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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

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.

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.

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.

DIY with DSKs (Do It Yourself With Digital Signage Kiosks)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

While digital signage heats up throughout various marketplaces, digital signage kiosks are also popping up in surprising – yet sensible locations.  The customer do-it-yourself idea is growing, and the prevalence of tablets and mobile devices is changing the consumer’s mindset.  Digital signage kiosks are making airport ticketing and check-in more streamlined, restaurants are experimenting with self-service kiosks, and the health care industry also implemented kiosks widely last year.  According to representatives of the Kiosk Industry Group, tablet devices will become more prevalent in retail kiosks.    They will be used for retail transactions, self-checkout and information stations. 

Good digital signage kiosks at retail can give the customer that needed little “push” to purchase – whether it’s through software that gives more lifestyle-oriented examples or simply providing factual information about product features.  Retailers can also use kiosks to help limit “showrooming”—the practice of visiting a retail store to see a product and get a demonstration, then buying it online.   According to Retail Customer, the National Retail Hardware Association reported that digital signage kiosks can be instrumental in converting “showrooming” into sales at the retail location.  A display that engages the customer and gives them the reason to buy it “right now” is usually successful.

If you’re considering digital signage kiosks for your business or retail showroom, research your marketplace’s success with digital signage to date.  Don’t try to DIY.  Talk to a professional sign manufacturer to generate ideas on how to incorporate a digital signage kiosk into your retail floor plan and get a return on your investment.  A digital signage kiosk can make you an innovator in your field.  

The Incredible Shrinking Digital Signage Dollar

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Digital signage is becoming more affordable thanks to new entries into the market and more manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon.  Before buying a digital signage system, find out about the hardware and software you’ll be using.  Ask your signage professional to review the companies he or she prefers and why.  Because there is so much choice in the market today, there is the opportunity for comparison in both products and services.  

Look for a digital signage manufacturer who is reputable and innovative – someone who is keeping up with the fast-moving industry, and making efforts to provide high-quality signage and easy-to-use software.  We like the innovations from companies like Daktronix and Watchfire.  The displays are versatile, and there is something to satisfy every application.  The Daktronix Galaxy product line offers full-color, tri-color and monochrome displays with dynamic graphics and colors.  They have LED Message displays for directional and instructional signage, and LED video displays for content advertising both indoors and outdoors.  They can be seen in places like Towson University, University of Florida and the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, NY.  

Watchfire is another company that’s worthy of more than just watching for Digital Signage.  Their Ignite software is easy to program and update so your signage is always current.  It allows you to edit your signage from anywhere you have a computer, preview graphics, select from a library of downloadable graphics and artwork, and use fades and RSS feeds easily.  Together, the display and the software can make great digital signage for your company.  Make sure you feel comfortable using both, and ask your signage professional to guide you in maximizing their potential.  The more you use them, the more cost-effective they will be.

Carve Your Business In Their Memories

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why do you need a sign?  It’s a fair question.  Answers might be: to direct people; to attract people’s attention; to let people know where your business resides; to communicate your product to potential customers.  The reasons businesses need signs are as varied as the businesses themselves.  But the overall reason a business needs a sign is so people remember it.   

People will remember a well-placed and well-designed sign that helps them locate a business.  If they can’t find you because you have poor signage, the result will be a frustrated customer.  They will grouse to your staff, complain to their friends, tarnish your good business reputation.  A custom sign for your business will leave a lasting impression and get the entire experience off on the right foot.

Today’s newest materials for custom signs include High Density Urethane or HDU, a material that is designed to look like wood.  HDU is lighter than wood and more weather resistant, so it requires less maintenance.  It can be painted or stained to give the impression of age or a more beautiful wood finish.  Unlike wood, it is resistant to rot and insect pests, so it will last longer and maintain its characteristics.  HDU material can still be hand-painted in any color, carved to look three-dimensional or gilded with gold or silver.  It still gives the impression of wood, but the material simply makes the sign last longer and look better.  A better looking sign makes a better memory for your customers.  That’s a good reason to have a sign.

Make It A Banner Year

Friday, January 11, 2013

Whether you’re thinking about indoor or outdoor signage this year, don’t discount the value of banners.  They are a great way to make a statement, and their flexibility is endless.  They are portable, reusable and attractive.  If you need portable signage, new materials make banners lightweight and easy to ship or carry.  Banners are also cost-effective due to their reuse factor.  Done properly, a banner identifies your company name, logo and contact information and can be used to maintain your image again and again.

One of this year’s trends promises to be fabric banners.  The material makes the banner flexible enough to wrap around corners or fold easily, yet the banners are sturdy enough to withstand outdoor weather.  Outdoor banners can be lit from the front or back, and with the new translucent fabrics, lighting special effects are possible with just a little experimentation.  Indoors, lighting can also make the banner look more effective.  Your Harford County sign professional can give you tips on lighting as well as recommend the best type of fabric for the printing process.

Select a short message and your company name and logo, rather than a text-heavy banner that readers have to strain to read.  Graphic designers at your professional sign manufacturer are trained to create succinct, eye-catching messages.  In addition, they will work both with your business color palette and the color palettes at the banner location.  For outdoor banners, coordinate the color palette with the season.  Indoors, coordinate with the décor.  

Banners can be flexible, cost-effective and contemporary for your signage needs.  Contact a Harford County signage professional today.

Signage Industry Predictions 2013

Sunday, January 06, 2013

As is common in most industries at the start of the New Year, we have some comments on the market trends for 2013.  Experts across the board have weighed in, and we’ve looked at where we think the hot items will be.  We offer a short list of predictions:

  • Digital Signage and more digital signage – This market continues its growth.  Harford County businesses are realizing the cost-effectiveness of digital signage both indoors and outdoors.  Banks, restaurants, schools and churches are among the early-adopters, and we predict more will come on board this year.  Those early adopters will do even more with their digital signage.
  • Big screens - At retail, digital signage is being used to deliver a marketing and advertising strategy that drives consumers to purchase.  It will become more interactive for consumers and point-of-purchase signage will be important.
  • Small screens - Advertisers and marketers will try to reach consumers on mobile devices – from phones to tablets.  Again, interactive and targeted, the messages will be developed and delivered using data collected from all the “Smart” devices. 
  • Sleek materials – Lest we lament the demise of static signage, the market is still rich with opportunities.  The advent of sleek materials, like fabric for outdoor banners, will dominate the marketplace this year.
  • New applications for tried and true – We’ll see innovations and new uses for already successful applications like vehicle wraps and window cling signage.  The materials will be used in new markets and to reach new customers.  

Harford County sign companies will be thinking out of the box for customers and will suggest innovative ways to use current signage techniques.

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.

Backwards and Forwards – At A Glance

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Early in 2012, as in most industries, experts gave their predictions on the direction of the signage industry.  While the thoughts were varied, the list of trends most often included an increased prevalence of digital signage, one-way vision window graphics, vehicle wraps and the advancement of large format digital printing.  

Digital signage certainly has grown.  We’re seeing more of it around Harford and Baltimore Counties – both indoors and outdoors.  From health clubs to banks, businesses are learning about the flexibility of digital signage and the advertising benefits it holds.  Maryland sign companies can thank the electronics industry for its ultra-thin, affordable displays created specifically for this market.  We can give credit to computer and switching manufacturers who have also provided easy-to-use packages of hardware and software for creating digital signage content.  Looking forward, this industry will continue to flourish, and become more affordable.

The newest trends in printing have caught the attention of most sign manufacturers.  One-way vision window graphics and large format digital printing are both great advances in sign printing.  The materials used and the crisp, clear images make signs come alive like never before.  We think these two areas will continue to thrive in the coming year as more and more businesses realize the trend.  

Vehicle wraps have also found new markets this year, as predicted.  They’re not just used by the car enthusiast anymore.  They can make your vehicle a moving billboard while protecting the paint at the same time.  The materials used to make the wraps also make the graphics so clear and natural that heads turn no matter where the vehicle goes.

Looking ahead to 2013, we think these areas will continue to grow and Maryland sign manufacturers will bring the newest, high-quality materials to more businesses across the state.

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