Sign & Digital Graphics

September '14

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32 • September 2014 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS used in channel letters in lieu of neon, and are increasingly becoming a viable replacement for fluorescent lamps in illuminated cabinet signs. Unfortunately, this further contributes to the demise of the neon tube bender. So, here we have a crescendo of sign lighting from incan- descent to neon to fluorescent to LED. What Does the Future Hold? Taken as a whole, all of these techno- logical changes have had a major impact on our industry. As Shakespeare once said, "What is past is prologue." The backstory prepares us for the present and the future. So what does the future hold for those of us currently working in this exciting industry? Sign companies must be will- ing to adapt to the increasing communi- cation demands of businesses. Providing various options for signage— LED illu- minated flexible faces, vinyl applications, color prints, etc.—retailers are no longer confined by a lack of options when decid- ing how to display their businesses to the marketplace. Sign companies need to train their people to talk about signage not only as a means of identifying a place of busi- ness, but also as a means of advertising it. One thing you can be sure of is that if we don't learn this language our prod- ucts will become commodities, and if we allow that to happen, social media will "eat our lunch." With the wide variety of signage options available, thanks to technological advances, we have no excuse for not being able to provide a wide array of offerings to our clients. None of us would dispute the idea that signs are critical to a success- ful business. Many national retail compa- nies include the need for adequate sig- nage in their real estate models. Signage is so important that these companies will not buy a piece of real estate if adequate signage is not possible. Challenges Ahead One of the challenges ahead is to find ways to encourage the planning com- munity to become advocates rather than adversaries of the sign industry. We have the ammunition; the research is clear and the need is evident. Fortunately there is some progress being made in this area. The on-premise display is the first and most-often repeated impression that a consumer has of a retail business; that impression is enormously enhanced with the use of modern electronic signage. Research has shown that consumers have fairly regular driving patterns. By this I mean that we tend to drive back and forth to work using the same routes; we drive to the supermarket along the same streets; we drive our children to school or soccer the same way most of the time. As a result we're exposed to the adver- tising message on an on-premise display repeatedly over the course of the mes- sage's life. This is not unlike seeing the same ad time and time again in the newspaper, on TV or wherever, but with one very major difference… when we see the ad on TV we're not in a position to act upon it. But in the case of the on-premise display we certainly can and do so immediately. In research circles this is referred to as creating "top of the mind" awareness or what is often described as "tiny little footprints on the surface of the mind." Because we're exposed to on-premise signs that advertise messages repeat- edly, those footprints become embed- ded in our memories. In fact, many psy- chologists would say that "share of mind" approximates and often equals "share of market"—further evidencing the adver- tising power of the on-premise display, enhanced by modern electronics. I believe these are exciting, extraordi- nary times for those in the onset of their careers. The future is incredibly bright. I can't begin to imagine the technologies that will evolve in the next fifty years but I believe they'll be mind-boggling. SDG In 1997 VUTEk intro- duced the UltraVu 5300, a five-meter wide solvent-based billboard printer offering 300 dpi images and speeds of about 2,100 square feet an hour. Pictured here is the UltraVu II 5300. (Image courtesy of EFI/ VUTEk) (Right) The advent of electronic signage and adoption of LED light- ing technology have had a tremendous impact on the recent evolution of the sign industry. (Image cour- tesy of Watchfire)

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