What Should One Know BEFORE Entering the Signage Industry?

What Should I know BEFORE I go in to the sign business?

While this SignForce blog space is generally focused on the benefits of signs, the pitfalls of signs and general selling of signs, this post will be different as the writer was recently approached by a family looking to get into the signage industry, and asked about it.

After my initial shock – wondering why would any ‘sane‘ individual – the mom who spoke to me looked and sounded VERY sane – WANT to get into the signage industry.

It is quite possible that I was stressed at the time and thus I was too quick to forget that this was me about 22 years ago. Someone looking to get out of the financial / consulting industry I was in and looking for a new challenge – they do say be careful what you ask for!

I guess that at a time when business is tough I had forgotten all the positive aspects of the signage industry that have served me well for the past two decades, and was more focused on the day to day challenges I was facing.

As a colleague recently mentioned, the signage industry is not for feint of heart, sane people ho want a boring, predictable, regular job where you have structure and know days in advance what your schedule – and life – will look like.

Signage is an extremely dynamic business where, if one is not disciplined, your daily schedule can change every other minute.

On the positive side the signage industry requires one to be a jack of many trades, possibly a master of one or two, with the ability to design, work with multiple materials and SEE (visualize) some things that don’t exist – in the sense that one has to be able to imagine what the end product (that does not exist) will look like AND be able to work backwards from what the end product looks like through the step by step manufacturing process – which may change when actual production begins, so lets add in that being in the signage industry one needs to be extremely FLEXIBLE – to the start which includes determining what materials will WORK to achieve the desired outcome. All this in the most cost effective manner.

While traditional sign writers in the 21st century tended to be artisans that came through the ranks of artists who did some apprenticeship and could go into a one man business, modern signage is more computer generated, and more business like than ever before.

For a modern sign business to be successful the head of the business tends to need to be a marketer and sales person with a BIG PICTURE mentality where one is able to talk to, motivate, lead, inspire and deal with the widest possible range of people – from the MD of a large publicly listed business to an ego driven politician who will never have done a days work in your industry but will always know how to do it better, to the slowest, lowest paid employee in a business who may be required to do the simplest and most important of tasks, without which the work comes to a sudden – not even grinding – HALT.

The need to be able to get all individuals to work together is possibly the second largest challenge, second only to the need to be able to turn off and take time away from work in the modern world where one tends to be expected to be online, on call and available 25 / 8 / 366.

On the other hand, if one possesses the necessary mind set and skill set and is prepared to put in some HARD WORK, working what can be insane hours with little gratitude or reward, then signage can be the most amazing and rewarding industry.

Working in signage can be amazing because it opens doors for a person with a flair for design to put their skills into practical operation. There are seldom two days in a row where signage wok is the same. Signage requires one to think out of the box a LOT more than one would expect, possibly because the industry is dynamic, and client’s can have some EXTREME expectations, from how long a sign will take to produce to what the sign will cost to how long the sign will last to what the sign may look like. 

The signage industry has almost ZERO limitations in design. This means that ten sign businesses – or ten estimators within one sign business – can quote the same sign and come up with 10 different designs, 10 different costs and 10 different structures. It cannot be stressed enough that all 10 designs will ALL look the same on paper, and they will surely ALL work – at least in the short term – but they can (and most likely WILL) be VASTLY different in design, (finished) look, appeal and cost. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult for buyers of signs to compare the offerings of one sign business with another if they do not have detailed specifications on EXACTLY what materials will be used in the manufacturing of the sign, as well as how they will be assembled.

Signage is also an ancient and static yet changing and dynamic industry. Signage is possibly the third oldest profession – ok, that is an exaggeration, especially as physical businesses needed to come first – because it has been around a LONG time. Some ancient techniques are still used to manufacture certain signs, yet there are also new and exciting developments, new materials and a lot more digital processes used in modern day signage.

BUT, even with the new materials and the -progress of digital signs, for the large part signage is still an EXTREMELY LABOUR – read that as PEOPLE – intensive and oriented business. Yes, machines can make a number of modern signs, BUT machines (and AI) have limitations that may mean the client’s reject the signage or the machines cannot make signs with certain materials or they cannot be used to DESIGN certain signs or processes.

This means that until AI can (a) design and think out of the box, (b) get on it’s – their? -hands and knees and climb ladders and drill holes that are nor necessarily ‘straight’ – people employed in the signage industry are sort of secure in the knowledge that like many artisans – plumbers, electricians and the like, the physical elements of the work will not be done away with in the foreseeable future.

SignForce believes that the market is large enough for all competitors, and collaborators, so we at SignForce work closely with a number of our competitors. Because this is our philosophy, we are glad to assist any folks that are as insane as we are and looking to enter the signage with information on the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the signage industry as we see it.

For more information – or for signs – contact SignForce now on info@signforce.co.za or call +27 (0)11 440 7525 or WhatsApp +27 (0)82 558 6413

Find out more about SignForce by visiting our website at http://www.signforce.co.za

Signs Make Your Businees Successful

Signs Make Your Business Successful

OK, apologies up front for the click baiting, as we all know (WE referring to intelligent business folk) this statement is not entirely true, as there are MANY factors that make a business successful.

In general, from what this writer has observed, success in business is more often than not a result of doing the slog work, doing the same correct (that is imperative) behavior over and over and over and over and over – you get the point – beyond the point of boredom, beyond the point of repetition, to the point where one can literally do the task in one’s sleep. This is sometimes referred to as achieving efficiency at the task, and it is said this takes 10,000 HOURS of the same task.

Another part of the success of a business is MARKETING and SELLING. Without sales there is no money for product development, no money to train and pay staff (someone may want to point this out to the current anc leaders who have reportedly managed to bankrupt their 109 year old organization) and no money to grow your business.

Now marketing and sales a re multi faceted and not entirely the focus of this blog, but I would like to focus on #SIGNAGE – the one part of that marketing puzzle that SignForce sells. We do advise on signage in order to ensure your spending on signage is an investment, but we tend to do this for free (not great for our business turnover in the short term, but we never claimed to be great sales people). If anyone wants to take me for a drink I can explain the difference between TECHNICAL SELLERS (SignForce’s sales staff) and GREAT SELLERS (who tend to sell on emotion).

Signs SELL! So does collaboration 🙂

I have known this for many years and have seen many examples from our own billboard on the M1 highway to what happened with STAX (many years ago) when they upgraded their signage at a loss making store that was being prepped for closure, but I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when one of our clients informed the writer that he spotted SignForce when he passed out pylon.

The point of this ramble is that if you want your business to succeed, especially if you are a business that has physical products or a physical premises, you should certainly consider SIGNAGE as an integral – and initial – step in promoting your business.

SignForce LOVES assisting new and small businesses. This does not mean we are going to give you your signs for free, but we will do what we can to make your business visible in a manner that can help your business grow – both to pay us AND to help you grow.

For more information on how SignForce can assist your business contact us now on info@signforce.co.za or call +27(0)11 440 7525

Find out more about #SignForce at http://www.signforce.co.za

SignForce’s invisible sign – well almost

SignForce’s Magic, Invisible (almost) Promotional Sign

SignForce 'invisible' sign

Partially Invisible Sign

Partially Invisible Sign

The header may be a little misleading, as it isn’t the entire sign that is invisible, only the one section, the section that allows the comma to the top right to seem as though it is suspended in mid air.

X – the 24th letter in the English alphabet.

On it’s own an X says nothing, but it can also say much.

The symbol X (also known as a cross from your association with an X in school) has many connotations, from the X in the alphabet to the cross at school to the depicted X which is the associated marketing symbol for The Mix Waterfall (https://themixwaterfall.co.za)

For the SignForce team this X that is displayed facing north on the west of the roof of the Mall Of Africa shopping center in Midrand, Gauteng is a great showcase of our experience, talent, technical skill and ability to put into practice the ‘magic‘ we so often tell our clients and prospects we are capable of creating.

What is the first thing you see when you look at the X in the picture?

From what we are told the first thing most viewers see when they see the X in the photo is the visual illusion of the ‘suspended’ comma on the top right of the red X sign.

Visual open space or unattached elements on a logo or graphic is simple to create and reproduce when looking at a piece of paper. The ‘open space’ helps enhance the graphic and add impact to the visual.

For signage – something that is physical, something that can be touched, this is not always easy to create.

Have you ever heard of a SKY HOOK?, something that helps one suspended something, anything, from the sky?

This may be simple when one looks at a helium balloon or something similar, however the game seems to change when the ‘suspended’ element consists of painted steel which is over 1,000 millimeters wide. How does one ‘hang’ a piece of steel from the sky?

The photo above is testament to the illusion SignForce successfully created for our client, and we know SignForce can do the same for your business and your promotional campaigns.

If you or anyone you know are a looking for signs that may require special effects, SignForce is available to assist.

Contact SignForce on +27(0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za

Find out more about SignForce by visiting http://www.signforce.co.za

What VLAUE does your SIGN and your Signage provider ADD to your BUSINESS?

 

Mambo's Chicken Individual Cut Out Sign

Internally Illuminated 3D cut out sign

What VALUE does your sign add to your business?

If your sign is a MAJOR tool in getting feet into your store (it is!) and thus placing you in the position to SELL to your prospects, what is your sign truly WORTH?

I ask this, not rhetorically, but because all too often we see businesses running on the lines of Best Value – choosing the cheapest supplier – which is great when comparing EXACTLY THE SAME PRODUCTS – but is extremely difficult and can be costly when one is comparing one SERVISE business (signage is a service business) to another.

Yes, when you, the sign buyer, are presented with an artist impression and a quote, you believe that what you are seeing from one service provider is the same as what you are seeing from the competitive service provider. Unfortunately this is SELDOM true. This is because of the nature of signage (meant in every positive way), the range of materials available, the nature (you can call it morals) of the signage company and the reality that even if all else was equal, because signage is as much – if not more – of an art than a science, and most signs are made by hand, every sign will most likely be made differently.

All this aside, even if all the sign company’s you assessed were using the same material, charging the same amount and doing the same job, what would or should YOUR chosen sign company be able to offer YOUR BUSINESS that goes beyond the sign you are looking for.

At SignForce (http://www.signforce.co.za) we have decades of experience in MARKETING and SIGNAGE.

At SignForce we believe in supporting OUR CUSTOMERS, which is one of the reasons SignForce regularly posts pictures and comments of signs we have completed. This may not seem like anything special, we assume ALL sign businesses ‘self promote’ and the self promotion entails ‘SHOWCASING’ THEIR WORK. This is true, but how many sign businesses get more than 80,000 views of a single client’s sign.

If one considers that traditional media base their fees on the number of views one’s insert (advert, post) will receive, how does one measure the added value SignForce is offering our client’s?

If you are looking for signs that WORK, that get feet into your premises, that look good and are value for money, together with the added value of being promoted on the SignForce website, contact SignForce now on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or email info@signforce.co.za

You can find out more about SignForce by visiting http://www.signforce.co.za

How Can We HELP You?!

 

Who represents you and your business

Would you trust this sales person with your future?

Do you understand sufficient about MARKETING SMALL BUSINESSES to help your business SURVIVE and THRIVE – or do you understand the difference between SUICIDE and KILLING ONESELF?

How Can We Help You?

This excellent line used by FNB to promote their bank is truly excellent on so many levels  and also tends to encompass the way SignForce feels about our customers, even though we are tiny in comparison to FNB. We also hope we listen better!

Much like most relationships in life, we at SignForce understand that it is sadly impossible for us to be everything to everyone. That is why in the past SignForce have only focused on providing the best quality signs we can at fair prices.

That said, we have been observing more and more small businesses struggling with their marketing, trying their best to succeed in these very trying times – especially in countries like South Africa where the government seems hell bent on implementing every half baked idea designed to kill enterprise while the politicians sell their stupid ideas as the holy grail to save the masses from said thieving government.

Maybe it is the lack of government that is leading to so many more businesses failing, or maybe it is the concern for families losing their livelihoods that has pushed the management at SignForce to try assist more small to medium size businesses to market and promote themselves using both  SIGNS and ONLINE MARKETING.

Since SignForce is also a small business we are acutely aware of the difficulty that small to medium businesses have juggling all the day to day activities, never mind the necessity to MARKET, MARKET and MARKET the business some more in order to keep a steady stream of business coming in.

SignForce are in the fortunate position to be able to assist small to medium businesses with both online and signage marketing in order to allow the business to focus on it’s core activity – whether that is providing a service or multiple products.

If you would like assistance with getting your business off the gound or to help your business grow, why not contact Arnold of SignForce to see exactly how We Can HELP You.

Contact SignForce now by emailing Arnold at arnold@signforce.co.za with the subject line SME MARKETING or call +27 (0)11 440 7525 and ask for Arnold or call Arnold directly on +27 (0)82 558 6413.

You can also find out more about SignForce by visiting http://www.signforce.co.za

Solid Metal Signs

Brass signs

Brass signs

In a world of JUNK, built in obsolescence, instant gratification, cheap materials, no concern for longevity (until it needs to be replaced which is invariably too soon, especially for cheap materials), it is always comforting to know that solid, NATURAL METAL signs – as in BRASS, ALUMINIUM, COPPER and STEEL (including STAINLESS STEEL) are still available.

Whether you are in the market for a plaque or cut out material, natural, long life, SOLID metal signs create a lasting impression  of CLASS, REFINEMENT and TIMELESSNESS.

As with all signage contrast is VERY IMPORTANT which is why the featured BRASS sign on the BLACK background works so well.

A similar effect can be created with copper.

If you are in the market for a sign that will weather with class, contact SignForce now on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za

 

HOW can #SignForce HELP YOU?

How can SignForce HELP YOU?

SignForce is a FULL service sign company – meaning we are either brave or insane enough to take on ALMOST any size job in order to make YOU, our client’s lives easier.

If it makes your BUSINESS VISIBLE, we are the people to assist.

You would be wise to ask WHY we dare make such a BOLD CLAIM

1. The management team at SignForce we have a few years experience, having been at this game – yes, we do have fun so we do see work as a game, played by our TEAM – since 1999.

2. At #SignForce we care about QUALITY and REPUTATION (ours and You, our client’s), which means we UNDERSTAND what a GREAT sign does to increaser and EXPAND your business as well what a POOR QUALITY, NEGATIVE IMAGE does to hinder your business.

3. We understand business – well at least we have the qualifications to say we do. This means that we are likely to have a little more knowledge on MARKETING than most of our competitors. (We don’t mean to brag but who will recognize the value we add if no one knows that our knowledge is thanks to a combination of marketing experience and formal qualifications)

4. We are community minded – ask our community, and

5. When you have SignForce doing the work you get the benefit of our years – actually DECADES – of experience in making MARKETING and making OUR CLIENT’S

Ferrari sign

Ferrari Johannesburg signs by SignForce

BUSINESSES VISIBLE.

To get the MOST out of your SIGNS contact #SignForce now on +27(0)11 440 7525 OR info@signforce.co.za OR http://www.signforce.co.za

What is the difference between 3D, Partial 3D and Flat signs

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Having recently being asked the difference between a 3D sign and a FLAT sign, I realized how seldom buyers actually expose their lack of knowledge, but assume that a sign is a sign is a sign, and the difference in cost is mostly related to higher profits.

This article will hopefully remove the uncertainty and assist buyers with their sign investments.

In general a FLAT sign is similar to a print on a piece of paper. It is exactly what the name says – FLAT. There is no depth to the sign, there is no body to the sign, and when one runs their hand along the sign it is FLAT.

A 2D sign – what the attached image states is FLAT is in fact slightly (up to 5 mm) THICKER than a FLAT sign, and when one runs your hand over the face of the sign there will be a definite depth to the sign. This depth is created by the material, and can range from microns to approximately 5 mm.

A partial 3D sign is the same as the 2D sign but has legs aka pins on the rear of the 2D portion making the sign STAND PROUD. The partial 3D has NO SOLID SIDES, so the pins are visible. Partial 3D signs are often used to create HALO ILLUMINATION and also to get the shadow that the sun leaves when it shines onto the sign. Partial 3D signs can vary from about 5 mm to about 125 mm in depth.

3D signs, like partial 3D signs have DFEPTH, but where partial 3D has open sides and the pins or legs are visible, with full 3D signs the sides (known as returns in sign language)close the distance from the front to the rear of the sign. 2D signs are the only way to get full illumination through the FACE of the sign. Also, full 3D signs require the most labor of any of the signs and as such tend to come at a higher cost.

So while the different sign types all require different amounts of labor, different material costs and can be used for different effects – for example halo illumination versus light through the face – they are ALL SIGNS, in that, similar to the difference between a ROLLS ROYCE, a LAMBOGINNI and a DONKEY CART, they are all vehicle that do not require the driver to do much work. They can all get the driver from point A to point B, but the difference is in the luxury of the ride, the PERCEPTION of a viewer of the driver and how long the ride will take – except in signage terms, it is not so much about the length of the drive, but much more about the life of the sign.

A digitally printed FLAT sign will last up to a maximum of three years in the African sun. A painted partial 3D sign should maintain it’s color for up to 7 years if a good automotive paint is used and the face receives more than one coat of paint. If a 3D sign is made with a good quality acrylic or acrylic and Aluminium, the sign could last up to ten years.

Thus, while a 3D sign may require a higher initial investment, if the client is looking to create a professional image that a ROLLS ROYCE or similar vehicle would create, the 3D sign is definitely the way to go. Similarly, if the initial investment of a 3D sign is less than double the initial investment of a flat sign, then one should factor in the life expectancy of the signs, and if the flat sign will require refacing in 3 years but the 3D sign will last an expected 10 years, then unless the 3D sign is more than 3 times the cost of the flat sign, the 3D sign may be a better investment.

Of course, budget is always important, and in reality the signs will ALL make one equally visible if they are all the same size, so in the end it boils down to (a) how much budget one has, (b) how long one wants the sign to last and (c) the kind of impression one wishes to create.

If you are in the market for signs and would like more information on what sign would best suite your business image contact Arnold of SignForce on +27 (0)11 440 7524 or arnold@signforce.co.za

You can visit SignForce’s website at http://www.signforce.co.za

1 Classie Africa – 3D fabricated sign on backing board

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1 Classie Africa

Like many businesses affected by Covid and the subsequent lock down in South Africa, 1 Classie Africa has to have been severely affected, especially their solon’s.

The name 1 Classie Africa is very appropriate. Not only because their locations are spectacular, homely and welcoming, but also because of how welcome the staff – many on training – make all who enter feel. This businesses is impressive!

1 Classie Africa impressed me both for the way they operate AND their business model. Paying them a visit will give you so much more information than any story I can will.

If you are in Braamfontien or Joburg city center and want to get a hair do, nails sorted or simply pop in to see what I am referring to, 1 Classie Africa (http://www.1ca.co.za) is worth the stop.

In case you are wondering, this promotion is unsolicited. The only potential benefit to #SignForce is if 1 Classie Africa decide to allow SignForce to manufacture and install more signs for them.

The sign in the accompanying photo was manufactured and installed by #SignForce.

For classy signs that help promote your business and get feet through your door, contact SignForce on info@signforce.co.za or +27 (0)11 440 7525

WHY spend money on Vehicle Branding?

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Vehicle Branding

Vehicle branding = silent, mobile sales

When money is tight it is way too easy to cut budgets where logic says they should be cut – anything that is not showing (almost) instant return, so lets cut the wage bill and get rid of supposed dead wood, lets cut the marketing budget because – well, is it working? and lets get the staff to pay for their own tea and have limited access to loo paper.

OK, so I may be exaggerating, but sadly none of the above were my own ideas. I have heard examples of each of these cost saving measures over time. (For those who do not know the writer I have had some experience in business consulting (one of the reasons SignForce is able to offer solid business advice when it comes to signs as an investment – but I digress).

The reality is we don’t always get an instant  return on our marketing investment. A lot of marketing is about keeping our brand front of mind. Another reason is familiarity. When one’s branding is seen (hopefully often), not always in the same location, by people who do not know what you offer, if and when they do look for your services and find you listed on Google with a number of competitors, if it was you, who would you be most likely to contact? The absolute unknown business or one which for some unknown reason seems familiar?

If you are looking for advice on signs that make business sense, or wanting to get your name OUT THERE, SignForce can help.

Contact #SignForce  South Africa now on info@signforce.co.za or call +27(0)11 440 7525

http://www.signforce.co.za