Signs, Banners and Wraps

Being the owner of a sign company has given me lots of insight in dealing with customer supplied graphics.  Many customers believe that by providing you with a small jpg file of their logo, you should be able to create the design they desire.  To be honest, it may well be all we need to create a proof for the customer.  Printing that design at the size needed is another story.  Generally, there are 2 formats that we receive graphics in: raster and vector.  We’ll get into these in more detail in a later post, but the basics are;

Raster files

  • Set number of pixels make up the image
  • Making the image bigger involves stretching the individual pixels which can make the graphics appear out of focus

Vector files

  • AI, EPS, PDF
  • Made up of mathematical formulas.
  • As you expand the image, you do not lose quality

Obviously, a vector image would be best, but that doesn’t mean a raster file won’t work.  The raster file just needs to be created at the size it will be printed, or at sufficiently enough resolution that it won’t lose much definition if expanded to the size it will be printed at.

03D3659Another big issue with files that we receive from customers are the fonts.  If you are using an obscure font, chances are we do not have that font on our system.  The best way to get around this is to outline the fonts.  The previous link shows how to do this in Adobe Illustrator.  This is a must if you must have “your” font used.  Otherwise, chances are you will end up with a close replication of the font you had chosen.

Take these hints into consideration when creating content for your sign company.  Otherwise, you’ll be paying your sign company to recreate your content.

Yes, we’re finally back.  It’s been so hectic around here lately, we haven’t had a chance to write.

Today I’d like to tackle laminate.  I must first admit that I’m partial to matte laminate for most applications.  Even so, I hope this isn’t too biased.

Many people want “flash” from their signs.  I agree, a sign should generate attention from people in the area.  What you don’t want to do is generate the wrong type of attention.  Yes, who is this man talking in circles?  What I’m getting at is this:  having a flashy sign is great, but often, a glossy sign will end up being harder for your potential customers to read.  All you need is the sun to be at the wrong angle, or an electric light to hit the sign in just the wrong way, and voila, your customers get an eyeful of sunrays instead of being able to read the message you painstakingly worked on for the past 2 months.  It may be the most incredible message they ever would have seen, but if they can’t read it, it’s worthless.  Yes, this might be a good application for matte laminate.  Just about any sign we send out that has text on it, has matte laminate on the vinyl.

It is important to know how the sign is going to be utilized before printing and laminating.  There are plenty of reasons to use glossy laminate (many sign makers almost exclusively use glossy).  I prefer to understand what my customer wants to do and where the sign is going to be deployed.  Only then can I make an informed recommendation.  Yes, my prejudices play a role, and I probably recommend matte over glossy when either would work fine.

Just remember next time you’re looking for a digital print, banner or other vinyl sign, think about what is going to be displayed on it.  If you have a lot of text, think about a matte laminate.

Generally, there are two camps when it comes to blogging.  Those that are blogging for “fun”, and those looking to reap financial rewards.

The folks blogging for “fun” are mainly interested in keeping their friends up to date with their current situation. This is very much like using Facebook, but the blog entries work better as a reference later on. This type of blogging is very popular, and is a great way to track events in your life.

The other type of blogging, and I say the larger and faster growing type are the folks that are blogging for profit. Yes, you would even put this blog in that category.  Although not explicitly selling anything on this blog, we are hoping it will be read, and that the reader will continue on to our web site.

The financial reward bloggers tend to blog for the following reasons:

  • Establish expertise in a particular field
  • Get search engines to take notice and give a higher ranking to the web site in searches
  • Keep the company’s name in front of perspective customers for when they are ready to make a purchase

This doesn’t mean there isn’t some great information coming from people trying to reap a financial reward from their blog.   Generally they are experts in their field and they are providing some valuable information to the public.

Do you agree/disagree with my assessment?  Add your comments below.

Installation by Front Range Vital Signs Inc

More often then not, when you’re out looking for a vehicle wrap, you are looking for a company to both print and install the wrap.   In addition, you very well may be looking for that same company to assist you with the design.  This works out nice for the buyer because they only have to deal with one company.  Some franchise companies, however, will have a contract with a single source to print all of their vehicle wraps.  This isn’t a bad thing as it ensures that the colors will always match.  Often, they will send those wraps to where the vehicle is going to reside so that a local company can perform the installation.  There are issues and benefits to be aware of when getting your vehicle graphics installed this way.  First off, let’s take a look at the potential issues:

  • The biggest issue you may have will occur several months or even a year or more down the road.  If the wrap starts to fail, who is responsible for supporting you?  Will the installation company point the finger at the printing company and vice versa?  If you are not familiar and comfortable with your local installer, make sure you get a signed contract before the  installation starts.  This contract should state who is responsible for what.
  • What happens if there is a problem during the installation?  Most companies that perform vehicle wrap installations are very professional and do excellent work.  Even if you work with the most qualified wrap company around, issue can occur.  If the vinyl gets damaged, how will it be replaced?  The installation company certainly can’t reprint the part that was damaged.  Talk with the printing company to see what their policy is up front.  Will they replace any damaged vinyl free, or will there be additional costs involved?

On the other hand, there are benefits to this scenario as well:

  • Dealing with a local company gives the buyer any easy method of getting support….assuming the install company and the print company don’t sit and point fingers at each other.  It is much easier to drive across town to get an issue fixed then to go half way across the country and often, a local company will go further out of its’ way to make sure you are happy.
  • When you have an issue, you can talk to someone face to face as opposed to a faceless person over the phone.  Often, this by itself motivates the installation company to give excellent support.

Here at  Front Range Vital Signs, we welcome the opportunity to perform these types of installations.  This not only keeps us busy, but it introduces us to potential new repeat clients.

Remember to ask questions before signing up with any wrap company.  Make sure both the buyer and the installer are on the same page for providing support on that vehicle wrap should anything go wrong.

Many businesses have seen the value of social media in their marketing campaigns.  Although there are many social media hubs, today I want to discuss Facebook.  In particular, what is the best way to setup your company on Facebook.  There are really only two choices…setup the company as a user or as a page.

Setting up your company as a user gives you separate ID and password to get into Facebook.  A user account allows you to better control who has access to the content you are posting since you would have to accept or initiate any friend requests.  This may be important for some businesses out there, but for most, it can be rather tedious and time consuming.  Generally, a business wants as many people as possible following it.  Making it easy for someone to do that helps you to increase your following quickly.  This is where a group comes in.  Generally a group is setup in such a way that it is open to the public.  Anyone can go to that page and click on the “Like” button to follow the business.  In addition, a “Like” button can be added to your website so that visitors to your web site can just click the button to begin following you on Facebook.   Here is a link to be able to create a Like button for your page.

Here are benefits of using a page instead of a user account for your business:

  • Ability to setup multiple administrators so that more then one person can post as the company.
  • Normal setup would allow for users to set themselves up to follow your company by clicking on the Like button on your page.
  • Like button can be added to your website to allow users to easily follow your page.
  • Still have the ability to control who can follow your company if you prefer higher security.
  • Can enable age restrictions so that only people over a certain age can view your content.
  • Can setup your blog to be included on your page.
  • If you sell your company, you can easily transfer the page to the new owner.

As you can see, there are many benefits to setting up your company on Facebook as a page instead of a user.  With the security settings that are available to you on pages, I don’t see any benefit to having your business setup as a user over a page.   What are your thoughts?

Although we’ve talked about vehicle wraps in the past, today I wanted to discuss the impact of vehicle graphics on the service industry.    When I say “service industry”, I’m referring to any business that utilizes their vehicle to get to a client site to perform their work.  For these people, their vehicle is their office most of the time.  If these businesses want to grow, taking advantage of the advertising space  available to them through their company vehicles would be one great way to start!

Front Range Vital Signs - vehicle wrapThe first  picture is of our company truck before we did any advertising on it.  Yes it’s a great looking truck (had to get that in), but it certainly won’t attract any new customers to our door.

Now compare the original truck to the “new and improved” version after we wrapped it.  Now which do you think stays in your customer’s mind longer?  There is no doubt about what our business name is, what types of products we produce, and how to get in touch with us.

When deciding on a wrap, keep in mind these simple items:

  1. What is the name of your business?
  2. What services do you provide?
  3. What is your contact information?
  4. Do you provide services when it is dark out?

The first three items provide the bulk of the information that will be on your wrap.  The fourth will help determine if you might want to include a high reflective vinyl in the mix.  Now each of these items can be further broken down as well.  Will you just provide a text name for your business, or will it be a logo?  Do you put your phone number and email address on the side, or do you put a QR code (or both)?

It’s important to remember that the main reason for getting a vehicle wrap (or graphics) is to attract more looks from possible customers.

A wrap is a tool for you to advertise.  As such, it should be a part of your advertising budget.  Generally, a wrap will last 4-5 years.  If you paid $2000 for a vehicle wrap and it lasts 4 years, it is costing you just under $42/month.  What other method of advertising  gets your business name in front of as many possible customers for that price?  Currently spending less then that?  You must have one heck of a referral network, or you aren’t getting any new clients.

Choosing a the right company for your vehicle graphics can be tougher then you think.  Many folks immediately go for the cheapest solution.  This article will explore why this may not always be the best option.

The frequently used cliche of “you get what you pay for” often is true in these cases.

vehicle wrap

Front Range Vital Signs Truck

My suggestion, decide up front how much you’re willing to pay for your graphics.  Work with your trusted usual sign company.  Tell them what your budget is, and see what they can do with that.  If you feel you’re not getting enough for your money, tell them.  Maybe there are very good reasons why the price you have given them only buys what they have suggested.  Then again, since you are a loyal customer of theirs, maybe they will be more willing to work with you to get to a solution that you and they are happy with.  I would much rather provide enhanced value to a repeat customer that I know will continue to come back to me then a one time deal that is just out looking for the best price.  If you have a design in mind, have the graphics ready (in the format required).  Believe it or not, designing a vehicle wrap/graphic is time consuming.  Most wrap companies will charge you for the time they put into that design.  Outside of price, find out:

  • What type of materials they plan on using?
    Materials come with different life ratings.  Most wrap material has at least a 5 year warranty.  Typically, this is the time frame in which it can be removed from the surface it was placed on.
  • What type of warranty they give with their work?
    We give a one year warranty on our work.  If something goes wrong during that time, we’ll fix it.  Realize, no one can warranty their work when their customer “abuses” their graphics (I had one customer that took a scraper to his back window that we had covered with a graphic). 
  • Do they remove hardware from your vehicle, or just manuever around obstacles? Does it matter to you?
    To get the best look on your wrap/graphic, it may be necessary to remove door handles, mirrors, etc…  This is not always required.  Just having the logo and contact information viewable is often fine for work vehicles.  You need to know if this is important for your specific application.
  • If you have an issue, will they be there to get it fixed quickly?
    Having a customer driving around with a defective wrap can bring a lot of negative attention to the install company.  If one of our customers has an issue, we try to get them in immediately to get it resolved. 

If you don’t get satisfactory answers to these questions, maybe you are dealing with the wrong sign company.  This might be a good opportunity to upgrade your sign company to one that meets your needs.

Any experience you want to share?  Please post a reply.


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