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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Ho Ho Ho – Holiday Signs Already Here

Friday, November 21, 2014

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Signs of the holiday season range from retail shelves stocked with red, green, silver and gold ornaments, to the bell-ringing collection canister outside every retail establishment and the holiday music blaring from store speakers before Thanksgiving. But the literal signs that communicate to holiday shoppers are most important.

You need signs in your retail location to help customers have a satisfactory holiday shopping experience. All too often during the frenzy of holiday buying, customers go to the wrong line, find an item that is mis-marked, or simply can’t find what they’re looking for because there is no signage in the store communicating to them. The result: a frustrated customer who won’t return or who will tell his or her horror story both at holiday cocktail parties and on social media.

Whether you choose to use large digital monitors or attractive easel-back point-of-purchase signs, get your communication started. If you have a hot item, or a deal of the day, use a sign to highlight it and guide customers to its shelf. If you have sale items, clearly communicate the sale price with signage that is unmistakably associated with the item. Signs should be on the correct fixture, next to the correct merchandise and clearly spell out the sale. Is it 50 percent off the original price, or 50 percent off the current marked price? It makes a big difference. Save your staff a lot of time by having signs in the right places. Also, mark your check-out lines. If a line is express or a specialty line, make it clear with friendly signage.

Finally, your staff should be both identifiable and available. Identifiable means in a uniform with nametag or store logo on it. Customers shouldn’t have to ask, “Do you work here?” and risk asking someone’s Aunt Mary who just happens to be browsing the shelves today. The easier you make the shopping experience, the more likely you are to have repeat customers and referrals.

Happy signing!

Can You Read That?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The purpose of a sign is to guide, announce or inform a prospective customer or an entire audience. If your audience can’t read the sign, they can’t get your message. Your signage professional can advise you about specific sign sizes and lettering, but here are some guidelines.

North Chapman Building signA recent study showed that significant factors in signage are legibility, readability, environmental (illumination) and personal factors, such as the viewer’s attention level.

Font: The bigger the font, the better the readability. Likewise, increased character height improves legibility and readability, as does use of both upper and lower-case letters in a sentence format. This is especially true with visually impaired readers. Choose a simple font that does not have fancy curls or resemble script handwriting – these are often attractive close-up, but when hung at a distance and enlarged, they can be difficult to read.

Color: Use green or gray letters for the best results with people who have normal or low vision. The background should be non-glare and contrasting for best readability.

Spacing: Allow enough white space around letters. A general guideline is two inches of height per line, for standard 5/8-inch high letters. If letters are higher than 5/8 inch, allow two times the height of the characters. Don’t crowd the lines or the lettering, because it will impede readability. No matter how large the letters may be, if they are too close together, they will still resemble a jumbled alphabet.

Logo: Keep it simple, both in design and color. Allow enough white space around it to make it clear that this is an identifying mark and to guarantee no text infringes on the image. Make sure it’s identifiable and readable as your logo.

Remember: If you can’t read it or understand it, chances are, no one else can either!

Signs of Sponsorship

Monday, July 07, 2014

If your business plans to sponsor events or teams this summer, make sure you get the most from your efforts with meaningful signage. A sponsorship agreement will usually provide the parameters of the deliverables you’ll receive in exchange for your financial support, and it usually includes some type of name recognition. Whether through program listings, advertisements or signage, this is the showcase opportunity for which you’ve paid. If you evaluated the audience and deemed it important enough to buy a sponsorship, then make those dollars count.

Your sponsorship signage should be simple, yet impactful. It should always include your company name and logo. If space permits, a brief tag line or a few words that can easily identify your business should accompany the name. Even better, it should have a way for potential customers to learn more – such as your website address and/or phone number. Choose bright, bold colors and a clean design. Remember, you’re trying to make a memorable impression on your audience.

If the organization you’re sponsoring is having the signs made, then ask to be personally in touch with the professional sign manufacturer. Provide your artwork or work with them to create artwork that will be readable and attention-getting. If the organization is designing the signs, or if all sponsors will be represented equally on a sign, be sure the artwork is acceptable to you. Make sure your logo translates clearly and your message can be easily identified and read.

Finally, if you’re approving signage artwork electronically, keep in mind that the signage space is exponentially larger than your computer screen. Sometimes, what looks great on the screen doesn’t translate well on a large sign or area. It often looks like it’s too small on the end product. Be mindful of the dimensions and perspective when checking the proof on-line. Next week, we’ll talk about how to determine the correct size of your logo and text.

Score One for the Scoreboard

Friday, June 20, 2014

digital scoreboardWhile traveling around to youth baseball, soccer or lacrosse games this summer, note the scoreboards you see. Are they simply tallying the scores or are they relaying messages in various formats? Scoreboards at Little League fields, soccer and lacrosse fields and even at swimming pools pose a great opportunity for the innovative marketer. If you like to promote your business to a captive audience using signage, what better way to get noticed than to be right where people look for information? Get yourself noticed on the scoreboard!

First, let’s talk about existing scoreboards. If the teams or recreation councils that already have them are also savvy marketers, they will have a system in place for potential advertisers or sponsors. These opportunities can be on a static scoreboard or on an electronic scoreboard. Approach the team or the rec council with your ideas for placing your logo or message strategically on the scoreboard. Sometimes the scoreboards are designed with static panels that can display company logos or tag lines. On an electronic scoreboard, the video portion of the board can also serve as an advertising vehicle. If it means revenue for the organization, it’s very likely your proposal will be accepted.

Now, what about becoming a scoreboard sponsor? That is, donating or partnering with the team or field to provide a scoreboard, on which your company logo will reside forever. You would have the ability to provide moving messages if you are donating a digital scoreboard. If it’s static, then negotiate the right to change out the sponsorship signage on or near the board on a regular basis. Talk to your signage professional about all angles – from vinyl sponsorship signs to digital scoreboard hardware and software.

Take advantage of the captive audience to communicate a clear message that will score big for your business.

From Soup to Nuts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Designing a permanent sign for your business should be a careful process. If your professional sign manufacturer tells you the sign can be ready the next day or even the next week, you might want to re-evaluate your resources. Getting the right sign takes both teamwork and time.

Finney Trimble signStarting with idea generation and carrying through manufacturing and installation, your sign company should know your objectives not only for the sign, but for your business. If your goal is to increase store traffic, you’ll consider a different type of sign than if you are going for a new identity. Your brand image should always be included in a sign design discussion and the graphic design should reflect your company image. Full-service signage manufacturers will make recommendations for sign design, as well as for materials and signage positioning. If the company has graphic designers, they will provide sketches of ideas for your review, and convert them to digital art for printing and production.

The company should have a project manager or account executive who manages or “traffics” your project from the idea stage through installation. Sometimes this is the company principal who is hands-on with clients. Often, it is an experienced manager who knows how to get peak efficiency from the company’s resources. This person keeps the job moving, gets your approval as necessary, and addresses any challenges along the way. You’ll get a final proof of the sign design prior to production – pay careful attention to details like colors, spacing, and copy. Once you approve this stage, any changes are costly and time-consuming.

On installation day, you should carve out time to inspect the sign both before it’s installed and after it’s finished. Check to make sure you’re satisfied with the material quality and the durability of the sign. Get instructions on sign maintenance and be ready to unveil your new sign!

Digital Signage Heats Up Your Message

Monday, February 03, 2014

First Security digital sign2014 promises to be yet another growth year for digital signage. The hardware, software and content companies are banking on it. More and more industries are taking the plunge into this market, both because the prices are getting more reasonable and the ROI is more measurable. We’re seeing digital signage around the Harford County area in banks, restaurants, health clubs, schools and churches. If you’ve got a changing message, or simply want to make a statement, you may want to explore digital signage. The key elements are hardware, software and content. If you don’t have a plan for the content – i.e. how you’re going to communicate through digital signage – then don’t bother investing in the hardware and software.

According to the trade publication, Digital Signage Today, analytics were an important part of evaluating content in 2013, and this process will become even more so in 2014. Advertisers will be able to evaluate who the viewer is, how long they look at a screen and the impact of the content. The publication also predicts we’ll get a better understanding of the significance of a “call to action” in the messaging and how digital signage can be used as a tool for behavior modification. They also see social media becoming more of a factor in content. There’s lots to think about, vs. a simple changing daily menu at the diner.

As far as hardware and software are concerned, the hardware prices are stabilizing, and many displays are now accompanied by built-in media players. Keeping the system simple, at least at first, gives you the freedom to experiment with messaging and upgrade as necessary to a more complicated and feature-rich system. Your signage professional can recommend the best screen size for your site -- whether it’s an LCD, LED or video wall display. The media player package will be tailored to your needs, as well, and it should be something that will be easy for you or your staff to use.

Signage EVALUation

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Economic Value of On-Premise SignageYour signage value can be calculated in hard numbers as well as intrinsic value. The Signage Foundation recently presented an updated study from the University of Cincinnati titled, “The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage.” The study included a national survey of business owners and case studies from a variety of industries that showed signage is associated with revenues and profits.

Signage value can be calculated by using equivalent outdoor advertising figures for the amount of traffic that passes by the signage in a given time period. It’s calculated on cost per impression, and is the basis for billboard or today’s electronic sign advertising rates. But, the key to success is increased revenues resulting from signage. The University of Cincinnati study showed that on-premise signage plays an important role in the overall branding and marketing strategy for a business. The visibility and conspicuousness of the signage are key factors. Highly visible signs make it easier for customers to obtain the information they need to make a purchase. Nearly 60 percent of businesses surveyed reported an average 10 percent increase in sales transactions when they changed their signage and took into consideration viewing distances, location, size and other factors.

Your professional sign manufacturer can advise you on the best sign location, size and materials. If you have clearly outlined objectives for your business signage, your signage consultant can help you meet them. The study results confirmed what signage professionals try to communicate to customers every day: signs should be based on an assessment of many factors such as the location, road curvature, traffic lanes, speed limits, landscaping and sightline obstructions, to name a few. Your business industry will also play a role in the type of sign you select. In the case studies, a national lodging chain experienced increased occupancy rates with the use of digital signage to display pricing. A national retail banking business found pylon signs outperformed monument and wall signs in terms of visibility and increased teller transactions. Specialty store small business signage needed to communicate the value promise and be sensitive to community and customer expectations.

Whatever your industry, evaluate your signage needs and incorporate signage into your profitability plan.

Reinvent Your Signage

Friday, October 11, 2013

business signNow is a great time to reinvent your signage if it needs a lift. You may not know it, but your signage is so important to your business success. Did you know that signage can be responsible for attracting half of your customers? It’s true, says the International Sign Association (ISA). In addition, ISA contends that without signage, you may not get a loan for your business. Signage is the best marketing tool you have. Your company’s outdoor signage is actually the least expensive but most effective form of advertising you have. Why? Once you invest in good signage, people will see it every single day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s visible and sending a message every time they pass your place of business.

Proof that signage can be a contributing factor to business success is the growth in the sign industry itself. More and more businesses are turning to professional signage manufacturers for guidance and sign production. The ISA’s annual poll of sign companies shows that more than 75 percent of those surveyed said their business had grown in the last six months, and over 30 percent claimed double-digit growth. More than 50 percent said they will be hiring this year and investing in new equipment --evidence that the outlook is positive, and now is the time to get in on the new techniques, new designs and the momentum of the industry by creating new signage. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination -- from vibrant, life-like vinyl banners to high-tech, interactive digital signage. Talk to your professional sign manufacturer and reinvent your image through your signs.

Trailer Graphics: From Simple to Complex

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

trailer graphics 02From yard service companies to racing groups, they all tow some type of trailer.  Many companies have started to make use of all the assorted trailers that allow them to haul extra equipment and often leave that equipment in the trailer so it is ready to go anytime.  That trailer is a canvas for advertising.  Every time a lawn service stops in front of a house to mow the lawn, the trailer is right in front of the house advertising the whole time.  When a car dealer sets up a trailer to go to shows, they not only are seen at the show site, but are seen on the road on the way to and from the show.  What do you do with that trailer when not in use?  Park it in the parking lot where everyone can see as they pass by.  It is another form of vehicle graphics, but one that can be a great static sign for your company. 

Graphics on a trailer can be as simple as lettering, lettering with some digital wrap components, or a full wrap of the trailer.   For simple open landscaping trailers, find a place to attach a metal sign with all your information that will be seen when the trailer is driven and parked.  The bottom line is to make good use of that free advertising space because every time you drive to a site, you have the potential to find your next important customer.

If you are interested in trailer graphics for your business, contact Blue Water Signs today.

 trailer graphics 01

trailer graphics 03 

Summertime Signage Is a Give-Away

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

promotional product beach ballSummer makes it easy to reach people who are out and about in the warmer weather.  While outdoor signage is a big way to capture lots of eyes, promotional products featuring your company name or logo are little ways that make a big difference. 

First, these little products are mobile and have pass-along value.  They will get into the hands of many people and be seen by more eyes than just those of the owner.   While magazines and newspapers have a pass-along value—that is, one copy is seen by an average of 2.5 people --premiums have even greater potential.  For example, according to a survey done by the Advertising Specialty Institute, if the original recipient doesn’t want the item, 62 percent of people will give it to someone else.  Items like shirts get 344 impressions per month, and pens get about 457.  From logo’d visors and sunglasses to pens or car magnets, awareness for your business increases by using promotional give-aways. 

Innovative premiums can also make a lasting impression.  Consider your target audience and your company personality.  If you want to communicate with beach-goers, a myriad of items awaits for every budget and every taste.  A sturdy beach umbrella, a pair of flip-flops, a beach towel or beach tote – all emblazoned with your name or slogan – are not only memorable items for the owner, they are also moving billboards for you.  Too much money, you say?  If you have a strategic plan, valuable premiums don’t have to break the bank.   Weigh the pros and cons of giving away fewer high-quality items that speak volumes, vs. distributing thousands of low-budget, low-quality items.    Your signage professional will be stock-full of great ideas to fit any budget.  Drink huggies, plastic beverage holders and beach balls are also nothing to sneeze at, and may be more suited to a conservative budget. 

Whatever your choice for outdoor give-aways, make them meaningful – for you and for the recipient.


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