Fresh and New


What better way to celebrate the spring season than to do some cleaning? With the warm weather arriving, now is the perfect time to freshen not only your closet but also, your business’ look. Whether it is inside or outside there are so many ways to give your business a spring-cleaning.

Revamp To Revive
After the harsh winter your outdoor signage is beginning to look outdated, faded, cracked, peeled or dirty. Instead of giving off the impression of rundown or careless, new signage will imply, fresh, pristine, and inviting. Revamping the outside look of your business will help to revive your business. With new outdoor signage helping to draw customers inside, new secondary signage will help sell your product once your customers are inside. Point of purchase displays, banners, and event signs are great ways to highlight your latest promotions. Another impressive way to generate an influx of business without breaking the bank is with new posters and cutouts. To get the most out of your new advertisements, keep in mind placing the signs in optimal viewing places with great light. Phenomenal signage plus amazing products equal guaranteed success.

Elements of an Exceptional Sign
An exceptional sign is an important part of a prosperous business. It will increase your company’s visibility, answer customers’ questions and provide cohesiveness with a sense of identity. Incorporating the important elements of a sign will improve business and most importantly make you more money. To successfully create an exceptional sign you must keep in mind these four different elements:

Message
Make sure your sign has a reason to exist and is not just taking up space. An exceptional sign only has one purpose: to deliver a message. This message can be anything meaningful but in some way it must inform, alert, or direct your customer.

Comprehension
Keeping the sign simple and direct will allow customers to easily understand an exceptional sign. A sign that reads, “50% Off All Items” immediately tells consumers that all goods in your store are half-priced. Another effective way of sending your message is adding imagery. A sign with a picture of a mouth-watering ice cream cone will signal to everyone that tasty frozen treats are available at your store.

Speed
An exceptional sign rapidly sends its message to customers. Humans lack patience; they don’t want to take time to study a sign with lots of words or pictures trying to figure out what is being said. Therefore, use just enough text and images to effectively communicate your message, in the shortest time possible.

Attention
People pass by hundreds of signs everyday but only exceptional signs will capture the attention of potential customers and cause them to stop and read your sign. It is important for your sign to stand out and make sure it is seen.

Did You Know?
Whether you’re opening a new business, or expanding a current one, it is important to be aware of the zoning ordinance that governs commercial signage. Compliance with these regulations will help ensure safety and appropriate aesthetics…and will ensure that the money you spend on your signs won’t be wasted in the case of violations that require the sign(s) to be taken down.

Don’t Forget!
For your next project, let sign professionals help with concept development, execution, and installation!

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Digital File Formats – When and How to Use Them

Here at Graphic Communications, we’re often asked by our customers which is the best file type to use when providing artwork for Hi-Res digital printing. The truth is, digital files can be saved in a number of different file formats, and can be moved between different imaging and page layout applications. Preparing your digital files for submission to a printer or service bureau involves many steps, but the first is understanding which digital files are suitable for each particular project.

Digital File Formats

EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) These types of files are used for placing images or graphics in documents created in word processing, page layout, or drawing programs. EPS files support both raster and vector data. An explanation of raster and vector data can be found below. An EPS file can contain any combination of text, graphics, and images. Since it is actually a PostScript file, it is the most versatile file format that is available.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) An 8-BIT, low memory option for posting images on the web. GIFs are used for raster or bitmap images. GIF images are limited to 256 colors, making them unsuitable for most print applications. They are well-suited for images containing large, flat areas of one color and are often used for graphics such as logos and line art.

JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) JPEG files use a compression technique for images. They are used for placing imagery such as photographs in websites and online applications where high resolution files aren’t necessary. Because it is a “lossy” compression format, image quality is sacrificed to conserve disk space. JPEG images have a low resolution (72 dpi), therefore they are unsuitable for high quality print output.

PDF (Portable Document Format) PDF files are used for desktop printing or on-screen viewing. They allow documents to be viewed and printed independent of the application used to create them. Often used for transferring printed pages over the web, either for downloading existing publications, or for sending documents to service bureaus, or commercial printers for output.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) TIFF files are used for placing images or graphics in documents created in word processing, page layout, or drawing programs. Supports raster data and converts vectored images to bits. TIFF files can be cropped or edited. TIFFs are similar to EPS, but the smaller file size saves memory over an EPS format.

Raster Images   In computer graphics, a raster graphics image, or bitmap, is a dot matrix data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium. They cannot scale up to an arbitrary resolution without loss of apparent quality. This property contrasts with the capabilities of vector graphics, which easily scale up to the quality of the device rendering them.

Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical expressions, to represent images in computer graphics. Vector graphics are based on vectors (also called paths, or strokes) which lead through locations called control points. Each of these points has a definite position on the x and y axes of the work plan. Each point, as well, is a variety of database, including the location of the point in the work space and the direction of the vector (which is what defines the direction of the track). Each track can be assigned a color, a shape, a thickness and also a fill. This does not affect the size of the files in a substantial way because all information resides in the structure; it describes how to draw the vector. Vector graphics are infinitely scalable.

Source: Poppy Evans., Forms, Folds and Sizes, (Rockport Publishers, 2004)., Wikipedia.

Color Theory

Color is everywhere! The way we perceive color can affect our emotions and impact our mood. Color has the ability to soothe and also to stimulate us. New technologies and products have made color more accessible, usable, and affordable to the general public and business. Color can also solve a variety of design challenges. Use the powerful tool of color to greatly enhance your communication.

Color Space Fundamentals

Computer monitors emit color as RGB (red, green, blue) light. Although all colors of the visible spectrum can be produced by merging red, green and blue light, monitors are capable of displaying only a limited gamut (i.e., range) of the visible spectrum. Whereas monitors emit light, inked paper absorbs or reflects specific wavelengths, cyan, magenta and yellow pigments serve as filters, subtracting varying degrees of red, green and blue from white light to produce a selective gamut of spectral colors. Like monitors, printing inks also produce a color gamut that is only a subset of the visible spectrum, although the range is not the same for both. Consequently, the same art displayed on a computer monitor may not match to that printed in a publication. Also, because printing processes such as offset lithography use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) inks, digital art must be converted to CMYK color for print.

Many printers now prefer digital art files to be supplied in the RGB color space with ICC profiles attached. Images can then be converted to the CMYK color space by the printer using color management methods that honor profiles if present; this helps preserve the best possible detail and vibrancy.

RGBCMYK

  • (Red, Green and Blue) These are the primary colors of light, which computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file must be translated into the CMYK (the primary colors of pigment) color space in order to be printed on a printing press.
  • (Cyan Magenta Yellow blacK) The color space used for commercial printing and most color computer printers. In theory, cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY) can print all colors, but inks are not pure and black comes out muddy. The black ink (K) is required for quality printing.

Color, Contrast & White Space

Important considerations when designing an effective sign and communicating your message:

  • There are certain color combinations that are more legible than others. However, the shade of the color is important, too. The most easily read combinations are black, dark blue or red text on a yellow or white background.  (see chart below)*
  • Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas on your sign. Positive contrast (light border or text on a dark background) is easier to read than negative contrast (dark border or text on a light background).
  • Maintain white space. An industry guideline is 30%-40% of the sign area should be blank space. Too much clutter distracts potential customers.

Color-Combo-Chart


Did You Know?
  8% of U.S. males are color-blind. It’s important to use color combinations that retain contrast when viewed by color-blind people. Blue and yellow, for example, are a good combination, but blue-green or aqua on white or gray are difficult combinations for a color blind person to read.

Why Signage is So Important

At a minimum, your sign should, A) Attract new customers, B) Brand the business and C) Create impulse sales.

New Customers

Research indicates that 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business.  But according to the U. S. Census Bureau, 18.6% of the population relocates annually.  Which means every year you’’re losing customers that you must replace with new customers, just to break even.  Who’’s in business just to break even?

If you only want to sustain your business then just maintain your customer base.  But if you want to grow your business, you must increase your customer base.  The quickest, easiest and most economical way to attract new customers is with signage. A 7% increase in sales can produce over 124% increase in profit.  It is for this reason that attracting the new customer is essential to your profitability.

Brand

When your business is the first one that comes to mind as a place to find a product or service, you have achieved what is called “top-of-mind awareness.“  Top-of-mind awareness is built and reinforced through repetition.

As mentioned, 85% of your customers live or work within a five-mile radius of your business.  When driving to and from work, school and shopping, they pass your location some 50 to 60 times a month.  Your sign should be designed so that it commands their attention every time they pass.

That’’s how signs help build top-of-mind awareness and brand your business. To further this effort, make sure your sign is included as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Impulse Sales

Even though many of today’’s consumers have the financial ability and desire to spend money, few have the time in which to do that spending.  They’’re certainly too busy to search for you or wander around comparison-shopping.  They are more likely to stop at the first convenient place they see that seems to be selling what they need.

Who hasn’’t been driving down the street, stopped at a store and made a purchase, merely because they saw the sign? Best Buy discovered that about 17% of its customers were people who did not intend to stop there but did so specifically because they saw the sign*.

Contact

First and foremost, signage can no longer be an afterthought.  Businesses can’’t afford to just “hang up a shingle“ or throw up some plywood with painted letters. Let Graphic Communications help you with attracting new customers, branding and generating impulse sales. Contact us today.

*source:signs.org

Branding: Defining Your Company

What Does Your Company Stand For?

Branding your company or service can be a great asset. Brand-driven advertisers understand this very well. They understand the emotional substructure of good advertising. If you don’t stir the heart, goes the reasoning, you can’t stir the pocketbook. That’s why Super Bowl advertisers will work hard— and spend millions to leave you laughing. Or crying. Or angry.

To build your brand, begin by thinking through exactly what it is you sell and why customers choose your product or service. Identify the promise you are making to your customers. For instance, you may manufacture vacuum cleaners, but what you’re really selling is a better way to clean house. You must also define what makes your product more desirable to the customers you’re targeting than that of your competition. With a strong brand, you don’t have to sell nearly as long or as hard. Customers know what you stand for before the pitch or proposal.

Here’s how to give your company the kind of brand identity that will help drive sales:

Define Your Personality
A successful  brand becomes an emotional bond that builds customer loyalty. A brand includes your logo, color scheme, taglines, slogan, design elements and more.

Build Recognition
You want the company personality to be easily identifiable at every customer touch point, from word of mouth to final sale. Make sure that every bit and byte of packaging, presentations, communications, and marketing speaks with a brand-consistent look and voice. That includes vehicle graphics, trade show displays and booths, storefront or office signage, banners and web ads, print ads, posters and point of purchase displays, in other words, everything.

Get Inside the customer’s mind
You need a serious fix on what will propel people to buy so you can gear your messages accordingly.  Ask yourself: what need will you fill for the customer? What problem can you solve? How can I make it easier for them? Once you know that, you know what will trigger a market response.

But defining what that brand is and what it will mean to your customers is complicated. When counting your abstract assets, for instance, try putting the customer relationship AHEAD of brand on the ledger sheet. And the product? Channel money into making it the best it can be, both in quality and in the manner it satisfies your customers’ deepest desires. Let those two things drive how you communicate with your market, and you’ll have a powerful branding strategy that pushes the numbers up on your balance sheet.