Does your sign convey your desired message?

Every now and then – or possibly a little more often – we need to INSPECT our #signs to make sure that our #signs convey the message we WANT, INTEND and EXPECT.
I was driving down a main road and saw two #signs. The one is for a church. The other is a respected medical group that has emergency facilities.  Both of them were adorned by a squatter – a well printed paper sticker that promises to heal your every ailment while taking care of your PEN!S ENLARGEMENT.

While the sticker is not official and is not condoned, it is important for the #sign owners – both the Church and the medical facility – to ensure that their #signs are (a) clean, (b) maintained and (c) conveying the desired message, especially through association, as I don’t think they would get too much positive mileage from associating with sellers of snake oil and false hope.
This may seem funny to anyone who has signs that are out of reach, but the same principal applies – if you have a broken, dirty or faded #sign and the illumination is malfunctioning, does the sign convey the message you intend?
For assistance with maintaining your #signs and keeping a ledger of your #sign assets, call SignForce on +27 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za

How do I know what sign would work best for my business?

How do I know what sign would work best for my business?

This is not a simple question to answer.

What will work best for one business may not work best for another business or even a similar business in a different location.

When deciding what sign or signs will work best for your business, it is worth getting input from a signage professional (we have a few at SignForce) who can advise on the different types of signs while taking heed of your budget and what you intend for your sign to achieve.

A general guideline is that your sign needs to STAND OUT, be VISIBLE and convey your intended MESSAGE in a manner that will make the sign achieve it’s intended objective.

If you are a retail outlet, your sign requirements are generally also be dictated by your landlord, especially in malls or shopping centers.

As a general rule illuminated signs work better when the light projects through the face of the sign, as opposed to the sign being HALO illuminated, where the light is reflected of the backing BEHIND the sign, especially if the sign is required to be read from a distance.

In addition to location and landlord requirements, what sign will work best for your business will depend on (1) your budget, (2) where the signs are to be located – for example not all retail outlets allow for the sign to project from the outlet, (3) what message you want the sign to deliver and (4) how far from the signs the reader needs to read the sign.

For a no obligation consultation to assist you to find what signs will best fit your budget and work best for your business contact SignForce now on 0861 744 636 or +27 (0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za

How SHOULD signs be cleaned?

How SHOULD signs be cleaned, aka How do we clean our signs?

Lets start off by stating that it is always best to get in a professional SIGN company to clean your signs. This does not include simply dusting a sign which the business cleaner can – and should – do.

When referring to CLEANING of signs we are referring to when the sign needs to be (a) physically handled and / or (b) will have chemicals touching the sign and / or (c) may require the sign to be opened and / or moved.

While it may seem expensive to get a sign company that does sign cleaning in to clean your signs, the cost is generally far lower than replacing ANY ELEMENT of the sign. For example, if the sign cleaner touches and cracks a sign, or puts too much pressure on a pin and breaks the pin off the sign, or the sign cleaner uses the incorrect chemicals which can either drastically reduce the life of the sign or break it. It is quite something to see an Acrylic sign shatter, but not something that you want to happen because you have used the wrong chemical or chemicals.

If you are going to try clean your own signs it is generally best to stick to water and a dish washing detergent, using a SOFT, NON-ABRASIVE cloth. Handle the sign lightly and remember to remove ALL residue of the chemicals when finished cleaning otherwise the sign WILL streak and look tatty.

For more information on or assistance with cleaning your signs contact Arnold of SignForce now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za

What defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

#SignForce has recently completed a #sign that took W A Y longer than expected or planned to manufacture because of an issue with the painting of the logo.

Somehow the base of the sign got ‘damaged’, and then when it was painted there were distinct ‘sanding’ scratches in the paint.  Well it took a number (about 12) coats of paint to get the sign to a level where we were happy with the quality of the paint work.

Unfortunately our celebrations were short lived because as the sign was about to be shipped we noticed that the paint was ‘reacting’ with itself.  This at a time when the client HAD to have the sign delivered so we did not have the time to start over before we delivered.

Turns out the client is happy with the quality, but was more upset with the delay in the sign been installed.  Which begs the question, what defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

My thinking has always been that at #SignForce we strive to achieve a level of quality that exceeds our clients expectations (sadly we don’t always get it right but we aim for it), because we want the signs to meet OUR expectations, which are invariably higher than our client’s expectations.  Reflecting on this I have realized that the manufacturing staff strive to achieve a level of ‘perfection’ that will be positively judged by their peers, not only our clients.

This was reinforced by talking to some people in the industry who have this great wallpaper in their office.  At first glance the wallpaper is brilliant, however when I pointed out that there was an ‘issue’ with the height of one letter (the height of the letter on the one side of the overlap is about 6 mm smaller than the height of the letter on the other side). This boils down to the line being about 3 mm out, an ‘almost’ imperceptible variance, but one that (apparently) is constantly noticed by people in the trade.

As mentioned, while we at #SignForce do not always get it right, we do our best and sometimes have to do the work over a number of times, in order to ensure that we are happy with the quality of the work we produce.

If you are in the market for #signs, any sign to make your business visible, contact David or Arnold at #SignForce and we will do our best to assist you.

Why rushing when making a business sign is almost a GUARANTEE of failure

Rushing a sign – Almost a guarantee to make a mess

I love the saying “ the quality is generally remembered long after the headache of the delay “

We believe every non-cyber business needs a sign – and even some cyber businesses – need a sign. As the true, old adage goes – A Business Without A Sign Is A Sign Of No Business 

However, because we believe that all businesses need a sign does not mean that everyone agrees, especially when setting up the business and planning a budget. As such, we often see businesses that only remember they need a sign the day before they open their doors, when their budget has been depleted, and then they expect us to deliver their quality, complex sign the next day. 

Most people do not understand what makes a sign work, and they do not understand the process that goes into making a sign. While this is as it should be, it does bring it’s own challenges, especially in this modern world of IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION where many people believe that they can simply make a call or send an email and their custom sign – custom design, custom colours, custom size – will pop off the shelf and be ready in a matter of hours – which is not always realistic or possible as most components are HAND MADE.

The process involved in making signs is generally a very simple one consisting of a number of time consuming, labour intensive steps.

  1. The sign needs to be designed. Even when our clients have and supply a logo, very often the logo is not in a format that we can manufacture from. This takes a designer time to prepare.

  2. The sign needs to be manufactured. Depending on the sign this process can consist of computerized and / or manual labour. When manual labour is involved each component is made by hand, and this takes time to get a quality finish.

  3. When necessary the sign needs to be coloured to match the client’s colour specifications. Another manual, time consuming and labour intensive process.

  4. The sign needs to be prepared for installation – to ensure that the sign looks like the client’s name and / or logo and ensure that the image the sign projects is as per the client’s expectations. Another time consuming, manual labour process.

  5. If the sign needs to be illuminated the entire process of wiring and connecting the lights is a time consuming, labour intensive process.  
  6. Finally the sign needs to be installed, which is ALWAYS a time consuming, manual process.

As can be seen from this extremely oversimplified list, there are generally a number of manual, time consuming, labour intensive processes involved in the production of every sign.

It is because of the manual component that rushing a sign is more often than not a guaranteed recipe for something to GO WRONG, for the finished product to be poor quality, and ultimately for the sign to be rejected.

It is always advisable to ASK your sign maker HOW LONG they expect it will take to make and install your sign, then, unless they have a guarantee associated with the deadlineadd in a few days to make sure that you can realistically plan for when the sign will be installed.

For signs with a GUARANTEED deadline contact us at SignForce. We design, manufacture and install your quality signs, starting with the view that your successful sign needs to deliver on your expectations.

Call now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za

You can also view our gallery at http://www.signforce.co.za/gallery.php or view pictures at Google+https://plus.google.com/b/118104575416251079229/+SignforceCoZaforbestsigns or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/SignForceSouthAfrica

#SignForce  #BusinessSigns  #Signs

Is SIGN QUALITY more, as or less important than PRICE

Is quality dead and should it be buried?

Riding the emotional roller coaster that is life, especially in the soft economy that we are currently experiencing in South Africa in 2014, I have been wondering more and more about whether people are becoming so desensitized and expecting of poor service and poor quality that they are simply no longer prepared to BUY QUALITY and would rather look at the short term cost.

At SignForce we focus on giving advice and delivering the best quality signs we can. When we offer advice it is because we believe the signs we recommend will IMPROVE OUR CLIENT’S BUSINESS – and we want our clients to GROW so we can grow with them.

There have been occasions when we have advised against our client’s buying certain signs because we look at our clients business as our own, and if we feel we would not spend OUR money on a specific sign, then we advise our clients AGAINST spending their money.

In general we have found this works for SignForce because it entrenches SignForce’s integrity and ensures that the advice we offer is in our client’s best interest. We are very aware that we are not always correct, but we do bring a number of years of marketing studies and practical experience to the table, so more often than not our advice WORKS.

Of course going to site to assess and offer the advice comes at a cost, and more and more of late we are finding that prospects are looking to us for the advice yet not going with SignForce for the final manufacture and installation of the signs because they can show our designs – designs which incorporate our advice, experience and expertise – to our competitors who may use different materials and then charge less for the final product.

Yes, it is true we do charge a small premium for our advice and expertise, but more importantly we charge because we only believe in using QUALITY products, and we believe our advise and products will earn the small premium we charge back to our clients over and over and over again. We also honor our guarantees, we carry insurance and we pay our staff a fair, living wage. We also build in a small fee because we are very aware that if we called ourselves a DESIGN or BRAND SPECIALIST company this would be the norm, but for some reason the sign industry’s design aspect – one of our highest costs – seems to be viewed and expected as a ‘free service’. Any idea’s on how we can change this perception will be greatly appreciated.

That we lose jobs and long standing clients to competitors who do not necessarily use the same structural designs or materials we do but DO come in at lower prices makes me wonder if we are not nurturing our relationships enough or if our prospects are simply becoming more and more price sensitive to the point where they are prepared to invest in the same sign more than once over the expected life of the sign simply to save a buck now. (SignForce have seen time and time again the HIGHER long term cost of using lower cost materials which is why we do not).  Are SignForce in fact farting against thunder by believing in quality and service? Does the market dictate that we join the masses and ignore quality?

If you are in the market for professional looking, quality signs, or simply require advice [you are prepared to pay for] on how best to get your business seen – email arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.zausing the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

http:www.signforce.co.za

Does the African Sun affect the life of a sign?

Does the African SUN truly affect the life of a sign?

The short answer is YES.

The attached photo’ is of a sign in Johannesburg. This is not one of SignForce’s customers, but it is a brilliant sign to demonstrate the drastic effect the sun can have on a sign.

Digital print; large signs, pylons, billboards

How drastic is the effect of the African sun on a digital print

Some background.

The sign was installed about two years ago, and is a full colour digital print. I do not know what printer was used, although for this article that is not relevant, as although different printers may have different life expectancy’s, it can be assumed that both prints were printed on the same machine, so they should have the same life expectancy.

The ‘white’ face is north facing, and the ‘yellow’ face is west facing. The big difference is that the north facing sign gets full sun the whole day and the west facing sign, while it gets the strong ‘western’ sun, only gets sun exposure for about four hours a day.

The results are evident in the difference in colour of the two faces of the sign.

In Southern Africa a digital print is only expected to last a maximum of three years, with the life expectancy being dependent on:

  1. The colours that are used – reds and lighter colours will fade quicker,
  2. The printer being used – at SignForce we mostly use a Roland VP540 with original inks that are shown to last better than most in the harsh African sun, and
  3. The position of the sign, including daily length of time the sun will be exposed to the sun.

Although it may not be a financially viable option, when a sign has no half-tones (that is no shadings) and if the design is uncomplicated, the life expectancy of the sign can be increased by using cut vinyl, that has a life expectancy of between five and seven years. As mentioned, it may not be financially viable as even with inflation linked increased printing costs, it may be more cost effective for the sign to be reprinted every 30 to 42 months, with a fresh face and possibly even a fresh design improving the signs return on investment.

For further information on the digital printing, or if you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VALUE”, or if you would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while considering any funds you spend on marketing and signs as an investment, contact the writer now at arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.zaand use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE.

How do I choose a sign supplier #2?

Illuminated signs

The same sign during the day and at night

Choosing a sign supplier #2, or how do you know what you are getting when you decide on your sign supplier?

I recently saw this sign at night – there is a photo attached. Big deal. I see this sign often – during the day, BUT, during the day the sign is very different.

I must say up front that SignForce did not make this sign. I am not making that statement because the sign is poorly made or is an example of a poorly made sign, quite the contrary. On the number of occasions I have seen this sign I have generally been impressed by it’s size and the seemed quality of it’s manufacture.

Seeing the sign at night got me thinking (again) about the components that go into the manufacturing of a sign, and the resultant costs associated with the manufacture and sale of the sign.

With signage it is ‘sometimes’ possible to compare “apples” with “apples”, especially when the signs are simple – say a Chromadek sign decorated with cut vinyl, yet even then the quality and life expectancy of the cut vinyl decoration can vary from six months to five to seven years, with the longer life vinyl having a higher input cost than the short term vinyl. The same applies when looking at outdoor digital prints, as not all inks or full colour printers are created equal, with some inks having longer life expectancy than others. And all this is for ‘simple’ signs.

When signs get more complicated – be it because the sign is illuminated or fabricated or on pins or painted or has been through one or more of a number of processes that result in the final finished product that you see – the situation can get exceptionally murky when comparing one supplier to another.

In order to keep this article short(ish), this article I will only cover illumination. I will cover fabrication – materials and processes, letters on pins and bonding components, paints – the various types and processes, and any other elements in separate articles.

Looking at the attached photo’s you can see that during the day the sign looks great. It is big and bold and tells any potential clients where the store is. It projects a professional, clean image and fits the available space well.

Looking at the same sign at night, when the lights are on, a lot of the professionalism that the sign projects during the day is lost. This is because at night, when illuminated the sign looks dull and dirty, and for me personally, being able to count the tubes inside means that it is most likely I will not actually be looking at the sign or it’s intended message, but I am more likely to spend my time getting the subliminal message that the sign, and thus the business it represents, is ‘cheap’ and dirty, and very likely not going to make my visit pleasurable.

Now these messages are generally not conscious, but they are subliminal (unconscious), which possibly makes them even stronger than the conscious, intended messages that the sign was designed to project. Now it is very easy to say the sign company is at fault for the sign looking bad (and they should possibly carry a portion of the responsibility), or to say that the store staff and management are ‘obviously’ unaware or unobservant or uncaring so they should be responsible, but in reality the staff either see the sign daily and are not noticing the progressive deterioration and / or the sign was ‘like that’ when they started working there or they may leave work before the sign comes on. [All positive arguments why businesses should enter into sign maintenance contracts with businesses like SignForce where we will independently and objectively check on the sign at regular, predetermined intervals, with reports and photo’s been provided.]

While it is easy to ‘blame’ all and sundry for the deterioration of the sign, the truth is that the sign will deteriorate over time, and it is a combination of ALL the factors mentioned above – as well as a number of other possible factors – that will lead to the sign looking as it does at night.

Now getting back to the issue at hand, deciding on a sign supplier, some of the ‘obvious’, visible (to sign suppliers) issues are that there are not enough florescent tubes and, as importantly, especially over a period of time, the placement of the said tubes.

In order for a sign to illuminate evenly so that the tubes cannot be seen three factors need to be considered. 1. The proximity of the tubes to the face of the sign. Tubes that are less than 70 mm have a great possibility of being visible, unless 2. The number of tubes is high. If there are tubes right next to the face, and the tubes are all almost touching each other, the light will be great, but the cost will be VERY high. 3. The third factor is the placement of the tubes. While it may be possible to use less tubes if the tubes are placed vertically, and there are times when there is no alternative but to place the tubes vertically, the reality is that the tubes run off gas, and when not in use, the gas will fall to the bottom of the tube. Over time, as the tube gets older, the gas no longer ignites as efficiently or brightly as when new. While this will happen to al tubes, it happens to vertical tubes noticeably faster.

It seems obvious to me, and I will thus assume all, that the number of tubes has a direct impact on the final cost of the sign. Since most businesses are cost sensitive, it is very likely that a supplier like SignForce, who as a matter of course, use more electronic over magnetic ballasts and place all tubes horizontally, will come in more costly than a supplier that uses magnetic ballasts and places the tubes vertically. As a rule SignForce also place tubes no more than 150 mm apart.

While electronic ballasts may cost more initially, over the five year expected life of a sign, there is a far greater possibility that a magnetic ballast failing, and an even greater possibility of the manual ‘starter’ failing, so in reality the additional cost of replacing and maintaining the electrics at least once over the life of the ‘cheaper’ sign should be costed into the initial costs, but this is seldom done, if ever.

As mentioned earlier, placing the tubes vertically may mean that the initial outlay for sign will be lower, but once again, the cost of maintenance, and almost unmeasurable reputation cost also need to be factored in.

Also as mentioned earlier, SignForce did not manufacture or install this sign, so without any knowledge of the client’s budget, or the size of the sign, I can only assume that SignForce may have used somewhere around the same number of tubes as have been used, but simply placing them horizontally should have resulted in a longer life of the tubes and thus better night visibility of the sign.

If you are in the market for professional looking illuminated signs that can be considered an investment in marketing, contact SignForce now on info@signforce for advice and / or an obligation free quote

 

 

What makes up the cost of a sign?

What makes up a sign’s cost?

This comment could be viewed as a follow up to the article ‘Are All Signs the Same’, because it stems from a similar thought.

Not only are all signs not the same, even when they look the same, the materials used to manufacture the signs can vary extensively.

A client asked me to replace a fallen letter on a sign consisting of a number of cut out letters. He sent me a blurry photo (taken while he was driving past the sign) so I thought it would be best for me to go see exactly what needed to be replaced. I went to the site to take measurements and photo’s, and when on site I touched one of the remaining letters of the sign and it fell off the wall. I subsequently removed the sign to repaint and re-secure it. When I returned it to the factory the first thing that was pointed out to me was that the paint was pealing BECAUSE the Aluminium had not been primed. A simple oversight?

In general the cost of a sign consists of the cost of material plus the cost of labor plus a margin for profit plus a contribution to overheads and such.

While there are a number of factors that contribute to the material cost – one tends to pay more for longer lasting material, material cost is generally 30 – 40% of the final cost of a sign. That said, if the cost of material can be kept down – either by getting larger discounts from suppliers OR by using cheaper material OR by leaving out steps in the process (regardless of the long term consequences), the business can make larger profits.

Sadly the thinking of many (sign) businesses is that they need to sell one level of quality but deliver a lesser quality, and although the material costs are not the largest single contributor to costs, they are the first and possibly easiest to be cut back on, as the sign maker knows that generally, by the time the ‘omission’ has been discovered the guarantee (assuming there is one) would have expired.

While it is possible for oversights to happen in any business – the reasons for oversights varying from lack of supervision to lack of training to lack of time and many more – if the oversight is that, an oversight, then it can and should be chalked up to an avoidable error.

The difficulty for new clients is to determine how often ‘oversights’ happen, and if any necessary re-do’s have been costed into the original quote – if it is not in the original costing the chances are the supplier will never come back.

While oversights can and do happen, even with the best of manufacturers and processes, from the buyers side, while it is almost always tempting to choose the ‘cheapest’ supplier, the buyer should always be aware that when a sign seems like a bargain, as with almost everything in life, there could well be hidden costs that you will only become aware of later, possibly too late.

It can thus be seen that not all signs are necessarily created equal, not all costing methods are the same and not all material inputs are of the same quality. Here are an additional three reasons why sign buyers are encouraged to improve their understanding about the signs they require, and also to stick with sign companies that have a reputation, or at least one with references that can be checked, and one who is known to honour their guarantees. If a sign company is not prepared to offer any guarantee why are you even considering using them?

If you are in the market for professional looking signs that are made using the material that has been quoted, or simply require advice on what signs may best market your business, email arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.za using the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE

http:www.signforce.co.za

What type of sign does my business need?

What kind of sign does my business need?

One of the most important decisions that you can make about your business signs is ‘What  kind of sign’ is going to be best for your business taking into account:

(a) what the sign is intended to achieve,

(b) your businesses location and

(c) your budget.

While it may seem ‘obvious’ that as your sign supplier I want you to spend as much as possible on your sign, it is important for me to remember that it is not about me, but rather what is best for your business and from SignForce’s perspective, our future relationship as your business grows and prospers.

I find it is ALWAYS best to start with knowing and understanding what your sign needs to achieve.

If, for example, your sign is intended solely to make a statement that YOU as a business “HAVE ARRIVED”, then an excessively large sign may work and do well to get your desired message across. If, on the other hand you want people to see your sign as an invitation to visit and come into your premises, then the said large sign may result in you spending more than was necessary, and may be costing you business by dissuading potential customers from entering your premises because the sign is not the correct type of sign for your intended target market.

Generally signs will be used to invite, inform, direct and persuade potential readers.

An example of a sign that ‘invites‘ could be a store front sign that is intended to ‘invite’ the reader into your store. Because the sign is intended to invite the reader into your store, the sign needs to be able to stand out from the surrounding signs and environment. For example, if your store sells fast food in the fast food area of a shopping mall, and your competitors all have beautifully decorated illuminated signs, unless your sign is equally beautiful and illuminated, possibly with an additional dimension like flashing lights or a lifestyle picture showing someone enjoying one of your meals, the chances are that your potential clients will overlook your sign and your business, thus potentially costing you money. While ‘invitational’ signs can be decorated Chromadek (treated metal), this is often not allowed by shopping centers, and may not achieve your desired effect. Often fabricated,3D signs are used for invitational signs.

 An example of a sign intended to ‘inform‘ is a street sign or a warning sign. These signs are intended to ‘inform ‘ drivers of impending dangers or of changes in road conditions or of upcoming situations, such as a guarded intersection, an unguarded intersection, a traffic light or hidden access to the road. Information signs are usually large and generally made from the most cost effective material that will achieve the objective of getting the desired message across while at the same time having the desired life span, which depends a lot on the climatic conditions where the sign is to be installed.

 Signs that are intended to ‘direct‘ include motorway and highway signs – such as directing readers to keep in the right lane to go to Timbuktu and keep left to go to Cape Town. Directional signs, like directory signs, also assist readers to get to where they are looking to go. Like information signs, Directional signs are usually made from the most cost effective material that will achieve the objective of getting the desired message across while at the same time having the desired life span, which depends a lot on the climatic conditions where the sign is to be installed. Directional signs, especially those that are indoors, also offer the opportunity for designers to integrate the signs into the aesthetics of the building and office environment, so the range of possible materials is large and could include wood, plastics, metal or glass, or a combination of all of these.

Directional and directory signs can begin doing their intended work when entering a premises – with say a sign reading RECEPTION with an arrow directing people to the reception, followed by a directory board in the reception – with the directory board informing the reader which wing, floor and room the reader is intending to visit.

Lastly an example of a sign intended to ‘persuade‘ could be a in-store poster or a billboard sign showing a product, such as a sign showing how a specific brand of washing powder will wash whiter and brighter than a competing brand. The message is intended to persuade the reader to buy and try the advertised product.

All of the above must take into consideration your budget as well as what return is expected – measured in terms of any of the following: number of feet, increase sales, decreased complaints, decreased incidents and accidents, or a combination of all of these. The most common upmarket signs that are used to persuade tend to have a metal (aluminum) frame with the printed message printed onto a gloss paper or vinyl. The material used would depend on the look and feel of the store as well as the intended target market.

By now I am sure you understand that while there may be a standard, off the shelf solution to your question as to “what type of sign does my business need”, there are many variations, answers and opinions to the answer the question. For this reason, as well as all the reasons given above, or if you are unsure of what sign you are looking for, or which sign would best achieve your intended objective, calling a SignForce sign consultant to get an expert opinion can reduce your stress and help you make an informed decision.

If you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VALUE”, and would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while considering any funds you spend on marketing and signs as an investment, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will gladly assist and advise you.