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

Who advises your business on signs?

Who advises you on the signs you need?

I was recently asked to meet a prospect at their business premises where the brief was so vague that it is almost impossible to quote.

While that is a common challenge – especially for internet inquiries – it is seldom the case when we meet face to face on site. However, that is not the issue. What is more important is that the client had recently renovated their premises, and because they were so intimately involved, they did not seem to notice that the doorway from their reception to the offices had a step which is not only almost invisible, it is also such a strange height that someone is bound to trip over the step.

While the client HAS requested a DISCLAIMER – something that EVERY BUSINESS should have, a disclaimer on it’s own may not cover the landlord when someone injures themselves because the landlord has been made aware of the danger of the step, and if they do not protect their staff and visitors, they could be liable in the event of an injury.

Having a professional sign consultant come in to advise may not mean that all the bases are covered, but at worst it is a fresh pair of eyes looking at your premises, and at best you may find that the advise you get saves you money, and even more importantly, if the signs do what we at SignForce believe they are supposed to do – be a great marketing tool meant to attract more prospects to your business so you can sell more products and services, you will have benefited greatly.

At SignForce we believe it is worth paying for the advise of a professional so that you don’t feel compelled to use the supplier to provide the signs, while still getting the maximum benefit.

At SignForce we believe in offering advise, it is how we have built our reputation over the past 15 years, so if the market for signs that are intended to help you improve your business, email arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za and let us help you grow your business.

http:www.signforce.co.za

A business without a sign is a sign of no business!

signs; lightbox; illuminated signs

This beautiful LED illuminated sign is on a main road

20140213_192923

This is a photo of a recent job we installed in Hartswater, South Africa – yes, we can assist you anywhere in South Africa or the world!

While we understand that not everyone wants their business sign and name up in lights, and sometimes there is no benefit to having your sign illuminate, there is NO DOUBT that the old adage ‘a business without an sign is a sign of no business’!

Signs are in all likelihood your best marketing investment, because a well designed sign will require one payment and last for over five years, ensuring that your intended prospects know where you are and can easily find you.

Your sign (whether on a shop front or a vehicle) also often gives the first, ‘irreplaceable’ impression of your business. If your sign is shabby, what are you telling your prospective clients about your business?

A few years back a client asked us to REFURBISH their existing, tired sign so they could run a closing down campaign as the store was running at a loss and a new store would open in a nearby location about eight months later. The sign was broken and had birds living in it. The refurbished sign looked way better, and before the closing down campaign could run the store started to show a profit again – the ONLY change was the refurbished sign. Needless to say the staff all kept their jobs and the store only closed at the end of the eight months when the new store opened.

If you have not looked at your sign with a FRESH, CRITICAL eye in the last few days, give us a call (if you are in Johannesburg or Pretoria we do the check for free) so we can see your signs with fresh eyes to ensure that the message you are conveying is the message you WANT TO convey.

Email arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za or call on +27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5

SignForce is a full service sign supplier. We strive to take all the pain you may feel out of the sign purchasing process, with a team who can design, manufacture and install every sign – visible communication – you want or need.

ANIMAL READS SIGNS!!!

Yes! YOU ARE AN ANIMAL!

This is not meant as a question. It is meant as an all inclusive, factual STATEMENT!

If you are reading this you are either a brilliantly trained ANIMAL – possibly one of those with two heads and resides in a lab where some other loving ANIMAL has taught you to read, or, and more likely, you are one of the privileged, two legged ANIMALS, who has spent enough time being taught, so you know how to read (signs?), and most likely to write and talk as well.

As an ANIMAL, especially one that is a HUMAN ANIMAL, with some understanding and possibly even some logic – even if your logic is only understood by you – you will tend to believe that you BEHAVE LOGICALLY.

This is a LIE! We have been taught (also known as programmed or indoctrinated) into believing that it is IMPORTANT that you act in a logical manner, so we strive to do so. However, research (See Emotional Intelligence by Danial Goleman and published works by many others) has shown CONCLUSIVELY that we HUMAN ANIMALS almost ALWAYS act on EMOTION, and then temper our emotion with logic.

Are you asking yourself why is this IMPORTANT TO ME?

It is important because how you act at any specific point in time, how you SEE any specific situation at a specific point in time, how you REACT at any specific point in time and the DECISIONS YOU MAKE at any specific point in time – will all have CONSEQUENCES in the future, and will all be based on HOW YOU FEEL!!! AT THAT SPECIFIC POINT IN TIME that you made the decision or reacted !!!

This is especially true if you act immediately, and are NOT AWARE of how you feel – your emotional state – at that specific point in time, so you react to something trivial in an inappropriate manner, or make a decision – or a comment – you later regret, because it was not what you wanted to do or say, and the consequences are too horrible to contemplate.

In my view this is the reason that people get together to discuss decisions, concepts and ideas, before rashly running head first into the first option that is presented. More minds will mean looking at the situation from more angles, with more EMOTIONAL input, until the emotional factor is mostly removed*. *This is said with too MANY proviso’s to mention here. (You are welcome to contact me at arnold@signforce.co.za if you want a list)

If you are looking into making ANY decisions, even one’s as simple as looking to invest in a sign – try look within yourself to see how you are feeling BEFORE you make the decision. This does not, by any means, suggest you should ignore your emotions, it is simply one method to get closer to making decisions that are based on some logic – mixed with a lot of emotion – to ensure that the investment you make is the investment you want when you feel differently a few days, weeks, months or years down the line.

If you are feeling like an animal, and would like some signs to improve your income or simply to brighten your life, or for advice on signs, contact us at SignForce and we will do our best to assist you.

Call +27 (0)11 440 7525

email info@signforce.co.za

WEB: http://www.signforce.co.za

How long should a painted sign last?

How long should a painted sign last?

One method that can be used to increase the life of a sign is for the sign to be painted.

In order for the paint to last as long as possible – when referring to signs that means a period of five to seven years – there are three important factors that need to be present.

 1. The substrate – underlying material – must be well prepared

2. A good and appreciate primer must be used, and

3. A good quality paint must be used.

As with every paint job, proper preparation is essential if the paint is to adhere properly and last a long time. Proper preparation beings with cleaning the substrate, then sanding the substrate to ensure adhesion, then cleaning the substrate to ensure the surface is dust free before painting begins.

Once the substrate has been properly prepared the substrate must be primed with the correct primer. The correct primer is essential to ensure adhesion between the paint and the substrate. While not all substrates require primer – some modern paints have mixed in etching properties that work very well on certain substrates, removing the necessity for primer – most signage substrates still do require priming. If the primer is ‘left out’ of the process, there is a very good chance that within a short time of being exposed to the weather, the paint will most likely begin to chip and peal, as can be seen in this photo.

painted signs

Why preparing the sign before painting is essential

Different quality paints do exist, and while good quality paints do cost more than their ‘cheaper’ competitors, there is good reason for that. Generally the better quality paints use better quality pigments which last longer than, so the paint will not fade as quickly as a cheaper paint. The more costly paints also use better quality mixing agents, making them adhere better and they also spread better than cheaper paints.

At SignForce we ‘mostly’ use 2K automotive paint, because it is the most cost effective good paint that is easily accessible. Sometimes we use QD (short for Quick Dry) which is also a thinners based paint, but doesn’t tend to have the life of 2K. The benefit of QD is that, as the name says, it dries quickly – it is touch dry withing an hour versus almost eight hours for 2K.

Unfortunately 2K paint is not environmentally friendly, so newer, more expensive cars are now painted with more environmentally friendly, water soluble paints. At the time of writing this article the cost of the water soluble paints are still excessive when compared to 2K, but it looks that in time, the use of 2K will be replaced by the use of the environmentally friendlier water soluble paints.

While SignForce use 2K paint, ‘enamel’ paint can be used – as can a number of paints that fall between the two. The reason SignForce use 2K is because the pigments tend to last longer and the paint tends to adhere better to more substrates and the various primers. If the primer and paint are not fully compatible the paint may, at worst, bubble immediately, or at best, result in a reduced life of the paint.

While it is possible to get ‘long life’ (five to seven year) vinyl that can be cut, the range of colours is limited. Digital printing does an excellent job of overcoming the limitation of matching colours – as almost any colour can be printed, however, digital prints have a life expectancy of no more than three years. In some instances it is more cost effective to use a digital print and budget to renew the sign in 30 to 36 months, but this is not always the case, as there are times then the cost of refurbishing the sign is substantially more than simply replacing the face – be it because the sign is not easily accessible or because the sign is facing north in the harsh South African sun which burns the vinyl into the substrate so the entire substrate needs to be replaced or because the exchange rate is unfavorable so the print is simply much more three years later than it cost initially.

For cost effective signs that are made to fit your requirements, be that a tight budget or for the sign to last a long time, and sometimes the two at the same time, contact SignForce at either arnold@signforce.co.za or david @signforce.co.za

http://www.signforce.co.za          Telephone: +27 11 440 7525

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

Can my sign be installed onto glass?

Can my sign be installed onto a glass surface?

When asked if a sign can be installed against a glass surface, I am always tempted to immediately say YES, signs can be installed onto almost any surface, but I have learned to temper my enthusiasm, as simply saying YES may give the designer, and / or the buyer, incorrect and false hope.

While MOST signs – both internal and external – can be installed against glass, among the factors that need to be considered are the following:

Will the sign be inside or outside?

If outside, will the sign be exposed to rain and direct sunlight?

Will the sign be exposed to water, either from washing or weather?

What look is being sought and material will be used to manufacture the sign?

What is the weight of each element of the sign?

Will the sign be attached to GLASS, or some other clear ‘glass’ like product?

How long is the sign intended to last?

Will the sign be viewed and visible from both inside AND outside of the glass?

While there are a number of excellent adhesives that can fix almost any material to glass, so long as the material being fixed to the glass is not too heavy per square centimeter, certain adhesives will only work indoors, others work best outdoors, and with a number of the adhesives the rear of the sign will look unsightly, while possibly being read backwards. Still other adhesives are so strong that the only way to remove the sign may be to replace the glass, which can become a costly exercise if the glass sheet is very large. My point is there are a number of variable factors that MUST be considered BEFORE a sign is attached to glass.

If the sign is to be located outdoors then the adhesive must be able to sustain weather changes (extreme temperatures) as well as direct sunlight and rain.

Other factors to consider when attaching signs to glass include the size of the sign, especially the area that makes contact with the glass, the weight of the signage element, and the ‘coefficient of change’ of the material of the sign. Simply stated the coefficient of change is the difference in the expansion and shrinking properties of the sign material and the glass, as well as the adhesive, as if the coefficient is too large, the glass is likely to break. For example, if a strip of Aluminium is attached to a glass sheet, and the Aluminium heats up faster than the glass, and the adhesive is too rigid, the Aluminium will effectively pull the glass apart with the pressure points being where ever the aluminium is attached to the glass.

Then same could apply if the material that is attached to the glass is a plastic based product which can be expected to expand a mere 1.6mm over a three meter length when it heats up sufficiently, that expansion could be enough to break the attached glass if the glass expands much faster, or much slower.

As it is with water and electricity, it almost goes without saying that the above comments are even more relevant when water is thrown into the equation of the coefficient of change, especially if the water is in the form of a sudden storm – as is common during the South African Highveld summer afternoons – when the glass and the substrate are already at their warmest, and the sudden cooling of the rain add an additional element to what can be an already pressured ‘relationship’.

When referring to GLASS signs, a lot of people do not necessarily mean glass, but are instead referring to a transparent substance – such as Plexiglas, Acraglas, Ultra High Impact or Perspex, all of which have one property similar to glass – they are transparent – but can often be more easily worked and can have the edges polished to give a clear view. Some ‘plastic glass’ products are resistant to hard knocks – they are not as brittle as glass and will not break on impact and are less likely to suffer from the effects of coefficient of change – but plastic based substrates do tend to scratch more easily, although the scratches can also be more easily worked away.

To sum up, most signs can be attached to a glass backing, but it is important to do your homework before attaching signs to glass, in order to make sure that the adhesive and the sign are compatible and give you the results you intended.

If you are thinking of getting a ‘glass’ sign, a sign attached to glass, are in the market for professional looking signs, or simply require advice on transparent signs, and you wish to get a return on your investment in your sign, act now and email arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za using the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE

http:www.signforce.co.za

SignForce have moved to a new home

SignForce have moved, relocated, transferred…

Exactly 14 years to the day after SignForce moved into our Wynburg, Sandton, premises, we moved to what we expect will be better premises.

Better because, in time, they will help SignForce operate in a more productive, more cost effective manner, which will help us to continue to give you, our wonderful clients, competitively priced signs.

It has take a while to make the move, and has been fairly disruptive, so thank you all for your patience over the past few weeks. We are now settled in so we can once again focus on getting you your quotes, artwork and signs with speed.

Our new premises are a mere 10 (or so) blocks from our old premises, so we are still in the same general area.

Our new address is 51 2nd Street, Kew.

Our existing number 011 444 3331 will continue to work, but will not link to the switchboard which has new numbers.

Our new telephone numbers for the switchboard are:

011 440 7525 and 011 440 7524 as well as 0861 SIGNFORCE or 0861 744 636

Our new fax number is 086 656 3302

If you would like to come visit – and we would love you to, please give us advance notice so we can afford you the level of hospitality we want to, and we know you deserve.

You can find us by clicking here for the link from the facebook map: https://www.facebook.com/SignForceSouthAfrica/page_map

Are all signs the same because they look the same?

Are all signs the same because they look the same?

The short answer is NO. Because they look the same doesn’t mean that any two signs are the same.

The reason I can say that with conviction is two fold.

  1. The large majority of signs are still made by hand, and since the signs are hand made, there is ALWAYS going to be some variance in the process and hence in the finished product.

Historically all signs were hand made by artists and artisans, many of them highly skilled. Today technology has had a huge influence on how signs are made, with wonderful machines that can make multiple, identical copies of the same sign, something that is almost impossible to do when the signs are hand made.

Because these machines are expensive, and there are a limited number of businesses that require a large number of signs that are identical, it is still true that most signs are still hand made, hence it is almost certain that no two signs will be totally identical. Also, for example, very few shop front’s are the same size, so unless a sign is small for one shop front, it will not fit into another store front which is smaller. This is one of the reasons we at SignForce refer to ourselves as makers of CUSTOM signs.

This is worth remembering when a sign buyer wants multiple copies of the sign. Even the smallest change in a sign – from a 1cm difference in letter height, to the sign being 10 cm shorter, will result in the sign being different. It should look exactly the same – that is all proportions should remain the same, but a small change in one element could, for example, result in a sign being too large for the available space, or a different method of construction being required to manufacture the sign.

2. Signs are generally purchased form a ‘picture’ and while everyone may use the same picture – it is very easy to cut and paste a picture – the manufacturing process, the materials and the expertise of the sign maker will all influence the manufacturing process, and hence the final look, longevity and feel of the end product.

Many client’s do not have all the facts of the signage they are to get explained to them, so when they receive two or three quotes from two or three different sign manufacturers, they get a VERY LARGE variance in costing, and because they don’t understand the differences, it is understandable for them to think and believe that they are getting the same sign at different prices – similar to walking into three different stores ang getting three different prices on the same make and model of a kettle.

Generally the client will believe that they have given all three sign businesses the same brief, so they expect the signs to be the same. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily how it works in practice.

For example, lets assume you are looking for a reception sign, and you tell this to the various sign suppliers, also giving them the size of the sign you desire and the design that is to be used to decorate the sign.

Supplier A may quote you for a non-illuminated, 3D, fabricated sign that will make your business look AWESOME, and costs what you may believe to be enough to purchase a small desert island.

Supplier B may quote you for a sign that ‘looks’ identical – especially on paper, but, instead of being a fabricated 3D sign, is a printed 3D sign attached to a clear backing board. The look is exceptionally similar, however the cost is vastly different.

Supplier C may quote on a sign consisting of a digital print applied to a metal backing.

As can be seen from the above, all three sign manufacturers are quoting on a reception sign, so they are all fulfilling the brief. However, the difference in the way the sign will ultimately look and feel, cannot necessarily be seen, especially on a piece of paper – or a computer screen. It is for this reason that reputable sign suppliers tend to specify materials they will be using and give detailed descriptions of the signs they are quoting on, hoping to both ‘educate and inform’ their clients, and at the same time hoping that the client will be comparing signs on a ‘apple’ for ‘apple’ basis.

Differences even exist in simple signs. For example, a client may request a metal sign decorated with a digital print, and that is what they may be quoted on, but not all digital printers are made equal, especially when the print is to be exposed to sunlight, because a print from one brand of printer may fade faster and less evenly than another, similar print, printed on another brand of printer.

Another point to consider is illumination. When client’s request illuminated signs there are three main methods of illuminating the sign, with the sign size and client’s budget ultimately determining what is to be used. These days signs can be internally illuminated using florescent tubes, neon tubes, or LED’s. The choice would generally depend on the client.

For example, while the running costs of LED lighting are lower over the life of the sign (especially if maintenance costs are factored into the cost), the initial outlay for LED’s may be more. Also, there are a variety of florescent tubes that can be used. Wherever possible SignForce use florescent tubes that run off electronic ballasts because the tubes and the ballasts have a longer life expectancy, the running costs are lower, they give off better light and they give off less heat.  That said, one can still save money on the initial outlay by purchasing florescent tubes that run off magnetic ballasts, need starters (that tend to stop working long before any other components) and use more energy. The old style florescent tubes will cost less initially, but will generally be a lot more expensive over the life of the sign.

Unfortunately, you as the buyer, will very seldom know what has gone into your sign unless you visit the factory, and are explained what is going into your sign, during the production process.

Hence it can be seen that not all signs are necessarily created equal. This is at least one reason 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.

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

http:www.signforce.co.za