Is my low tech #Sign job in jeopardy?

Is my low tech #sign JOB in jeopardy?

With all the advances made in technology, especially with relation to the #sign industry, there are times that I wonder if I am in danger of losing my job to a computer. This may happen as artificial intelligence (commonly known as AI) improves, but I am not sure how creative AI thinking is. While there are times I get concerned about the value I add to my client’s and thus about my job security, there are also times when I think – or realize – that as much as technology improves, there are certain skills that simply require ‘out of the box’ thinking.

For me this was highlighted when two incidents happened within fairly close proximity to each other.

The first was a YouTube video I saw and the other was a job I was asked to print. The video is by a somewhat radical news reader, @Liz_Wheeler from TIPPING POINT on OAN who is not scared to ask very hard questions – she doesn’t always answer them – but the fact she stirs the pot should create enough fodder for some interesting dialog. The particular idea I am referring to can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLAS_p-6Rnc where Liz takes an extreme view on how far the ‘trans’ movement can or should be pushed. In particular she makes the comment “can a teenager buy alcohol because he identifies as over 21 years of age”. This got me thinking about how young adults are viewed and treated in society at large, in MY society in particular and how, being so much more tech savvy, they could replace this old goat.

The second was when my son asked me to print a graphic for a school project. The graphic is a beautiful design that was done by a 14 year old class mate. The design is beautiful and one can easily see the thought and effort that has gone into the design, and I am sure that once printed, the design will achieve the desired objective and help sell products at the school’s market day.

What got my brain linking the two was the lack of ability of the tech savvy 14 year old to complete the task  – something which I have seen numerous times with well respected designers who, while they can make the design come to life on paper or a screen, are unsure how to get the design to come TO LIFE if a 3D model of the design needs to be produced.

The ability of a designer to get their brilliant design off a piece of paper and onto a 3D model is, sadly, much rarer than one would imagine, and as such, the FEAR that MY #sign job is in jeopardy of being lost to a less expensive, much more sophisticated software package is certainly reduced.

If you have a brilliant design that you want made into a 3D model, contact us st #SignForce where we have almost two decades of experience making 3D masterpieces from beautiful paper designs.

Contact us now on + 27 (0)11 440 7525 / 4 or arnold@signforce.co.za

How BIG must my sign be?

How LARGE MUST my sign be? What size sign will best convey my message? From how far will people be able to read my sign?

These are questions we often get asked. As a joke, we tend to advise clients that, as a rule of thumb, (a) the bigger the better and (b) the sign should be as large as your budget allows. (Please note this IS a joke and while it is valid for outdoor signs, is not always best for intimate signs, where too big becomes gaudy.)

In truth, if a sign NEEDS to be visible from a specific distance – because it is located on the side of the road or it will only be viewed from moving vehicles or the sign is some distance from the point where it will be read (to name three of many scenario’s), then there are some rough scientific calculations that can be used to calculate the height the text needs to be in order for the text to be visible from a specific distance, as well as from a distance at speed. Please remember, at best, these calculations are rough guide, as they do not take into account ALL factors that affect visibility, especially height above the viewer.

The table below has been adapted from information taken from signsnow.com. For more in depth calculations, especially for measuring legible distance while driving, please visit https://www.usscfoundation.org/USSCSignLegiRulesThumb.pdf

It is important to remember that the table below refers to LETTER height ONLY. This means that if you have multiple lines of text or multiple words or either of these combined with a logo, the SIZE of THE SIGN will change, with the dependent factor being the DISTANCE at which the TEXT must be legible.

legible sign distance

For assistance for any signs, especially when you need to calculate sign size in order to make the sign legible, please call #SignForce on + 27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5 or email arnold@signforce.co.za

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 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

Business Signs that are Too Good To Be True

Reading an article in Fortune (European edition,  2 February 2015, number 1) about “The fund that was too good to be true” – a story about a financial firm that was bound to make investors rich because they had discovered a “new” matrix to predict and win from market movements.
Schemes like this  have been around since the beginning of time and tend to thrive because of people’s ego and greed.

I try to teach my children and students to question everything they are told and read and see – including what I tell them and to question the content AS WELL AS motives and validity of information, as I believe this is the only way to satisfy oneself that what you are being “sold” is true and valid, so you are more likely to ‘get’ what you are ‘sold’.

That got me thinking about the Latin phrase “Caveat emptor” defined by Wikipedia as “kævɛɑːt ˈɛmptɔr/ is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”[1] (from caveat, “may he beware”, the subjunctive of cavere, “to beware” + emptor, “buyer”).” – and had me wondering,  just how informed should or does a buyer need to be – especially when purchasing large ticket items –  and should buyers need to worry themselves about the make up if the goods (in this case business signs) they purchase – as long as the goods meet the specifications and fulfill the needs of the client.

All this thinking came about because of a sign we at #SignForce are refurbishing a large, high ticket business sign.  When we opened the sign the internal workings and ‘creative’ system that got the sign illuminated were ingenious,  however, if the client had been more aware that the sign could not be maintained, as well as of the make up of the sign, I have to question if they would have been happy to pay the full fee for, or even accepted, the sign.

At #SignForce we believe in and strive to educate,  be transparent and working with you,  our client,  to make sure you get what we have sold.  We are not perfect so we don’t always get it right, but that is what we strive for.

For more on how #SignForce can assist you with your large and small sign requirements,  call us on + 27 ( 0 ) 11 440 7425 or email david@signforce.co.za or arnold@signforce.co.za

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

Soccer and signs

With the 2014 soccer world cup in full swing, what – if anything – can we learn from the soccer, especially in relation to signage.

What we all know we can learn is that no matter how well you play, if you bite your opponents you WILL be excommunicated from your environment, as certain taboo behavior does tend to be frowned upon by the world at large.

We can see, if we watch ANY of the games, that SIGNAGE is HUGE in the world cup.  EVERY pitch is surrounded by digital billboards with scrolling (altering) messages.  It is no secret that the advertisers pay top dollar to get their messages seen, and we have to believe that the businesses with the large advertising budgets know and have tested the value of SIGN advertising.

While your sign location may not get the billion plus viewings every 90 minutes, if you have a sign that is easily legible, well positioned and has a clear message – including a call to action where possible – your sign will most likely turn out to be an invaluable investment.  There is a good reason that signs are referred to as THE SILENT SALESMAN.

If you are looking to increase your business, using signs that WORK is an excellent investment.  To assist you with your investment contact SignForce and we will gladly advise and get you a free, no obligation quote.

 

Do quality and reputation count more in a soft economy?

Does quality and reputation count, especially in a soft economy?

At the risk of being eaten alive by our competitors and associates, it is difficult to admit that the signage industry in South Africa (I don’t know enough about the rest of the world to assume they are the same) is a poorly perceived industry, with an image that is on a par with used car salesmen.

While this reputation may not be entirely deserved, because there are a number of astute, extremely professional artisans and business people in the industry, as with every industry (and every facet of life) it only takes a small percentage of a population to taint the reminder of the industry. (I have read that it only takes 5% of a population to be lawless for the entire population to be viewed as lawless and the society as being in anarchy).

With this in mind, one should be extremely astute when looking for a sign supplier. It is not all about cost (well at least it should not be) but also about potential quality. Unfortunately while cost is associated with quality, and it is true, better material and better staff do come at a higher cost, a higher price does not necessarily always translate into better quality.

At SignForce we INTENTIONALLY only use quality products from reputable suppliers that we know will (mostly) work as the manufacturers promise in their marketing material. We took the decision to stick with one range of quality materials many years ago when a staff member made a simply mistake and used a six month vinyl on a sign that should have been decorated with seven year vinyl. The reason for the mistake was a simple lack of concentration as the ONLY way for the life of the vinyl to be identified was the colour of the lines on the paper on the rear of the vinyl.

I mention this as there are a number of unscrupulous suppliers who, in order to make an extra buck, will sell a seven year vinyl, and supply a vinyl with a shorter life. If we as sign suppliers cannot simply identify the life of a vinyl from the front, there is no way that you as a client will be able to know in the first three to six months, but will find out soon enough when the vinyl starts shrinking, peeling or cracking. Then the real fun begins and this is where reputation and time in the market count.

You purchased a seven year vinyl, so you contact the supplier – who nine times out of ten – turns out to be untraceable, so you end up having to remake or refurbish your signs, at YOUR, additional cost.

As mentioned, reputation is important. Like no long term marriage will have no disagreements, it is highly unlikely that any business that has been around for many years will not have some disgruntled clients, if history is what we judge a behavior or trends by (and it tends to be) then if a supplier has shown in the past that they honour their guarantees, you can assume that, all things remaining equal, the company will continue to honour it’s commitments.

Of course there are costs associated with longer life materials, guarantees, better staff and honouring agreements, so one has to ask, if the potentially higher cost is worth incurring, or stated differently, does quality count?

One has to ask what is the value of the potential piece of mind? Is it worth the additional cost NOW to potentially have a sign that will last longer, or at least deliver as promised? This is a question that is more pertinent in a soft economy when every cent seems to be harder to come by, and when, in the long run, the additional cost may in fact save one a LOT of money.

If you are in the market for quality signs, contact SignForce on info@signforce.co.za or +27 (0) 11 440 7525 and we will do our best to assist you by delivering what we promise at fair value.

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.