Are all signs the same because they look the same?

Are all signs the same because they look the same?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hence it can be seen that not all signs are necessarily created equal. This is at least one reason why sign buyers are encouraged to improve their understanding about the signs they require, and also to stick with sign companies that have a reputation, or at least one with references that can be checked.

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

http:www.signforce.co.za