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

Why SignForce!

SignForce Pylon

Any Size pylon or billboard to suite YOUR needs

Why SignForce!

This ambiguous phrase could be a question just as well as an answer – as such, we will both ask and answer the question.

What makes SignForce unique?’

Obviously the people. No two people are alike, so the people make SignForce unique. However, that same argument is applicable to EVERY business. Not only businesses that design, manufacture and install signs.

SignForce’s USP – Unique Selling Proposition – is the experience we at SignForce strive to (and mostly achieve) create for our clients, as well as the fact that SignForce is a SOLUTIONS based SIGANGE business, meaning we seek solutions – whatever they may be – to your visual communication concerns, issues and questions.

SignForce has a fairly unique skill set in that we CAN and DO offer MARKETING advice, and we are fortunate hat said advice, while being largely logical, is also based on and backed by formal qualifications in the marketing and financial fields. It is for this reason that we firmly believe that ANY money spent on signs should be an INVESTMENT. If your sign does not bring in feet or catch people’s attention or achieve whatever it’s desired purpose is, then in our opinion, the expenditure on your sign is a failure.

Yes, we may offer some top left field  idea’s – but these tend to work. Talking to people much more experienced in international marketing than ourselves, it seems the more uncomfortable you feel when you see the proposed idea, the higher the probability that the sign will be noticed – and achieve it’s objective.

Part of SignForce striving to create a positive EXPERIENCE when dealing with us is to provide FAIRLY priced, intelligently made, value for money signs.

Part of creating value for money means that we need to stay ahead of our competitors when it comes to being informed about new materials on the market, and figuring out if and how the new products – or sometimes old products – can be repurposed to give our clients the best possible value.

Call SignForce today to see how we can help you get your name and message out there – our all time favorite activity, as when our client’s expand, it helps SignForce expand. We are definitely long term thinkers, in it for the long game.

Call SignForce today on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or email us on info@signforce.co.za

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

I need a sign and I have a DRILL

Drills and Signs

Using a Drill for a Sign

I have a drill!

But that doesn’t mean I need to, or should, use it!

Life is short. Life can be serious! Business or work is ‘serious”.

But life doesn’t always have to be serious, or at least some things can be amusing.

Life can be made funny when we try to be everything to everyone, or when we try ude the drill – because we have one!

I am all for training, and learning through trial and error, so please, go ahead and play with your drill.

That said, there are times when it is beneficial to allow what we term ‘professionals’ to do the work. What makes one a ‘professional’? Generally hours and hours and days and days leading to years and years of practice. It has been said that in order for one to be truly proficient in your work you need to put in 10,000 hours.

10,000 hours equates to just under 417 days. Broken down into eight hour days that 10,000 hours is 1,250 ‘work’ days- that equates to 62.5 months, or just over FIVE years! Five years of doing the same thing, day in and day out. It is for this reason we can watch a ‘professional’ ‘play’ with a grinder – a tool that must always be respected – as if it is nothing. It is normal for him as he works with it DAILY. And after 20 plus tears, it is second nature.

While employing the professional to do certain work may cost a bit more than doing it oneself, it certainly can make life easier, even if it is less entertaining for the onlooker.

The advantage of allowing professionals – people who do the same tasks over and over and over on a daily basis – to do the work is that, because they do the same work repetitively, they learn what is generally referred to as the ‘tricks of the trade’.

Being a ‘do it yourselfer’ is admirable and great – and I believe is important, possibly because I am one myself – and it can even save one money when done correctly, but the university of life is not free, or even cheap, so expect to make some costly mistakes along the way. These ‘mistakes’ are the best way to learn, but they are often costly.

If you would like to manufacture a sign or install a sign save yourself time and possibly even money by calling #SignForce – the professionals.

For advice on signs or to order signs contact SignForce now on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za

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

 

What Value does your current sign supplier add to your business?


This vehicle, decorated as per specifications for SUPA NOVA ELECTRICAL POWER & PLUMBING is a simple example of vinyl decorated vehicle branding creating a MOBILE advertisement for the business.

Vehicle branding is always a great idea if you want people to SEE you, to know that you are associated with specific clients and to create more awareness of your brand.

We at SignForce assume that this is general knowledge and that all our competitors do the same work. We may not all have the same inks (original inks last longer) and we may not all use the same printers (at SignForce we swear by Roland) but we effectively ALL print and apply vinyl branding to you, our client’s vehicle.

What makes SignForce, with over 20 years experience – almost 60 in combined experience – different is that we have the knowledge to ADVISE and make a positive impact on your marketing plan , and we also strive to promote our clients. This  promotion is irregular and generally online, as but we believe that every client of ours looks to SignForce to do MORE than simply provide good quality products at competitive prices.

If you are looking to spend money on signage and feel that you could benefit from some advise and additional promotion, contact SignForce so we can assist you.

Contact SignForce on +27 (0)11 440 7525 or info@signforce.co.za or visit our website on http://www.signforce.co.za

You can check out Supa Nova on https://www.supanova.co.za/

 

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

#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.

How do I choose a sign supplier #2?

Illuminated signs

The same sign during the day and at night

Choosing a sign supplier #2, or how do you know what you are getting when you decide on your sign supplier?

I recently saw this sign at night – there is a photo attached. Big deal. I see this sign often – during the day, BUT, during the day the sign is very different.

I must say up front that SignForce did not make this sign. I am not making that statement because the sign is poorly made or is an example of a poorly made sign, quite the contrary. On the number of occasions I have seen this sign I have generally been impressed by it’s size and the seemed quality of it’s manufacture.

Seeing the sign at night got me thinking (again) about the components that go into the manufacturing of a sign, and the resultant costs associated with the manufacture and sale of the sign.

With signage it is ‘sometimes’ possible to compare “apples” with “apples”, especially when the signs are simple – say a Chromadek sign decorated with cut vinyl, yet even then the quality and life expectancy of the cut vinyl decoration can vary from six months to five to seven years, with the longer life vinyl having a higher input cost than the short term vinyl. The same applies when looking at outdoor digital prints, as not all inks or full colour printers are created equal, with some inks having longer life expectancy than others. And all this is for ‘simple’ signs.

When signs get more complicated – be it because the sign is illuminated or fabricated or on pins or painted or has been through one or more of a number of processes that result in the final finished product that you see – the situation can get exceptionally murky when comparing one supplier to another.

In order to keep this article short(ish), this article I will only cover illumination. I will cover fabrication – materials and processes, letters on pins and bonding components, paints – the various types and processes, and any other elements in separate articles.

Looking at the attached photo’s you can see that during the day the sign looks great. It is big and bold and tells any potential clients where the store is. It projects a professional, clean image and fits the available space well.

Looking at the same sign at night, when the lights are on, a lot of the professionalism that the sign projects during the day is lost. This is because at night, when illuminated the sign looks dull and dirty, and for me personally, being able to count the tubes inside means that it is most likely I will not actually be looking at the sign or it’s intended message, but I am more likely to spend my time getting the subliminal message that the sign, and thus the business it represents, is ‘cheap’ and dirty, and very likely not going to make my visit pleasurable.

Now these messages are generally not conscious, but they are subliminal (unconscious), which possibly makes them even stronger than the conscious, intended messages that the sign was designed to project. Now it is very easy to say the sign company is at fault for the sign looking bad (and they should possibly carry a portion of the responsibility), or to say that the store staff and management are ‘obviously’ unaware or unobservant or uncaring so they should be responsible, but in reality the staff either see the sign daily and are not noticing the progressive deterioration and / or the sign was ‘like that’ when they started working there or they may leave work before the sign comes on. [All positive arguments why businesses should enter into sign maintenance contracts with businesses like SignForce where we will independently and objectively check on the sign at regular, predetermined intervals, with reports and photo’s been provided.]

While it is easy to ‘blame’ all and sundry for the deterioration of the sign, the truth is that the sign will deteriorate over time, and it is a combination of ALL the factors mentioned above – as well as a number of other possible factors – that will lead to the sign looking as it does at night.

Now getting back to the issue at hand, deciding on a sign supplier, some of the ‘obvious’, visible (to sign suppliers) issues are that there are not enough florescent tubes and, as importantly, especially over a period of time, the placement of the said tubes.

In order for a sign to illuminate evenly so that the tubes cannot be seen three factors need to be considered. 1. The proximity of the tubes to the face of the sign. Tubes that are less than 70 mm have a great possibility of being visible, unless 2. The number of tubes is high. If there are tubes right next to the face, and the tubes are all almost touching each other, the light will be great, but the cost will be VERY high. 3. The third factor is the placement of the tubes. While it may be possible to use less tubes if the tubes are placed vertically, and there are times when there is no alternative but to place the tubes vertically, the reality is that the tubes run off gas, and when not in use, the gas will fall to the bottom of the tube. Over time, as the tube gets older, the gas no longer ignites as efficiently or brightly as when new. While this will happen to al tubes, it happens to vertical tubes noticeably faster.

It seems obvious to me, and I will thus assume all, that the number of tubes has a direct impact on the final cost of the sign. Since most businesses are cost sensitive, it is very likely that a supplier like SignForce, who as a matter of course, use more electronic over magnetic ballasts and place all tubes horizontally, will come in more costly than a supplier that uses magnetic ballasts and places the tubes vertically. As a rule SignForce also place tubes no more than 150 mm apart.

While electronic ballasts may cost more initially, over the five year expected life of a sign, there is a far greater possibility that a magnetic ballast failing, and an even greater possibility of the manual ‘starter’ failing, so in reality the additional cost of replacing and maintaining the electrics at least once over the life of the ‘cheaper’ sign should be costed into the initial costs, but this is seldom done, if ever.

As mentioned earlier, placing the tubes vertically may mean that the initial outlay for sign will be lower, but once again, the cost of maintenance, and almost unmeasurable reputation cost also need to be factored in.

Also as mentioned earlier, SignForce did not manufacture or install this sign, so without any knowledge of the client’s budget, or the size of the sign, I can only assume that SignForce may have used somewhere around the same number of tubes as have been used, but simply placing them horizontally should have resulted in a longer life of the tubes and thus better night visibility of the sign.

If you are in the market for professional looking illuminated signs that can be considered an investment in marketing, contact SignForce now on info@signforce for advice and / or an obligation free quote