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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

The Incredible Shrinking Digital Signage Dollar

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Digital signage is becoming more affordable thanks to new entries into the market and more manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon.  Before buying a digital signage system, find out about the hardware and software you’ll be using.  Ask your signage professional to review the companies he or she prefers and why.  Because there is so much choice in the market today, there is the opportunity for comparison in both products and services.  

Look for a digital signage manufacturer who is reputable and innovative – someone who is keeping up with the fast-moving industry, and making efforts to provide high-quality signage and easy-to-use software.  We like the innovations from companies like Daktronix and Watchfire.  The displays are versatile, and there is something to satisfy every application.  The Daktronix Galaxy product line offers full-color, tri-color and monochrome displays with dynamic graphics and colors.  They have LED Message displays for directional and instructional signage, and LED video displays for content advertising both indoors and outdoors.  They can be seen in places like Towson University, University of Florida and the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, NY.  

Watchfire is another company that’s worthy of more than just watching for Digital Signage.  Their Ignite software is easy to program and update so your signage is always current.  It allows you to edit your signage from anywhere you have a computer, preview graphics, select from a library of downloadable graphics and artwork, and use fades and RSS feeds easily.  Together, the display and the software can make great digital signage for your company.  Make sure you feel comfortable using both, and ask your signage professional to guide you in maximizing their potential.  The more you use them, the more cost-effective they will be.

The Signage Vehicle

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

You may not realize it, but you have an outdoor billboard advertising opportunity that can reach hundreds of thousands of eyeballs each day.  The beauty is that it’s movable and removable.  It’s your car, truck or delivery van or fleet vehicle.  That vehicle rides throughout the community all week long, or sits in one or more parking lots each day.  People on the road see it.  People in buildings see it.  The audience is different every day.  According to the Transportation Advertising Council, a vehicle can provide anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 impressions per day. 

Wouldn’t it be smart to turn it into an advertisement for your business?  With a vehicle wrap, you can instantly have a movable billboard that’s removable any time you choose.  Vehicle wraps are colorful, sharp graphics printed on special material that bends and curves to fit your car or truck.  The material not only allows you to print bright designs, it also weathers any type of weather without wearing or fading.  The possibilities are endless – from logos to actual ad campaigns.  Some of the most eye-catching wraps incorporate the shape of the vehicle into the wrap.  We’ve seen a cement mixer wrapped in giant asparagus spears, a bus whose wrap is a giant shark head with the doors being the mouth, and the Copenhagen Zoo bus wrapped in the image of a giant boa constrictor.  

Your signage professional can give you some ideas of what can work with your vehicle’s shape and your company’s branding.  Whatever the recommendation, it will be impactful on the roads and will capture the attention of the community.  Best of all, it maximizes something you already have and provides a cost-effective advertising “vehicle.”  

Trend-Setting Signs

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring fashions are already at retail, and there’s lots of color.  The Pantone Fashion Color Report for 2013 reports a “balancing act” between dynamic bright colors and neutrals.  Fashionistas want a balance between being classic and being able to express their individuality.  The result is a list of colors with names like Dusk Blue, Grayed Jade, Tender Shoots and Poppy Red.  The Color Report says greens will be big this Spring.  But should you consider using green or something called “Tender Shoots” on your signage?

While fashion is a sign of the times, signs do not have to be in fashionable colors.  They need to be readable.  Following color trends is fine if you’re a fashion retailer.  But if you’re doing vehicle wraps, on-premise signage or trade show banners, you want to look at what people see the best, not what color matches their spring rain coat.  Trendy colors can often be difficult to read when applied to graphic lettering.  The U.S. Sign Council provides a list of the most readable, visible colors for signs, and we didn’t see Grayed Jade or Dusk Blue on it.

For good color visibility, signs should use contrasting colors for the background vs. the foreground lettering.  Combinations like black on yellow, green, red, blue or black on white, brown on yellow or white on red are easy to read.  They are combinations that “pop” off the sign and make you read the message.  Choosing a color combination for your signs should incorporate your company colors.  The text should be some variation of your logo color, provided it is among the typeface colors that are readable and sharp.  If it’s not, consider using black or reverse white on a colored background to prevent introducing too many colors and to make your message very readable.  

Since you’re likely not going to be changing your sign every time the fashions change, choose something that is classic, not trendy.  Set the trend of having a sign that works for you. 

Carve Your Business In Their Memories

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why do you need a sign?  It’s a fair question.  Answers might be: to direct people; to attract people’s attention; to let people know where your business resides; to communicate your product to potential customers.  The reasons businesses need signs are as varied as the businesses themselves.  But the overall reason a business needs a sign is so people remember it.   

People will remember a well-placed and well-designed sign that helps them locate a business.  If they can’t find you because you have poor signage, the result will be a frustrated customer.  They will grouse to your staff, complain to their friends, tarnish your good business reputation.  A custom sign for your business will leave a lasting impression and get the entire experience off on the right foot.

Today’s newest materials for custom signs include High Density Urethane or HDU, a material that is designed to look like wood.  HDU is lighter than wood and more weather resistant, so it requires less maintenance.  It can be painted or stained to give the impression of age or a more beautiful wood finish.  Unlike wood, it is resistant to rot and insect pests, so it will last longer and maintain its characteristics.  HDU material can still be hand-painted in any color, carved to look three-dimensional or gilded with gold or silver.  It still gives the impression of wood, but the material simply makes the sign last longer and look better.  A better looking sign makes a better memory for your customers.  That’s a good reason to have a sign.

Size Does Matter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In on-premise signage, size does make a difference – the size of the message, that is.  An impactful sign can be any physical size – from a wall plaque to a giant billboard, depending on where it is placed.  Regardless of the square footage of the sign, if the message is too small or unreadable, it won’t have any impact at all. 

On-premise signs need only display the main message.  That message should be succinct and memorable, not wordy and difficult to read.  What’s the call-to-action?  What do you want the reader to do?  If it’s call you on the phone, then make the phone number the largest part of the sign.  If you want to push people to your website, then give that address center stage on your signage.  Your company name and your call-to-action are the most important parts in any customer communication.  They should be big, compared to the other parts of the sign.   

The graphics should also be readable.  Choose a font or typeface that is sharp and clean.  Fancy script or lettering can be distracting and difficult to read.  If a potential customer has to struggle to figure out what you want him to do, it’s likely that you’ve lost the customer.  Your professional sign manufacturer can and should advise you on the proportions of the lettering and graphics on your sign.  They can act as a “readability consultant” and let you know how big the message can be on your size sign.  You have only a limited amount of sign real estate.  Use it to your advantage, because message size does matter.

Read ‘Em and Drive – Study Finds Electronic Signage Not Distracting to Drivers

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Go ahead and read that electronic sign message along the road.  It probably won’t distract you from the task at hand – driving.  So says a recent study conducted by Texas A&M University on behalf of The Signage Foundation.  

Many local jurisdictions outside of the Harford County and Baltimore County areas have put restrictions on the use of on-premise digital signage, citing the risk of increased traffic accidents.  While we know that a digital signage message is no more distracting than an outdoor billboard, this study validates that knowledge and provides a good basis for decision making in those areas that prohibit electronic signage.  

Due to the novelty of the industry, this is the first study that has actually been able to monitor effects of electronic signage over a period of time, and it concluded that electronic on-premise signage does not cause traffic accidents.  The survey focused on 135 signs in four states over a four-year period.  Using crash data from the Federal Highway Safety Information System, along with before and after data, the study showed no significant change in traffic accidents after the installation of electronic signage.  

Researchers also analyzed single-vehicle and multi-vehicle accidents and found no significant changes.  Additionally, they studied the color, size and types of signs for various businesses and found no correlation between any of these individual factors and an increase in traffic crashes.  Digital signage will continue to grow in popularity as the hardware and software prices continue to become more affordable.  More retailers, banks, restaurants and businesses will realize the benefits of electronic signage and be able to use it to its full advantage, without fear of distracting drivers.

Indoor Digital Signage

Friday, January 18, 2013

If you’re an innovative business that wants to use technology in your signage and interact with your customers, digital signage may be the answer.  Indoor digital signage comes in all shapes and sizes – from video walls to hand-held devices, from mounted video screens to kiosks.  The key to success is three-fold:  placement, content and response.

Careful placement of your digital signage inside the building can make the difference between success and failure.  Your signage professional will provide the best recommendations, taking into consideration screen size, room size and existing lighting.  Choose a screen size that is right for the room or area of the signage.  Choose the highest quality image possible, especially if your content contains graphics or text.  High definition is best.  Make sure the viewing distance from the monitor is appropriate – putting a huge screen in a small space only calls attention to the pixels inherent in big screen video displays.  To truly appreciate the picture quality, some distance from the screen is required.  The screens should be positioned in areas where they will not be affected by bright lights or reflections.

Consider your content.  If it will be interactive, make it easy for customers to participate.  Use kiosk technology or touch screen controls that are intuitive.  Make your content understandable and simple.  Target it to your demographics, using language and graphics that appeal to your audience and will draw them in to the content.  If your content is not interactive, but dynamic, like a changing restaurant menu, be sure you update the signage consistently and be sure that it’s working every time.  Respond quickly to customer inquiries or feedback to get the most value from your efforts.

Make It A Banner Year

Friday, January 11, 2013

Whether you’re thinking about indoor or outdoor signage this year, don’t discount the value of banners.  They are a great way to make a statement, and their flexibility is endless.  They are portable, reusable and attractive.  If you need portable signage, new materials make banners lightweight and easy to ship or carry.  Banners are also cost-effective due to their reuse factor.  Done properly, a banner identifies your company name, logo and contact information and can be used to maintain your image again and again.

One of this year’s trends promises to be fabric banners.  The material makes the banner flexible enough to wrap around corners or fold easily, yet the banners are sturdy enough to withstand outdoor weather.  Outdoor banners can be lit from the front or back, and with the new translucent fabrics, lighting special effects are possible with just a little experimentation.  Indoors, lighting can also make the banner look more effective.  Your Harford County sign professional can give you tips on lighting as well as recommend the best type of fabric for the printing process.

Select a short message and your company name and logo, rather than a text-heavy banner that readers have to strain to read.  Graphic designers at your professional sign manufacturer are trained to create succinct, eye-catching messages.  In addition, they will work both with your business color palette and the color palettes at the banner location.  For outdoor banners, coordinate the color palette with the season.  Indoors, coordinate with the décor.  

Banners can be flexible, cost-effective and contemporary for your signage needs.  Contact a Harford County signage professional today.

Window Perf- Something Other Than Just Advertising

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Did you ever have a problem where the sun just makes it too hot when it comes through the windows?  

Establishments often spend lots of money to install blinds or window cover to help reduce the amount of heat that is coming into a location.  Do you want to reduce the effects of the sun as well as improve your presence with your customers by advertising your business?  Window Perf could be the answer.  Window Perf is a vinyl material that has a percentage of the area punched out to allow light to come through and you to see out.  From the outside you see full color graphics and when looking out from the inside you see the outside world.

Reducing the effects of the sun was the main concern of one of Blue Water Sign's customers.  In the winter months when the angle of the sun is low it shines through the retail entrance of Wockenfuss Candies' new space.  The answer was a combination of window perf and window tint.  A window film that rejects approximately 50% of the total solar energy was used on the primary doors so customers could still see when they approached the store.

Blue Water Signs developed a graphic package with the customer that would both reduce the solar energy entering the retail space as well as make use of valuable advertising space on all other window surfaces around the entrance.  The window perf that was used was a 70/30 (70% solid/30% holes). 

 

The combination reduced the heat transmission so that the candies were not receiving the heat load they had in the past.  Soft and melted chocolates were a thing of the past after the installation.

Signage Industry Predictions 2013

Sunday, January 06, 2013

As is common in most industries at the start of the New Year, we have some comments on the market trends for 2013.  Experts across the board have weighed in, and we’ve looked at where we think the hot items will be.  We offer a short list of predictions:

  • Digital Signage and more digital signage – This market continues its growth.  Harford County businesses are realizing the cost-effectiveness of digital signage both indoors and outdoors.  Banks, restaurants, schools and churches are among the early-adopters, and we predict more will come on board this year.  Those early adopters will do even more with their digital signage.
  • Big screens - At retail, digital signage is being used to deliver a marketing and advertising strategy that drives consumers to purchase.  It will become more interactive for consumers and point-of-purchase signage will be important.
  • Small screens - Advertisers and marketers will try to reach consumers on mobile devices – from phones to tablets.  Again, interactive and targeted, the messages will be developed and delivered using data collected from all the “Smart” devices. 
  • Sleek materials – Lest we lament the demise of static signage, the market is still rich with opportunities.  The advent of sleek materials, like fabric for outdoor banners, will dominate the marketplace this year.
  • New applications for tried and true – We’ll see innovations and new uses for already successful applications like vehicle wraps and window cling signage.  The materials will be used in new markets and to reach new customers.  

Harford County sign companies will be thinking out of the box for customers and will suggest innovative ways to use current signage techniques.


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