Thoughts on Signs & Graphics

Etching Glass without Etching Glass

Etched Glass without the Etching

What does that mean, etching glass without etching? It means you use a look-alike alternative to glass that's been etched the old fashioned way--with a blast-etching technique. This alternative uses what is called etch or frosted vinyl, and it's a surface application that gives the look of etched glass without the cost.

Pretty neat, right? It's not only neat but very sophisticated and upscale. While more costly than standard opaque vinyl lettering, frosted vinyl evokes an image of style.

Take the lettering we did recently for Above the Fold, a marketing firm in Burlington, VT. They originally wanted their logo reproduced in their corporate colors of purple and teal. We thought that would be very hard to read. While windows are see-through, a window's surface is dark and dark colors on a dark background make the lettering invisible.

Stark white opaque vinyl would have also worked well, but according to owner Barbara Dozetos, "We took your recommendation. I would have gone with full color, but SignARama recommended the frosted and I’m delighted. We have all the color we need in the office."

As you can see in the photo, the lettering is more subtle than a bright-white alternative, but certainly not invisible.

"It looks like it’s very high end, but was incredibly affordable," Barbara said.

How do you keep the etch vinyl looking good for years to come? Basically leave it alone. You can clean the window, even spray the vinyl with an alcohol-based glass cleaner, but don't use a squeegee over the lettering--rubbing the edges can chip the vinyl. The vinyl should last for several years; it won't fade from UV-radiation or extremes in weather temperatures, and shouldn't shrink.

The beauty of a relatively temporary product is that you can change your business name, or remove wording from your business name, or add some, and vinyl allows you to modify it. Real blast-etched glass doesn't.

Creating a Sign? Be Sure to Proofread!

As a trained writer, editor, and proofreader, one of the reasons I gladly opened up a sign shop years ago was the realization that signs have a very comfortable relationship with words, called “text” or "copy" in the industry. I found myself reading the various signs’ verbiage with an eye toward proper spelling much like I did when I used to read long manuscripts.

Over the years, all of us in the shop have caught typos, improper punctuation, capital letters where there should have been lowercase, and the list goes on. Even when people took our advice and kept text to a minimum on their sign designs, mistakes crept in.

If you end up designing your own sign layout that gets forwarded to a sign shop, or are designing your layout and ordering your sign online, take a few moments to review the text for errors. Here are a few things that can help you produce a sign whose text is error free:

Cemetery spelled correctly1. Type out your text and use spell check. It seems obvious, but we often receive layouts that would have come to us without typos if they had used spell check. This will still allow words that are pronounced the same, but spelled differently (called homonyms), to sneak through.

2. Have someone who has never seen the text read it. Especially if you have looked at the text more than a few times, typos can often by overlooked. Someone with a fresh perspective can spot the mistakes right away.

3. Type your text, use spell check, and then put it away for 24 hours. Your fresh perspective will catch even the homonyms.

You wouldn’t want your permanent sign to contain errors like the customer who brought in his old sign to show us how to make a new sign for him. It was just two words: Ashville Cemetary.

The problem was that the word Cemetary was misspelled. It should read Cemetery. We made the sign with the word spelled properly. Now everyone who sees the sign will see the word Cemetery spelled correctly, too.

Love your pet? Enter to WIN your own Stand-Up

What's a Stand-Up, you ask? It's a digital image that's applied to a clear material. The outside borders of the photographic image are then cut to shape. The image sits in a base so it stands vertically.

We know your love showing off your pet. Why not do it with a Stand-Up? It's a fun way to see your pet's image every day.

Like our Facebook page, and enter the contest--we want to see your pet photos!

Dylan as a Stand-Up


Trade Show Tips and Techniques that Work!

Trade shows are an exceptional marketing tool because they allow you to get in front of a large group of prospects in a short amount of time. Here are some insider tips for you to make the most out of your next trade show.

What do you bring?

How do you know what you will need? While a professionally constructed trade show display is nice, it’s not a necessity. Take advantage of the pipe and drape provided by the show producer to physically form your booth space.

Bring a banner or perhaps a poster, samples of your product or service, as well as business cards and brochures. You’ll need a table and table cover (preferably with your logo on it), paper to write notes on, lots of business cards, and a fish bowl to store contest entries.

Making an Impression

The experts tell us that you have only 10 seconds to make an impression on the people walking by. How do you capture their attention?

Above all, make your booth a welcome place to enter. Arrange your table so that it doesn’t block people from entering the booth, and cover it with a table skirt, or table cover. At the very least, have a banner hang from the front of the table.

Within easy reach for people passing by, provide a drawing for a gift or one of your products or services. Add these names to your mailing list, and after selecting the winner of the drawing, follow up with the rest of the prospects by sending a thank you letter for stopping at your booth.

Graphics that Grab You
Powertex curved wall display and stand
Remember the 10-second rule for capturing people’s attention—use color graphics and bold messages to attract prospects.

We suggest a banner because it stands above the crowd when hung at the rear of your booth. Keep your banner visually simple, but use the space to display your logo prominently. When the trade show is crowded with people, this will often be the only part of your booth the public sees as they walk the aisles.

Make the banner a good size: two or three feet high by six feet long works well in an eight-or ten-foot wide booth. Large, full-color posters mounted on a lightweight material such as PVC can also hang from your back wall.

Stand apart from the crowd
Give away samples of your product or service. Share food products if you’re a specialty food manufacturer; or display your latest fuel-efficient furnace system in action. We know a wood carver who displays his artwork, and then starts carving a few pieces. Does he gather a crowd? You bet!

Some final thoughts
On a practical note, never leave your booth unattended. People will think you aren’t serious about your business so they won’t stop. Also, how is anyone going to answer their questions and close the sale?

Look at a trade show as one more way to establish a business relationship. Say hello to everyone and encourage them to enter your drawing. Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Trade shows are a fantastic marketing method.

Let us know how productive your last trade show was. Did you discover any better ways to display your company's image?

How to Remove Vinyl Graphics: 5 Easy Steps

The vinyl that’s made for sign work is naturally difficult to remove from its substrate (Substrate is the material that the vinyl is adhered to as a sign.). Why? When placed on the substrate, the intention is to have the vinyl lettering or logo last for years so the adhesives used on vinyl are very sticky.

Let’s say you have window graphics that needs updating, or you’re moving to new space and need to remove your vinyl lettering. Here’s a how-to that makes the de-installation easy.

1. Use a hair dryer, or better yet, a heat gun to soften the vinyl. This softens the adhesive allowing you to peel the vinyl easily from the substrate.

Removing vinyl with plastic razor blade2. You can use a plastic razor blade from your neighborhood sign shop and scrape away the lettering if pulling them off one by one is too time consuming.

Look back at the area where you removed the graphics. Do you see a film? Touch it. Is it sticky? That residue is the adhesive from the vinyl. You need to use Goof Off or adhesive remover to clean the surface.

3. Purchase a good quality adhesive removing product. Spray the sticky area. Allow the remover to sit for a few minutes. The adhesive will soak up the remover and swell. This allows you to remove the adhesive easier.

4. Use a putty knife or a plastic razor blade to scrape the goop (if it’s a window. If it’s a wooden board or some other material, don’t scrape. Someone else may be applying their graphics to the substrate and would like a surface that’s not marred by your earnestness.)

5. Wipe clean with a paper towel and window cleaner. Degrease with isopropyl alcohol, and you’re ready to apply your new graphics.

Have you ever removed vinyl before? Share your experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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