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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

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.

Bigger Quality Is Better for Digital Signage

Friday, June 06, 2014

Kentucky DerbyThe Kentucky Derby was shown on “the world’s largest 4K ultra-high-definition LED video board,” according to Digital Signage Today. The signage is an approximately 170-foot tall video screen with an active display area of 15,224 square feet. It cost Churchill Downs $12 million. It rivals the Big Hoss digital video board that resides at the Texas Motor Speedway, and the display in “Jerry World” at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Texas.

You probably don’t need something so dramatic or, if we may say, big, for your business signage in Maryland. But, digital signage offers so many advantages for even the smallest display area. The ability to update the signage on demand with real-time messages is a luxury you can’t get from a vinyl banner or monument sign. The quality of the message graphics and video is also an important consideration, especially as you look to bigger signage. In video, a larger picture can often lose image quality as it grows. What looks sharp, clear and bright on the software computer monitor may reproduce grainy, blurry and washed-out on a bigger screen. That’s why the ultra-high-definition LED board is so costly – it’s simply so effective. Those Kentucky Derby horses probably looked like they could run right off the screen. That’s the experience you’re striving for with any size digital signage – you want to make the viewer say, “Wow.”

Your signage professional can recommend the best size display for your needs, as well as the best picture quality. Always invest in the highest quality possible, even if you have to forego a larger size. Bigger isn’t always better – big, bright picture quality will far outweigh a huge video wall with a dull image.

Materials to Wrap By

Friday, May 23, 2014

car wrapThe vehicle wrap industry is evolving by implementing new technologies that allow quicker, more efficient wrapping of vehicles and also provide long-lasting benefits. The basic materials allow much flexibility in coverage and design, as well as life span and cost. Car wraps are most commonly printed on vinyl film and laminated for higher protection. Try researching all of the options and your head will be spinning. It’s best to review your needs with a signage or print professional and explore the recommended options. Often, sign professionals have a material preference for a reason – they have had success with it.

Vinyl film offers a solution for virtually every surface – from smooth to textured. It mimics paint all the way down to the gloss level. It also provides the flexibility of solid or variegated colors or designs. Color change wraps are becoming more popular in both the personal vehicle market and the commercial fleet market. The film is available in any color imaginable, and it can be matched to the car’s original color or matched to a company’s corporate colors. Several film manufacturers also offer chrome finishes that are designed for mirrors and accents.

Cast vinyl is recommended for durability and ease-of-use, lasting up to five years and maintaining the brightness and depth of colors when printed. Though it can be costly, cast vinyl is flexible for vehicle application, stretching to the shape of the vehicle, and it can look similar to a glossy paint when completed. A less expensive vinyl is calendared, and it is a good solution for short-term, flat wraps that are serving as signage or protection. Calendared vinyl is less expensive and more difficult to use for vehicle wraps because of its lack of stretch and conformity to vehicles.

In addition, specialty wrap materials are available for unique or high-end needs. They include carbon fiber, brushed metal, and gloss and matte finish materials that are highly flexible and durable. For any wrap, insist on brand-name materials – these are durable and flexible and usually guaranteed for satisfaction.

From Signage to Shipment – Every Step Counts

Friday, May 09, 2014

poster tubeYou hired a professional sign manufacturer for a reason: to produce a professional sign. You’ve completed the graphic design, the message is clear and concise and the manufacturing flawless. Now it’s time to ship that sign to its destination. Don’t let the shipping fall short or damage your signage. Take the time to ask how it will be shipped – whether it’s to you, to a customer or directly to a job site –you should be the decision maker on the method and the cost.

Don’t cut corners on shipping. It’s the last thing to happen in the process, but it can’t be an afterthought. That afterthought is what will cost you hundreds of dollars more if the sign gets damaged in transit because of poor packaging. In addition, you’ll have the time factor of waiting for another sign to be produced.

Your sign manufacturer should choose the most cost-effective and efficient method of shipping. If that means he’ll deliver it himself, then that’s what he should recommend. This is very doable if the delivery address is local. It also establishes the sign manufacturer as a trusted partner who will go the extra mile. If the sign needs shipped out of town, have a plan in place with your sign company. If the sign is vinyl or cloth and can be safely rolled, it can be shipped in a sturdy cardboard or plastic tube. Fragile items like lights need to have a soft cover around them for protection. Wood crates or plywood sheets lined with a soft material like felt are good bets for signs that can’t be folded or rolled. The wood protects the sign from outside damage and the felt keeps it from rubbing on the inside wood.

Consider how often your signage will be shipped – you might want to invest in special packaging. If it’s for a trade show or a traveling exhibit, it will be shipped often and will need a sturdy case. Wood or heavy-duty plastic make excellent sign cases that not only protect the sign but also make it easy to pack and unpack.

Indoor/Outdoor Advertising Banners

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Not all indoor and outdoor advertising materials are created equal. While both may use the same types of materials, some have bigger advantages for their selected venues than others. Grommets are a commonly shared feature of indoor and outdoor banners. They can be especially important outdoors, because grommets can create a stronger banner that can withstand high winds and severe weather.

barn outdoor bannerIf you’re considering outdoor banners, your sign manufacturer will likely recommend mesh, fabric or vinyl. All of these materials are durable and weather-resistant. Mesh and vinyl are easy to clean and maintain. Outdoor banners also require clear, concise copy and large, bright and simple graphics. Your goal is not to get as much information on the banner as possible, it’s to offer a memorable call-to-action to your customer. The banner should be a reflection of your business and its personality, but you should clearly state what you want people to do. Because the banner will be seen while people are driving, biking or passing by, it forces you to be brief. Always have a phone number or website (if it’s easy and/or memorable) on your banner. Make it easy for people to find you.

Indoor banners allow more time for reading, but less continues to be more, in both copy and design. When choosing colors, select more subdued hues that will hold the reader’s attention. Lighter or pastel colors make people feel more relaxed. The materials for indoor banners are also cloth, vinyl and mesh, with cloth being much easier and more prevalent in the indoor environment. The cloth absorbs the light, minimizing shine, and it also is less likely to become dirty indoors. Again, work with your signage professional to determine the best next steps for your indoor/outdoor banners.

Not sure what will work for you? Call 410-420-2400 for guidance based on your individual needs.

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!

The Rap on Wraps – Advertise it here!

Friday, March 21, 2014

vehicle wrapVehicle wraps serve several purposes: protecting paint against wear and tear, changing the vehicle’s look and as advertising. For beginning advertisers, there are a few ways to get more rap for your wrap. Here’s why:

  1. It Moves! Vehicle wraps are moving billboards – if you think outdoor advertising is worth it, a vehicle wrap beats a highway billboard, hands down. Advertising on a vehicle wrap is like moving your highway billboard all over Maryland.
  2. It Grooves! Vehicle wraps are cool. They can turn an ordinary car into an attention-getting advertisement. They can also turn an ordinary ad into something people will read – on the go.
  3. It Soothes! Whether it’s just your company logo and tag line or a full-blown message to your customer, the idea of advertising on a moving vehicle is still novel enough that people will do a double-take – just long enough to see the “sponsor” of the crazy moving billboard.
  4. It adds value! In a nutshell, it gives you more bang for your buck. Your cost per impression goes down the more you drive the car around town or park it in a lot where your target audience plans to be.
  5. Keep it short! A shorter message is a more effective message. Or, as they say, “less is more.” Your car wrap can be memorable and attractive, without all the bells and whistles. Bold, vibrant graphics and large, readable lettering are what will ideally communicate your message to your customer and to many more potential customers.

Five Monumental Reasons To Use Monument Signs

Friday, March 07, 2014

Carroll County monument signIf your business has the space for an outdoor monument sign, don’t hesitate to invest in one. It’s the first impression of your business and your building, not to mention an advertisement to every person passing by. Some statistics report that at least half of customers buy your product because of your outdoor signage. If that’s not monumental enough, consider five other reasons monument signage might work for you:

  1. Customized. A monument sign is custom made. You and your signage professional decide on the design. The shape, color, lettering or material should work together to reflect your business image and blend with the surrounding environment. There’s a reason it’s called “monument.” It’s meant to be a beacon for your business. It can (and should) include your business logo and name and any other customized elements you want your customers to see.
  2. Material choices. Because it’s custom made, a monument sign allows a choice of materials. You can select from durable, lightweight material like Peachtree Foam, or go the natural route of brick or stone. Either material will be sturdy and long lasting. The lightweight version takes only a few hours to install onsite and it looks solid and weighty.
  3. Illumination. Whether it’s an LED sign or back-lit lettering, monument signs can be strategically lit so that your sign can be seen 24/7.
  4. Weather-resistant. Weathering the fluctuating weather in Maryland can be a challenge for any outdoor item. Properly built signage contains drainage systems for rain and snow. Maintenance prevents fading and damage from extreme heat or cold. Correct installation includes preparation of the ground around the sign so that any expansion or contraction due to heat or cold does not affect the sign itself. There should be no “settling” or movement of a properly installed monument sign.
  5. Long life. Despite a monumental investment now, in the long run, a monument sign will prove its value. Monument signs last well over 15 years – both the lightweight foam signs and the traditional brick or stone masonry signs.

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