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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Wraps Are the Rage

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Great Cookie vehicle wrapVehicle wraps continue to be the rage for both car aficionados and businesses wanting to do mobile advertising – literally. From Pinterest to Facebook, people are sharing images of wraps and “liking” them by the hundreds. Leopard print, zebra-stripe, hot pink and logo’d doors --- the creativity is endless. Ford Motor Company is marketing a commercial graphics tool that allows viewers to choose a Ford commercial vehicle and see how it will look in a wrap. Users can design the wrap, place it on the vehicle, see it from five viewing angles, zoom in and out and share the image on social media.

Once you decide to join the fun, talk to a professional about designing and applying the wrap. Application can be done by any number of professionals, but the key is just that – find a professional. A signage professional trained in applying car wraps can help in several ways. First, design: a signage professional knows can easily translate his expertise in design and messaging on signs to a vehicle wrap. The exciting part is that message can now go almost 3D. The signage professional has the graphic knowledge to make the colors “pop” and the design unforgettable. He will be familiar with the most durable materials to use both for the vehicle itself and for the local weather conditions. Finally, he knows the painstaking process of application so that the material is seamless around the car or truck.

Wraps can last for several years, and from their popularity, it looks like they’ll still be the rage in a few years.

Time to Camouflage Your Truck?

Friday, February 14, 2014

camo truck wrap rearWith today's wrap materials, if you want your truck or SUV to really stand out, consider the new camouflage wrap materials. Vehicle wraps are becoming more popular all the time, and now there are a number of Camo patterns that are available for either full wraps or accent kits, like rocker panels or wheel flares. Wraps are manufactured out of premium 3M Cast Vinyls and 3M Matte Cast Overlaminates. Two of the biggest names in camo are Mossey Oak and Real Tree.

Patterns available in the Real Tree patterns are:
  • Max4,
  • RealXT,
  • RealATG,
  • Max-1,
  • REALSNOW, and
Patterns available in the Mossey OAk line are:
  • Infinity,
  • Break,
  • ShadowGrass,
  • Obsession,
  • Treestand,
  • Duck Blind,
  • Bottomland,
  • Brush,
  • Break Up Pink, and
  • Winter.

No matter if your passion is bow hunting deer, upland game hunting or waterfowl, there is a camo pattern that will make your truck show your real passion.


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.

A Sign to Freshen Up

Friday, January 17, 2014

outdoor signJanuary and the beginning of a new year is a good time to re-evaluate your signage needs and freshen up your physical signs. First, ask yourself whether or not you need new signage. If your business outdoor sign is more than five years old, you might want to consider a face lift. Sprucing up the sign with a heavy-duty cleaning that will leave it sparkling, or investing in a new sign are good options. Ask yourself: Does the signage still reflect the personality and brand image of your business? If you’ve had a branding change, any updates in your communications strategies or simply changed your mindset about how you do business, reflect those changes in your signage. Patrons will notice and stop in to see what’s new.

Even if your sign is less than three to five years old, regular maintenance is important. Make sure you are cleaning it properly and keeping it safe from nature’s elements. Consider an awning where possible for protection of the sign. Depending on the material you chose for your sign, wind, rain and snow can still be damaging and fading, making a sign look dirty and worn. Find ways to make your sign updatable. If you haven’t invested in digital signage, think about switching to a colorful LED board that can have up-to-the-minute messages. Or, add a message board to your existing signage – your sign professional can tell you how. These message boards move you into the high-tech era and give you the capability to “talk” to your customers. Once you’ve evaluated your outdoor signs, look at all of your signs – from trade show banners to window signage and point-of-purchase signs. They should all reflect your current brand image, be clean and sleek-looking, not tired and in need of repair. Your sign is really another of your “faces” to your customer. Put on the best one.

Keep Your Eye on the Signs in 2014

Friday, January 03, 2014

digital signThe New Year shows every sign of new trends and increased business in the signage industry. According to a variety of signage experts and industry professionals, growth areas will be corporate lobbies, quick-service restaurants, retail locations and health care locations. Many Harford County businesses already have digital signage or impactful, sturdy signage, but we’ll see more in these locations. Signs will engage the digital consumer, whether on their personal, hand-held device or at a kiosk or big screen display. Digital signage will continue to push forward in all screen sizes, and mobile marketing will become more of a “must” to reach the savvy consumer. That means more than a car vehicle wrap, which does increase visibility significantly. It means marketing to consumers through their smart phones and tablets and giving them opportunities to be interactive and provide feedback.

Digital Signage Today, a leading industry trade publication identified three areas of interest for next year. First was the video wall. This larger-than-life experience is a giant digital sign that is updatable, flexible and impressive for messaging. The walls can be any size, and are built from a number of displays that have the capability of creating a single image or presenting a different image on each screen or group of screens. Their flexibility leads into the next area of predicted growth: touch-enabled displays giving the customer the opportunity for interactivity at the touch of a screen. These can be configured in any size, from a hand-held device to a 4 x 4 kiosk to a large 60-inch display. Interactivity is the key.

Finally, ultra high-definition resolutions will be important in digital signage. As the price of the LCD or LED monitor declines, the quality of images will increase. This is especially notable if big screens and video walls are increasing in usage – picture quality will be much better than on previous devices. Images will be sharp and clear, and the high definition quality will make it “just like being there.”

So for 2014, look for signs of increasing participation in digital signage and mobile signage. Technology will continue to break through the clutter.

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.

The Art of Signage

Friday, December 06, 2013

If you’ve driven down Main Street in Bel Air, MD, or along Rt. 22 through the center of town, you may have seen the artist working on the mural on the side of the new Oyster Bar building. The picture has come together in stages – from sketch to paint to the finished product. The signage itself is artwork, and a great message from what promises to be a hip, new watering hole. It’s also a great message to Harford Countians that the artist is so involved with the signage.

2013 Bel Air Maryland BBQ Bash logoIn really examining signage around us, we can see more examples of artwork as signage – or vice versa – signage as artwork. The colorful Bel Air BBQ Bash logo and signage is easily identifiable and allows people to link it to a great local event. Two Sisters retail store in Bel Air has a full side of the building sporting a stylish mural that is eye-catching and memorable. It doesn’t even have the store’s name in it, but it’s recognizable because of the placement of the mural on the building and the relationship of the mural to the type of store.

Your signs can be artistry in motion. Every graphic designer secretly wishes for that big hit signage that is evergreen in the public eye. Whether it’s the Coca Cola logo that’s recognizable with simply the swirl of the “L” or a mural with a message, any signage that creates a memory is worth its price tenfold. If it calls attention to itself, it’s doing its job. Signage isn’t – or shouldn’t’ be – quiet. It needs to be loud and eye-catching to break through the clutter. Ask your signage professional to help you make your sign something special. Signage isn’t just words lit up at night outside your window. Signage is an art.

Hire a Pro To Install That Signage

Friday, November 22, 2013

freestanding signDon’t be a DIY. Don’t be a do-it-yourselfer, especially with your signage. It’s important to have a professional sign manufacturer install your sign for several reasons. First, he or she can “sneak a peek” at the type of signage you’re planning and provide feedback both on sign maintenance and installation. Second, even with freestanding signs, it’s best to have them professionally installed. These professionals install several signs a day, and hundreds in a week. They know how to position them so they will be as safe as possible against stormy weather. They also take into consideration the drive-by factor, the property size and shape, the easements and the town rules on signage size and installation. If at any time they have a concern, they should voice it to you so that you can provide direction on the next steps to take.

Be sure your signage professional has experience in the installation method you select. Signs can be mounted to the side of a building, fence, wall or door by drilling holes and hanging the sign. They can also be mounted to a pole or to a mounting stand. Larger signs that are specially designed for your business may have many other requirements. For example, a monument sign requires ground to be prepared ahead of time to be sure that the monument sign can withstand the contraction and expansion of the ground during freezing and thawing in the winter. Vinyl banners also need careful attention when being installed inside and outside. Inside, they need a sturdy anchor like a railing or a wall. Outside, the installer needs to check the wind factor and design a sign that will be supported against the wind and other elements. Supports can be rope, web mesh, pole pockets or grommets. Your professional sign manufacturer can be a wealth of information and service, if you let him know your objectives and your needs. He’ll help make your job easier.

Light Up Your Message

Monday, November 11, 2013

digital signIf you want to call attention to your signage message, consider an LED sign. This technology is sweeping the industry for outdoor, indoor and mobile signage. Outdoors, an LED sign can light your message in both daylight and night time hours. Indoors, the sign can be placed in virtually any light environment – from dark to natural light, and the colors will “pop” on the screen. For mobile signage, not only is LED technology an eye-catcher, it is also light weight for easy transport. Overall, LED is a good choice because of its energy efficiency, life span, maintenance and most recently, affordability.

LED signs emit cold heat as opposed to traditional lights that emit warm heat. The coolness enables less energy consumption and a longer life. In fact, LEDs can be used continually for up to 100,000 hours. LED signs help to reduce energy consumption and a company’s carbon footprint. In addition, LEDs create a brighter light, resulting in better readability of signage and brighter, sharper colors. They require little to no maintenance and are weather-resistant when installed properly by a signage professional. The LED sign is more durable than glass neon tubing, and its design makes it slimmer, enabling signs to fit in smaller spaces. LED signs also perform well in cold weather.

One of the biggest benefits of LED signage is the flexibility of messaging. Among the most popular LED sign combinations is a dual sign that has a permanent logo or company name, then an adjoining screen that is changeable with programmed messages. Your sign professional will train you on programming the messages and personalizing your signage.

Generally, your signage professional will work with an LED sign manufacturer and recommend the size and type of LED sign you need. Simply make sure you are comfortable with the navigation, the information and the process by which you change the messaging. There’s nothing like seeing an unedited message lit up for all to see!

Wrap Up the Season

Monday, October 21, 2013

vehicle wrapWith the beautiful weather Harford County has been enjoying this fall, there have been more opportunities for people to be outdoors. They’re tailgating and pumpkin-picking and just wandering through nature before having to wrap up for winter. It’s a great season to capture their attention at festivals, carnivals and sporting events with a memorable, moving billboard. It’s easy to do – all you need is a car or truck and a signage professional.

You can turn your vehicle into a double-duty machine. Add a vehicle wrap. It’s a multi-purpose strategy for businesses who want to reach people constantly. Vehicle wraps protect and project. First, the wrap protects your car or truck from the elements and keeps the paint looking like new. Or, a wrap can increase the longevity of a poor-looking vehicle by hiding the flaws and turning it into a moving advertising sign. Second, a vehicle wrap projects your company’s image – whether it’s a logo, graphic design or lettering. It garners impressions with a wide audience every time the vehicle is on the road. For that matter, parked in a strategic location, your vehicle can provide messaging to a crowd of football fans, concert attendees or shoppers.

The newest wrap materials can make the most detailed logos look like a high-definition picture. The colors are brighter, the graphics more accurate and when properly applied to the vehicle, the wrap looks like paint. Wraps have a life span of about four years – imagine the number of people who will see your logo or message in that time period! It makes a $2,000-$3,000 investment seem to be well worth it. Wrap up your fall season and get ready for winter with a professional vehicle wrap and watch your company awareness soar.

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