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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Outdoor Signage – Make It Digital

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The outdoor signage market covers a variety of media that your custom sign professional has the capability of handling.  Billboards, transit, street furniture and alternative media are the primary categories of outdoor signage, with billboards making up the lion’s share at 65 percent of the revenue, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.  That share may be growing even more as dynamic digital signage continues to gain in popularity.  Billboard advertising remains one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising at an average of $2.18 CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) for all forms of billboard ads.  It is second only to vehicle wraps, estimated at $0.80-$1.30 CPM.  According to a recent study by the OAAA, the CPM of a 30-second prime time spot is $17.78, a one-third page black and white ad in a top 100 newspaper market is $22.95 CPM, and a four-color, one-page ad in a magazine is $9.35 CPM. 

If your business is serious about outdoor signage and you want more than just the sign that identifies your company name, then digital signage may be for you.  More digital signage is being turned on every day in Harford County, because business owners are realizing that the investment will pay for itself in a matter of a few years.  

An upcoming digital signage seminar at the OAAA convention promises to focus on the key elements -- hardware, software, connectivity, content, operation, design.  We can already summarize, but look forward to the details:  Invest in good hardware that will showcase your graphics in beautiful color and clarity.  Explore intuitive software that’s easy to use.  Make sure you’re connected to a high-speed network.  Get creative with your content, but keep it simple.  Know how to operate the system, and make sure your signage professional recommends a good design.  In short, invest and let the messaging do the rest. 

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.”  

Window Perf- A Solution for Many Applications

Friday, December 28, 2012

Window perf has become a very popular choice for advertising, not only on vehicles but also for retail spaces and business for a number of reasons.  For those that are not familiar with this material, window perf is a vinyl that has had lots of small holes punched into the material.  It has a black or very dark backing and because of this when applied to a window we can print full color graphics on the face and then apply to the window.  From the outside your customer and the public can see the graphics and from the inside you can still let the sun in see out like you are looking through a screened window.

The difference between what is used for retail spaces and that used for vehicles is the percentage of material to open area created by the holes.  For vehicles most states require that the material be no more than 50% closed or what is often referred to as 50/50.  For retail the material of choice is 70/30 (30% open and 70% solid material to print on).  The retail material can be more vivid due to the amount of ink that can be laid down.

Below are a couple of examples of applied window perf.  Window perf can be a great solution when you have open window space but you don't want to block your view.  Many retailers use window perfs on retail store fronts to keep the heat of the sun out.

Give Blue Water Signs a call to discuss and help you make your blank windows start working for you.

Wrap It Up In a Bright Package – New Car Wraps

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

If you’re craving that cherry red or racing blue car instead of your conservative gray or taupe vehicle but can’t quite bring yourself to change your permanent paint color, wrap it up!  Visit your Maryland professional sign company to explore a full vehicle wrap.  These wraps not only look great, they are cost-effective and time sensitive, compared to a new paint job on your car.  Or, if you want to turn your vehicle into a traveling billboard sign complete with your logo, make sure the car color matches the logo colors with a complete wrap in a color of your choice.

The wrap will maintain your car’s original paint and shield it from dings – from stones flying up from the road to careless people flinging their doors open into your car.  If there is damage done to your car while wrapped, or if you have an accident, the chances of being able to wrap the new section in the same color wrap are better and more economical than matching the original paint color.  And, a vinyl wrap can preserve the original paint, increasing the resale value of your car.  

If you really want to be trendy, put on your sunglasses and admire the latest chrome auto wraps in silver, gold, copper and other colors.  They’re actually vinyl wraps like those you would use to change your car’s color, with a chrome finish.  Like traditional wraps, they protect your car’s paint, while giving you that bright, shiny look of chrome.  A chrome wrap will keep your car cooler, because it reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them. 


Your professional sign company can install wraps quickly and easily.  While this could be a do-it-yourself project, the attention to detail is so important that it’s worth getting a professional.  First, the car’s surface needs to be prepared properly.  All blemishes and uneven surfaces need to be removed before applying the wrap.  Properly prepared surfaces will allow the wrap to stretch and adhere more smoothly and last longer.  Although stretch vinyl and chrome film can be positioned and repositioned without leaving a permanent “memory,” your professional installer can get it right the first time.  In addition, they can recommend the right design if you want printing or painting.  

So, wrap up the latest trend – a bright, shiny vehicle protected against the wear and tear of the road!

Marine Signage Specialty

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The waters are indeed blue in the Maryland boating community. The National Marine Manufacturers Association says the outdoor recreation industry had $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011. Specifically, boating has a $72 billion annual economic impact, with 83 million Americans participating in boating activities. In Maryland, there were 199,087 registered recreational boats in 2008, the latest available data through the NMMA. Maryland also has an estimated 270 marinas, clubs and storage facilities for boats.

From power boats to sail boats, each boat and owner has its own personality. These can be expressed through the name, the paint and the graphics on the boat. Today’s signage technologies provide lots of options for lettering, so you can express yourself through design. In addition, vinyl lettering with strong adhesive can give you a “painted” look but it will help you overcome the waiting time to get the boat back in the water at the Baltimore area marinas –most lettering can be applied and completed within a few days. The lettering stands up to the harsh elements of the water, and can give you a custom-designed look. The newest trend in lettering is reflective – it picks up the light and shimmers in the water.  

Boat wraps are becoming more popular in the Maryland area, as well. Boaters are using them to customize their boats and in some cases to advertise. An in-kind exchange of boat advertising for marina or docking fees is an innovative cost-saver. The newest materials for boat wraps make them easy to apply and their look customizes your boat almost as if it were a custom paint job. Successful boat wraps require the best adhesives, durable materials and a professional application process. Wraps should last several years without fading or peeling. They can be custom designed using the boat manufacturer’s specifications and measurements. The application process should then be carefully calculated using these measurements.   

Whatever your choice for marine graphics, put your best boat forward.



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.

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.

Magnetic Signs Attract Attention

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Magnetic signs come in all shapes and sizes. They are yet another portable signage example, and they are great for temporary use. Most commonly used on vehicles, magnetic signs are an ideal way to promote a timely message or event. In addition, many team and sport logos seen on cars in Harford County are magnetic signs. But don’t forget about miniature magnetic signs – calendars and schedules, contact information and quick-reference phone numbers can all be printed on a magnet small enough to hang on refrigerators or file cabinets.  

Magnetic signs can be cost effective, as simple as one color graphics letting people know your name and phone number, or full color digital prints utilized to catch potential customers' attention. Made from a vinyl sheet containing magnetic compounds, the flexible material usually comes on a roll and can be cut to any size. A vinyl layer holds the printing and then is laminated on top. The magnetic thickness varies based on the use – a thicker magnet is used for vehicles because they require more staying power. A thinner magnet is used for promotional items.

When ordering magnetic signs, be sure to ask for samples and inquire about the safety of the magnet on painted metal surfaces. You don’t want your signage to take the paint off a vehicle or refrigerator when removed! But you do want to use magnetic signs to attract attention with a message that will stick! And always remember not to use magnets too close to magnetic computer hard drives, as this can damage the data stored on them.

When a Sign is More Than a Sign - Part 1

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Window treatment provides office privacyOften, the choice of a sign can have more of an impact than just showing your name or selling a product. When designed right, it can work to help solve a problem or issue with your office or retail space. 

How comfortable do you feel when you are in the office at night by yourself and people can look in through the window? What about the office window that is on a busy street? In these cases, the use of a window treatment can not only be used to sell your product, but also can be used to make the space more safe and comfortable. "Window Perf" can be used to make a terrific splash on your customers and can reduce the visibility into the office space. Window Perf is a vinyl product that has a series of uniform holes punched into the material. This material allows people in the office to look out, while those outside only see the printed message. Window Perf can also be used on vehicle windows to make use of more surface on your vehicle, but still allow you to see through the window safely. 

Whether an office or a car, put your message where people can see it -- and solve a sometimes troublesome issue at the same time.

Window treatment in vehicle


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