"Signs vs Signage." A discussion as old as….well, actually? It's about as old as the first official Apple Computer Company computer: 1976.
Because it's around 1976 where experts traced the first documented use of the word, "signage." For those who've wondered why "signage" sounded like the word came from a disco club or a Grateful Dead concert, chances are it did.
Not much. In industry terms, we'll use "signage" to refer to a collection or a type of sign. For example, if you like a mall's thematic usage of their signs, you can use "signage." You can also use "sign." The same goes for saying you like vintage storefront signs. You can say, "Yes. I like vintage storefront signage," because then you're referring to the types, styles, and examples of vintage storefront signs – note how I could use "signs" as well.
You can always use "signs" in place of "signage" in most every instance, but typically, but you can't always use "signage" in place of "signs."
We know, it's not fair to the word "signage" to give it such restrictions, but in the history of language, the word is but a babe. Give it a chance to grow.
But never, ever use "signage" as a verb. At least in this decade. You might be able to get away with it in informal language if the words, "groovy" or "far out" are also used in the sentence, but it might not get the desired effect using it in business language.
For more reading, check out the following sources:
We were recently reminded that not everyone we work with knows the difference. We were recently asked the difference between "signs" and "signage." We had enthusiasm and expressive hand gestures and examples, but when we went to open our mouths, the words didn't come. Just some laughter. It was one of those, "We could explain it until you asked," moments. We're glad when our clients keep us on our toes.
If you'd like to now more about how our extensive knowledge of signs and signage can help your business, contact us today.