Scott Franko: Building Dimensional Impressions

Dimensional signage unlocks visuals that other signage cannot.

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I vividly remember my first encounter with the Wizard of Oz. It took place some 30-plus years after the initial release in 1939. Since then I’m sure I’ve seen the film either in its entirety or in pieces and parts at least 5,000 times on TV.

Why is it that the Land of Oz continues to fascinate? I believe it has to do with the lasting impactful impression it makes and leaves you with.   

This movie in its era was what I would call “dimensional” compared to all other films put out up to that time. The creativity that went into making this movie took it to a completely new dimension. According to Wikipedia, The Wizard of Oz eventually became the most viewed motion picture on television ever and ranks as a top 10 movie of all time. Now that’s what I call building an impression!

I believe dimensional signage can do the same thing. You build them and they build impressions. Of all the types of signs and graphics our company produces through its divisions, I enjoy dimensional sign making the most.

Although you can be as creative as you want with print and display, it is through dimensional signs that the creative process spills out from the mind to the computer and into the hands of the producers, production and processes that will blend an assortment of materials and components together to create one-of-a-kind impressions.

The dimensional sign provides a unique experience to the person who will interact or come in contact with it. That experience goes beyond the brand or message.        Consider how a brick road is just a brick road unless it happens to be painted yellow as in the land of Oz. Then it becomes special. An otherwise nice looking but ordinarily flat sign can also pop to life with a little added dimension.

Routers and hand carving can make elements that put the punch on a sign panel by emphasizing a letter or logo dimensionally. Or, consider adding texture to the background behind the graphics in order to bring dimensionality and personality to the overall sign.

Here’s my definition of a dimensional sign: A sign becomes dimensional as soon as it is given a geometric or spatial treatment that differs from traditional signs where the primary features are flat.

That is a broad-based explanation, but so is the palette of tools and materials that generate them; very broad and diverse. You’ve got so much to work with including wood, HDU, plastics, metals, laminates, routers, benders and cutters.

A well designed and professionally produced dimensional sign can make a dramatic impact upon those who will interact or come in contact with it. Lobbies, foyers, reception areas, facades, walls, exteriors and interiors are all excellent placement candidates for you to build impressions.  Shape becomes as meaningful as the message that a sign conveys. A simple mechanical fastener can become a highly important design detail.

Build with dimension and you’ll be building impressions.

Scott Franko is a brand image expert and regular contributor to Sign & Digital Graphics. Contact him at

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Tony Kindelspire

Tony Kindelspire is digital content editor of Sign & Digital Graphics & WRAPS magazines.

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