Golden arches tell us the familiar food of McDonald's is up ahead, just as the now-defunct curved arrow pointed to the Holiday Inn, where we knew what to expect for a night's stay, New York-based sign designer David Vanden-Eynden writes. "Signage is a powerful brand extension. Aside from a logo, it is often the most recognized component of a company's image. ... An exterior sign can reach a million people simultaneously; an interior sign can reinforce the brand image to every visitor looking for the elevator, the bathroom, a room number," he writes.

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