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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

What Material?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Did you ever wonder why a sign you saw looked so bad? Was it rusty or grubby looking? Were there streaks or stains in certain areas? Many times that is the result of poor material selection for either the substrate, the structure or the finish material used. In this post we'll focus a little on the materials used in the substrate and structure - and why some materials are better than others when designing a business sign.

The material used in the structure of a business sign is most often controlled by the size and the cost. For smaller post and panel signs, they are often wood posts, with either wood or aluminum sign panels. We use vinyl components as often as possible because they do not require maintenance and they maintain their good looks for years. Often, if the strength of wood is required, we can use a vinyl post to slide down over the wood post creating a sleeve that will maintain that bright look for years.

But here is where many people make a mistake: Let's assume we used a vinyl post sleeve over wood, and we used an aluminum panel for the sign itself. How do you fasten the panel to the post? The best way is to design the system to interlock and use no fasteners. But when screws are required, you have to choose the right type. Use a standard steel screw that may be coated, and over time you'll watch your sign corrode away. The aluminum - being more reactive than the steel - will become a "sacrificial anode" and it will begin to corrode, protecting the steel screw. For those who might be familiar with boat motors, this is the same principal that applies when outboard engines require a set of "zincs."  These will corrode away, protecting the aluminum engine and lower units.  

The point here is that the choice of materials can have a distinct impact on the appearance of your sign over time - as well as the amount of maintenance required. Choose the wrong materials, and not only will you see deterioration on the sign, but your customers will see that deterioration as an impression of your company.

In upcoming posts, we will cover some other sign materials that can be used or not used in specific environments that will have an impact on your signage.

Blue Water Signs in Forest Hill, Maryland can help you with a wide variety of custom signage. Give us a call at 410-420-2400 or visit us at


Digital and Outdoor Signage Market Soaring

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Digital Place-Based Advertising (also called Digital Out-Of-Home advertising, these are the digital TV displays and billboards you see at strategically targeted locations to reach a particular audience) and outdoor signage are fast-growing sectors of the signage market, according to the recent release of figures from the DPAA – Digital Place-Based Advertising Association. The digital place-based sector ranked second only to syndicated television advertising revenue for the first half of 2011. Advertising revenue for the digital place-based sector grew by more than 16 percent over the first half of last year. That’s more than five times the growth rate of the U.S. ad industry overall, which grew just over three percent.

Outdoor advertising signage revenue grew 11.8 percent for the same period.

These advertising sectors are growing because they are able to target consumers on-the-go. Venues such as airports, stadiums, restaurants, movie theaters, and grocery stores are reaping the benefits of digital and outdoor signage because these are the places people live their everyday lives. If your business is related to any of these venues, either in concept or proximity, taking advantage of digital or outdoor signage is a strategic move. Not only can you target your message, you can reach the consumer close to the point-of-purchase. It increases the chances that you’ll capture that consumer.

Blue Water Signs can help develop the ads to appear on these digital networks. If you even come close to the growth success of this industry, your business will be thriving!


Sign Language

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Your Maryland business sign is a first impression. It speaks to your customer and conveys your business image. For example, if your target audience is the young 18-29 year old tech-savvy consumer, your signage should reflect that. It should be “hip,” technology-driven printing or digital images. On the other hand, if you are a conservative bank, the signage might be bold and confident, giving your customer the feeling of trust and responsibility. Speak the language of your customers, and they will be more likely to listen.  

If possible, your sign should include your logo or identity mark. If you don’t have one, create one – even if it’s a special typeface associated with your company name. This logo should appear on everything your customer sees – from the sign to the letterhead, business cards and website. It says clearly, “I am a professional.” 

Even the materials you choose for your sign speak to the customer. Consider the location, size and climate, as well as maintenance needs. You want your sign to look new for years to come, not weathered or dirty. In Maryland, sun exposure and moisture are two environmental factors that will dictate sign material. Be prepared to keep the sign clean, so that it continues to speak well for your business - because first impressions count.



Friday, September 23, 2011
The grass probably is greener on the other side of that lawn sign. It’s true. Lawn signs can improve your business by increasing awareness and focusing your message. Best of all, they are cost-effective.  

A good lawn sign puts your company name front and center. It offers a concise message with a bright graphic. Consider the sign a mini-billboard. Communicate your company name and call-to-action – you have less than five seconds-worth of time to get the sign read by drivers.   

Lawn signs can be used at your place of business to announce special promotions or deals, and they can be used at client locations to advertise that you worked there. With zoning permission, they can even be used road side for church signs, medical office signs or law office signs.

Because of their size, portability and re-usability, these signs are a cost-effective way to communicate. Print several with the same message and take advantage of quantity discounts. Place them strategically, where passers-by will see them repeatedly. The goal is to get your message to break through the clutter. 

Try some carefully crafted lawn signs, and watch your business grow!


The New "Face" of Digital Signage

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Digital signage has gone to a whole new level with facial recognition technology. It’s being used by The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Kraft Foods, Adidas and even a group of bar owners in Chicago. The technology scans the viewer’s facial features and tailors marketing messages to him or her. According to Christopher O’Malley, director of retail marketing in Intel’s embedded and communications group, “You can put this technology into kiosks, vending machines and digital signs.”

Despite the privacy issues, companies using facial-recognition technology just want to pinpoint a demographic based on age and gender. Then they can target their ads on-the-spot and get more immediate results.

While Harford County businesses, banks and churches may not be ready for facial recognition technology, digital signage itself is popping up all over the county in Maryland office signs, church signs, and medical office signs. Digital signs help to attract the younger generation, who are used to quick snippets of information and changing messages. With a proven higher viewer recall and retention of digitally displayed messages, digital signage content can break through all the media clutter targeted to the younger generation. It works because it’s woven into their lives - from laptop LCD displays to miniature media players.
We’re seeing digital signs mostly in retail areas, but the technology is evolving to include the financial, transportation and hospitality industries. With the right signage, software and message, the elusive younger generation will sit up and take notice.



Another Benefit of Working With Daktronics

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daktronics EMC trailerPurchasing an Electronic Message Center (EMC), also know as a digital or LED sign, is a major purchase for most businesses. Would you like to see what an EMC would look like close to the position of where you are thinking of putting your sign? Just ask us, and we can make arrangements to have the Daktronics representative bring his sample trailer right to your location.

This trailer is equipped with two of the most popular EMC models that are being sold today. The trailer is equipped with a quiet operating Honda generator that can operator both signs. The trailer can be placed in a location that will be near where you want to locate your sign, close enough to get an idea of what it will look like when positioned permanently. You can then walk or drive by the location to see what your customers will see. Where do they first pick up the sign in their line of sight when driving from either direction? What they will see when sitting at the light across the street? What will it look like when driving by at the normal speed travelled on the road? The trailer can help you answer these questions, which will give you an idea of the impact the EMC will have when positioned on your site.

This option is one of the great benefits of working with Daktronics, and Blue Water Signs will work with you to schedule a visit as we work to show you all the potential benefits to adding an EMC to your business marketing plan.

Who is Daktronics?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LED signSince 2001, Daktronics has been recognized as the world's leading supplier of LED displays by iSupply, an independent research firm. As a worldwide supplier, they provide the largest share of LED video displays in the world with a market share of 27%, according to the 2009 results. The closest competitor in the study came in at 7%.

Daktronics has been in business for 43 years, and their products are manufactured in the United States. Located in Brookings, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, these three sites exceed 700,000 square feet of manufacturing space. They employ 400 engineers and another 2600 associates that work to provide continuously improved and updated technology to their customers. Being made in the U.S. is a top reason but along with that 7 times they have been recognized by Forbes as being in the top 200 Best Small Companies.

So why did Blue Water Signs decide to work with Daktronics? To name a few reasons: made in the U.S., best name in the industry, sales and technical support, supportive sales team, and continuously improved energy efficient products that will function for years to come. Those are a few of the reasons, but the prime consideration is that we are selling a product that our customers will be happy with and that will increase their sales for many years into the future. Just knowing that we sell a product that has a company like Daktronics to back their products and provide superior service means that the overall experience of owning an EMC will be a lucrative experience for our customers.

Why an Electronic Message Center

Friday, July 08, 2011

electronic message centerWhen considering an Electronic Message Center (EMC), the EMC should be viewed as a continuously available advertising tool for your company. When working with advertising such as print materials, there is a period of time that goes into design, and then the art is put into print and delivered to the customer. Now your message is out there for a week or month until your next ad is set up and printed. When considering an EMC (also referred to as a digital sign, an LED sign, or an LED Business Sign), you control when the public is going to see your message.

Consider the options when your supplier of a large item (like an appliance) changes models or design and you have old stock on the floor that you want to move out quickly so you can have the newest model available for the customer. With an EMC, you go to your computer and open the easy to use software and create an ad that will show up on your sign as soon as you press the key to send the message to the EMC. At that moment, you are advertising that old stock as a closeout special that customers will see immediately.

Another thing to consider is your target audience. Consider a scenario where your store serves younger and older clientele, and students are a large portion of your business, as well as the seniors. Why advertise student specials when the students are in class and won't see your sign? An EMC allows you to advertise to specific customers at different times of the day. When seniors are out and shopping in the morning, use the signs to promote specials that the seniors are going to be looking for. Later in the day when the schools let out, add advertising that would contain specials for students. What about late night specials to get traffic in the door later in the evening? The ability to schedule times greatly boosts the appeal of your sign, as well as reducing the payback of your advertising dollars.

What Makes a Great Snowball Stand Menu

Monday, March 28, 2011

snowball stand sign menuWhen you and your kids walk up to a snowball stand, the first thing you look for is the menu. Now, most kids already know what flavor they like and it is often the flavor they choose each time they go to their favorite stand. What happens when they go to a new stand? They search the menu for their favorite flavor. How do you help them find their favorite flavor? Why not have each flavor listed in a color that closely matches the color of the syrup? This not only helps the young customer, but it also helps keep your lines moving during those busy times that all snowball stands have.

Another thing to consider is the how well the menu will hold up to the elements. We have all seen the white boards with labels that are hand written with a sharpie or some other marker. The sun and condensation helps to reduce the legibility of the labels. When signs are printed, the substrate that the print is applied to is weather proof and UV stable. The print itself is protected with a laminate that can be wiped down to remove dirt and dust.

The bottom line is to make your snowball stand menu colorful, easy to read and understand, and made with materials that will make the menu stay that way through many seasons.


Vehicle Graphics: Wraps

Monday, February 28, 2011

Vehicle Wraps are at the top of the vehicle graphics offerings. These are digitally printed designs that are adhered to the vehicle that can be used to advertise your company's products or to express your individual artistic resolve.

From a business standpoint, car wraps can provide some of the best advertising that you can purchase for your company. Take a look at the statistics below and think about how that can impact your bottom line.

Data from The Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) says that:

  • 92% of people notice AND READ graphics on wrapped vehicles
  • 75% of consumers develop impressions about a company based on a vehicle wrap
  • 30% of consumers will make a buying decision based upon impressions gained from a wrapped vehicle.

Cost Per Thousand Impressions Graph

Take a close look at your budget and let Blue Water Signs help with your advertising program.

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