Thursday, June 4, 2009

Seven Steps To Signs That Pay


Many business owners buy signs as an afterthought. They wait until their budget is nearly cleaned out and then buy the cheapest sign possible. These are signs you can’t afford. If you are not confident that your new sign will pay for itself then you are wasting your money.

The purpose of a sign is to attract new customers, brand your site in the minds of consumers and create impulse sales. A sign is often the only visible cue that a business exists! Therefore, it should be the predominant feature of your building.

Consider the case of Frenchy’s Bistro, opened by a husband and wife in the mid-1990’s. It is located on a four-lane road with lots of traffic in Southern California. After healthy growth, revenues leveled off at $250 thousand and wouldn’t budge. They attracted a local clientele from the immediate neighborhood and were known as “that restaurant next to the paint store.” Their signage was so poor that they were not bringing in hungry passing motorists.

A friend suggested investing in a better sign. They selected a V-shaped sign, internally illuminated, to mount to the side of their building. The result? Their sales grew 16% in the first year. Sales in the second year increased 32%. By the fourth year, Frenchy’s Bistro had expanded into space available next door and had grown a total of 322%, with revenues over $823,000.

TIP # 1 Spend time and money to ensure you have a sign that makes a positive impression on your marketplace. Your sign should be conspicuous, reflective of your company’s look and feel, and remain easy for your customers to recall.


Business signage should be your first consideration in any marketing and promotion plan. Why? Consider the following facts. A group of 488
Southern California businesses began to collectively poll their 7,200 first-time customers in 1997. They wanted to know how these customers had found out about their businesses. Here are the results:

  • Business Signage ------46%
  • Word of Mouth ---------38%
  • Newpaper Ads -----------7%
  • Yellow Pages -----------6%
  • Radio Commercial -------2%
  • Television Commercial - 1%

The conclusions from this survey are very clear. 1.) The signs on these businesses effectively speak to potential customers, and 2.) Signs are the most effective form of advertising for the small and independent business person.

TIP #2 The most important concern is bringing in more paying customers, not how much you can save on your signage costs.


Your sign should be of a sufficient height and size to be clearly seen and unobscured by trees, lampposts, etc. Its content, both text and logo, should be legible. It should also stand out from its background. Keep this chart in mind when selecting the size of your sign(s):

TIP #3 A sign has less than two seconds to capture a consumer’s attention. Consider simple and direct messages, highly visible letters, easy to read type styles, illumination and contrasting colors. The most readable background colors are white and yellow. The most legible letters are black, dark blue and red. Using a border can help a viewer absorb information 26% faster.


That’s “too much information” and “too many messages.” We are overwhelmed by thousands of messages daily. Not only have we become adept at absorbing lots of data, we have also become skilled at tuning out obnoxious messages. Often a good, crisp presentation is best. You don’t need to inform your customers of everything you can do, you just want to capture their interest enough to have them call or come in. Maximum length of your message should be three to five words. Then leave 30 - 40% of your sign area blank.

TIP #4 Make your point with as few words as possible. If you can’t fit your message on a bumper sticker, then your message is too long.


A well-placed and attractive sign communicates to your ideal customer the true flavor of your business. Well-designed indoor signage reinforces your image. Sure, you want to stand out from the crowd, but be sure to temper the information on your signage by maintaining harmony with your setting. You don’t want to look like a pair of brown shoes in a tuxedo store! Consider the other signs near your business. Some beach communities prefer the look of sandblasted wood signs. An area known for its restaurants can be characterized by lighted dimensional signs. Often you can make your business stand out by having a simple but elegant sign, by incorporating a great design or by featuring materials no one else is using.

TIP #5 Select a design for your sign that reflects the key strength of your company—the service or product that your customers most value. Using an outside designer or good sign company can help you achieve this goal.


Now that you are ready to have your masterpiece produced, there is just one more gating factor: municipal codes. It is always wise to find out what is required by code enforcement before requesting a sign permit and/or creating your new sign.

Usually there are two sets of codes that will affect your signage decisions. Often business parks, historical areas and other developments will have their own sign criteria and these can be stricter than city codes. Be sure to check with your property manager or the city itself to find out if there is a sign criteria or “architectural overlay” before relying solely on the city’s requirements. Part of the approval process may even include sign off by your landlord or property manager.

The second element is the city code itself. You can avoid wasting a lot of time by calling your city planning department in advance to find out what is required. You do have the option of appealing the local sign code, to request what is called a “variance,” but be prepared for long waits and a frustrating appeals process.

TIP #6 It is vital to plan ahead. Cities are getting stricter about what types of outdoor signage they will allow. Find out what is acceptable before you make any other decisions that might cost you money.


Time and weather are the great enemies of outdoor signs. Imagine going to a restaurant and noticing that their sign is full of bird nests. Makes you wonder what else they are not maintaining, doesn’t it? There are many new materials coming on the market today that have superior weatherability. Some manufacturers today are guaranteeing their plastics for life against fading or cracking. LEDs are much more lasting than neon and use less power.

TIP #7 While a great sign will bring in customers, a poorly maintained one will drive them away. Make sure the materials to be used in your new sign will last as long as possible. Inspect your sign(s) regularly for cleanliness, aging and operability.

At Sign Art Etc “Good Signs=Good Business,” meaning that good signage can produce positive results for a company, and ultimately boost the bottom line. Sign Art Etc is built on Teamwork…Creativity… Reliability. Every Time. Call us today for a free quote.

Copyright 2009 by Doug Ellenberger

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sign of the Times!

New east side business wants to help you stand out in the crowd
By Michelle Warren

Those who stand out get the attention. It’s human nature to be drawn to the one that makes us take a second look, gets us thinking and makes us want to learn more. The same goes for businesses, and what better way to make a statement than with an attention-grabbing sign that does all the above?

outdoor vinyl banners

For individuals and businesses looking to do just that, as of November there’s a place designed especially to cater to that need. Sign Art Etc, located at 3861 St. Road 26 E Suite C, Lafayette, provides full service sign, graphics and advertising solutions.

“We do anything from yard signs and banners to the big electrical signs for buildings. We have a new HP flatbed printer that allows us to produce almost any image on a wide variety of materials,” explained owner Doug Ellenberger.

According to Ellenberger, the focus of the business is to make the customers and their business successful.

“We’re here to help people attract the kind and number of customers they want to attract,” he explained. “Our goal is to help your business, organization or event succeed.”

The Idea

According to Ellenberger, a Purdue University engineering graduate who previously worked in manufacturing for Kirby Risk and Fairfield, the reality of Sign Art Etc just fell into place. He worked with a business consultant and discussed different ideas and options.
A poster hanging in the lobby features the following quote by Kobi Yomada: “Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down.”

According to Ellenberger, the piece was a gift from his then 14-year-old daughter Emily and was given to him during this decision-making time. Emily is now 20 years old and helps out at Sign Art while attending Ivy Tech.

After reviewing all their options, they decided to go with Sign Art Etc. And according to Ellenberger, the sign business was a good fit. “This is very much a technology oriented business,” he said. “It’s a great business for an engineering guy to be in.”

Working with the latest technology, the team at Sign Art Etc is ready and able to assist each and every customer. Joining Doug is Jeff Ward as operations manager. Jeff takes care of the day to day operations.

“We have a great team here,” Ellenberger said.

A great team paired with a great location is what Ellenberger has. The site for the new business is in the old Wal-Mart building which also happens to house the International Sports Club on the east side of town.

“We knew this was the place we wanted to be in the first time we visited,” Ellenberger said of the building. “There always seems to be a lot of energy here.”

He also added that International drives a lot of traffic to Sign Art Etc.

Service Made Easy

Customers have a variety of options when they enter the shop at Sign Art Etc. Services offered by Sign Art Etc. include:

And more

While the main focus is the business to business projects, Ellenberger said the team at Sign Art Etc is more than happy to assist individuals with their projects.

So far, a variety of local businesses have turned to Sign Art Etc for their signage needs. For example, Tracy Deno, owner of New Dimensions, which is located downtown, teamed up with Sign Art Etc for her new sign. That project included design, build and installation. The lobby sign and window lettering for local attorney Tony Dowell also is on Sign Art Etc’s resume. Other examples include work done for Purdue University, F.C. Tucker, FedEx, Ivy Tech, Morning Song and Harrison High School.

According to Ellenberger, sometimes the customers already have an idea of what they want, and other times they don’t. Either way, the team at Sign Art Etc can make it happen. Whatever idea the customer has, Sign Art Etc can help make it a reality and save the customer a lot of worry and hassle.

Project management is one of the many things Ellenberger said his team prides itself on.
“We provide a good value, and we’re great at managing the jobs,” he said. “We’ll deliver on time and within budget.”

The Future

“We intend to grow our business in the Lafayette area and the surrounding areas,” Ellenberger said. “We also increase our internet business each year.”

Since the launch of the business, that has been happening.

“The best part is being able to make our customers happy,” he said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces when they see the finished product is very rewarding. It is rewarding to help turn a person’s idea into reality.”

There have been surprises. “Demonstrative evidence for trial attorneys is an area that we did not consider when we started. That has turned out to be a service we can provide.”
Ellenberger encourages people to stop out and see what the business has to offer.

“We have a lot to show,” he said. “And the neat things about signs is that they are out there 24/7. Signs are a great, cost-effective way to get your message out to your audience.

We are part of the SignWorld organization of nearly 200 independent owners,” Ellenberger said. “We are locally owned and globally connected. There is no project that someone within the SignWorld family hasn’t previously tackled. We also have a corporate technical team we can use as a resource if necessary.”

Stop by Sign Art Etc Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see what they can do for you and your business. For more information, call 765-449-1884 or visit the Web site at

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Color: Understanding Your Options

Color As A Medium Of Communication
One of the most important considerations in the creation of a sign revolves around the effective use of color. Color can convey emotions and elicit feelings. Red signifies life and passion. Blue gives the feelings of coolness and calm. Green connotes growth and springtime, and yellow says warmth and vitality.

Color Frequency and Vibration
Like sound waves, light rays have varying wavelengths or frequencies: the lighter the color, the higher the frequency. These wavelengths determine perception of color. Some pigments absorb certain light frequencies and reflect others. We see the reflected frequencies as color. Complementary colors such as red and green are not readily legible. They have similar black and white value, so their wavelengths set up a vibration. Any combination of colors of similar value, even without vibrating, will have low visibility. Although yellow and purple are complementary colors, they have strong contrast in value and therefore little vibration. They provide maximum visibility.

Comparative Visibility Of Full Value Color Combinations
These 14 color combinations for lettering were tested using only primary and secondary color of full hue and value. Tests for readability at a distance were conducted on different groups under the sponsorship of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). The results ranked in the sequence shown, with #1 the most legible and #14 as the least legible. Negative letters in 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 appear to have a broader stroke than their positive counterparts.

Color Wheel
The color wheel is divided into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. These three are the foundation of all colors because they are used to create each and every color. When you combine two of the primary colors, you create the three secondary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green and violet. The six tertiary colors are created by combining a primary and an adjacent secondary color. The six tertiary colors are red-orange, red-violet, yellow-green, yellow-orange, blue-green, and blue-violet.

Color Temperature
Colors are also divided into categories by temperature feel. These are considered cool and warm colors. The cool colors are green, blue and violet, while warm colors are red, orange and yellow. Psychologically, the colors give the viewer the feeling of these temperatures.

Color Schemes

Related Schemes
Monochromatic: This color scheme uses a single hue. ( example: red and its varying tints and shades)

Analogous: The scheme uses adjacent hues. (example: red, red-orange, and red-violet)

Contrasting Schemes
If two hues are opposite each other on the color wheel, they are considered to be complementary colors. When used together in a design, they make each other seem brighter and more intense. This is not always a good thing, however, as colors, such as red and green tend to make each other too intense and vibrate against each other. This can make for difficult reading.

Split Complementary
This color scheme uses three colors: any hue and the two adjacent to its complement.

This scheme also uses three colors. They are evenly spaced from each other.

Discordant Schemes
Double Complement
This color scheme uses two pairs of complements.

Alternate Complement
This scheme uses four colors: a triad and a complement to one of the hues.

This scheme uses four colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. A primary, secondary and two tertiary colors are used.

Sign Printing: Selecting The Right Material

The latest sign materials are designed for maximum flexibility and durability. We can help you select the best material for your sign based on the sign's intended location, look, and length of use.


Cast Vinyl
Cast vinyl is our highest grade vinyl due to the quality of materials used and the manufacturing process. It consists of high quality vinyl resin, organic pigments, solvents and stabilizers (the same ingredients in paint). These materials are mixed to form a paint-like liquid which is then poured onto steel rollers that drop the right amount of liquid onto a continuous roll of nonporous, thick paper. The paper carries the liquid vinyl through a series of low temperature ovens so that it dries. After drying in the ovens, the vinyl is rolled up off the paper and taken to a laminating line where it is carefully unrolled and coated with a clear acrylic adhesive. Cast vinyl typically has a higher gloss surface and is better for vehicles and applications for outdoor use. Because of the materials and manufacturing process, cast vinyl is much less likely to shrink in outdoor usage and has a warrantied life of 5 to 7 years depending on the application.

Pellets of vinyl, together with colors and modifiers, are ground in the calendering machines. The resulting hot, molten plastic is extruded onto a series of steel rollers which will flatten it out to the right thickness. It then receives a gloss or matte finish and is stretched to the right width. Finally, rollers cool the vinyl before it is wound up and adhesive and backing is applied. Heat, pressure, huge volume, and stretching are the key words in this process. There is a great deal of internal stress built into the vinyl as a result. Calendared vinyl offers a slightly shorter life span than cast vinyl with a warranted life of 3 to 5 years depending on the application. However, it is typically more cost effective due to huge production volumes and easier to remove from signs that are resurfaced on a regular basis.

Translucent vinyl is a cast vinyl. It is typically used in backlit signs such as light boxes. Translucent vinyl offers color consistency, a non-glare surface, and color brightness not found in other vinyl. The benefit of translucent vinyl is that when it is not illuminated it appears to be of normal color and when backlit it allows part of the light through for added visibility at night.

Reflective vinyl is best known for its 24-hour advertising capabilities. These films are generally cast vinyl. It is more difficult to cut, weed, and apply due to its thickness, but it typically has a higher impact due to its unique appearance. During the manufacturing process, glass beads are added to the paint-like liquid and spread across the entire surface during production. These glass beads reflect light therefore making the vinyl reflective. The more common applications include fleet graphics, highway signs and locations where night viewing and long distance visibility is required.

Metallic vinyl is a mirror finished film consisting of polyester and various finishing products. Its surface creates the look of an actual metal such as a silver, gold, or bronze. This vinyl is typically used for signs that offer a richer look, often times presenting the appearance of a higher end sign such as gold leaf, but for a far more cost effective price. This vinyl is typically used for interior or short-term exterior applications.

Such a wide selection of vinyls make it easy for Sign Art Etc to produce custom vinyl banners that suit your every advertising need.



Aluminum is without a doubt the longest lasting material for outdoor signage. It has a factory baked enamel finish, and is coated with a plastic sheet to prevent damage during shipping. It will not rust and is available in a range of sizes and colors, based on the manufacturer. Typical applications include real estate signs, directional signs and any area where durability is a major factor.

These are probably one of the most popular types of signs used. They come in many different colors for maximum graphic impact. They are highly resistant to tearing and ripping, and are also highly flame retardant, not to mention that they are very easy to maintain! Banners are great for everyday signage, announcement and retail sales applications.

Sho-card is a waterproof cardboard that can also be used as a dry-erase board. This is the perfect sign for easel displays or inexpensive presentations materials.

Coroplast is an inexpensive, lightweight corrugated plastic material used for mostly small, indoor signs, or outdoor signs that are temporary. It comes in many different colors, and is easy to cut into different sizes. Use coroplast stakes and you have an instant yard or tournament sign.

Magnetics can be cut into all shapes and sizes, and can be used outdoors or indoors. They are weather resistant and color stable. One of the most popular uses for magnetics is on car doors, for effective advertising that can be moved between vehicles.

M.D.O. (Medium Density Overlay Plywood)
MDO is thick, durable, layered plywood that can be cut into many different shapes and sizes. This type of plywood is specific to the sign industry. It is layered as to prevent warping and coated with a finish so that vinyl and adhesives take to the material easier. Typical application includes job site signs, semi-permanent development signs and directional signs.

This is a type of plastic, commonly refered to by its brand name Plexiglas that can be formed and cut to make interior signage. Its polished finish gives it a glossy and elegant appearance which is great for office signs or more upscale occasions.

This is an inexpensive, non-glare smooth plastic that is very easy to work with. It is best for interior signage such as cheap poster printing. This material is light weight and easy to transport. Because of its flexible nature, polystyrene is perfect for a sign that has to fit or contour to a curved surface.

PVC (Sintra/Trovicel)
Also called Komatex, or Sintra, PVC is a rigid plastic board available in many different colors. This material is easy to cut into different sizes and shapes. It has a textured surface for a matte appearance and is flame retardant. Great for retail store directional signs and interior identification signs.

Consider Your Readers: Choosing The Appropriate Size For Optimum Visibility

The title may seem obvious, but if you perform a tour through your local community and take a studied approach, you may be surprised at how many signs and advertisements are nearly INVISIBLE. The reason being that someone didn't consider the impact of the sign in relation to its environment, rendering the effect of their marketing efforts null and void.

This does not need to happen, and if you consider a few basic guidelines ahead of time, you can increase the effectiveness of your ad many times over.

Such factors to consider include:
Complexity of Design
Background / Environment
and Size

When thinking about banner printing, consider the the type of traffic involved. Is your message intended to reach drivers at highway speeds, city speeds, or pedestrians? Perhaps even all three at the same time?

Have you ever watched a movie on your home television and realized as the end credits roll by that there is no way you could ever read them, if you wanted to, at that fast speed and at that tiny font size? The same principle applies to your banners and signs. One very basic factor to take into account is size -- both the overall size of your banner and the size of any copy on the sign. Here's a simple visibility chart to give you some idea:

Interior VS Exterior Signs: What Are The Options?

Article From Sign Art Etc

The places you can put your sign are limitless: cars, windows, floors, yards, doors. Location is only limited by your imagination. Choose where you want to put your sign and we'll help you determine the right materials, design elements, and other resources to make your sign a cost-effective attention-getter.

Ask yourself these questions:

Where is the sign going to be placed?
What elements are going to affect the sign?
How is the sign going to be installed or hung?

Available Vinyls - All perfect for interior or outdoor vinyl banners:
Cast Vinyl Interior/Exterior
Calendered Vinyl Interior/Short Term Exterior
Translucent Interior/Exterior
Reflective Interior/Exterior
Metallic Interior/Short Term Exterior

Other Possible Substrates
Aluminum Interior/Exterior
Banners Interior/Exterior
Sho-card Interior
Coroplast Interior/Exterior
Magnetics Interior/Exterior
M.D.O. (Medium Density Overlay Plywood) Interior/Exterior
Acrylic Interior/Exterior
Polystyrene Interior
PVC (Sintra/Trovicel) Interior/Exterior

Such a wide selection of substrates and printing materials makes it possible to fulfill your every custom order for vinyl banners.