Let me tell you a “not so secret”, secret about #signs

Rushing a sign – a good way to make a mess of everything!

Experience is a marvelous teacher, and in #SignForrce’s business of CUSTOM #SIGNS, the one groundhog lesson that keeps repeating itself seems to be that if – or should I say, WHEN – a #sign job is rushed, regardless of how simple the job may be – or seem – or how fast people believe it can be done, the likelihood of errors occurring on the job seem to climb exponentially.

This tends to happen for a combination of reasons, or more accurately an accumulation of a combination of missed steps or rushed procedures that, when followed, assure the work is top quality, correct and on time, but when ignored or missed, almost guarantee some level of error.

In order to make sure that even the simplest #sign job is (1) correct, (2) accurate and (3) delivered on time, processes need to be followed.

The processes include getting the artwork for the job signed off, getting the various processes completed and ensuring that the team have access to the premises when it is time to deliver or install the sign.

As an example I am going to use a Chromadek #sign. In signage terms Chromadek is one of the cheapest, simplest metal signs, which, in simple terms, means it should be the fastest and easiest to produce.

So what has to happen to manufacture a small Chromadek sign?

For starters, if the #Chromadek #sign is smaller than a standard sheet, then the Chromadek needs to be trimmed. That could be the second process. The first being deciding if Chromadek is the CORRECT – read that as BEST – material to achieve the desired outcome of the #sign. (In the fast changing world we live in, this question is becoming more and more important).

Most #signs require some or other decoration, making it important to DO and get artwork APPROVED. It can turn out that getting artwork approved can be one of the most important steps, especially when the client provides the artwork, as it may be of poor quality, but also, if the artwork is ‘layered’, it is possible that the artwork may come out differently on SignForces’s computer and printer than what the designer – and client – intended. More than once we have been asked WHY the person PRINTING or APPLYING or INSTALLING the #sign never “picked up” on an error on a #sign. The ‘simple’ reason is that the person working on the sign has trusted that the client has APPROVED the artwork, and as importantly, they are focusing on their task at hand, not on someone else’s job or task.

Once the Chromadek has been cut and the vinyl has been printed and or cut, the vinyl needs to be applied (attached) to the Chromadek so the sign can be inspected and delivered (or collected).

Depending on the size of the sign and the availability of staff and equipment, with enough hands and EVERYTHING being perfect, that entire process can take between one and two hours. However, the real world is not perfect, and no business exists when staff are simply WAITING for work to do. This is ONE of the reasons #SignForce generally request between 7 and 10 WORKING DAYS to complete a sign.

SignForce has built our over 20 year reputation on MEETING DEADLINES, even if the #signs come at a small premium, because rush jobs are prone to errors and redo’s and mistakes and unintended labour costs.

If you are looking for a quality sign, especially with a TIGHT DEADLINE, SignForce should be your first call on 011 440 7524 or info@signforce.co.za, and if you are in a rush, please tell us so we can quote accordingly and fast.

5 points that make a #sign successful. Part 1

The success of a sign is generally a VERY SUBJECTIVE measurement, and will have a lot to do with exactly WHY the sign was originally commissioned, and WHAT the intent of the commissioner was at the time the sign was commissioned.

If the #sign was commissioned to let passers by know that YOU are located in a particular location, and the sign generates sufficient interest or attention to get [sufficient] people to walk in, the sign could be considered a success.

If on the other hand the #sign was intended to make a specific statement, one that was intended to say ask for a ladies hand in marriage, could one say the sign was UNSUCCESSFUL if the lady turns down the proposal?

From a #signage perspective, generally, for a sign to be successful it should:

  1. Stand out from it’s environment
  2. Be easy to read
  3. Be easy to understand
  4. Be clear, and
  5. Be BOLD

If your sign has all five points, it is bound to succeed in it’s objective.

For SUCCESSFUL signs visit http://www.signforce.co.za or contact #SignForce at +27 (0)11 440 7524 / 5 or email to info@signforce.co.za

SignForce is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and ork throughout Southern Africa.

Are all Sign Manufacturers the same?

Are all #sign #manufacturers the same or is there a difference between one sign manufacturer and another?

As with all businesses, every sign business needs to maximize profits in order to survive.

Unlike many businesses, and because signs are custom made, and because materials differ, it sometimes happens that ‘cheaper’ short cuts are available. Short cuts can include using different – read as cheaper – (materials which generally have a shorter life span), or manufacturing techniques that are time saving, (but often at the trade off of longevity of the sign).

An example is a sign we recently inspected where the returns (the sides or part of the sign or letter that creates depth) of the letters had ‘popped’ so that the curves (around the O and a) had returned to their natural state and became straight. This means that over time the face of the 3D letter will fall off, which is what is happening with this sign.

Generally the returns of fabricated, #3D letters are heated and bent. They are then ‘chemically welded’ so that they retain the new shape. Saving time by not heating the returns can save money and get the job done faster. Using less chemicals may also result in some, almost insignificant, cost savings. Both will almost certainly also substantially reduce the life expectancy of the #3D sign.

While making the cheap initial purchase could possibly still be a worthwhile purchase, the adage ‘let the buyer beware’ is certainly worth remembering as in the long run (over five to ten years) the cost to replace broken or lost letters tends to be significantly higher than the cost to have it done properly up front. And that cost excludes the potential for negative press if, for example, an element of a sign breaks and hits someone or something.

For a quote on quality #3D signs by an experienced sign company that guarantee our work, contact SignForce at info@signforce.co.za or +(27) (0)11 440-7524 or  +(27) (0)11 440-7525

What makes a #sign expensive? Signs as an investment.

What makes a sign ‘expensive’?

Expensive is a VERY subjective word, so lets look at the input costs and how that could, would or should influence one’s purchasing decision.

#SignForce, as all sign suppliers, work in a very competitive market. There are generally many sign businesses in a relatively small area, especially as #signage is a low entry cost business. Because of the high level of competition, each sign business needs to have ‘something’ that makes our business ‘stand out’. For the person making the purchase, the high level of competition means one SHOULD be able to compare various options and get the best solution to fit your requirements, although COST, OUTLAY or INITIAL INVESTMENT is often the deciding factor, very often at the sacrifice of long term investment or long term LIFE of the sign.

Because COST or INITIAL OUTLAY is such a HUGE determining factor for many buyers, one of the easiest ways to stand out  is on ‘price’. It is easy for clients to choose the lowest cost supplier, as, generally, all suppliers will quote to supply the same LOOKING sign.

Often how this works is the potential client (or buyer) will send out a ‘tender’, which consists of a picture of how the sign should look. Sophisticated buyers will also supply detailed specifications – which they understand and can check – but this is less common than only supplying a picture and sizes. Also too often the person supplying the specifications does not gave a great understanding of what they are specifying so their ability to ensure that they receive what was quoted could be limited.

Because EVERYONE is quoting on the same OUTCOME (read that as picture), when the buyer gets their three or more competing quotes, they naturally assume they are comparing ‘APPLES’ with ‘APPLES’, but because #signs are not standard, off the shelf items, the design, makeup and materials can (and generally will) differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. As such, although all the signs may (initially) LOOK the same when installed, they could, in reality, be EXTREMELY different.

In order to explain I am going to use the example of a modular, internally illuminated light box sign with an acrylic face that is illuminated using energy efficient LED lights. I am using a modular frame as we can then assume that everyone that is quoting is using the same external frame, so all the quotes would have the same (or similar) input costs for the frame.

Now lets look at the make up of the sign, starting with ILLUMINATION. There are a number of LED’s that can be used on a light box sign. The difference can be anything from in how much light the LED emits (lumens) to the size of the individual LED units (or modules) to the angle of the light emitted from the LED module (especially if the module has a LENS), the expected life of the units and the COST. Because there are so many variables, for the purpose of this article I will compare cost that can vary from about R35 (US$ 13) per meter to about R500 (US$ 186) per meter. It would seem obvious there are a number of variables that affect the cost, but for #SignForce the important differences are (a) the LED’s are the correct LED’s for the job (meaning they will give equal and sufficient light), (b) the expected life of the LED and (c) the LED’s are sure to do the job (preferably guaranteed) so that the business will not have any unnecessary call backs which can be substantially more costly than the cost of the LED’s.

Other factors that can have a GREAT  impact on the cost include, but are not limited to, (a) the size of the sign (this has way too many variables to reference in this article), (b) the cost of the decoration (print versus cut vinyl versus ink versus paint) (we will only refer to PRINT where costs have a range difference that can easily exceed 500%, with the quality and life span of the print varying greatly), (c) the thickness of the acrylic face (this is influenced by the size of the sign and possibly the location of the sign, and will in turn influence the cost of both the acrylic (the thicker the higher the cost) and the beading that holds (supports) the acrylic face). (d) If the frame is to be painted the make up and application method of the paint can also have a great impact on costs, both due to the large difference in cost of the base paint as well the time and process differences between the various application methods which range from ‘dipping’ to using a paint brush to spray painting and powder coating.

At #SignForce we take our guarantee VERY SERIOUSLY, and as such we use materials which, while generally more costly, will have a higher likelihood of lasting and not creating negative comebacks from clients. This does tend to make the initial outlay slightly higher, (historically this is generally no more than 20%), but #SignForce’s logic is that having to redo a sign after three to five years could be substantially more costly than having a sign that does it’s job well for it’s intended life, which is generally seven years, even if the decoration needs to be replaced more regurarly.

For more information on why SignForce views #signs as an investment or on purchasing  quality signs that will consistently keep you in your prospective clients eyes for many years to come, please contact #SignForce at info@signforce.co.za

Is my low tech #Sign job in jeopardy?

Is my low tech #sign JOB in jeopardy?

With all the advances made in technology, especially with relation to the #sign industry, there are times that I wonder if I am in danger of losing my job to a computer. This may happen as artificial intelligence (commonly known as AI) improves, but I am not sure how creative AI thinking is. While there are times I get concerned about the value I add to my client’s and thus about my job security, there are also times when I think – or realize – that as much as technology improves, there are certain skills that simply require ‘out of the box’ thinking.

For me this was highlighted when two incidents happened within fairly close proximity to each other.

The first was a YouTube video I saw and the other was a job I was asked to print. The video is by a somewhat radical news reader, @Liz_Wheeler from TIPPING POINT on OAN who is not scared to ask very hard questions – she doesn’t always answer them – but the fact she stirs the pot should create enough fodder for some interesting dialog. The particular idea I am referring to can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLAS_p-6Rnc where Liz takes an extreme view on how far the ‘trans’ movement can or should be pushed. In particular she makes the comment “can a teenager buy alcohol because he identifies as over 21 years of age”. This got me thinking about how young adults are viewed and treated in society at large, in MY society in particular and how, being so much more tech savvy, they could replace this old goat.

The second was when my son asked me to print a graphic for a school project. The graphic is a beautiful design that was done by a 14 year old class mate. The design is beautiful and one can easily see the thought and effort that has gone into the design, and I am sure that once printed, the design will achieve the desired objective and help sell products at the school’s market day.

What got my brain linking the two was the lack of ability of the tech savvy 14 year old to complete the task  – something which I have seen numerous times with well respected designers who, while they can make the design come to life on paper or a screen, are unsure how to get the design to come TO LIFE if a 3D model of the design needs to be produced.

The ability of a designer to get their brilliant design off a piece of paper and onto a 3D model is, sadly, much rarer than one would imagine, and as such, the FEAR that MY #sign job is in jeopardy of being lost to a less expensive, much more sophisticated software package is certainly reduced.

If you have a brilliant design that you want made into a 3D model, contact us st #SignForce where we have almost two decades of experience making 3D masterpieces from beautiful paper designs.

Contact us now on + 27 (0)11 440 7525 / 4 or arnold@signforce.co.za

How BIG must my sign be?

How LARGE MUST my sign be? What size sign will best convey my message? From how far will people be able to read my sign?

These are questions we often get asked. As a joke, we tend to advise clients that, as a rule of thumb, (a) the bigger the better and (b) the sign should be as large as your budget allows. (Please note this IS a joke and while it is valid for outdoor signs, is not always best for intimate signs, where too big becomes gaudy.)

In truth, if a sign NEEDS to be visible from a specific distance – because it is located on the side of the road or it will only be viewed from moving vehicles or the sign is some distance from the point where it will be read (to name three of many scenario’s), then there are some rough scientific calculations that can be used to calculate the height the text needs to be in order for the text to be visible from a specific distance, as well as from a distance at speed. Please remember, at best, these calculations are rough guide, as they do not take into account ALL factors that affect visibility, especially height above the viewer.

The table below has been adapted from information taken from signsnow.com. For more in depth calculations, especially for measuring legible distance while driving, please visit https://www.usscfoundation.org/USSCSignLegiRulesThumb.pdf

It is important to remember that the table below refers to LETTER height ONLY. This means that if you have multiple lines of text or multiple words or either of these combined with a logo, the SIZE of THE SIGN will change, with the dependent factor being the DISTANCE at which the TEXT must be legible.

legible sign distance

For assistance for any signs, especially when you need to calculate sign size in order to make the sign legible, please call #SignForce on + 27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5 or email arnold@signforce.co.za

#Signs and the Coefficient of Change

Coefficient of Change

Experience is an amazing, if somewhat costly, teacher.

We at #SignForce we recently asked to maintain a #sign (#signmaintenance) where the lights had stopped working. When we touched some of the letters they literally fell apart.

Now let me give some background. #SignForce did not initially make the sign and we don’t know exactly how old it is. We do know it has been in it’s current position for 30 months when the sign moved with its owner. The reason I am explaining this is when one hears that the sign fell apart, it is common for the first thought to be that is is a result of poor workmanship, which I do not believe is the case in the instance.

Back to experience and the difference in the coefficient of change.

A while back – in 2010 – #SignForce manufactured and installed a 3D sign that was attached to the glass face of the building – the sign is in fact a total of eight stories high. One of the lessons that was learned from that installation is that, if the coefficient of change – the rate at which one material expands and contracts when it heats or cools in relation to a second material – is too large, one or both of the materials will literally tear themselves apart.

On inspection of the letters that fell apart, it seems this is the issue. The #stainless steel and #acrylic that were glued together simply placed too much strain on the #acrylic causing the acrylic to fracture in multiple places.

While the two materials CAN be attached to each other, various factors need to be taken onto account in order to prevent fracturing – something that comes with experience and expensive lessons.

If you are looking for a sign that combines various materials it may be worth approaching a business like #SignForce who have been around the block a few times and could thus be able to assist without the sign falling apart.

Contact #SignForce now on 011 440 7525 or at arnold@signfrce.co.za to get assistance and an obligation free quote.

Does your sign convey your desired message?

Every now and then – or possibly a little more often – we need to INSPECT our #signs to make sure that our #signs convey the message we WANT, INTEND and EXPECT.
I was driving down a main road and saw two #signs. The one is for a church. The other is a respected medical group that has emergency facilities.  Both of them were adorned by a squatter – a well printed paper sticker that promises to heal your every ailment while taking care of your PEN!S ENLARGEMENT.

While the sticker is not official and is not condoned, it is important for the #sign owners – both the Church and the medical facility – to ensure that their #signs are (a) clean, (b) maintained and (c) conveying the desired message, especially through association, as I don’t think they would get too much positive mileage from associating with sellers of snake oil and false hope.
This may seem funny to anyone who has signs that are out of reach, but the same principal applies – if you have a broken, dirty or faded #sign and the illumination is malfunctioning, does the sign convey the message you intend?
For assistance with maintaining your #signs and keeping a ledger of your #sign assets, call SignForce on +27 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za

How do I know what sign would work best for my business?

How do I know what sign would work best for my business?

This is not a simple question to answer.

What will work best for one business may not work best for another business or even a similar business in a different location.

When deciding what sign or signs will work best for your business, it is worth getting input from a signage professional (we have a few at SignForce) who can advise on the different types of signs while taking heed of your budget and what you intend for your sign to achieve.

A general guideline is that your sign needs to STAND OUT, be VISIBLE and convey your intended MESSAGE in a manner that will make the sign achieve it’s intended objective.

If you are a retail outlet, your sign requirements are generally also be dictated by your landlord, especially in malls or shopping centers.

As a general rule illuminated signs work better when the light projects through the face of the sign, as opposed to the sign being HALO illuminated, where the light is reflected of the backing BEHIND the sign, especially if the sign is required to be read from a distance.

In addition to location and landlord requirements, what sign will work best for your business will depend on (1) your budget, (2) where the signs are to be located – for example not all retail outlets allow for the sign to project from the outlet, (3) what message you want the sign to deliver and (4) how far from the signs the reader needs to read the sign.

For a no obligation consultation to assist you to find what signs will best fit your budget and work best for your business contact SignForce now on 0861 744 636 or +27 (0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za

How SHOULD signs be cleaned?

How SHOULD signs be cleaned, aka How do we clean our signs?

Lets start off by stating that it is always best to get in a professional SIGN company to clean your signs. This does not include simply dusting a sign which the business cleaner can – and should – do.

When referring to CLEANING of signs we are referring to when the sign needs to be (a) physically handled and / or (b) will have chemicals touching the sign and / or (c) may require the sign to be opened and / or moved.

While it may seem expensive to get a sign company that does sign cleaning in to clean your signs, the cost is generally far lower than replacing ANY ELEMENT of the sign. For example, if the sign cleaner touches and cracks a sign, or puts too much pressure on a pin and breaks the pin off the sign, or the sign cleaner uses the incorrect chemicals which can either drastically reduce the life of the sign or break it. It is quite something to see an Acrylic sign shatter, but not something that you want to happen because you have used the wrong chemical or chemicals.

If you are going to try clean your own signs it is generally best to stick to water and a dish washing detergent, using a SOFT, NON-ABRASIVE cloth. Handle the sign lightly and remember to remove ALL residue of the chemicals when finished cleaning otherwise the sign WILL streak and look tatty.

For more information on or assistance with cleaning your signs contact Arnold of SignForce now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za