Thoughts on Signs & Graphics

Earth Day, Going Green, Bio-Banners, and Love Your Mother

It’s Gaia Day. Or as it’s more commonly known—Earth Day. A holiday without a religious or Hallmark-based tie-in, it’s been celebrated every year since 1970, making it 40 years old this year. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as a teach-in and is now our annual reminder that this planet needs our attention.

Environmental consciousness and concern is used by businesses as a marketing ploy, studied at the college level (with degrees in all forms of ecology and environmental topics available), made us look at where our food comes from (factory farms, fair trade coffee, migrant workers in low wage jobs), and has overall started a lot of important conversations about Mother Earth.

“Going green” is both easy and hard to do. Bob and I replaced our standard recessed light bulbs with compact fluorescent alternatives in our hallway the other day. We hate the buzzing sound and the harshness of the light they project, but we can be a little uncomfortable with the aesthetics of our hall lighting if the CFs are going to help reduce global warming.

The sign industry is also providing greener alternatives—finally. Bio-Banner material is an interesting sign substrate and differs in significant ways compared to standard banner stock.

The vinyl, while durable for outdoor use as a banner, is biodegraded when land filled. Non-toxic chemicals added to the Bio-Banner formulation help disassemble the polyvinyl chloride structure to create digestible bits of material that is further broken down by microbes into chloride and sodium.

How appropriate is it that there is now a biodegradable alternative for banners, which are often used as temporary signs? Get your banner, market you business, compost it safely.

To celebrate Earth Day, you can order your Bio-Banner with a 10% off discount through Earth Day 2011. That’s a year’s worth of banners that can advertise your event, your business and say Happy Birthday to a loved one while being land filled safely when you're done with it.

Both Green-Up Day Vermont and Mother’s Day are right around the corner. Today is Bio-Banner day. Remember to love your mother.


Roses are red. Violets are blue. Your business sign says a lot about you.

Love my Sign

"I 'heart' my sign," a customer told me recently, using air quotes around the word heart. Sally had ordered the A-frame as a way to lead customers into her retail location.

Her shop is in downtown Burlington, Vermont, but a little bit visually out of the way of driving traffic.

Read more: Roses are red. Violets are blue. Your business sign says a lot about you.

Fair Use in Copyright and What It Means

Have you ever had this type of experience before? Let's say you're interested in a subject, like a classic Mercedes sports coupe. You think about the Mercedes a lot, and suddenly you see it alot, too. It's cruising down the highway, parked in your neighbor's driveway, or for sale at the car dealership down the road from work.

So it is with the subject of copyright. On June 12th, we posted a little story about our customers who did and didn't understand the intricacies of copyright law.

Not that we're lawyers, so please don't use our blog posting as a defense in your upcoming copyright infringement case, but now we're seeing articles and references to the topic of copyright all over the place. It seems to be important for us to know about, and thougth you might be interested, too.

Here's an excellent video produced by the American University Center for Social media. While it focuses on the subject of Fair Use as it applies to video, the general topic of fair use is relevant to all creative materials. As we find more easy-to-understand information on copyright law, we'll post it here.

Note: Thank you to Loida Thamm from North 100 for the heads up regarding this video on Fair Use.


Want Your Window Graphics Visible? Read On

People love window graphics; they add style, advertising value, and branding messages to your windows. Window graphics may be text, a full color image, or a combination of both. They are a cost-effective alternative to a hard sign, or a snazzy complement to your building or freestanding sign.

One thing for you to consider is the color of your window graphics. If you're keeping costs down by opting for a one-color image or text, please choose white, off-white or another light color. Although we can look through glass, notice that its surface is dark. Dark letters and graphics on a dark surface = unreadable.


Asiana Noddle Shop
Asiana Noodle Shop window graphics

Here's how to solve the dark graphics problem; outline the image and text with a light color. Voilà. The light color against the dark window enhances the text and your message, making it attractive and readable. You've elevated the graphics to the level of effective advertising, which it will be 365 days a year.

Let's talk about where the window graphics will be installed. On a window, of course, but on the inside or the outside of the glass?

Take a look at the glass. Is it tinted? Then install the window graphics on the outside. Are you in a vandalism-prone area? Then install the window graphics on the inside. Are your windows dark and you're in a vandalism-prone area? Take your chances and install the graphics on the outside. We've installed graphics in urban areas, and have never had them tagged or removed

Signs and graphics, other than digital signs, don't talk. But if they did, they'd say, "Help me help you. Make me easy to see and I'll help you brand your company and sell more products and services. Thank you!"


A Business with No Sign is...Nonexistent

Driving down a major thoroughfare in a suburb of Burlington recently, I passed a renovated building with a couple of established businesses on the ground floor. A sign caught my attention.

You'd think that would be a good thing, but this time it wasn't.

I didn't notice the sign because it worked so well advertising the store. I noticed it because I'm aware of signs and how they should function, and this poor little sign was not doing its job.

There it was, an adorable graphic bit that faced me as I approached from the south. Adorable, yes, but pretty well unreadable. The artistry of the sign is what drew my attention, but if I had not already known the name of that store, I'd have had to take my life in my hands trying to decipher the name of the place, neglecting the road and driving my car.

As I went by, I looked at the street face of the building for another more visible sign for the little shop and was amazed to see that there were none. The store next-door had its name in bold letters affixed attractively to the building's fascia, with an "open" flag and A-frame out front, but the shop with the adorable sign had none. And folks approaching from the north wouldn't see the adorable sign at all.

So the only opportunity to attract the attention of drivers past the store, and only from one direction, was that single quick look at a sign that couldn't be read.

Now, I actually know that store, and it's well worth a visit. Perhaps the owner is depending on people like me coming in on purpose locals, tourists, and regulars who will, I'm convinced, love the place. Perhaps the owners just don't trust that a serendipitous shopper sees a sign and drops in on a whim, or the passerby who thinks "I'll stop in there one day."

But I thought, as I drove on, that times are tough right now, and if the little store were to suffer or go under, the owners might chalk it up to the economy or to fate, when it could be that--without a sign--most people just don't know the store is there.

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