04 939 6944 info@sign.co.nz

FAQs

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Is the cheapest price the best option?

Not necessarily – generally speaking, like most things, you get what you pay for.

In most cases, a sign should be considered as an investment which adds value, rather than a cost which reduces value. While the sign on the right informs us what the business does, it is unlikely to invite potential customers in to dine. Whilst the sign was no doubt cheap (we hope!), it could hardly be described as adding value to this business. In order to offer value, a sign must be effective.

Rather than considering price independently, it should be considered together with a number of other factors:

1) Placement and environment.

The first factor that affects the over-all value of a sign is how effectively it performs it’s intended function due to its placement. Placement can be a question of height (any sign at or about eye level will be seen more readily than one lower down). A sign placed perpendicular to passersby will attract far more attention than one which is parallel. A sign which is surrounded by other signs or distracting images will not gain impact anywhere near as much as one which is clear of other surroundings, free and uncluttered.

2) Design (or lack thereof).

Another factor which requires consideration is the design of the sign. A poor design can reduce the effectiveness of a sign by misuse of type styles, wrongly sized text, poor contrast, cluttered layout, etc.

3) Durability and longevity.

Another critical factor which affects whether a sign offers good value is how long it lasts for. If an exterior sign which should look good for five years fails after three, then clearly it offers poorer value than one which went the full distance, even if it cost considerably less. Unfortunately there are many ways an unscrupulous sign company can cut corners, using inferior materials to reduce costs, producing a sign which fails after a relatively short time.

4) Be careful of false economies.

Price is always important, but there are many different materials and production processes that can be used to create signs.  Sometimes the least expensive option is the best choice. But if you want a sign that will last and portray a professional image over the long haul, the least expensive option now may cost you much more in the long run.

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money…that is all.

When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the things it was bought to do.”

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)

Why is sign design so important?

The purpose of a sign is to attract attention, and impart information.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a building sign, a road sign, a retail sign advertising  a sale, or a simple way finding sign, the ultimate aim is the same.

Fairly obviously, the wording used within the sign conveys information to the reader, but what is less obvious is that the design of the sign conveys as much information as the words themselves, if not sometimes more.

Consider this example :

Would you be attracted to this law company? Would you feel like you were dealing with a competent, professional legal firm?

Most importantly, would you feel you were getting value for your $350 per hour using their services?

Probably not, but how about this company:

How would you feel now?  – hopefully somewhat more confident that you are dealing with a professional business.

Yet the only difference between the two is the fonts, colours and layout of the name (ie, the design). The wording is exactly the same, and yet the two signs convey very different messages.

Good design doesn’t necessarily cost more.

And yet can increase the value of a sign ten-fold.

Below are two more examples.

Which shop would you feel more inclined to give your custom to? Which shop would you think you might buy the better quality merchandise from? Which shop would you expect to get a higher standard of customer service from?

And yet again, the text is exactly the same, the only difference is in the design of the posters.

 

 

Now here is the surprise – assuming that these were both simple window posters, they would cost the buyer a very similar amount. They would both be produced using the same method (a large format printer) and would take exactly the same time to print and trim. They both took similar amounts of time to set, but one was set by someone with no design knowledge or skill, and the other wasn’t.

Even simple information signs benefit from good layout skills.

Unfortunately this sign breaks many basic rules, and the ugly result speaks for itself.

Relatively small changes to the layout can however improve it drastically:

A poorly laid up sign gives an amateurish look to an otherwise professional organisation. Here is an example of a poor layout taken from real life.

A considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design.

There exists a misconception that modern software allows anyone with a modicum of computer skills to “do graphic design”, however, the fact that a person has design software on their computer and “knows how to use it” doesn’t make them a designer any more than giving someone a pair of wire cutters and a screwdriver makes them an electrician.

Hopefully, the above examples illustrate the importance of good, effective design when it com

es to producing a sign.

Remember, a considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design, not in the materials it is made from – in fact, a poorly designed sign can inadvertently turn potential 

customers away from your business rather than attract them to it. When you choose a sign company to work with, take the time to look at examples of their previous work, either on their website or by visiting their premises. Also, make sure you use an accredited NZSDA member, not a back street cowboy.

For your education (and amusement!) here are some further examples of shockingly designed signs…

How long should my sign last for?

There is no simple answer to this question. 

Signs, like most things, deteriorate due to weathering.  As such, this discussion refers to exterior signs only – most interior signs can effectively be considered to be permanent.

Whilst some degradation is caused by pollutants and dirt build up on the surface of the sign, by far the biggest component of the weathering process is caused by UV light from the sun. 

The UV light causes two separate issues, the first and most obvious being the fading of pigments (colour), and secondly the breaking down of any plastics (including paints and clear-coats) that have been used in the making of the sign.
 

Because NZ is relatively close to the South Pole, we have higher levels of exposure to UV light than most other places, and so we see faster fading and break down than might otherwise be expected.

Also, as the amount of UV exposure a sign is exposed to is directly related to how much sunlight it receives, the position of the sign has a large influence on its life. A north facing sign in an exposed position may well receive twice as much sunlight over its life-span than a similar sign facing south in a shady area. For this reason, it is not possible to be very precise in the estimation of expected life spans, and hence why you see large ranges used when discussing such issues. 

Temporary signs 

Generally speaking, exterior signs can be divided into two categories – “temporary” and “permanent”.

 Temporary signs are used to promote specific events, and are made from low cost materials to keep costs reasonable. Examples include banners, billboards and Corflute signs. No over-lamination is applied to the graphics, and the UV light will quickly start to break down the pigments in the inks and graphics. These types of signs would have a life of around 6 to 12 months without noticeable fading.

Permanent signs.

The word “permanent” when applied to signs,  is something of a misnomer. Harsh UV conditions mean that all outdoor signs have a relatively limited life-span. 

Firstly, the substrate that the graphics have been applied to should outlast the graphics by a large margin (assuming the sign company has used a modern, exterior rated product) and so the following discussion focuses on the graphics and films which have been applied to the substrate surface.

The majority of full colour exterior signs are manufactured using one of three methods and materials. (or a combination of the three). 

1) Paint

Fully painted signs are very rare these days, as the
labour required to produce them makes them uneconomic in most cases. Modern paints can be expected to last from seven to ten years, if chosen and applied correctly.

2) Computer cut vinyl

Signs made using this process use a coloured self adhesive PVC film which is cut to shape using a computer controlled plotter and applied to the substrate to form the text and graphics. As the pigment is embedded through the thickness of the film, these graphics are fairly resistant to fading and failure usually comes about through the breakdown of the film itself. 

Manufacturers offer several grades of film, ranging from low cost films designed for short term exterior exposure, through to relatively expensive films designed for maximum longevity. These long term films can be as much as ten times as expensive as their short term counterparts, and to the untrained eye look much the same on a new sign.

Unfortunately, this enables unscrupulous “cowboy” sign makers to substitute cheaper, lower grade film whilst claiming similar durability to a properly made sign, with the consequences not being evident until a year or three down the track. A sign which has failed prematurely because the signmaker has used cheap vinyl to cut costs:

3) Large format digital printing – using media

Large format digital printing has revolutionised the sign making industry in recent years, allowing full colour images such as photographs and other graphic effects to be reproduced on one-off signs cost effectively. As the technology has advanced, the quality and speed of these processes has increased, while the costs have been driven down. As a result, a large proportion of modern signs are now produced using this process.

A sign manufactured using the computer cut vinyl process should be expected to last from 5 to 7 years in NZ, providing that the sign maker has used the correct (expensive) grade of film. If lower grade films have been used, failure usually occurs in 1 to 3 years, depending on the grade used.

Unfortunately there is a downside, which is outdoor durability. Digital printing deposits a relatively thin (compared to paint or vinyl) layer of ink on to the surface, meaning that the pigment is very susceptible to fading. The life of the ink is extended by covering it with a clear protective film designed to filter UV, but even so, signs produced using this method can only be expected to last 3 to 5 years in New Zealand’s harsh conditions.

As the over laminate film is expensive, a false economy can be achieved by leaving it off. Expect a digitally printed sign with no UV protection to display noticeable fading in as little as 12 to 18 months.

 

4) Large format digital printing – straight to substrate

An alternative to roll to roll printing is printing directly to substrate which removes the need for media, and their associated liners.  This method is therefore more environmentally friendly, particularly as most of these printers utilise inks which do not release any VOCs (volitile organic compounds) into the air.  Printing direct can be done to a wide range of substrates, particularly if white ink is used.

Overlamination with either a film or a sprayed automotive grade 2 pack clear coat will extend the longevity of the sign similar to that of the roll to roll media.  However, some clear advantages can be achieved if a clear coat vs a film laminate is used.  Automotive grade clear coats offer scratch protection, superior anti-graffiti protection (paint can be easily removed with a proprietary graffiti removal spray, without effecting the clear coat) it won’t de-laminate or get the cloudy effect with aged laminate films.  The clear coat also can be used as a quasi whiteboard.

What potential pitfalls should I be aware of?

Design

 

A considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design, not in the materials it is made from – in fact, a poorly designed sign can inadvertently turn potential customers away from your business rather than attract them to it.

Poor design can detract from the message your sign is attempting to convey. Using an inexperienced sign company may mean that you are not getting full value from your sign for this reason.

 

Sign Vinyls

One of the key components of a modern sign is the self adhesive vinyl film (vinyl) which the lettering and logos are 

computer cut from, or the digitally printed graphics are printed to. 

There is a vast difference in the quality of sign vinyl which ranges from very cheap material designed for short term interior use (monomeric film) through to mid term exterior grade film (polymeric) and on through to high end long term outdoor conformable films (cast).

The cost difference between these films is very significant, in the order of hundreds of percent, but when the sign is new, the different films appear exactly the same to the untrained eye. It is not until the sign has been exposed to the weather for a year or two that the inferior films properties begin to show, with shrinkage, curling, and overall failure of the sign.

Unfortunately, because of the fact that there is such a significant difference in cost between the lower grade and long term grades, and that the difference between the two is not immediately apparent, there are some unscrupulous operators who will deliberately use low grade film on a permanent sign in order to “save you money” (and, of course, win the job).

 

Lamination

 

These days a significant number of signs are wholly or partly produced by a process called large format
digital printing. This process has revolutionised the industry, and allows the use of designs on one-off signs

which were simply not possible a few years ago. The process involves inkjet printing either directly to the sign substrate, or on to an intermediate self adhesive film which is then applied to the substrate. While the ink is waterproof and fade resistant, it is (as you can imagine) a very thin film of ink which is applied. As a result, it will fail due to weathering and/or abrasion in three or so years. The life can be (and should be) extended considerably (to over five years) on permanent signs, by overlaminating the printed graphics, either with a clear protectant self adhesive film, or by coating the printed surface with a purpose designed clear coat system. Both of these processes add considerably to the total cost of the sign, and yet if they are not done, it is not apparent to the untrained eye (until the sign starts failing three or so years after being installed). -check that your price includes overlaminating.

 

Colour Management

 

Digital printing uses a method called “process colour”, where all the colours in the sign are made up from four process colours, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. A company with little knowledge or experience in this area can struggle to obtain accurate colour matching, and variations between jobs will be apparent. If corporate colour accuracy is important to you (and it should be), ensure you are getting the best colour matching possible. 

 

Brand Integrity

 

Consistent branding is a critical part of how your business is perceived, whether it is a multinational or a SME. Corporate colour matching, correct use of corporate fonts, high quality logo reproduction, and professional layout techniques are all important aspects of sign making that quality sign makers put a great deal of emphasis on. Always ensure that you see proofs of your proposed signage before production begins, and that the supplied proof complies with all aspects of your brand guidelines.

 

Application

 

Vinyl and print application is a difficult process which requires skilled people using specialised techniques, particularly on difficult, complex surfaces such as vehicles. Bubbles, wrinkles, visible cut lines, lifting edges, etc should not be seen on a completed vehicle application, and are not considered acceptable by a professional sign company. Ensure that the company you are using has extensive application experience, particularly if your job requires complex application.

 

Installation

 

Sign installation is an often overlooked aspect of a signage project, but is nevertheless an important consideration. There are a lot of variables to take into account, and a great deal of experience is required to successfully complete an installation in a safe, aesthetically pleasing manner which will continue to look good over the expected life of the sign. A sound knowledge of correct fixing options including mechanical fasteners, glues, and VHB tapes, coupled with an awareness of building cladding materials and methods is necessary. In addition, sign installation often requires working at heights, using ladders, scaffold towers, and elevated work platforms such as cherry pickers and scissor lifts. Correct health and safety practices are of critical importance in these circumstances, and so using a professional sign company is a wise choice – bear in mind that you may be held liable if a subcontractors employee is injured whilst working on your project. Ask your prospective contractor if they are Site Safe members, or have other similar safety accreditation, and also whether they carry current public liability insurance, should something go wrong. 

 

Staff Training 

 

Sign Making is a trade. There is an apprenticeship system whereby young people are employed and through a documented and systemised process are trained in all facets of the sign industry, from design, through to material knowledge, production techniques, installation, and of course safe work practices.  However, unlike other trades, such as plumbing, electrical, and now building, there is no legal necessity for a person working in the sign making field to be qualified.

Literally anyone can buy some cheap equipment and start a business calling themselves “sign writers” or “sign makers”, with no training or experience whatsoever (and, unfortunately, they do).

That is not to say that there are not some very, very good sign-makers out there who are not trade qualified, because there are a lot. However, be aware of making the assumption that because someone is in the business of making signs, that they know what they are doing – they may well not!

How does signage compare to other forms of advertising?

Signs can be the most cost-effective form of advertising for a business.

The cost effectiveness of an advertising campaign is measured by dividing the total cost of the advertisement by the number of “exposures” (the number of times an advertisement is seen) by, to generate a number referred to as “CPM” (cost per thousand).

 

For example, if a newspaper has a readership of 50,000, and an ad is placed which costs $1000, then the CPM is $50. Because signs are usually installed for years at a time, they tend to have a very low CPM compared to other forms of advertising, particularly if they are installed in a busy area. 

As an example, say we have a delivery van which is used on a daily basis around a city for 5 days a week. If a well designed, eye-catching vehicle “wrap” was applied to this van, it could easily be seen by over a thousand people a day. Let’s assume that the van is on a three year lease, and that the wrap cost $5000.

 

1000 people x 5 days x 52 weeks x 3 years = 780,000 exposures, @ $5000 

= $6.41 per thousand exposures. 

 

That is a very low cost, and compares extremely favourably with other forms of advertising. 

Professionally designed and manufactured signage is an investment that will pay a return many times over, and should be the first priority when it comes to the advertising spend of most modern businesses. 

A sign works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for up to 10 years. Even in a relatively low traffic area, the cost per impression of a sign far exceeds that of other forms of advertising. 

 

Many businesses increase their revenue measurably just by adding a good sign. Conversely, many go out of business because they simply are not identified well. As the saying goes – “A business without a sign is a sign of no business.” 

A well designed sign helps to instil the “tone” of your business in the viewers mind before actually entering your premises. A good sign can resonate with the mind-set of your target audience so that they are enticed to visit your business simply from viewing your sign. 

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Is the cheapest price the best option?

Not necessarily – generally speaking, like most things, you get what you pay for.

In most cases, a sign should be considered as an investment which adds value, rather than a cost which reduces value. While the sign on the right informs us what the business does, it is unlikely to invite potential customers in to dine. Whilst the sign was no doubt cheap (we hope!), it could hardly be described as adding value to this business. In order to offer value, a sign must be effective.

Rather than considering price independently, it should be considered together with a number of other factors:

Placement and environment.

The first factor that affects the over-all value of a sign is how effectively it performs it’s intended function due to its placement. Placement can be a question of height (any sign at or about eye level will be seen more readily than one lower down). A sign placed perpendicular to passersby will attract far more attention than one which is parallel. A sign which is surrounded by other signs or distracting images will not gain impact anywhere near as much as one which is clear of other surroundings, free and uncluttered.

Design (or lack thereof).

Another factor which requires consideration is the design of the sign. A poor design can reduce the effectiveness of a sign by misuse of type styles, wrongly sized text, poor contrast, cluttered layout, etc. To read more about the importance of good sign design, click here.

Durability and longevity.

Another critical factor which affects whether a sign offers good value is how long it lasts for. If an exterior sign which should look good for seven years fails after three, then clearly it offers poorer value than one which went the full distance, even if it cost considerably less. Unfortunately there are many ways an unscrupulous sign company can cut corners, using inferior materials to reduce costs, producing a sign which fails after a relatively short time.

Be careful of false economies.

Price is always important, but there are many different materials and production processes that can be used to create signs.  Sometimes the least expensive option is the best choice. But if you want a sign that will last and portray a professional image over the long haul, the least expensive option now may cost you much more in the long run.

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money…that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the things it was bought to do.”

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)

Why is sign design so important?

The purpose of a sign is to attract attention, and impart information.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a building sign, a road sign, a retail sign advertising  a sale, or a simple way finding sign, the ultimate aim is the same.

Fairly obviously, the wording used within the sign conveys information to the reader, but what is less obvious is that the design of the sign conveys as much information as the words themselves, if not sometimes more.

Consider this example :

Would you be attracted to this law company? Would you feel like you were dealing with a competent, professional legal firm?

Most importantly, would you feel you were getting value for your $350 per hour using their services?

Probably not, but how about this company:

How would you feel now?  – hopefully somewhat more confident that you are dealing with a professional business.

Yet the only difference between the two is the fonts, colours and layout of the name (ie, the design). The wording is exactly the same, and yet the two signs convey very different messages.

Good design doesn’t necessarily cost more.

And yet can increase the value of a sign ten-fold.

Below are two more examples.

Which shop would you feel more inclined to give your custom to? Which shop would you think you might buy the better quality merchandise from? Which shop would you expect to get a higher standard of customer service from?

And yet again, the text is exactly the same, the only difference is in the design of the posters.

Now here is the surprise – assuming that these were both simple window posters, they would cost the buyer a very similar amount. They would both be produced using the same method (a large format printer) and would take exactly the same time to print and trim. They both took similar amounts of time to set, but one was set by someone with no design knowledge or skill, and the other wasn’t.

Even simple information signs benefit from good layout skills.

Unfortunately this sign breaks many basic rules, and the ugly result speaks for itself.

Relatively small changes to the layout can however improve it drastically:

A poorly laid up sign gives an amateurish look to an otherwise professional organisation. Here is an example of a poor layout taken from real life.

A considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design.

There exists a misconception that modern software allows anyone with a modicum of computer skills to “do graphic design”, however, the fact that a person has design software on their computer and “knows how to use it” doesn’t make them a designer any more than giving someone a pair of wire cutters and a screwdriver makes them an electrician.

Hopefully, the above examples illustrate the importance of good, effective design when it com

es to producing a sign.

Remember, a considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design, not in the materials it is made from – in fact, a poorly designed sign can inadvertently turn potential 

customers away from your business rather than attract them to it. When you choose a sign company to work with, take the time to look at examples of their previous work, either on their website or by visiting their premises. Also, make sure you use an accredited NZSDA member, not a back street cowboy.

How long should my sign last for?

There is no simple answer to this question. 

Signs, like most things, deteriorate due to weathering. Whilst some degradation is caused by pollutants and dirt build up on the surface of the sign, by far the biggest component of the weathering process is caused by UV light from the sun.with clouds. As such, this discussion refers to exterior signs only – most interior signs can effectively be considered to be permanent.

The UV light causes two separate issues, the first and most obvious being the fading of pigments (colour), and secondly the breaking down of any plastics (including paints and clear-coats) that have been used in the making of the sign.

Because NZ is relatively close to the South Pole, we have higher levels of exposure to UV light than most other places, and so we see faster fading and break down than might otherwise be expected.

Also, as the amount of UV exposure a sign is exposed to is directly related to how much sunlight it receives, the position of the sign has a large influence on its life. A north facing sign in an exposed position may well receive twice as much sunlight over its life-span than a similar sign facing south in a shady area. For this reason, it is not possible to be very precise in the estimation of expected life spans, and hence why you see large ranges used when discussing such issues.

Temporary signs 

Generally speaking, exterior signs can be divided into two categories – “temporary” and “permanent”.

 Temporary signs are used to promote specific events, and are made from low cost materials to keep costs reasonable. Examples include banners, billboards and Corflute signs. No over-lamination is applied to the graphics, and the UV light will quickly start to break down the pigments in the inks and graphics. These types of signs would have a life of around 6 to 12 months without noticeable fading.

Permanent signs.

The word “permanent” when applied to signs,  is something of a misnomer. Harsh UV conditions mean that all outdoor signs have a relatively limited life-span. 

 Firstly, the substrate that the graphics have been applied to should outlast the graphics by a large margin (assuming the sign company has used a modern, exterior rated product) and so the following discussion focuses on the graphics and films which have been applied to the substrate surface.

 The majority of full colour exterior signs are manufactured using one of three methods and materials. (or a combination of the three).

Paint

Fully painted signs are very rare these days, as the labour required to produce them makes them uneconomic in most cases. Modern paints can be expected to last from seven to ten years, if chosen and applied correctly.

Computer cut vinyl

Signs made using this process use a coloured self adhesive PVC film which is cut to shape using a computer controlled plotter and applied to the substrate to form the text and graphics. As the pigment is embedded through the thickness of the film, these graphics are fairly resistant to fading and failure usually comes about through the breakdown of the film itself.

Manufacturers offer several grades of film, ranging from low cost films designed for short term exterior exposure, through to relatively expensive films designed for maximum longevity. These long term films can be as much as ten times as expensive as their short term counterparts, and to the untrained eye look much the same on a new sign.

Unfortunately, this enables unscrupulous “cowboy” sign makers to substitute cheaper, lower grade film whilst claiming similar durability to a properly made sign, with the consequences not being evident until a year or three down the track.

A sign which has failed prematurely because the signmaker has used cheap vinyl to cut costs:

Large format digital printing

Large format digital printing has revolutionised the sign making industry in recent years, allowing full colour images such as photographs and other graphic effects to be reproduced on one-off signs cost effectively. As the technology has advanced, the quality and speed of these processes has increased, while the costs have been driven down. As a result, a large proportion of modern signs are now produced using this process.

A sign manufactured using the computer cut vinyl process should be expected to last from 5 to 7 years in NZ, providing that the sign maker has used the correct (expensive) grade of film. If lower grade films have been used, failure usually occurs in 1 to 3 years, depending on the grade used.

Unfortunately there is a downside, which is outdoor durability. Digital printing deposits a relatively thin (compared to paint or vinyl) layer of ink on to the surface, meaning that the pigment is very susceptible to fading. The life of the ink is extended by covering it with a clear protective film designed to filter UV, but even so, signs produced using this method can only be expected to last 3 to 5 years in New Zealand’s harsh conditions.

As the over laminate film is expensive, a false economy can be achieved by leaving it off. Expect a digitally printed sign with no UV protection to display noticeable fading in as little as 12 to 18 months.

What potential pitfalls should I be aware of?

Design

A considerable amount of the value of a sign lies in its effective design, not in the materials it is made from – in fact, a poorly designed sign can inadvertently turn potential customers away from your business rather than attract them to it.

Poor design can detract from the message your sign is attempting to convey. Using an inexperienced sign company may mean that you are not getting full value from your sign for this reason.

Sign Vinyls

One of the key components of a modern sign is the self adhesive vinyl film (vinyl) which the lettering and logos are computer cut from, or the digitally printed graphics are printed to. 

There is a vast difference in the quality of sign vinyl which ranges from very cheap material designed for short term interior use (monomeric film) through to mid term exterior grade film (polymeric) and on through to high end long term outdoor conformable films (cast).

The cost difference between these films is very significant, in the order of hundreds of percent, but when the sign is new, the different films appear exactly the same to the untrained eye. It is not until the sign has been exposed to the weather for a year or two that the inferior films properties begin to show, with shrinkage, curling, and overall failure of the sign.

Unfortunately, because of the fact that there is such a significant difference in cost between the lower grade and long term grades, and that the difference between the two is not immediately apparent, there are some unscrupulous operators who will deliberately use low grade film on a permanent sign in order to “save you money” (and, of course, win the job).

Lamination

These days a significant number of signs are wholly or partly produced by a process called large format digital printing. This process has revolutionised the industry, and allows the use of designs on one-off signs which were simply not possible a few years ago. The process involves inkjet printing either directly to the sign substrate, or on to an intermediate self adhesive film which is then applied to the substrate. While the ink is waterproof and fade resistant, it is (as you can imagine) a very thin film of ink which is applied. As a result, it will fail due to weathering and/or abrasion in three or so years. The life can be (and should be) extended considerably (to over five years) on permanent signs, by overlaminating the printed graphics, either with a clear protectant self adhesive film, or by coating the printed surface with a purpose designed clear coat system. Both of these processes add considerably to the total cost of the sign, and yet if they are not done, it is not apparent to the untrained eye (until the sign starts failing three or so years after being installed). -check that your price includes overlaminating.

Colour Management

Digital printing uses a method called “process colour”, where all the colours in the sign are made up from four process colours, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. A company with little knowledge or experience in this area can struggle to obtain accurate colour matching, and variations between jobs will be apparent. If corporate colour accuracy is important to you (and it should be), ensure you are getting the best colour matching possible.

Brand Integrity

Consistent branding is a critical part of how your business is perceived, whether it is a multinational or a SME. Corporate colour matching, correct use of corporate fonts, high quality logo reproduction, and professional layout techniques are all important aspects of sign making that quality sign makers put a great deal of emphasis on. Always ensure that you see proofs of your proposed signage before production begins, and that the supplied proof complies with all aspects of your brand guidelines.

Application

Vinyl and print application is a difficult process which requires skilled people using specialised techniques, particularly on difficult, complex surfaces such as vehicles. Bubbles, wrinkles, visible cut lines, lifting edges, etc should not be seen on a completed vehicle application, and are not considered acceptable by a professional sign company. Ensure that the company you are using has extensive application experience, particularly if your job requires complex application.

Installation

Sign installation is an often overlooked aspect of a signage project, but is nevertheless an important consideration. There are a lot of variables to take into account, and a great deal of experience is required to successfully complete an installation in a safe, aesthetically pleasing manner which will continue to look good over the expected life of the sign. A sound knowledge of correct fixing options including mechanical fasteners, glues, and VHB tapes, coupled with an awareness of building cladding materials and methods is necessary. In addition, sign installation often requires working at heights, using ladders, scaffold towers, and elevated work platforms such as cherry pickers and scissor lifts. Correct health and safety practices are of critical importance in these circumstances, and so using a professional sign company is a wise choice – bear in mind that you may be held liable if a subcontractors employee is injured whilst working on your project. Ask your prospective contractor if they are Site Safe members, or have other similar safety accreditation, and also whether they carry current public liability insurance, should something go wrong.

Staff Training 

Sign Making is a trade. There is an apprenticeship system whereby young people are employed and through a documented and systemised process are trained in all facets of the sign industry, from design, through to material knowledge, production techniques, installation, and of course safe work practices.  However, unlike other trades, such as plumbing, electrical, and now building, there is no legal necessity for a person working in the sign making field to be qualified.

Literally anyone can buy some cheap equipment and start a business calling themselves “sign writers” or “sign makers”, with no training or experience whatsoever (and, unfortunately, they do).

That is not to say that there are not some very, very good sign-makers out there who are not trade qualified, because there are a lot. However, be aware of making the assumption that because someone is in the business of making signs, that they know what they are doing – they may well not!

How does signage compare to other forms of advertising?

Signs can be the most cost-effective form of advertising for a business.

The cost effectiveness of an advertising campaign is measured by dividing the total cost of the advertisement by the number of “exposures” (the number of times an advertisement is seen) by, to generate a number referred to as “CPM” (cost per thousand).

For example, if a newspaper has a readership of 50,000, and an ad is placed which costs $1000, then the CPM is $50. Because signs are usually installed for years at a time, they tend to have a very low CPM compared to other forms of advertising, particularly if they are installed in a busy area.

As an example, say we have a delivery van which is used on a daily basis around a city for 5 days a week. If a well designed, eye-catching vehicle “wrap” was applied to this van, it could easily be seen by over a thousand people a day. Let’s assume that the van is on a three year lease, and that the wrap cost $5000.

1000 people x 5 days x 52 weeks x 3 years = 780,000 exposures, @ $5000 

= $6.41 per thousand exposures.

That is a very low cost, and compares extremely favourably with other forms of advertising. 

Professionally designed and manufactured signage is an investment that will pay a return many times over, and should be the first priority when it comes to the advertising spend of most modern businesses.

A sign works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for up to 10 years. Even in a relatively low traffic area, the cost per impression of a sign far exceeds that of other forms of advertising.

Many businesses increase their revenue measurably just by adding a good sign. Conversely, many go out of business because they simply are not identified well. As the saying goes – “A business without a sign is a sign of no business.”

A well designed sign helps to instil the “tone” of your business in the viewers mind before actually entering your premises. A good sign can resonate with the mind-set of your target audience so that they are enticed to visit your business simply from viewing your sign.

Get in touch today!

Let us know if you have any questions, we will get back to you as soon as we can.