Numerous factors must be taken into account when developing a new sign program. These factors include: the age, investment and effectiveness of the current program; the number of sites or signs in the system; sign design; material specifications; typical code allowances; lead-time for program implementation; number of partners; and costs.

Regardless of a company's specific identity goals, budgets, target markets or the relative equity associated with its sign program, it is imperative that a specific, standard group or family of signs be established. This family satisfies the majority of signage requirements and serves as a foundation to base other program decisions.

Developing a family of signs not only provides production efficiencies, which translate into lower overall costs, but also allows a more effective implementation of the program by virtue of standardization.

When developing your sign family, consider these items:

* Typical building type. Is the business located in an outdoor strip center, mall, freestanding structure or a combination of locations?

* Typical building site. Are the sites located in the suburbs, major metropolitan areas or near interstates?

Each building style and site warrants the use of a different sign type. Given the guidelines already discussed, we can place signs in seven basic categories:

High-rise signs These signs are typically used for locations near interstate access. High-rise signs can range from 150 sq. ft. to 400 sq. ft. or larger. The majority of high-rise signs represent companies in the fast-food, petroleum and lodging industries.

Motel 6 includes four signs in its program with square footage of 150 sq. ft. or larger. Since most of the motel locations have interstate access, it makes sense to have multiple size offerings for the high-rise segment that will accommodate varying code restrictions. Street-level pylon signs

The most visible of all on-premise signage, street-level pylon signs are often restricted in their size by code. For this reason, it is wise to include a selection of signs that will accommodate a range of size restrictions.

Motel 6 has five signs typically used as street-level pylon signs, ranging from 44 sq. ft. to 125 sq. ft.

The number of sites, or forecasted sites, in a company's system should be a prime consideration when determining the number of signs to include in any particular category.

Monument signs These signs are generally used in code-restrictive areas, especially where limits are placed on overall sign height. Companies often use street-level pylon signs as monument signs, only installed at a lower above-grade height.

Some sign professionals do not consider monument signs as a category that warrants its own classification, instead including it with street-level pylon signs. Because increasingly restrictive codes are a fact of life in all areas of the country, I believe these signs deserve classification.

Neon-channel letters This sign type is typically used as building or wall signs for both centers and freestanding buildings. If most locations are situated in strip centers, exterior letters should be offered in several sizes. Companies that occupy freestanding buildings have fewer restrictions on letter configurations, although square footage is still restricted by local codes.

Motel 6 does not include neon-channel letters as a standard offering in its program because the logo does not allow acceptable reproduction with such signage. This is not to say that Motel 6 has never used neon-channel letters on its properties. Remember, a family of signs is developed to accommodate typical needs at each location, not the exceptions.

Single-face building signs These signs are typically one piece and can be used in place of neon-channel letters or in conjunction with neon. Quite often, building signs are nothing more than single-face offerings of a program's street-level pylon signs.

With Motel 6, unique sizes have been created for its single-face signs because pricing information is not included on building signs.

Directional signs Most stand-alone businesses, especially fast-food chains, must have directional signage. Typically, one size suffices for most programs. Motel 6 offers its smallest street-level pylon sign with the option of price or directional copy. In this way, directional sign needs are accommodated without adding another sign to the mix.

Awnings Awnings are a different animal from the other sign types. They can be used for both identification and functional purposes. Most municipalities include awnings in signage size allowances, even if the awnings do not have logo graphics.

Generally, companies with freestanding buildings are more apt to incorporate awnings in their sign programs than those that share building frontage. Motel 6 has established standard dimensions for its entrance awnings, which may or may not be applicable for all of its properties.