Gnu Group was approached by the FINE agency to be their signage consultant for the rebrand & repositioning of the Northview Hotel Group’s quintessential Sir Francis Drake Hotel located in San Francisco, California. The FINE agency had already developed the new name and branding for the hotel—Beacon Grand—and needed the new signage up in time for the grand reopening.


GNU Group was contacted just eight weeks prior to the hotel reopening, requiring us to quickly join the fast-moving project and provide design consulting and turn-key implementation. We translated the newly designed brand for this iconic landmark into a signage program that reflected the contemporary nature of the new offering while preserving the historic aesthetic of the architecture.

We were immediately faced with three challenges:

  1. This is a historic hotel and the signage needed to complement its landmark nature and be approved by the local city planning department.
  2. Their existing sign types included thermoformed signs, which require an extensive lead time given their size.
  3. Scheduling was extremely tight with such a short lead time.

GNU immediately got to work, taking point and working closely with our partners to plan, budget, design, document, and gain city approvals. We successfully managed the turnkey implementation of the program across multiple fabrication and installation teams.


Translating a brandmark into signage is quite often, not as easy as it seems. We knew going into the project that the delicate strokes and thin font weights of the new Beacon Grand monogram would not easily translate into signage. Therefore, we underwent an extensive prototyping process to ensure the greatest readability for signage while also ensuring color accuracy across all branded elements.

Knowing the timeframes, we suggested altering the design to utilize push-through acrylic letter on the marquee. This allowed us to achieve faster turnaround times, while modernizing the design to complement the new contemporary, luxury brand.

There are many moving parts that need to be simultaneously addressed. For example, we had to manage the challenges associated with the number of extra subcontractors working on site to meet the tight deadline, requiring us to make sure the general contractor was properly coordinating with the other sub-contractors so the installation stayed on track.


The reason we were selected for this project was our demonstrated expertise in translating brands to signage, as well as our ability to manage turnkey implementation. GNU Group’s design/build approach streamlines the implementation process and allows us to leverage the strengths of our network.

Our customized approach to fabrication not only shaved six weeks off the typical production timeline but simultaneously resulted in a more modern design.  Not to mention the additional cost-saving benefit of replacing the sign lighting to energy-efficient LEDs

Design to implementation was completed in eight weeks.

On time and within budget.

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