One of the final missing pieces arrived yesterday! We are proud to announce that we have completely retooled all of our sign equipment to produce face shields for local and national hospitals and first responders. We currently have enough inventory to produce 16,000 units and need your help finding direct contacts who need our face shields! Please share this post, and reach out to us directly if we can help during the COVID pandemic!
As the brains behind your business or organization, you know it’s your job to present a good face for your group. And one of the ways you do that is through signs. Of course, great signage is a good start to sharing your name, mission, and goals. But even the best signage can take unexpected hits—from bad weather, bad actors, or any number of unforeseen events.
While you certainly don’t want your sign to be a victim of damage, you know it is possible at any time. Whether you’re currently facing damaged signage or you just want to be prepared, you’re wondering whether signs that have been injured can possibly be repaired. At what point is your signage no longer salvageable?
Your sign might be salvageable if…
Let’s take a look at a few scenarios in which your signage, though damaged, might not be as far gone as you think. Your sign might be salvageable if…
1 – Soap and water will do the trick
Sounds obvious right? But though the idea is simple, it’s good to keep in mind. While your signage might look like it’s in terrible shape, the reality may not be as bad as the appearance.
Try a bucket of hot soapy water (something simple like a tough-on-grease dish detergent with plain tap water). Just remember to check if your sign came with any special instructions prohibiting the use of certain cleaners or solvents. If so, you obviously want to steer clear of any cleaners that aren’t approved.
2 – It’s just dirt that needs a good scrub
You need to take stock of exactly what has damaged or dirtied your sign. If it’s only caked-on mud, chances are, you can wear it down over time with the proper cleaning tools. If you’ve been able to remove all the physical dirt, yet the dirt has left stains behind, now it’s time to pivot your approach to stain removal.
That’s when you break out a water and bleach solution and carefully spot test in a small area of the sign (preferably on the back or underside where it won’t be noticed). If the solution doesn’t damage the test area, scrub away at the stain with your bleach solution, then rinse with fresh water. Allow to dry, then take stock. If you’ve experienced sweet success at stain removal, take the process to the rest of the sign.
3 – You only need elbow grease with a proper abrasive instrument
Don’t forget that signs with metallic components may rust over time. But you may not need an entirely new sign. First, try removing the rust.
4 – The fix is simpler than it appears
Some sign damage solutions could be deceptively simple. For instance, if you have an illuminated sign cabinet that’s no longer illuminated, replacing the entire sign may not be necessary. If your sign company offers repairs, you may choose to have them come look at it. Perhaps they’ll simply need to replace some of the light bulbs.
No help available from the sign company? Don’t worry. Simply reach out to a qualified electrician and ask if he has any experience working with signage that has electrical components.
Do note that when you’re working with electrical signage, you want to beware of DIYing it unless you truly are qualified. It can be dangerous work, and wisdom often dictates that we leave it to the experts.
5 – Your sign might only need cleaning or disassembling
Another scenario where the fix could be simpler than you assume at first glance is when you have a sign that has simply degraded over time. For instance, signage with plastic parts may become discolored with age. Or, as we’ve all seen at one point or another signage with an empty interior cavity might acquire a curious collection of dead buds and small twigs. And that’s certainly not pleasing to the eye (or professional to your clients).
But the fix for the dead-bug problem could be as simple as disassembling your sign and cleaning it out. And other signs may just need some regular cleaning to give them a fresh face. Don’t overlook these mundane possibilities for refreshing your signs.
6 – Your sign isn’t as broken as it looks
Now, what if your sign has been the victim of some kind of trauma? Maybe a car has crashed into it or a tree limb has fallen on it. While these events can surely wreak havoc on a sign, they may not mean you have to totally replace the sign.
First off, take stock of the damage. Note exactly which parts of the sign are broken. Let’s take an example. In the case of a post and panel sign that’s been hit by a car, if the posts are broken off at the base (where they meet the ground), you may need new posts. But you won’t necessarily need a new sign face.
On the other hand, taking stock may reveal that your signage is too far gone to be replaced. For instance, if a tree limb has fallen on a monument sign and smashed it, you’re not necessarily going to be able to put the pieces back together.
Tailor the solutions to your signs
Please note that you need to choose solutions that are appropriate to the signage you have. And that means that instructions from your sign specialist or simply from the documentation that came with your sign should trump the foregoing ideas. While you can try other options, remember that any time you use methods that haven’t been approved for your sign, you run the risk of damaging it.
Choose signs responsibly
It’s a great idea to think about possible risks to your signs before you even purchase them. For instance, if you’ll be located in an area that has a significant problem with vandalism, taking that into account can help you make a better decision. Select signs that are tailored to the needs of your company or organization and to the needs of the community in which you’re located. Check out A Glossary Of Sign Definitions & The Distinctive Features Of Each to get a feel for your sign options.
Donor recognition walls are an incredibly valuable resource for nonprofit organizations. They can become a core part of your fundraising process and the way you build relationships with your supporters.
But setting up one of these displays from scratch can be overwhelming. There are many moving parts in a project like this.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about setting up a donor recognition wall. Following our guide closely can help you get all of the benefits with less of the stress.
What are donor recognition walls?
Donor recognition walls are a kind of wall-mounted display that is normally used by nonprofit organizations to honor their donors and those who have helped them to achieve their goals. In a way, this is a celebration of their achievements as well as a show of appreciation.
As such, these boards are especially beneficial for organizations like the following:
- Worship facilities
- Or any other similar organization that might accept donations
The display will essentially be a list of the names of businesses or individuals who have contributed to raising funds. Some organizations also use them to acknowledge people who might have helped in other significant ways, like giving their time and labor.
These boards are the perfect way to thank your donors and recognize their contributions. You can use it to show them that their donation matters and that you will remember it.
In some cases, it can also be an extra incentive for local businesses or individuals to get involved. It can be an effective way to get the word out about themselves and to improve their reputation while doing some good for their community.
It’s a win for everyone involved.
Nowadays, there are countless options to customize the display. The standard donor recognition wall consists of a header with plaques below it, which are all made of engraved brass that you mount on a wood panel.
All in all, this is still an elegant and professional solution. However, as we will discuss, there are many other variations to consider.
In the next section, we will break down how these boards function and how you should approach them.
How do they work?
The value of recognizing and showing appreciation to your supporters is immeasurable. That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead and make sure you get the best out of the display.
If you want to secure long-term support, it’s vital that you build a positive relationship with your donors. Research has shown that increasing donor loyalty by 10% can lead to an increase of 100 to 150% in ROI. As such, creating a donor recognition wall is a way to invest in the financial wellbeing of your organizations.
The process should start by diligently keeping track of any contributions to your organization. You then need to set up a system to decide how exactly you want to recognize the contribution. This will involve looking at the following aspects.
Choosing who to recognize
First, you need to decide who you want to recognize on the wall. Ideally, you would find a way to thank each contributor. However, it’s not always practical to show your appreciation in the same way. Instead, you can set up a threshold that determines who gets a plaque and who does not.
Most nonprofits will receive different kinds of support, for example:
- In-kind donations
- Capital campaigns
- Planned gifts
- Major donors
It’s the last two kinds of contributions that you definitely want to acknowledge in a formal way. However, it all depends on the structure of your specific venture and its general income trend.
Levels of contribution
Now that you’ve established who you want to recognize, you can move on to the next decision. Besides this, you need to decide whether you want to distinguish between different levels of contributions.
In general, organizations find this to be useful and beneficial as donations can vary widely. One donor might give $1,000 while another gives $10,000.
To keep the design coherent and the system manageable, you can work out categories such as one for donations between $1,000- $2,000 and another for $2,000- $3,000 and so on.
Here are three ideas you can implement to distinguish between categories:
- Use different color plaques. For example, there could be a bronze, silver, and gold group.
- Separate the display into sections or have more than one display.
- Vary the size of the plaque according to the size of the donation.
You want to thank your donors properly for their generous contributions. But you should still take care of how much you spend. On average, organizations spend between 8 and 14% of their total annual budget on donor recognition.
This is a good rule of thumb, and it ensures that the amount you spend scales as your organization does.
Another important part of planning for your donor recognition wall is organizing an unveiling. It can be a valuable opportunity to thank your donors while attracting new potential donors and raising awareness.
One idea is to launch the display as the culmination of a specific campaign. It can be a great way to tie off the effort and celebrate the achievement.
Room for growth
Significantly, you should think of the donor recognition wall as a work in progress. In many ways, it’s a reflection of your venture’s journey.
In some cases, organizations might want the display to focus on one specific funding goal, such as to build a hall or something similar.
But keep in mind that if it is part of your business model to accept donations, you will likely receive more contributions in the future. It’s a good business practice to continue to recognize donors and the support they give. This will also help you encourage donations in the future.
Therefore, you need to think ahead. How can the display grow with your organization?
This will play a vital role in your planning, especially when it comes to deciding on the budget, size, layout, and location of the display.
Generally, it works best to formally assign an individual or group to manage the recognition wall. Doing this will help you make sure that the display gets its due attention and that nothing slips through the cracks.
The task will mainly involve arranging for the production and installation of the sign and any future additions.
Remember that the person or persons who are assigned to this task will also need to fact-check the content. Overall, this will be one of the most critical parts of the job.
One more critical feature that you need to figure out in the planning and preparation stage is the precise contents of the display. Space can be a bit of an issue. So you will need to focus on what is essential information to convey.
Besides this, neither you or the donor might want all the details about their contribution to be revealed.
Possible details to include are:
- Amount donated
- Type of donation
- Name of individual or business
- The company’s logo
- Role in the organization
- Length of support
- A milestone which was funded
- Name of the award
However, in most cases, organizations find it sufficient to only include the name of the individual or business and the year in which the support was given.
In addition to this, you should explain the display in some way and make its purpose clear. Your explanation could appear as part of the header or underneath the header of the whole board. Or you could write a brief introduction to each individual plaque.
You want to select the wording for this with care so that it feels like a reward for the donor and can encourage new potential contributors.
Some brilliant examples of possible phrases are:
- “In recognition of…”
- “Donated in honor of…”
- “Dedicated by…”
- “Made possible by…”
Where should you mount your donor recognition wall?
There is no one place to mount a donor recognition wall. However, you should place it somewhere where most visitors will be able to see it.
Consider too, that a well-designed donor recognition wall can add to the aesthetic of your offices. You can even design it to become the centerpiece of a specific room. Serving multiple purposes is an example of signage at its best.
As we’ve said, the display will probably grow over the years. So it’s a good idea to pick a spot with a lot of space.
Here are some of the most popular spots where organizations place donor recognition walls:
- Reception areas
- High traffic hallways
- Back of a hall
- Waiting area
- Eating hall or cafeteria
All of the above needs to be taken into account when you’re ready to start designing the display. If you do this, you will end up with the perfect way for your organization to demonstrate the respect and esteem you have for your supporters.
Let’s look at the key features of the design with some examples.
All in all, the layout of donor recognition walls can be much trickier to figure out than with other types of signage. But on the bright side, it also means that there are more opportunities for creativity and thinking outside the box.
If above all, you are looking for a neat and professional-looking display, it can be a good idea to go for a standard layout. In this case, you would use plaques that are arranged in tidy rows or columns. You can place them next to or underneath each other.
However, that certainly isn’t your only option. Alternatively, you can choose to arrange the names in a way that would be thematically relevant.
For example, if your organization raises funds for environmental awareness or something similar, you could design the display to look like a tree. Then each plaque can be a leaf on the branches of the tree.
Another idea is to print the different names on different colored plaques and then arrange them in a mosaic type layout.
The style is the overall look of the donor recognition wall. What are you trying to achieve with the display? Are you going for a sleek and sophisticated look or something more contemporary?
Once you’ve decided this, it can help guide you through crafting each element of the sign.
For example, take a look at the wall of fame we at Signarama made for Lamphere High School. The board resembles more traditional styles in terms of its layout. But they wanted to mix things up a bit to get a more exciting and modern aesthetic.
So instead of using the standard brass, they opted for routed brushed aluminum in silver and blue to create a style of their own.
There is more than one way that you can put a unique stamp on a donor recognition wall. It all comes down to customizing the details. Besides the layout and style, you can make your display stand out by incorporating elements of your branding.
The display for Warren’s public library is a brilliant example of this. From the text to the use of logos and graphics, they made sure that the board is recognizable. On top of making the display attractive and appealing, it also leaves no doubt about whom the sign belongs to.
Say thank you in style
Thanking your donors isn’t only a nice or ethical thing to do. Instead, it’s also an important business practice that can lead to tangible benefits for your organization. Donor recognition walls are an ideal long-term solution for this.
It can form the central aspect of the way you approach your sponsors, which you can combine effectively with additional measures like event sponsor signage. Overall, signs can be a brilliant way to advertise fundraisers for your school or nonprofit event.
Communication can be the bane of human existence. Well, okay, maybe it’s not the bane of human existence, but it sure can be a struggle. And when it comes to communicating your ideas to a sign expert, it’s no different. Even that can present challenges.
So we thought it would be worthwhile to offer you some ways to communicate and present ideas to your sign specialist—your newest partner in your company’s branding and marketing journey. Let’s explore tips to ease up potential difficulties and make your sign process a walk in the park.
Put it on paper
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we say “put it on paper” could easily be the idea of formally writing (or typing) things down. And while that’s a great idea that we’ll tackle in just a minute, the idea of “getting things on paper” can actually be broader than the printed word.
In fact, it may not even involve words at all. Sometimes, drawing out your ideas on paper or a nearby whiteboard can be invaluable. What you can easily envision, your specialist may not be able to visualize until you give him an example.
This can be especially true when you’re talking about some of the visual elements of design. Exactly what your logo concept looks like or how you want your text and visuals arranged on a billboard—those are things you may need to map out on paper or a whiteboard.
Don’t underestimate the power of scratching out a rough diagram. And in the modern age, everyone can carry your rapidly-drawn ideas with them by simply pulling out a smartphone and snapping photos of the drawings.
Write it down
Here’s where we actually get to talk about the value of writing or typing things on paper (or on the computer as the case may be). People can easily have an irrational fear of writing out their ideas. They may feel it boxes them in or ties them down. Or they just might be downright scared of writing because they have no idea what they want to say.
As hard as it is, writing ideas down captures them in an invaluable way. It also prompts a thought process that can be very useful to the success of your project. To actually write things down, you may have to think about them a little harder (or perhaps just a little differently) than you otherwise would.
Harness useful terminology (and define it)
Obviously, words are vital for communication. But not all words are equal in terms of importance or value. You might find that some keywords help you communicate better with your sign specialist than others.
For example, when you’re in early stages of sign design and you want to keep all your options open, try using the word, “conceptual” to refer to plans that aren’t set-in-stone. And for good measure, follow up your usage of the word with some helpful clarification about what you mean. In this case, you could just alert the person you’re corresponding with that these plans “may change over time.”
Give them something to go on
If you don’t have any experience in the sign industry (or the design industry), you may feel completely out of your depth. And you may find it challenging to understand what you want, let alone communicate it to others.
That’s why it can be useful to give your sign specialists examples. By pointing out signs, color palettes, and designs that you like, you offer them a window into your mind. Plus, you can take things a step further and articulate why you like what you like.
For instance, maybe you like black and white palettes because you find they communicate “modernity” and “stability.” Well, if you let your specialist know that, they may not only understand your needs better, but they may be able to help you do an even better job of fulfilling them.
Tap into the power of technology to help you out here by using these tools and methods:
- Share a Pinterest board of inspiration
- Take photos of signs you see around town and share them with your specialist
- Send your specialist photos of other companies’ signs you admire
Remember to be both honest and clear when communicating with your sign company. We know it can be tempting to ease the burden of sharing difficult truths or opinions by being evasive or vague. But that tactic could hurt you and your signage partner in the long run.
That doesn’t mean you have to say everything you’re thinking every time. But it is a good reminder to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said—even if it makes you or other people feel a little uncomfortable.
Need examples? When you’re still undecided about a project or an element of a project, don’t string the sign company along by letting them think you’re all in. Communicate to them where you actually are in the decision-making process if you think it would help them make better plans of their own. In fact, it might even help them help you. And it may also prevent them from losing valuable resources like time and money.
When you don’t like something, say so. If it’s your job to sign off on project design, then be open about designs you don’t care for. We’ll venture a guess that most other designers would also prefer to be told “no” sooner rather than later. That way, they don’t waste time on a project element they’ll never ultimately use. And they hear “no” when they still have time to course-correct.
Great company, great communication
Of course, before you can invest in good communication with your sign company, you’ll need to actually find that sign company. Take some time to learn more about selecting a great sign specialist with our What To Look For From A Sign Making Company + Questions To Ask. And if you’re new to the wonderful world of signage, start bringing yourself up to speed with A Glossary Of Sign Definitions & The Distinctive Features Of Each.
Having clients and customers interested and involved in your business or organization is vital. When people attend your events, you’re overjoyed. When they drop by your office, you’re gratified. However, even the best of occurrences sometimes need planning and preparation to ensure that things run smoothly. And that’s why you might find yourself needing traffic control and parking signs—to help you manage all the people who will be in and around your location on a day-to-day basis (or when you’re hosting special events).
Let’s take a look at some examples of custom-designed signs to help you keep people running smoothly through your places. From traffic control to parking, you may need signs to help point people in the right direction or get them situated in the right place.
Custom parking signs
We’ve taken a dive into custom parking signs here. Be sure to let your imagination fill in the gaps when designing parking signs tailored to your own needs. For instance, why not craft a sign that grants a special parking spot to your “Gold-level clients”?
This technique could give you a chance to let your top clients know how much they mean to you. Plus, it allows other clients to have a new goal to aim for—they can shoot to make gold-level status. You can even craft a unique letter, email, or phone call to let your top clients know they were just awarded a special parking space.
Also, be sure that you research relevant rules and regulations that apply to your parking signs. (Your sign specialist may also be able to alert you about relevant requirements). Naturally, you should ensure you’re following the guidelines that apply to you.
Personalize your signs
Choose an image related to what your business or organization does and use it to mark out your designated parking.
1 – Sign with an image and text
Here’s an example of personalizing. Use a sign with a car if your company is an auto repair shop, a car dealership, or even an auto insurance company.
2 – Company logo parking sign
Put up a parking sign with a company logo. It will give useful direction for one thing. But it will also keep your company’s logo in front of potential customers and clients.
3 – Touch of class signage
Whether your sign tells people where to park or directs them which way to turn, consider projecting a classy front for your organization by selecting classy signage.
Make people laugh with your signs
Laughter is a powerful tool. It can uplift spirits and bring smiles to faces. And you can actually tap into the power of laughter to help you solve your parking problems.
It can be frustrating for drivers to encounter reserved parking spots with signage that bars them from pulling right in and shifting into park gear. Obviously, restricted parking throws a roadblock in their way and possibly slows them down. Of course, having to hunt for a new parking space is a less-than-pleasant experience if a driver is in a hurry.
The least your business or organization can do to ease this frustration is to find some humor in the situation. Get the hurried driver to chuckle while they search for a new, non-reserved spot. Seek out reserved parking signs that will make drivers pull away with smiles on their faces.
4 – “Tow those cars!” parking sign
For instance, you could try this parking sign that playfully tallies up cars towed.
5 – Old-fashioned parking sign
Or you could opt for a parking sign with a nod to the olden days.
6 – Blunt parking sign
Then there’s this humorous parking sign that says it like it is.
Traffic control signage
It’s easy to think of stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals when we hear the words “traffic control signage.” Naturally, those signs are often the responsibility of the state transportation department. But even private entities may need signs to help direct traffic.
7 – Signage for large organizational complexes
A hospital might need to direct patients toward the emergency department entrance or another particular hospital area. Or a large industrial complex may use signs to direct drivers and pedestrians to the specific building they’re looking for.
8 – Post and panel signs for operations
Some businesses need to point drivers to loading docks or pick up zones. Post and panel signs are perfect for this job. Plus, you can place arrows on the sign’s face to help drivers see where they should be headed.
Start with stellar designs
Whenever you get custom designed signs— whether for traffic control, parking, or another important use—you have a great opportunity to personalize the signs. You may have more opportunity to make decisions about a sign’s appearance than you would with prefabricated signs. Make the most of it. For instance, be sure you plan in advance so that you can select the right colors. And choose good images that will leave viewers with a great impression of your company.
Get more from your signs
Once you unveil your new signs, don’t stop there! Instead, harness the creative side of your brain to come up with ways to make your signs work extra hard for you. For instance, you can adapt your signage according to the season. Check out How To Make Your Signage Seasonal Without Spending A Lot Of Money. Or you can take a look at our 8 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Signs & Reuse Them On Social Media.
Making high-quality signage is a process. To get from point A to B, you need to engage in a collaborative effort with your sign making company. The process might differ from company to company, but there are a few steps that are essential to a successful project.
As the client, you need to be informed. You need to know what’s going on to make sure that you get the top product that you paid for. That’s why we are going to talk you through the basics of our sign making process at Signarama.
A step-by-step guide to making signs
Sign making typically isn’t as straightforward as it looks.
Following the process is all about making sure that the end product is of the highest quality possible. And it means working together with your sign making company.
So let’s start at the beginning. Before we get to the actual steps of creating a sign, you need to get some preparations out of the way first.
We recommend that you start by deciding what your signage goals are. This should be pretty straightforward.
In some cases, one sign can serve more than one purpose. But it should still have one defining goal, for example, advertising new products.
Hopefully, then, you can come up with a few ideas of what you want the sign to look like or say. Some companies offer design services to help you create the perfect face for the board. Generally, you don’t want to finalize the design without talking to them first.
There are usually two types of approaches clients have who want to make signs.
First, some clients will enter into the process with very specific ideas of what they want, to the minutest detail. The benefit of this is that the process might go more quickly. But it might work against you if the ideas aren’t practical.
Second, other customers only have the vaguest notions of what they want the sign to look like. In this case, you will rely more heavily on the experts’ advice. The process might take a bit longer with revisions. On the other hand, you’re probably going to get started with a practical solution.
Now you need to find and hire the perfect sign company for you. Before you jump the gun, take a moment to do some research about your options. Ask the different experts what services they offer and at what price. And make sure that you ask to see their portfolio.
Remember to check whether they have all the right licenses and permits to manufacture and install signs in your area.
Once you’ve made a decision, you can reach out to the specific company and start the production process.
As we’ve said, the process might be slightly different depending on the sign company and the specific products involved. But three core steps will usually be more or less the same.
1 – Planning and strategy
The first step in the actual sign commission process is that of planning and strategy. At this stage, you will sit down with your sign manufacturing team to strategize about the project. You will hash out many of the crucial details. This will likely involve discussing the following:
- Your deadline
- Their range of products
- Your signage goals, for example, do you want to create a directional sign, and advertisement, or a building sign
- Prices and quotations
- Products you want
- Design ideas
- Potential site for installation
- Relevant permits and licenses
- The products they have available
- It’s also the ideal time to troubleshoot future issues
If you want to, you can potentially discuss this via phone or email. But it can work well if you meet up in person at least once and chat about your project face-to-face.
A professional sign making company will offer ongoing project management services. This means that they will carefully plan the process from design to manufacturing to make sure that you can get your finished sign on time.
Significantly, signage experts will know that signs are never truly standalone products. Instead, they form part of your business’ more long-term advertising or educational strategies. It’s crucial that the team keeps this in mind.
Consequently, the specific product needs to match the rest of your branding. If you don’t have any branding in place as of yet, you need to discuss this at this step as it will need to form part of the plan.
To streamline the process, take everything you’ve prepared along with relevant information to the meeting.
Once you’ve decided on the details for the project, it’s time to set up an agreement between you and the sign company. And you’re ready to go.
2 – Design and develop
Next, you can move on to the design and development stage. Hopefully, your sign making company will have some designers on board to help you in this process. Otherwise, you can attempt to do this yourself or consult an outside expert.
This is generally the step in the process where you or the designers will take your basic ideas and transform them into a concept for the sign. The design is the plan or specification for the construction of an object.
In terms of signage, this refers to the visual appearance of the sign and its face.
Here are some key elements that you need to incorporate into the design:
- Your business’ logo
- Company branding
- Graphics and images
- Size and dimensions of the sign
- The layout
- Text formattings like the size and font
- The shape of the sign
- Call to action
- The content
These features aren’t standalone. Instead, you and the design team need to find a way to incorporate them into a coherent whole, which will catch your audience’s eye and help you reach your signage goals.
Unfortunately, design usually isn’t a one-off activity. There will most likely be some back and forth between you and the designer to make sure you get the sign just right. Each version might be called a design iteration or prototype.
Because of this, the process might take a bit longer, but it will all be worth it when you finally get to see your high-quality professional sign.
Before you approve the final design, you need to ask for a prototype or proof. This is a preliminary version of a printed product. It gives you the opportunity to check for any mistakes, for example:
- Incorrect grammar
- Issues with the layout
- Clashing colors
- And more
3 – Build and install
Once you’ve signed off on the final design, you can move on to the next, and usually, last step. Your sign making company can now start making your sign, which means that all your hard work is done. This step is where the magic really happens.
You probably started off with a few vague ideas, and now you will get to see those ideas put into action to create a sign that you can touch and see.
During this phase, the sign making company will build the signs by cutting out the boards, printing the face, applying any finishes, etc. The construction process will be different for each type of sign.
For example, to make acrylic channel letters, the experts need to apply colored vinyl to a clear acrylic sheet.
Afterward, they will cut the characters out of the sheet. Then they will place a trim cap around each letter and seal it. The manufacturer will then use specialized equipment to create and attach the side structure of each character. Only then can they run the LED lights through.
Then all that’s left is to install and mount the board. In most areas, you will need to have a license to install certain types of signs, especially if they need a power connection or are very large. So you need to ask your sign making company if they offer installation services too.
Essential questions to ask
So far, we’ve outlined the most important information you need to know about the sign production process. But there’s much more to learn about signage projects. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the vital questions you need to ask your sign making company.
How long will it take?
Generally, there are two parts to consider when you are thinking about the timeline. Production, which is step 3, will only start once you’ve seen a proof of the sign and approved the final order.
The time it takes to get to here depends on factors like the following:
- The size of the sign
- Number of products
- Type of sign
- Materials used
- The complexity of the design
- Number of iterations
- Finishes and treatments that you choose
- Printing method
- Whether the manufacturing is in-house or not
You might be surprised to learn that it’s usually not the printing and construction stage that takes the longest. It’s often the design phase that can hold up the process. As we’ve said, it can take time to agree and put your vision on paper.
Generally, step 1 can be completed in a week. Stage 2 typically takes one to four weeks. And for most signs, phase 3 takes between two and four weeks.
All in all, the entire process will typically take between one and three months.
Do I get to see a proof?
Most professional and reliable sign-making companies will print you a proof of the signs. Doing this can save both of you time and money as it will increase the chances that the final product will be perfect the first time around.
You need to see the proof before they start production so that you can approve the final design. In some cases, you might need to make some kind of payment first.
Does this process involve applying for permits?
There are many laws and rules which regulate the use and installation of signage. Typically they differ depending on the state and municipality. In rare cases, some types of signs are exempt. For example, in many cities, you don’t need any licensing for window graphics.
But you will need a permit for most types of signs. And the sign making company needs to have the correct licenses to be able to apply. Generally, the best to do this is at the end of step 2, before production begins.
To apply, you will need to do the following:
- Fill in the necessary application forms
- Get consent from the landowner
- Provide zoning certification
On average, the application will take two to four weeks to approve if everything is in order. However, remember that you are in the hands of your local council or authorities. Therefore, there is no guarantee of how long this will take.
Luckily, the signage experts will have gone through this process hundreds of times before and should know all the ins and outs.
You should note that you will need to pay a fee for the permit application as well. But more likely than not, the sign-making company will calculate this into the price.
To find out more about the signage permits in Michigan, you can take a look here.
When do I need to pay?
A crucial part of any business transaction is, of course, the payment. Both parties need to agree on when and how much money will change hands. The sign making company will usually have some kind of payment policy, like paying a portion upfront.
The agreement should outline the answers to the following question:
- Is there a deposit?
- What is the final amount?
- When does the account need to be settled?
- How should the payment be made?
Most sign companies will require that you pay a deposit before they start making the sign or signs. And then you’ll need to pay the rest of the balance once the project’s done.
Don’t try to rush perfection
Like most good things in life, creating high-quality signage takes time. Professional sign-making companies won’t take any shortcuts with your products. Instead, they will advise you on how to work through the different steps with them.
But there are some things you can do to streamline the process. For example, it can be handy to find out more about the different types of signage and how to install them around your business beforehand.
Certain things are only useful if they’re available when you need them. And designated parking spaces are an example of just such a time-sensitive item. Parking spaces reserved for certain people at certain times are important parts of the parking experience. They offer convenience, speed, and accessibility for motorists.
But, the problem is, designated parking isn’t always observed. Some drivers may use a space regardless of whether they should technically park there. And when that happens, the space is blocked from being available for its intended user. After all, you can’t very well move an empty, parked car—unless you have the resources to tow it. And tracking down the owner is a hassle that doesn’t work well with your already busy schedule.
Custom parking signs
That’s why you need custom parking signs! Let’s face it, sometimes it’s actually difficult to see what’s painted on the ground in front of your vehicle. And once you’ve accelerated and pulled the car forward, your vehicle is covering up the graphic. So now it’s actually impossible to see it.
If you’ve ever sat in the driver’s seat scouring the area for signage to help you figure out where you’re supposed to go or whether you’re allowed to stay, you know what we mean. If the only direction is on the ground beneath you, that’s not much help if you missed the visual cue just before you drove over it.
Custom parking signs make it easy for drivers to see which spaces are free for the taking and which aren’t. And they don’t require drivers to back up or bend down to look underneath their parked cars for the do’s and don’ts of your parking area.
Signs for accessible parking
Some of your patrons, customers, or clients may have special needs that call for accessible parking. Whether these are due to age, pregnancy, or permanent or temporary disability, you certainly want to accommodate.
Simply providing the accessible parking spaces is not enough. You also have to mark them. And you have to mark them clearly so that whenever your clients and customers need them, they’re available. This is when custom parking signs can be a perfect solution.
Depending on how your parking area is situated, you may want to purchase custom parking signs that will anchor to the wall of a building. Or you might need signs that will stand on posts of their own. A quick look at your parking area may help you decide, but it’s a good idea to ask your sign specialist for input. They may be able to offer constructive advice based on their knowledge of accessible parking rules and regulations that apply to you.
Signs for private parking
In areas with mixed zoning or simply with many businesses located close together, you might need to stake your claim on the parking areas that belong to you. It’s easy to envision this scenario because you’ve likely seen these signs yourself before. A bank might use them to proclaim “Parking for [Name of Company] Only.” Or a restaurant might offer the following admonition, “Patron Parking Only.”
Signs for reserved parking
Sometimes your custom parking signs will need to let outsiders know that they can’t use particular spaces. However, they can also let your own employees know which parking spaces are for whom.
For instance, a university might designate a particular spot as, “Reserved for Dean of School of Business” or “Reserved for Provost.” Some companies or organizations may even use reserved parking as a reward for employee performance. As an example, the employee of the month could receive the privilege of parking in a coveted spot for a certain period of time.
Create your custom parking sign
Your custom parking sign should be tailored to your location, of course. But you might also choose to create a sign that reflects something of your company brand. One way to do this is to include your logo.
But that’s not all you can do. Work with your sign specialist to create something that uniquely reflects your company. For instance, if you’re a lighthearted, upbeat sort of business, injecting a note of humor into your custom parking signage might be a perfect idea.
More signs on the outside
Now that you know how you can reinvent your parking area to make life easier for everyone, check out these other outdoor signs that can help your clients and customers. Check out The Complete Guide To Building Signs: Dimensions, Design & Installation. Or take a look at A Portfolio Of Clever Outdoor Event Signage Ideas.
You can’t go to a tradeshow without a professional tradeshow display. Eye-catching signage is crucial to attracting visitors to these events. You want to get their attention and keep it if you’re going to sell your product or service or generate leads.
A single sign can speak volumes about your brand. You want to let your audience know who you are, what you’re about, and what you can offer them. But that’s why it’s so important to choose the ideal sign.
Types of tradeshow displays
First, we’ll look at the basics. There isn’t just one type of tradeshow display. Sign-making companies offer a whole host of products that you can use at exhibits. Each of these comes at a different cost and with unique features.
So here are the main options you should choose between for a tradeshow sign.
All in all, this sign is a tradeshow favorite. It’s a great way to dress up your booth, advertise your business, and can be very practical too.
Typically, these are back walls that are made up of a frame with custom printed graphics that you can wrap around. We recommend that you buy one that you can easily assemble and disassemble at the event. They are even better when they come with some kind of carrying case.
Banners are a mainstay of tradeshow marketing.
Generally, these signs are cost-effective and versatile. Their vertical orientation can help you save on floor space while still giving you plenty of space for content. There are a few types, but most businesses prefer freestanding banners, which you can mount on a frame.
Another of the best products for tradeshow displays are table covers. This is a highly-effective way to dress up your booth while also promoting your business and your brand.
The design for these displays is typically straightforward and neat. You can use a black or white background with contrasting text for your companies name.
One highly customizable product for a tradeshow display is panel signs. Here you will have lots of options to work with. You can choose between materials like acrylic, wood, and aluminum, among others. On top of this, you can completely adapt the size and dimensions.
In some cases, you can even ask your sign-making company to attach a few panels together. You can place them on your tabletop, use them as a back wall, or hang them from your booth.
Instead of a table, you can also use an island as a surface for your stall. You can hire a sign company to construct one from scratch. Or you can jazz up an old stand. For example, you can buy graphics to wrap around it.
A well-designed island can make a fantastic centerpiece for your booth.
Put your message in the spotlight by hanging it from the ceiling or top of your booth. If you’ve ever been to a tradeshow, you know that every inch of the space is valuable real estate. This is a great way to catch the eye.
Sign companies have products that they created specifically for this. But you could also take any other type of sign as a banner or panel and hang them.
The above are undoubtedly some of the most popular signs for tradeshow displays. However, the list isn’t exhaustive. The following are more great options:
- Graphic tents and canopies
- Hybrid displays
- Modular exhibits
Guide to choosing the best tradeshow display
To help you pick the ideal display, we’ve looked at questions you need to ask about the event and your business.
Does it fit your budget?
Let’s get one of the most important aspects out of the way first. And that is what your signage budget is. You need to go into this process knowing how much you can afford and how much you want to spend.
As we’ve said, signage is usually an essential aspect of your booth or stall. But you still don’t want to blow the bank. The key is to figure out how to get the most value for your money.
Will it be more impactful to get one high-quality sign or several budget-friendly signs?
On average, businesses prefer to use one to three boards for their display. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you can usually use tradeshow signs again and again. As long as there isn’t content that is specific to that event, you can reuse them.
Therefore, if you frequently go to tradeshows, it’s best to think of this as a long-term investment. In that case, you can probably spend more now to avoid spending later.
At Signarama, we’ve made exhibition signs for all kinds of budgets from $100 to $2000. But most displays are in the $300 range.
You can decrease or increase the costs through your choice of content, material, finishes, mounting, dimensions, and clearly the type of sign.
What are your signage goals?
Another critical question you need to ask is what are your signage goals. Signs can be pretty versatile. Yet there is only so much content you can effectively fit on one display. So you have to focus on one central message or purpose.
Overall, here are the most vital signage goals you can choose from:
- Promote your business
- Build brand recognition
- Sell specific products or services
- Educate your audience
- Grab attention
- Give directions or instructions
- Decorate the space
The sign you pick in the end needs to help you reach these goals. For example, if you want to educate your audience, a table cover probably won’t cut it, but it can work well for brand recognition.
How long will it take?
In an ideal world, you would be able to start planning several months to a year before an event. But the reality isn’t always that straightforward. Occasionally you will only have a few weeks to get your stand ready for an exhibit.
In these cases, you might not have much time to have your displays made.
Creating quality signage takes time since the process has several steps. Usually, you would start by asking for quotes, designing the content, creating and approving proofs, and then printing.
Therefore, you must ask your sign making company how long their different signage products will take.
Some products might be done and dusted in as little as a week. However, others can take a month or longer.
If the margin of error is too small, pick another display. Miracles do happen, but sometimes it’s not worth the risk. You don’t send a newsletter without any content. Similarly, you don’t go to a tradeshow without any signage.
Nobody wants to be in the situation where they rush around last minute to pick up a display.
How much space do you have?
Hopefully, you will plenty of space to work with for your booth. But that’s not always up to you. The organizers will often allocate a specific area for each exhibitor, or you might get the opportunity to choose the size for a price.
Unfortunately, this means that you might get a spot that seems way too small. This is where you have to get creative. You need to find space where you didn’t know there was any. It can be handy to consult the experts about this as well.
Luckily, there are a variety of signs that can help you maximize the use of space. Here are a few of them:
- Table throws
- Panel signs
- And table tops
On the other hand, if the stall is large, your challenge would be to make sure it doesn’t look too empty. If it does, you risk looking unprepared, and your exhibit will probably be unimpressive and possibly dull.
In this case, you need to use several types of signs. For example, in a wide booth, you can use a series of freestanding banners as well as a pop-up display.
B2B or B2C?
Whenever you’re making ads or signs, you need to consider your audience or target market. The secret to great marketing is always designing for your viewers and not for yourself. To do that, you need to know who you are talking to.
Therefore, your signs need to be different depending on whether the tradeshow is for B2C or B2B. In other words, are you trying to sell to a consumer or to another business?
For example, a tradeshow for B2B might be one where different software developers for project management tools are promoting their products to interested companies.
Of course, your audiences might overlap at times. However, it can usually be pretty clear cut at these types of events.
Generally, a common mistake people make is to design their promotions in the exact same way for both. But that’s not the best way to maximize their impact. Instead, you need to choose your tradeshow display with the express purpose of meeting their unique needs and desires.
In the case of B2B, you want to focus on the following:
- These customers are looking to you to educate them. They want and need to make informed decisions that they can justify to their superiors. So this should be a key aspect of your displays.
- Unlike consumer marketing, you shouldn’t be shy about the details. This is your opportunity to go in-depth about your product or services and answer many of the questions they might have. You want to show them you’re the real deal.
- You need to have patience with B2B customers. Their buying cycle is longer, and there is usually a longer chain of command to deal with. So instead of including a call of action to encourage the audience, for example, to buy a product now, you can tell them how they can get more information.
- Above all, these customers are serious about returns on investment (ROI). There is no beating around the bush. They want to know what they are going to get from the deal. You want to give them concrete examples of information on what you can do for them.
That’s why you want to choose a sign type that allows you to fit in as much content as possible. Banners are typically your best option.
For example, take a look at the sign we made for Test Equipment Distributors. The height of the banners allowed them to use space efficiently to fit in as much info as possible without the display looking overcrowded.
If you want to, you can use more than one banner to convey additional details and make your stall look fuller and more complete.
On the other hand, for B2C marketing, you want to focus on the following:
- Consumers tend to rely more on emotions to make purchasing decisions instead of pure reason and logic. So you need to connect with them on an emotional level. Don’t talk about ROI’s. Tell them that the product can make them happier or boost their confidence.
- B2C customers don’t want to be overloaded with details. In this case, less is more. You will lose their attention if you can’t get the main point of the sign in a matter of seconds.
- You want to add some fun to your sign. Most of the time, consumers don’t want to look at a sign that reads like a user manual. So sprinkle it with a few exciting elements like photos and graphics.
Generally, you can also use banners for B2C tradeshow displays. But this isn’t necessarily the most efficient option for you. You can also choose signs like table throws, coroplast boards, routed signs, and so on.
Just take a look at the board we made for Mazda. The sign contains far fewer words, so they did not need as much space. And the colorful photo helps to make the sign stand out.
Take your event signage to the next level
Events can be a big deal for your business. It’s a high-impact method to attract new customers and keep your existing ones excited about your company. However, they usually require a significant investment in terms of time and money. That’s why you need to make the best of it.
You want your business to put its best foot forward all the time and everywhere. But some situations may offer a more targeted chance to represent to others who you are and what you do. And one of those situations is a tradeshow—a perfect opportunity to represent your brand to the watching world. That’s why today we’re going to dive into some tips for crafting tradeshow displays you can be confident standing behind (or perhaps standing in front of).
Select stellar graphics
If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ll know that we touch on this topic frequently. Good graphics lay a solid foundation for your signage. Choosing the right colors, images, fonts, and sizes is an important part of your signage creation.
Here’s a tip for a striking display—give your signage some depth. This could take different forms, depending on how much space you have available and on what your budget is for the project. Here are two options we like. Check out this one where the signage is curved instead of simply being a flat surface.
And this display (photos 2 and 3) looks like a walk-in experience. Try using something like this to enhance the viewer experience. Instead of simply interacting with the text or visuals they can see behind your tradeshow table, this display offers a chance to be immersed in your company’s promotional materials.
Let the lighting pull its weight
Another thing to keep in might with your tradeshow displays is that they can actually be affected by external factors. So while the sign’s own design is vitally important, it’s not the only thing you’ll want to think about. You may also need to give some thought to the lighting that will help your sign be visible.
First, there may be lighting on the tradeshow floor to take into account. And you might be doing yourself a favor by thinking about this in advance and learning what to expect when you actually set up your display. This way, you’ll have done your best to be prepared for the lighting that’s available.
Second, your display may involve lighting that you provide. For instance, if you have a walk-in display, like the one we noted above, lighting might be a huge part of the experience.
The right kind of lighting can make your exhibit a showstopper for sure. But we know those types of eye-catching displays don’t happen without planning and preparation. That’s why you’ll want to know whether your display calls for you to provide some of the illumination. And if it does, make a solid plan to provide it so that you can shed light on your setup beautifully.
Look at the location
Just as we said with lighting, there’s another external factor to take into account in the planning phase. And that is your tradeshow display’s location. What kind of space will you be working with? How many square feet will you have to call your own? Will you be in a corner, a center area, or with your back to the wall?
Take some time to discover these things in advance if possible so that you can work with your sign company to optimize your signage. Determine what tradeshow signage will fit best and look most appealing in your particular location.
Put yourself in your viewers’ shoes
Here’s our very best advice to underly your entire process of choosing and crafting tradeshow displays. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your viewers and imagine what the signage will look like from their perspective.
This is actually where you may want to pull together a team of people within your company—allowing everyone’s different strengths and experiences to inform the project. Have some company employees been to this tradeshow before? If so, you don’t want to miss out on their perspective.
You may have masterminded what you think is a winning display only to be informed by a “regular” who’s attended the show years running that your sign has far too much information to be absorbed. And that regular may well know the rate at which people are going to be passing by your display. He or she has likely noticed what displays piqued their own interest in prior years, too.
Plus, don’t forget to tap into any in-house graphic design or marketing team your company has. They may be able to offer insights into viewer preferences and behaviors. And while it may sometimes be hard to hear their honest suggestions, put the interests of the company first and ask for constructive critique.
Learn all you can about signage
Information that is specific to tradeshow signage is a great idea of course. But you should also be able to pick up helpful nuggets from general signage tips, tricks, and how-tos. Check out our Sign Terminology: Negative Space, Optimal Distance, Typography & More to start learning. Or read up on fonts with our 10 Professional Sign Fonts + The Meanings Behind Them.