How does one calculate the value of the SignForce GUARANTEE?

Illuminated signs

Candice Berman shop front sign

In the modern world of skeptics, especially in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa (where SignForce South Africa is headquartered) and where it currently seems that nothing is as it seems, buyers must be forgiven for believing that EVERYONE offers some guarantee.

Guarantees help sell because they give the buyer comfort and peace of mind, and, unfortunately, sometimes a false sense of security. This is because it feels fantastic knowing that one is “covered”, until, that is,  one reads the fine print, when, too often, it seems that unless one does a head stand under water for no less than 50 seconds on an even numbered day Tuesday in the second week of a month starting with F while a pink elephant ties one’s hand to a good mate’s foot …. you get the idea!

At SignForce we are proud to have been in the signage business for more than 20 years under the current management. We are also proud to have honored the SignForce guarantee 100% of the time there has been a LEGITIMATE claim. (Yes, we have also had claims that were not legitimate, such as the time a sign was damaged by thieves (as was evident by the photo’s the client provided) and the client demanded SignForce replace the sign. But sorry, I digress).

The reason SignForce are in any position to honor the SignForce guarantee is that (a) SignForce work with the best available material, which generally carry their own guarantees, (b) SignForce make a point of working with reputable suppliers, (c) SignForce have skilled staff and (d) SignForce use an automated quote system that has a built in factor for each sign in order to ensure there is sufficient margin on a job so that, in the event of their being an issue with the sign, SignForce can afford to go back and make good.

Unfortunately this ‘factor’ does increase the cost of the sign, and this may seem unnecessary to the potential buyer, especially if they are highly price sensitive. That is, price sensitive until there is an issue with the sign…

The photo on this blog happens to be one of the 4% of signs that SignForce produce that WENT WRONG. Yes, the odds are in the client’s favor that NOTHING will go wrong, but when it does, as with all insurance, is the cost of the risk not worth being covered.

In the case of this Candice Berman signage, what we do know is that something (we don’t know what) made contact with the sign resulting in the sign tearing and falling off the wall. Obviously this is not something any sign company likes to admit to or takes lightly. (In SignForce’s case we have fortunately only had 3 signs fall off walls in over 20 years, two of which were while installing and were the result of faulty fixings).

In this case the signage was replaced at no cost to the client, which, had the client not been with SignForce, could have cost the client the same as the original sign. Now if one thinks about the cost of the guarantee versus true peace of mind, how does a buyer calculate the value of the SignForce guarantee?

As a rule of thumb, when a price is ‘too’ low, it is often because short cuts are being taken or simple numbers such as guarantees are not factored into the cost. This may make the up-front cost more competitive, however, when something goes wrong, (and it will, even, as in SignForce’s case when it is under 4% of jobs) if the cost of errors has not been factored into the price of the sign, there is a better than average chance that the supplier simply cannot afford to go back to make good.

Working with SignForce provides peace of mind!

Contact SignForce on info@signforce.co.za or call us now on +27 (0)11 440 7524 / 5 to see how much we care for you and our clients.

 

Secret #Signage

This post was sent as a newsletter on 27 May 2019. While it is already outdated – especially in light of South Africa’s poor performance on the international stage, the concept can still provide food for thought.

Sponsors are now, even at this late hour, threatening to pull out unless independent sign professionals act as sign umpires and declare the CWC signage free of ‘secret signage‘ or visual interference.

Whilst ‘secret signs‘ seems an oxymoron, ambush marketing is taking totally new direction with this new technique. Signage at events like the CWC form a large and important part of a sponsors investment in visual communications. So the possibility of having this offset by an ambush marketer is creating havoc behind the scenes..

The real nub of the problem is that the ambush signage can be done by a small ninja group who can do this in a very short space of time – even inside the sign company’s, or sponsor company’s, premises.

This ambush message will show up on fixed signage – particularly those large billboards that form an integral part of the stadium landscape. The technique has been to overprint the sign with a fluorescent ink that only shows up on the TV camera’s – in exactly the same way as the white cricket ball is treated to give it more visibility. The technology that was painstakingly developed for the white ball to solve the on screen visibility problems has now been hijacked. We are not yet sure what the revealed message will be – or was supposed to be – but you be assured that some sponsors are now very anxious. Stand by for some exciting viewing!

Calls have been made for all involved signage companies to stand by a new code of conduct that will ensure that they secure the signs from manufacturing floor through to installation.

You will be pleased to know that SignForce is a founder signatory to this new protocol. This was an easy decision for us, as we have always taken the greatest care of our work – from conception to installation.

Of course the above is just a spoof, but you never know . . .

Standing by to do some ‘innovative’ signage for you soon.

Regards

Thanks for reading, hope to see you soon.
The SignForce Team

http://www.signforce.co.za

contact us on info@signforce.co.za

Tel: + 27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5

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.

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

The Signs of Pride

Pride!

Pride is an amazing emotion!

It can lead individuals and nations to war and destruction and it – the same emotion – can push those same individuals and nations to unimaginable heights.

Pride can also be broken down into a number of categories, for example pride in one self, pride in one’s work, pride in one’s nation and so on.

I do believe that is pride in (a) oneself, (b) pride in one’s work and (c) pride in one’s workmanship that leads to upliftment and a desire to excel.

I for one take great pride in the work SignForce puts out. I feel an immense sense of pride when I drive down a road and can point out the jobs that I know SignForce has completed. My sense of pride is for more than the mere fact that we have successfully completed a job, it is from HOW the work was completed. More than the visible workmanship, the thought processes that have resulted in a successful, brilliant looking sign that makes the people who worked on the sign, the owner and SignForce proud.

A great example is the accompanying photo. A job well done and worth being proud of.

Proud of workmanship

Cut out brushed Aluminium letters

Individual cut out letters

Brushed Aluminium letters on an invisible frame installed onto a hard rock wall

What defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

#SignForce has recently completed a #sign that took W A Y longer than expected or planned to manufacture because of an issue with the painting of the logo.

Somehow the base of the sign got ‘damaged’, and then when it was painted there were distinct ‘sanding’ scratches in the paint.  Well it took a number (about 12) coats of paint to get the sign to a level where we were happy with the quality of the paint work.

Unfortunately our celebrations were short lived because as the sign was about to be shipped we noticed that the paint was ‘reacting’ with itself.  This at a time when the client HAD to have the sign delivered so we did not have the time to start over before we delivered.

Turns out the client is happy with the quality, but was more upset with the delay in the sign been installed.  Which begs the question, what defines GOOD QUALITY signs?

My thinking has always been that at #SignForce we strive to achieve a level of quality that exceeds our clients expectations (sadly we don’t always get it right but we aim for it), because we want the signs to meet OUR expectations, which are invariably higher than our client’s expectations.  Reflecting on this I have realized that the manufacturing staff strive to achieve a level of ‘perfection’ that will be positively judged by their peers, not only our clients.

This was reinforced by talking to some people in the industry who have this great wallpaper in their office.  At first glance the wallpaper is brilliant, however when I pointed out that there was an ‘issue’ with the height of one letter (the height of the letter on the one side of the overlap is about 6 mm smaller than the height of the letter on the other side). This boils down to the line being about 3 mm out, an ‘almost’ imperceptible variance, but one that (apparently) is constantly noticed by people in the trade.

As mentioned, while we at #SignForce do not always get it right, we do our best and sometimes have to do the work over a number of times, in order to ensure that we are happy with the quality of the work we produce.

If you are in the market for #signs, any sign to make your business visible, contact David or Arnold at #SignForce and we will do our best to assist you.

Business Signs that are Too Good To Be True

Reading an article in Fortune (European edition,  2 February 2015, number 1) about “The fund that was too good to be true” – a story about a financial firm that was bound to make investors rich because they had discovered a “new” matrix to predict and win from market movements.
Schemes like this  have been around since the beginning of time and tend to thrive because of people’s ego and greed.

I try to teach my children and students to question everything they are told and read and see – including what I tell them and to question the content AS WELL AS motives and validity of information, as I believe this is the only way to satisfy oneself that what you are being “sold” is true and valid, so you are more likely to ‘get’ what you are ‘sold’.

That got me thinking about the Latin phrase “Caveat emptor” defined by Wikipedia as “kævɛɑːt ˈɛmptɔr/ is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”[1] (from caveat, “may he beware”, the subjunctive of cavere, “to beware” + emptor, “buyer”).” – and had me wondering,  just how informed should or does a buyer need to be – especially when purchasing large ticket items –  and should buyers need to worry themselves about the make up if the goods (in this case business signs) they purchase – as long as the goods meet the specifications and fulfill the needs of the client.

All this thinking came about because of a sign we at #SignForce are refurbishing a large, high ticket business sign.  When we opened the sign the internal workings and ‘creative’ system that got the sign illuminated were ingenious,  however, if the client had been more aware that the sign could not be maintained, as well as of the make up of the sign, I have to question if they would have been happy to pay the full fee for, or even accepted, the sign.

At #SignForce we believe in and strive to educate,  be transparent and working with you,  our client,  to make sure you get what we have sold.  We are not perfect so we don’t always get it right, but that is what we strive for.

For more on how #SignForce can assist you with your large and small sign requirements,  call us on + 27 ( 0 ) 11 440 7425 or email david@signforce.co.za or arnold@signforce.co.za

A business without a sign is a sign of no business!

signs; lightbox; illuminated signs

This beautiful LED illuminated sign is on a main road

20140213_192923

This is a photo of a recent job we installed in Hartswater, South Africa – yes, we can assist you anywhere in South Africa or the world!

While we understand that not everyone wants their business sign and name up in lights, and sometimes there is no benefit to having your sign illuminate, there is NO DOUBT that the old adage ‘a business without an sign is a sign of no business’!

Signs are in all likelihood your best marketing investment, because a well designed sign will require one payment and last for over five years, ensuring that your intended prospects know where you are and can easily find you.

Your sign (whether on a shop front or a vehicle) also often gives the first, ‘irreplaceable’ impression of your business. If your sign is shabby, what are you telling your prospective clients about your business?

A few years back a client asked us to REFURBISH their existing, tired sign so they could run a closing down campaign as the store was running at a loss and a new store would open in a nearby location about eight months later. The sign was broken and had birds living in it. The refurbished sign looked way better, and before the closing down campaign could run the store started to show a profit again – the ONLY change was the refurbished sign. Needless to say the staff all kept their jobs and the store only closed at the end of the eight months when the new store opened.

If you have not looked at your sign with a FRESH, CRITICAL eye in the last few days, give us a call (if you are in Johannesburg or Pretoria we do the check for free) so we can see your signs with fresh eyes to ensure that the message you are conveying is the message you WANT TO convey.

Email arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za or call on +27 (0) 11 440 7524 / 5

SignForce is a full service sign supplier. We strive to take all the pain you may feel out of the sign purchasing process, with a team who can design, manufacture and install every sign – visible communication – you want or need.

How long should a painted sign last?

How long should a painted sign last?

One method that can be used to increase the life of a sign is for the sign to be painted.

In order for the paint to last as long as possible – when referring to signs that means a period of five to seven years – there are three important factors that need to be present.

 1. The substrate – underlying material – must be well prepared

2. A good and appreciate primer must be used, and

3. A good quality paint must be used.

As with every paint job, proper preparation is essential if the paint is to adhere properly and last a long time. Proper preparation beings with cleaning the substrate, then sanding the substrate to ensure adhesion, then cleaning the substrate to ensure the surface is dust free before painting begins.

Once the substrate has been properly prepared the substrate must be primed with the correct primer. The correct primer is essential to ensure adhesion between the paint and the substrate. While not all substrates require primer – some modern paints have mixed in etching properties that work very well on certain substrates, removing the necessity for primer – most signage substrates still do require priming. If the primer is ‘left out’ of the process, there is a very good chance that within a short time of being exposed to the weather, the paint will most likely begin to chip and peal, as can be seen in this photo.

painted signs

Why preparing the sign before painting is essential

Different quality paints do exist, and while good quality paints do cost more than their ‘cheaper’ competitors, there is good reason for that. Generally the better quality paints use better quality pigments which last longer than, so the paint will not fade as quickly as a cheaper paint. The more costly paints also use better quality mixing agents, making them adhere better and they also spread better than cheaper paints.

At SignForce we ‘mostly’ use 2K automotive paint, because it is the most cost effective good paint that is easily accessible. Sometimes we use QD (short for Quick Dry) which is also a thinners based paint, but doesn’t tend to have the life of 2K. The benefit of QD is that, as the name says, it dries quickly – it is touch dry withing an hour versus almost eight hours for 2K.

Unfortunately 2K paint is not environmentally friendly, so newer, more expensive cars are now painted with more environmentally friendly, water soluble paints. At the time of writing this article the cost of the water soluble paints are still excessive when compared to 2K, but it looks that in time, the use of 2K will be replaced by the use of the environmentally friendlier water soluble paints.

While SignForce use 2K paint, ‘enamel’ paint can be used – as can a number of paints that fall between the two. The reason SignForce use 2K is because the pigments tend to last longer and the paint tends to adhere better to more substrates and the various primers. If the primer and paint are not fully compatible the paint may, at worst, bubble immediately, or at best, result in a reduced life of the paint.

While it is possible to get ‘long life’ (five to seven year) vinyl that can be cut, the range of colours is limited. Digital printing does an excellent job of overcoming the limitation of matching colours – as almost any colour can be printed, however, digital prints have a life expectancy of no more than three years. In some instances it is more cost effective to use a digital print and budget to renew the sign in 30 to 36 months, but this is not always the case, as there are times then the cost of refurbishing the sign is substantially more than simply replacing the face – be it because the sign is not easily accessible or because the sign is facing north in the harsh South African sun which burns the vinyl into the substrate so the entire substrate needs to be replaced or because the exchange rate is unfavorable so the print is simply much more three years later than it cost initially.

For cost effective signs that are made to fit your requirements, be that a tight budget or for the sign to last a long time, and sometimes the two at the same time, contact SignForce at either arnold@signforce.co.za or david @signforce.co.za

http://www.signforce.co.za          Telephone: +27 11 440 7525

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