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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

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.

Exhibit Your Signs

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trade show displays are one of the places we’re bombarded with signage.  Every angle and every corner has some type of sign – banners, neon, digital and more.  There are wrapped cars, flashing lights and sparkling words.  Trade show booth signage is shouting, “Look at ME!” 

To cut through the clutter, you can use trade show signage in both obvious and subtle ways.  First, work with a Maryland sign company to create a custom sign that identifies your booth.  Existing customers will recognize the sign and stop by.  The same custom signage can be eye-catching for new customers.  It can simply be your company name or logo in a tasteful sign material that portrays the personality of your company.  For example, if you are a high-tech company or have several messages to communicate, consider digital signage.  It has the flexibility of multiple messages as well as the impact of moving video.  If budget is not an obstacle, a video wall is high-impact and attention-getting.  

Choose trade show backdrops that are durable and clean-looking.  The “less is more” approach is a good one, because it will help you to cut through the clutter and be remembered.  Instead of customers trying to recall all of your products and services, you’ll be memorable for your simplicity.  Finally, a subtle way to get attention at a trade show is to give away items that can become walking billboards throughout the trade show.  Bags, visors or notepads emblazoned with your logo and website or phone number are great promotional items to consider and they can easily be obtained through your Maryland signage company.  They are valuable gifts for the recipient and for you. 

As the winter trade show season approaches, plan to cut through the clutter with signage that is valuable to you and your customer.

It’s a Sign – It Makes Your Business Thrive

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why have a sign?  Well, that’s a basic question.  You can probably think of many different answers, and as a Maryland custom sign company, so can we!  The most obvious answer is awareness.  A sign lets customers know who you are, what you are and where you are.  A sign communicates with customers.  It makes your business stand out.  It even gives your business a personality.

A recent study prepared by the University of Cincinnati for the Signage Foundation Inc., showed that one of the primary reasons companies use signage is to make their businesses stand out.  They also use it for branding purposes.  Additionally, and interestingly, the study found that changing a sign can increase business by an average of 12 percent.  Businesses with new signs saw increased profits and an increase in the number of sales transactions.  The study tied the success of on-premise signage to a company’s success within a community, suggesting that town or city regulations about signage can impact the performance of some businesses.

The study also found that signage can have a positive effect on employment, with hiring increasing when on-premise signage is used.  Is it a correlation to the increased business due to good signage, perhaps?  Overall, the study showed that individual industries had success with different types of signage.  For example, a lodging chain was successful with digital signage, and a bank was most successful with pylon signage.  This is not to say that either market couldn’t handle a different type of signage, but it does give merit to the recommendations of your sign professional.  If used in the right application, signage can have a significant impact a company’s bottom line.

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.

Making Signs Work for the Holidays

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If you’re in the retail business, these weeks leading to the holidays are crucial for sales and profitability.   You can and should use signage to drive sales, but have a plan in mind.  Some tips:

  • Communicate your holiday specials or sales using bold, colorful signage that stands out from your normal signs.  Use outdoor banners, easel-type signs or point-of-purchase signs that all have a uniform look.  Your Maryland sign company can give you some ideas on holiday-themed signs.
  • Communicate sales both outside the store and inside.  Whether it’s a banner, a lighted sign or a flag, use something to get customers to take notice and enter the store.
  • If your holiday specials will be changing throughout the season, select a signage material that can also be easily changed – both from a logistics standpoint and a cost standpoint.  Consider adhesive signs or posters, or even starbursts that attach to existing signage.  This is where digital signage can really show a return on investment.  It is flexible and eye-catching, and customers readily look to it for updates, because they recognize that the technology allows for real time changes.
  • If you have small items that can be last-minute buying decisions while customers are waiting in line, label them clearly with a holiday sale sign that includes price and a call-to-action, like “Try this for a last-minute gift!”
  • If you’re supporting a local charity this season, have special signage.  Eligible merchandise should be tagged with the information, signs should call attention to it, and employees should be versed in answering questions.  In fact, they should wear buttons promoting the sale or charity that maintain the same graphic design as the floor signage.  

The more you communicate with signs, the smoother your holidays will be.

On The Outside Looking In

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You can attract customers passing by your Harford County storefront windows by using a signage technique that has been used for years on vehicles -- one-way vision window graphics.  These custom-made signs advertise your message by adhering to the window, allowing the customer to see the information while “window shopping,” but not allowing them to see into the store.  One-way vision window graphics overcome the pitfalls of a giant poster board or vinyl banner in the window, addressing challenges like darkness in the store and the inability to see out the window.  

How does it work?  Most one-way vision window graphics are made from a type of perforated vinyl – it has small holes throughout the material.  The graphic can be seen clearly on one side – the outside of the window where potential customers roam.  From inside the store, you can look out the window and see clearly what’s happening outside.  In addition, the material is light-filtering, so that daylight comes in the window.  The vinyl also uses a special adhesive that makes it easy to place and moved around, if necessary.  It’s easy to remove and cost-effective, so the graphics or message can change frequently, keeping customers coming back to see what’s new.  

One-way vision window graphics can also be designed for use on trucks, cars or vans.  This is a great way to create a moving billboard for your advertisement and maintain a safe driving environment.  With the perforated window graphics, people can see your message anywhere the vehicle goes, and you can see outside with no barriers or blind spots.  Ask your Maryland sign company for some examples of one-way vision window graphics.

BWS Offers Project Management for Updating Building Exteriors

Monday, November 19, 2012

It is always great to see a well made and installed sign when the job is finished.  But there is more to that great sign than just the manufacturing of a great sign.  It's more about the project of going from the old to the new sign and even the old look to a completely updated look.

Project Management plays a large part in the successful completion of putting in a new sign. At Blue Water Signs we bring many years of corporate project management experience to your sign project. We are experienced in bringing diverse subcontractors together to successfully complete your job.

The pictures below show the before and after of one of our latest projects, for a local Precision Tune location. We not only worked with our internal graphics team and the sign manufacturer but also our installer. We vetted a number of painting contractors and worked to to meet the corporate standards that are set for this type of installation. This was all done at the same time as keeping the customer fully updated on the progress. Weather and material arrivals have to be planned for and the team at Blue Water worked with all of these constraints to complete the project in a timely manner - and to the satisfaction of the owner/customer.

One of the special requests of the customer was to provide energy efficient security lighting when the job was complete. We searched and found high efficiency LED lighting that was placed on the corner to provide superior visibility at night. To quote the owner, "The LED's light up the lot like daylight."

Project Management is the key to a successful sign installation and at Blue Water Signs we work hard to assure your project is a success.


After Day:

After Night:

In-Store POP Signage Means In-Store Decisions

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

According to the Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) 2012 Shopper Engagement Study released recently, grocery shoppers are making more decisions in-store than ever before.  The in-store decision rate has reached an all-time high of 76 percent.  Why?  Look around your grocery store next time you’re there.  Bold signage, fancy labeling and enticing displays are everywhere.  The signage ranges from shelf talkers to digital displays, but it has one objective: communicate effectively to a captive audience.

Nearly one in six purchases of a particular brand is made when a display of that brand is in the store.  The study concluded that retailers are not taking full advantage of opportunities to increase sales through in-store marketing.  The study says “Compelling creative…can turn the subconscious shopper into a conscious shopper.”  Read:  great signage is a must.  It can change people’s minds or it can simply get their attention and the product will do the rest.  With bold, to-the-point messaging, you can reach your target shopper, and increase sales.  In the study, about 56 percent of shoppers said they did recall seeing in-store displays.  Most often remembered were end cap and free-standing displays with descriptive signage.  Finally, 66 percent of all “observed grabs” resulted in a purchase – if they picked it up, they bought it.  

Now, there’s a good reason to get the shopper’s attention and give him or her an opportunity to touch and feel the product.  Give your signs a chance to shine.  Tell your custom sign design team and they can give you the sign ideas you need, and help to build your business quickly.

What’s Hot and What’s Not in Promotional Products

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How can you tell what’s hot in your world of promotional materials?  We’ve talked about targeting your audience and choosing your promotional items to reflect your image, both in quality and market.  But what are recipients really looking for, and how do you make that work for your business? 

A study by the Advertising Specialty Institute called “Defining the Disconnect,” showed that there are discrepancies between consumer attitudes toward promotional items and what marketers are actually giving away.  For example, according to the study, brand names don’t matter as much as marketers think in promotional items.  Just over 32 percent of consumers said the brand name on a promotional item was important.  Meanwhile, over 70 percent of marketers thought it was important.  The study found that prestige brands command a higher quality promotional item.  That is, if consumers get an item from BMW, they expect higher quality.  This does link back to our recommendation that a high-quality item can enhance your brand image.  Finally, promotional products are great incentives.  The study showed that 82 percent of consumers will take surveys to get an item, 70 percent would stop by a trade show booth, and 40 percent would respond to a company on a social networking site in order to get an incentive item. 

So what’s the hot promotional item in your industry?  Here are a few we thought were unique and thought-provoking.  The banking and financial industry can count on flip calculators or coin purse key chains.  The construction industry builds business using a forklift stress buster, a level key chain or a metal tape measure.   That tape measure also sells it for realtors, as do house-shaped credit card mints.  Dentists are smiling with full-color floss, personalized toothbrush and toothpaste, or a full-color bag.  Schools and universities learn to promote themselves with backpacks, hand sanitizer and bus-shaped stress toys.  Contact your custom sign developer today to check what they think is hot in the market now.


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