can go wrong. The results can be comical, confusing, or downright dangerous.


This two-part Signfail series is not a blog about nothing. Rather, it’s about what we at GraphPlex don’t allow to happen on our watch. We’ve laid out the most basic types of signage failures in Episode 1, in general terms. Let’s dive back into signage failures again.It’s time now to look at some cases.


In Episode 1 we noted that it matters where a sign is. Doesn’t work if its target audience can’t see it. That’s fairly obvious, though it’s amazing how often installers seem to forget it. Another classic placement issue involves a clash between a sign’s content and the setting it’s in. A sign reading PLAYGROUND installed with a cemetery in the background, for example.

Sometimes a perfectly good sign becomes a signfail because of another nearby sign’s message. One of the installers, as can be seen, was asleep at the switch. The installer, of course, who put up the second sign.

burrito loading zone









The next example can’t be real, can it? Real or not, it perfectly illustrates a couple of classic design and content fails. We couldn’t pass it up.

One type of fail this sign demonstrates is in the lack of emphasis on the key message. Does anyone doubt that the bridge being out is what this sign was installed to warn about? Have you looked closely enough at the photo to get that message at all?

sign with sharp edges

Instead, the sign places total emphasis on a secondary, incidental hazard. Sharp edges? To whom would that matter, unless to somebody trying to steal or vandalize the sign? The bridge is out!  This sign does have an unwritten message, though. It says make the key point, and watch your font sizes.

In designing a sign, it’s important to have the sign’s purpose animate the choice of words. A warning sign is not a book. It’s more like a pre-internet Tweet, only shorter. The choice of wording and the presentation of those words need to serve the purpose.




Finally, there’s the huge set of signfails caused by lack of maintenance. This is practically a genre of humor in and of itself. Natural forces and vandals are the main culprits. They alter signs in ways that change their meaning. Yes, the results can be amusing. But not always. In any case, a mutilated message speaks volumes about the attention paid by its owner to his or her affairs.

illegally parked cars








Don’t allow a signfail to spoil your business, institution, or municipal signage. We at GraphPlex have the experience and diligence to make sure your signage doesn’t end up on social media Or in court, for that matter. It’s not always funny.

(954) 920-0905