Sign & Digital Graphics

September '14

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Maximizing Creativity e proper care and feeding of the sign designer Ma Charboneau owns and operates Drake, Colo.-based Charboneau Signs, an over-the-Web sign design service. Ma has 23 years of experience in hand leering, commercial graphic design, sign design, sales, fabrication, project management and installation. He can be reached through his website at or admin@machar- b y M a t t C h a r b o n e a u Designing Award-Winning Signs Environmental Comfort = Better Designs If you have ever purchased a new vehicle, you are no doubt familiar with the pride in ownership that you felt as you cruised around town. You were happy, content and felt like you could drive for days without ever tiring. A designer's environment can provide that same "new car feeling" and consequently the environ- ment they are working in now is either helping or hurting their ability to perform their job with opti- mum results. For the minimal cost of a few gallons of paint and labor, a designer's studio can become their sanctuary—their haven of creativity. An investment of only a few hundred dollars can make a significant improvement in your designer's perspective of their responsibility to the sales process. You Can't Force Creativity A regimented hourly work schedule is another fac- tor that is rarely addressed and can have a significant effect on a designer's productivity. Designers are usu- ally grouped into the same category as fabricators or other staffers or employees where there is generally a clear cut understanding of what needs to be done each day. Most designers can be spontaneous in their creativity, but it's difficult at best for most designers to turn on their creativity at 8 a.m., run it hard all day, then shut it off at 5 p.m. It's always been my belief (based on actual hands-on experience) that generally speaking; creativity cannot be forced into a box, or held to an 8-to-5 style regi- mented work schedule without negative consequences. Treating creativity with the same production-type expectations as non-creative employees is ill-conceived on so many levels that it's hard to believe it's rarely addressed by managers or owners of sign companies. (That being said, I will step down from my soap box now.) More Designs Does Not = More Sales It's much better to know your fish's behavior, their likes and needs, and to then go after that fish with the best bait you can put on the hook. Designing signs is similar in the sense that knowing your customer and crafting a solution to their sign needs goes far- ther toward closing a sale than having 10 hooks in the W hat are the creative limits of your sign designer? Do you have a clear understanding of their capabilities? Is their work environment help- ing or hurting their creativity or productivity? Are they struggling to be creative and productive during the traditional eight-hour day? Are they most productive in the office with interruptions, versus being allowed to work from home? For the last 29 years I've struggled with learning the magic formula for providing the optimum creative environment for designing. Color, sound, light and temperatures are factors that can have a significant effect on a designer's level of comfort at their work station. This in turn directly impacts their level of creativity, which can have a significant effect on the sales person's closing ratio. So, if you have ever wondered whether or not the colors of the walls in the design department affect the profitability of the company? The answer is absolutely yes. RUNNING THE BUSINESS 24 • September 2014 • S I G n & D I G I t a L G r a P h I C S

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