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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

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.

Window Perf Finishing

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

window perf 01Window perf has shown that it has many benefits, from advertising to heat reduction.  It is also a great way to create some privacy.  Window perf is a vinyl that has between 30% and 50% of the surface punched out. After window perf is applied, only your printed graphics are visible on the outside of the window, but from the inside of the window, you can still see through the window to view outside.

After we print the graphics, how do you protect the ink and materials from the sun and elements? In most cases, we use what is referred to as a "hard" laminate.   This is a clear vinyl film that has a pressure sensitive adhesive that we laminate to the front of the window perf.  On vehicles, it is essential to use a laminate that has properties of being clear, often referred to as "Crystal Clear."  Optically, this is the best match when using window perf on vehicles.  What about in a retail situation?   There are a couple of choices.

  1. Use a clear hard laminate
  2. Use a liquid laminate

We know about the hard laminate, but what about the liquid laminate? It is either sprayed or rolled on, and performs the job of protecting the print from the elements and UV light damage.  The advantages over a hard laminate are that the liquid laminate is less expensive to apply, and the installation is easier and often less time consuming.   The liquid laminate protects the material just as well as a hard laminate against the elements, but not against physical damage like scratching.  The one drawback is that it is more time consuming to remove than when a hard laminate is used; however, liquid laminate is on glass, which is usually one of the easiest places to remove vinyl.

If you are interested in window perf for the windows on your business's building or vehicle(s), contact Blue Water Signs today.

window perf 02 

window perf 03

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

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Lighten Up Your Printing Process

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Today’s digital printing advances have brought sign printing out of the dark ages of screen and offset printing and into a whole new world of light – UV light, that is.  UV flatbed printers are offering quicker turn-around, quicker drying and clearer images by using a process that dries simultaneously with the printing.  While the usual printing process allows ink solvents to evaporate into the air, giving off volatile organic compounds, UV printing uses a photomechanical process created through ultraviolet lights.  The lights cause the ink to turn directly from a liquid to a solid.  Not only does the ink dry faster, there is less emission of VOC’s into the environment.

The final product is more vibrant in color and clarity.  Because the ink dries faster, it is automatically prevented from being absorbed into the printing material, leaving the ink dot higher on the sheet.  The ink dots are more colorful and robust because the dots haven’t had time to sink into the material before drying.   The UV digital printing process makes it easier to print on a variety of substances, including plastic or wood.  At the plastic end of the spectrum, the plastic doesn't normally absorb the color, and at the wood end, the ink is usually too quickly absorbed.  Both types of material and those all along the spectrum can benefit from UV printing.  The most successful printing seems to be on uncoated stock, but as the process matures, so will the materials for which it is made.

Trade Show Signage – A Refresher

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

trade show signageStanding out from the crowd at a trade show often feels like an exercise in futility.  If nothing else, it’s a test of creativity and strategy.  If you’re attending a huge industry trade show, your signage often has to match – “screaming” to be heard amongst all the large, major vendors in the industry.  If the show is local and more subdued, you still need to stand out, but in a more subtle way. 

Trade show signage should be replaced every few years – not only to make it look and feel newer, but to freshen your company image and show your potential customers that you’re keeping up with the times.  New materials and printing processes have become more efficient and cost-effective, so that you can comfortably budget to refresh your booth or table top display.  Dye sublimation printing for trade show banners and panels is one of the hottest trends.  The process allows you to print photo-quality pictures on various flexible materials.  It vaporizes the colors so that the edges of the image are less conspicuous than those done by an inkjet printer.  Dye sublimation also is more fade-resistant and can be cleaned more easily. 

Fabric banners are more popular than ever before, and they are lighter and more easily assembled than panels or curved walls.   They make booth assembly and break-down easier.   

No matter what signage material you choose, put your best company image forward.  From the simplest table banner to the most sophisticated back-lit signage, you or your team should be able to unpack, position and secure your signage with ease, and feel refreshed in both design and message.

Stop the Y-awning -- Wake Up Your Entry With a Bright Awning

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

restaurant awningAwnings are a great way to perk up your storefront or building.  A canopy can protect the building and customers from the heat in the summer and provide some lively business signage.  Consider giving that tired, hot entry area a facelift, both for comfort and for promotional value.  Your signage professional can recommend the best type of awning.

Manufacturers are providing newer and more durable materials as well as innovative print methods.  Solar fabrics, canvas and tightly woven polyesters provide ideal shade and are designed to be weather-resistant and fade-resistant.  They will also accept the most current printing processes.  Choose from stripes, patterns and solids, keeping in mind your logo colors and how they will blend with the awning fabric.  The awning, emblazoned with your company name and logo, and even a short tag line, will now be the first impression for your customers both visually and practically.  Backlit awnings allow graphics to be lit at night, so that the message isn’t lost in the dark.

A canopy can offer respite from the rain, wind or beating sun, and provides a brief transition area between the busy sidewalk and the store floor or office lobby.   It’s a place to open and close an umbrella, check personal electronic devices and have a sheltered conversation.  It’s an easy and obvious meeting place and becomes a landmark of sorts for local consumers.  “Meet me under the Bluewater Signs awning,” becomes a household phrase, and calls up a visual picture for the consumer.   

So stop yawning and start the awning – by talking to a signage professional who can give you a wide variety of exciting awning choices.

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.

Wrappin’ It Up

Friday, June 28, 2013

vehicle wrapThis summer, vehicle wraps are big for cars, trucks and boats.  The wraps are effective for both business advertising and paint protection.  If you own a business and want a great moving billboard, consider wrapping your own car, truck or van with a custom-designed wrap that showcases your logo or your business.  It’s a cost-effective way to advertise in lots of locations.  Or, if you simply want to protect your vehicle or call attention to it, wraps are a great solution.  Today’s wrap materials are durable and attractive and by using the right application techniques, the wraps are seamless.

Be sure to enlist the help of a signage professional who has a track record of successful wrapping.  Often, he or she will work with a vehicle specialist.  Together, this team will make sure the content of the wrap is right for your needs – from the graphic design to the material – and they’ll professionally apply the wrap.  While it’s a cost-effective process, it’s also a time-consuming one when done properly. 

Make sure your sign professional has a climate-controlled environment for the installation.  Too much heat or humidity will affect the wrap adhesive.  The vehicle will have to be carefully measured and the wrap material custom fit, stretched properly and aligned.  The seams should be sealed properly and given time to “relax.”  Prep time and curing time are also required on the front and back ends of the installation.  These processes will ensure a secure wrap, and they will give the installer the time to make sure there is no peeling or warping. 

If you’re jumping on the wrap trend, take the time wrap it up right.

Sticking Together

Monday, June 24, 2013

The recent International Sign Association Expo featured hundreds of exhibitors and a number of educational seminars about sign technology, signage solutions and marketing through signage.  An area of interest that was included in a seminar and many demonstrations was the advancement in structural adhesives.  For signage professionals and customers alike, fresh technology in structural adhesives is great news. Structural adhesives allow us to assemble signs without welding, screws or nuts and bolts.  Adhesives open up a whole new area of design so that materials that ordinarily could not work together for signage become compatible.  Plastics can bond with metal, composites can adhere to metal alloys. Adhesives are more flexible and cost-effective in the manufacturing process, which leads to a more cost-effective end product for our customers.

Some of the new adhesive technologies perform extremely well in low-temperature situations, making them ideal for outdoor signage.   Their manufacturers have made them environmentally friendly as well as strong.  The adhesives will hold up in constant sunlight, humid conditions and in beach locations where salt spray is a factor.   Even the dispensing methods are advancing, making sign installation much easier.  The adhesives are self-leveling and can reach nooks and crannies effectively.   Dispensers measure just the right amount of adhesive for the weight of the sign. 

All of these advances equal great signage design – both indoors and outdoors.  If your signage professional recommends adhesive connectors, stick with it – it’s a strong bond.

Digital Signage Content Management

Monday, June 17, 2013

a bank's digital signDrive around Harford County and observe the number of banks that are utilizing digital signage.   Many of them are – and they were among the early adopters of the medium.  But a recent survey by the Ryan Report, which surveyed retailing and marketing executives at banks worldwide about their satisfaction with digital signage, shows that over half of the respondents said they were only  “moderately satisfied” with the signage.  Most of the dissatisfaction centered around content and content management.

Digital signage is a significant investment.  It can be underutilized or it can be used to the point where it pays for itself in less than two years.  As with any signage investment, a plan needs to be in place.  What is your goal for the signage?  What do you want to communicate?  Do you have enough material to communicate to warrant the investment in dynamic signage?  Your professional sign installer can help you to answer some of these questions.   He or she can create a plan of action based on your objectives.  While the hardware is the primary installation for the sign company, if your professional is truly on your team, he will guide you to the right content management system and encourage you to plan messages months in advance. 

Digital signage is much like outdoor advertising or even on-line advertising, with the convenience of short lead time and client control.   In today’s world of technology and fast-moving messages, businesses need to communicate with customers by using their language and media.   With properly placed, attractive signage hardware plus strategic, refreshed content, you can bank on success in any industry.  

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