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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Servicing Digital Signage

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Among the ISA Expo seminars was an introduction to the industry standard Digital Signage Certified Experts (DSCE) presented by the Digital Signage Experts Group. The seminar reviewed the seven key elements of digital signage. It argued the merits of “content as king,” the roles of hardware and software, and the objectives of digital signage.

One of the key issues that must be addressed by anyone entering the digital signage market – consumer or sign manufacturer - is service. You can have the best and biggest digital signage display in Harford County. It can be powered by impactful software that changes every hour. But you have the same challenge as the business down the street with a vinyl banner. Who will work on it when it goes down? Who provides the service?

Naturally, you would expect an expert to be available. However, some digital signage companies don’t have on-site repair people. They tell the custom sign manufacturer to send a repair person out to the sign, call a toll-free number, and a technician on the other end of the phone will walk them through the process. They don’t tell you where the technician is located or that he can’t be there immediately to fix the problem.

The best digital signage is backed up by warranties and a strong service program. Established companies like Watchfire and Daktronics offer local customer support with trained technicians. They will be the ones in the field repairing any failed LEDs or hardware issues. They won’t be on the phone with someone in another country. They will be hands-on until the challenge is overcome, putting the customer first – and that means both the sign installer and the end user.

Ask your digital signage provider who their digital signage manufacturer will be. If customer support is not a priority, think twice about investing in digital signage.

Design Me A Sign

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The 2012 International Sign Design Competition had quite an audience this year at the ISA Expo. The winning entries were displayed in eight categories, and they were all very creative. According to ISA, this year had the highest number of entries in the three-year history. The competition is for on-premise sign design, and the winners are chosen by on-line voting prior to the Expo. So, not only do the entries need to be creative, the competitors need to know how to use electronic and social media to market their entries for votes.

One thing we noticed about the winners: simplicity and innovation reigned. Clean lines, functional design and durability were all folded into sleek signage. The overall winner, the San Diego Zoo exit sign, was actually animated, with moving wings on a giant macaw – wing span of 13 feet. Still, clean design was key. The wings moved up and down in unison, and a simple vertical lettering of “Exit” couldn’t be missed. The sign met its goal of showing visitors the way out.

Other winners used acrylic, etched vinyl, digital graphics or LED technology for church signs, building signs, school signs and more. From office signs to banners and electric to non-electric, the designers used a variety of methods and materials to communicate their messages. Some made big statements with little pictures. Some simply created an identity for the client name. But all of the custom sign designers should be applauded for their efforts in both client satisfaction and design innovation.

Chameleon Cars

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The International Sign Association Expo had so many interesting exhibits and industry innovations this year! There were 540 exhibitors and over 75 educational courses. The ISA officials said attendee registration was up 10 percent over last year. We saw lots of new and exciting things, which gave us fodder for blog posts for the coming weeks.

Of particular interest were the new car wraps. According to the exhibiting companies, car wrapping is one of the most popular trends in the car accessory market. Wraps that have been used as traditional advertising signage in Harford County are now in demand by consumers who want to customize their vehicles. As auto enthusiasts break out their cars this Spring, they’ll find themselves contacting local custom sign manufacturers to find out about the options that will distinguish and protect their vehicles.

The newest wraps available to sign makers are solid colors that are placed right over the current paint. They can protect the paint from chips and bug splatter. When the owner is ready to sell the car, he or she can simply remove the wrap and show the original paint in good condition. The wraps can look like carbon fiber or other unique finishes as well as a large selection of colors. These materials are now produced with the UV protection in place so there is no lamination process to be performed at the installer. For advertisers, the new pre-colored wraps allow more flexibility in background colors. Lettering can be applied directly to the colored wrap for custom signage messages.

Some exhibitors at the ISA Expo were showing new materials that were designed specifically for wall applications both indoors and outdoors. These wraps were used on dry wall, concrete and brick. They’re designed to last longer and be more flexible than traditional banner materials. More on other highlights next week.

Signs of Spring

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Opening day for baseball season is not far away. Doesn’t everyone love to go to the ball park? Whether it’s Little League, farm teams, or professional players, the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd is a great experience. It just screams “Spring!” It’s also an opportunity to make signage work for you in promoting and advertising your business. There are opportunities from small budget to major commitment.

First, start exploring right in your back yard. Little League teams are always looking for sponsors. You can reach Harford County families by sponsoring team T-shirts. There are also opportunities for outdoor banners at Little League Opening Day festivities. Any sponsorship will position your business as a good corporate citizen by giving something back to the community.

Second, consider direct advertising with sports banners. Farm teams and professional teams generate revenue through advertising dollars, and there are many packages you can negotiate that will include ad banners as well as game tickets. For professional games, you not only get the attendees at the game, you’ll get the televised audience as well. Make sure any banners used on sporting fields can stand the test of spring storms, winds, and sun. Don’t skimp on materials or inks. When you’re spending that kind of money, you’ll want to make the best impression possible.

Last, advertising on the digital screen at the ball park is a way to utilize digital signage without investing in it yourself. If you have the budget, you can create a memorable message that will be seen by thousands in Baltimore and Harford County.

Never Mind What’s Behind the Screen!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SGIA (Specialty Graphic Image Association) recently announced the 2012 Tom Frecska Student Printing Competition, sponsored by the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. The awards will recognize superior imaging work from students at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Categories include wooden signs and backlit signs and displays, among others. The competition calls attention to a signage technique that, when done properly, can be very impactful for school banners, sports banners, trade show signs and outdoor signage, not to mention point-of-purchase and promotional materials. It’s screen printing.

Screen printing is versatile, with the ability to print on many surfaces of varying shapes or thicknesses, including paper, plastics, glass, metals and fabrics. According to the Printer’s National Environmental Assistance Center (PNEAC), the simplicity of the screen printing process allows it to be flexible in terms of inks and dyes. PNEAC says screen printing has increased because of improved production rates, aided by developments like automated and rotary screen printing presses, improved dryers and U.V. curable ink.

But, be sure to look at what’s behind the screen. Despite the fact that there are numerous websites that give you the step-by-step process for screen printing and declare a do-it-yourself mentality, quality signage is still an art that takes training and talent. The SGIA competition highlights the expertise required to be a professional in the signage industry. The awards will recognize the artists, designers and professionals of tomorrow. When choosing signage for your Maryland or Harford County business, consider what a true professional can bring to your signage: expertise, value for your money, and guaranteed quality. We look forward to seeing the quality design innovations from these young artists!

Getting On The Right Channel

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Perception is reality, they say. You can be the best business in Harford County, but if people perceive your product quality or service as poor, then that’s your reputation until you prove otherwise. In creating a business identity, decide how you want to be perceived. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to put behind a branding campaign, you can still make yourself look strong within your marketplace.

Use your business signage as part of that perception. You can make a big impression, no matter what the size of your organization. It starts with your image and your first impression. In many instances, that first impression is your business sign. One of the most distinct styles of signage that will help you make a big impression is a channel letter sign. Because channel lettering seems imposing, you can make a bold statement. Most local sign ordinances only count the actual square footage of the letter faces, allowing you to have a bigger presence if you choose channel lettering. This type of signage also affords you many options – illuminated or not, open-faced neon or plexiglass covered, and reverse channel lettering with or without lighting. You can create the perception of whimsy, seriousness or elegance with your signage – customized for your needs.

Your outdoor signage can capture your customer’s attention with a great first impression. Then it’s up to you to be on the right channel to turn that perception into reality once they walk in the door.

Sign Me Up

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The ISA International Sign Expo 2012 is coming up at the end of March. While trade shows tend to be a bit tedious both for exhibitors and attendees, they do serve their purpose for various industries. We’ve talked about the value of signage at any trade show, but now here’s a show for the signage market itself. Imagine the signs there! This show has made a name for itself. Last year’s ISA International Sign Expo ranked fifth on Expo Magazine’s list of Top 25 Fast-Growth Shows. It was honored for attendance growth and innovative ways of showcasing exhibitors.

This year, the conventioneers from the Baltimore area and nationwide will converge on Orlando, FL. They’ll be seeing the latest signage advancements, from custom business signs and vinyl banners to digital signage. And you can be sure that every exhibitor will put its best sign forward. Visitors will meet new vendors and forge partnerships that will bring home great ideas for signs in Baltimore and Harford County. There will be new ways to create custom signs and banners.

But in the long run, all that technology and innovation comes down to one thing: value. Are we making a difference for our customers and providing the best value for their money in terms of usability, service and return on investment? Tedious or not, technology or not, can we bring the motivation and enthusiasm back from a trade show and invest it in becoming an invaluable resource for our customers?

Wrap Up Your Message in a Vehicle Wrap

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vehicle wrap - GIO TechnologiesWe’ve been talking about vehicle wraps and their cost-efficiency in terms of advertising space and message. But what makes a vehicle wrap work? What gives it the four-year life expectancy?

A vehicle wrap lasts for two reasons: the preparation and application are done properly and the materials are durable. First, be sure your vehicle is ready for the application. For best results, the surface of the vehicle must be clean. It’s a good idea to use a commercial detergent and water as well as a solvent to make sure there is no oily residue on the vehicle. Many vehicle wrap manufacturers have cleaning instructions specific to their materials, so make sure your sign professional reviews them. The surface must also be dry for better adherence. Ask your professional custom sign company what other preparation you or they will do prior to application. They will most likely use a template first, to be sure all the angles are correct and that the wrap lays properly around the corners of the vehicle.

Vehicle wrap - Hyper MediaAs for materials, wraps are generally made from cast vinyl films to make application around curved surfaces easier. Calendered films are also used, but they should be reserved for flat areas and for short-term graphics, because they do not stand up to stress in the material. The films generally have built-in adhesives and can be repositioned easily. Long-lasting wraps use films that have air release channels to help eliminate bubbles. The vinyl wrap should be completed with an overlaminate that conforms easily to the vehicle’s shape and is flexible. The overlaminate gives the vehicle wrap protection from UV rays, weathering and abrasion from traveling in and around Harford County and Baltimore County.

With the proper preparation, application and materials, your vehicle wrap will be a valuable advertising investment.

Vehicle Wraps Cost-Effective Advertising Strategy

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If you have a truck, car or other vehicle that is dedicated to your business, you already own valuable advertising space. You have a moving billboard for Maryland signage. By adding a vehicle wrap to any of your vehicles, you can reach thousands of people every day, and the audience will be more diverse than any other advertising venue. The Outdoor Advertising Association cites that more than 95 percent of Americans are reached by media that targets vehicle drivers and passengers. This includes static billboards and signs, but also encompasses transit signage, which makes up 16 percent of the total outdoor advertising category. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association, a vehicle wrap can generate 30-70,000 impressions per day, and can boost name recognition by 15 times that of any other form of advertising. Your vehicle can serve as a sports banner, school banner, or outdoor sign that advertises your business.

Vehicle wraps are economical and long-lasting. They are among the best cost per impression available to advertisers. A full vehicle wrap has a lifespan of about four years, and can cost as little as $2,000. Because you already own the ad space, this investment is well worth the effort. Using your logo and bright graphics, you can get the attention of thousands of people on the roads every day.

Cost Per Thousand Impressions Graph

Contact Blue Water Signs today to take advantage of the excellent cost per impression rate of vehicle wraps.

Digital Signage Everywhere

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Digital Signage Today, a leading industry website, developed an infographic to showcase the prevalence of digital signage in everyday life. From health clubs to restaurant signage, grocery stores to movie theaters, if you really think about it, you see digital signage everywhere. Digital Signage Today cites an Arbitron study that shows “70 percent of Americans are exposed to place-based video screens every month, and 52 percent are every week.” The infographic is below, but before peeking, think about a typical day:

7 a.m.: Health club signage shows current events and weather; flat screens inside show club activities
8 a.m.: Coffee shop has a digital signage menu board
9 a.m.: Outdoor office signage shows occupant names; corporate lobby offers digital kiosk with information on business tenants
Noon: Lunch restaurant features specials on a digital signage menu board
5 p.m.: Grocery store has a digital signage specials board and promotions, as well as a digital kiosk for deli counter orders
5:30 p.m.: Gas station pricing reflected on digital signage display
7 p.m.: Movie theater signage has current movie times and ratings; purchase tickets at a digital kiosk

Click to view the infographic.

If you're interested in acquiring digital signage for your business, contact Blue Water Signs today.

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