A Small-Business Guide to Designing Compelling Signage

In the age of digital marketing, it seems many small businesses forget the foundation of traditional marketing.
By Drew Hendricks, Inc. Magazine

getty_102759511_970621970450012_50061While the internet possesses the potential to reach a larger market than displays and print advertisements do, you can’t afford to ignore physical signage. Your ability to design and produce compelling, attractive signage for both the inside and outside of your corporate office goes a long way in building trust with customers and clients.


Physical signage in a digital world.

In terms of 21st-century marketing, physical signage seems to lack the punch it once had. However, this is not necessarily true. While marketing has certainly expanded to include a number of digital channels–including television and internet–physical signage is still a necessary and valuable component of your overall marketing and branding efforts.

Think about it from the perspective of your clients. When they come to your office for meetings, what do they want to see? Ideally, they want visible reinforcement that they’re dealing with a strong, reputable brand. They want to feel your value is consistent and stable across the board. Physical signage–while not the only variable in this equation–can help you establish that consistency. It shows that you’re committed and proud of what you offer.

What would customers and clients say about your office? Or would they say anything at all? It can seem like a subtle touch, but in highly competitive markets, the details serve as differentiators.

A case study conducted by the University of San Diego School of Business Administration reinforces these points. According to data collected from one local business owner, it was the building’s signage, not word of mouth marketing, improvements, or other advertisements, that attracted 10 new walk-in customers over a one week period. Out of those 10 customers, at least six sales resulted.

While it can be difficult to quantify the value of your office’s signage, it’s examples like these that prove it matters. Instead of investing 100 percent of your marketing and advertising budget to digital channels, consider allocating a healthy portion to physical signage.

Handling the design process.

The overall effectiveness of your signage will ultimately be tied to aesthetics. While things like implementation and placement matter, it’s pertinent that you start with the design process. Specifically, there are a few things you need to pay close attention to.

  • Color. According to Sapna Budev, director of strategic initiatives for a Virginia-based sign company, “Studies have shown that 80 percent of the recognition of a trademark is due to its color.” Coke is directly associated with red and white, McDonald’s with red and yellow, and so on. Colors are powerful and the key to any successful signage is to strategically implement colors that engage and excite.
  • Materials (such as acrylic, glass, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, and brass). For decades, the staple materials for signage were lumber and paint. However, as time has passed, materials have changed. The signage material you choose will depend on a number of factors. Are you looking to take a vintage, modern, or classic look? What sort of elements will the sign be exposed to? How will the sign be supported? All of these questions are valid and need to be answered before settling on a specific material.
  • Contrast. After choosing colors and materials, Budev suggests paying attention to contrast and how the text and graphics work together. Not all combinations will work and it’s critical that the sign is readable from all angles and viewpoints. You’ll specifically want to pay attention to the use of outlines and shadowing to make foreground images and text pop.
  • Size. Depending on the message you’re trying to convey, the size of your signage could vary. For a powerful and bold statement, bigger is better. For a more sophisticated or refined touch, a smaller sign could work well. When determining the dimensions of the sign, consider how far away you want the sign to be visible from.

Implementation of physical signage.

According to Impact! Signs, a leader in corporate signage, the implementation of physical signs is just as important as the design process. If not properly placed or installed, the time spent creating intricate, attractive designs will be wasted. Couple the following tips with the aforementioned design tips for powerful signage that makes a statement:

  • Consider the viewpoint. While retail stores may want signage placed high above the building to attract traffic from the street, corporate office buildings don’t always need to take the same approach. If your building is tucked away in an office park or discreet area of town, you may be better served placing smaller signage at eye level. This way, clients are confronted with your signage prior to walking in the building.
  • Lighting for emphasis. While the actual lighting of the sign should be discussed in the design process, it’s also worth looking at in the implementation and installation phase. If the sign doesn’t have a backlight, you may want to consider adding spotlights around the sign for maximum exposure at all hours.
  • Test placement. If you’re strategic, your installation doesn’t have to be permanent. You can actually try multiple locations and ask for feedback based on the placement. This allows you to experiment with where your sign is most effective. The best way to garner feedback is to ask clients whether they noticed your sign walking in, and most will be honest with their answers.
  • Local regulations. Don’t forget about local regulations, permits, and building codes. Some areas may have restrictions regarding how big a sign can be or where it can be placed. Furthermore, if you’re leasing a building, your landlord may forbid certain types of signage. These are issues worth looking into at the very beginning, rather than being surprised later.

Creating effective physical signage.

Don’t listen to those who say physical signage should take a backseat to digital advertising. Even in an age where internet marketing and television advertisements take front stage, physical signage still holds incredible value. Take the time to develop something that truly represents your brand and reaches your audience.


Too much, too fast? In East Austin there’s a call to halt new development


A coalition of neighborhood groups along East Cesar Chavez Street will pressure the Austin Planning Commission with a request to stop issuing new building permits in the area, reports KXAN.

According to the report, the El Concillo Mexican-American Neighborhood Associations, led by Gavin Fernandez, want city officials to halt development until a master plan for the area can be created to guide development on East Cesar Chavez between I-35 and U.S. 183.

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East Cesar Chavez Street has become the focus of Austin’s debates over development and gentrification. It’s also the same stretch of street where the piñata store Jumpolin was demolished, sparking a series of protests that eventually resulted in the property owner stepping down from his job as the CEO of an online reputation management company.

If successful, it would be another political victory for neighbors in the area who said development along East Cesar Chavez has been too rapid,

In June, a group of residents, after getting 400 signatures on a petition, successfully halted development of a small hotel and restaurant along East Cesar Chavez called the East Side Hotel.

Thanks for the terrific review Colin!

CustomerReviewsThis place was fast, convenient and inexpensive by the standards of getting a poster printed. They were able to get me a 3-foot by 4-foot color poster printed and mounted on foamboard by 9:30a the next day with me only getting them the PDF at 2p. For anyone that’s ever used Kinkos or anything else, that’s pretty darn quick. They also did it for $75 plus tax which isn’t bad at all.

It was pretty straightforward to upload a PDF to their website, although it could use a bit of a facelift from the late-90s-style java applet that they use. The did respond via e-mail promptly to ask questions about how I wanted it printed and were really helpful when I had questions.

The actual poster came out great and it was perfect for what we needed. The north location will tell you that they “don’t do color”, but what they mean is that they don’t do exact color matching for photo-level, perfect printing. They do color just fine and it matched the PDF I gave them as well as I had an expectation that it would.

If you need something big printed, it’s always annoying that it takes some prior notice and more money than you want to spend, but at least these people minimize the pain and produce good results.

—- Colin D.

Canon Expands imagePROGRAF lineup with Six New Models

Featuring Faster Print Speeds And More Intuitive Software Options Than Predecessor Models

Updates to Hardware and Software, Can Help Lead to Seamless Productivity and High-Quality Images

canon-imageprografCanon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, has unveiled six new models in its imagePROGRAF lineup: four new five-color, large-format inkjet printers – the 36-inch iPF785 and iPF780 models, and the 24-inch iPF685 and iPF680 models – and two new large-format imaging systems – the iPF785 MFP M40 and iPF780 MFP M40. Visit our Canon Equipment page for specifics on each model here>>.

These devices offer faster printing speeds and lower operation costs as compared to their predecessors, as well as upgraded software for an enhanced user experience particularly in mobile and cloud based printing applications.

Designed for a variety of industries that print maps, technical drawings, renderings, site and facilities management plans, signs and posters, the 36-inch devices boast print speeds of up to 21 seconds for an Arch D (24″ x 36″) print and now support 300 ml ink tanks, helping to lower the cost-per-print. A sub-ink tank system allows users to deplete all of the ink in the tank before replacing them, as well as to replace empty ink tanks without needing to stop the printer, increasing productivity during continuous print runs. In addition, the iPF785 and iPF685 models come equipped with a 320GB internal hard drive for enhanced file processing, personal mailbox space and job storage for up to 500 print jobs.

The iPF785 MFP M40 and iPF780 MFP M40 models now have the ability to scan documents up to 315″ in length as a PDF or JPEG file, and up to 590″ in length as a TIFF file. The M40 scanner has a maximum optical resolution of 1200 dpi, scan speeds of up to 13″ per second for monochrome, 3″ per second for color and also the capability to scan documents up to 2mm thick. The system features a stand-alone computer and multi-touch-screen monitor, and come with SmartWorks MFP software V 3.55 to simplify Scan-to-print, File and Share processes.

“In addition to some welcome feature set enhancements such as hard drive capacity and increased scan length, the standout aspect of Canon’s new-generation models is their productivity,” said David Sweetnam, head of Research and Lab Services for BLI. “For example, the iPF680/780 and iPF685/785 MFP models all showed significant productivity gains over their predecessor models, notably in Fast and High Quality modes, so users can remain highly productive without compromising image quality. The models also deliver higher color gamut, richer color saturation, more distinct fine lines and more natural-looking skin tones. The models further deliver excellent GIS/CAD/AEC graphics with an improved depth of field in GIS graphics, even on plain paper, delivering a more realistic 3D rendering of topographical features. And the SmartWorks MFP software on the iPF785 MFP is even easier to use than previous versions, with flexible options for batch scanning that are not currently available with some leading rivals.”

“The new imagePROGRAF models introduce powerful new features that can help save time, cut costs and ensure that print jobs move along seamlessly for outstanding productivity,” said Junichi Yoshitake, senior vice president and general manager, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Canon U.S.A. “These versatile devices lend themselves to numerous applications, including computer-aided design, architecture, engineering and construction, as well as signs and posters and are excellent companions for industries ranging from manufacturing and government to education.”

Bolstered Productivity

Ideal for businesses that need to print documents quickly while retaining high image quality, these new imagePROGRAF models are designed for maximum versatility and performance. In their fastest modes, the iPF785 and iPF780 printers can produce an Arch D sized print (24″ x 36″) in approximately 21 seconds and Arch E sized print (33.1″ x 46.8″) in approximately 41 seconds, while the iPF685 and iPF680 printers have output speeds of up to 25 seconds for Arch D prints and 48 seconds for Arch E prints. The 24-inch printers now also come standard with a Flat Stacker/Basket that provides the capability to neatly stack up to 20, 24 x 36 inch plain paper prints.

Simple, Intuitive Software Addressing the needs of a diverse range of users, Canon’s Direct Print & Share 2.0 software is a downloadable cloud portal solution for expanding printing workflows. This software empowers users to view, share and print a variety of files, including PDF, TIFF, JPEG and HP-GL/2 formats, from virtually anywhere. Users can utilize the new “Shortcut Print” feature to drag and drop files they wish to print into hot folders on their desktops helping to streamline their workflow process.

These devices are compatible with Canon’s new imagePROGRAF Print Utility mobile app, which helps facilitate wireless printing from a compatible iPad device. The app allows users to perform a number of actions, including previewing their PDF file, number of copies, orientation, and quality before sending the job to any of the compatible imagePROGRAF printers sharing the same network.

Increased Color Range and Precision

These imagePROGRAF devices come with a five-color dye/pigment reactive ink system, including a newly formulated magenta ink that helps produce more vivid reds and yellows. Canon inks provide outstanding adhesion to media, are scratch- and marker-resistant, and help produce crisp and legible text. These devices include Canon’s high-density PF-04 print head, which uses 15,360 nozzles to lay down ink.

SmartWorks MFP Software

SmartWorks MFP software provides tools needed to help you quickly and easily scan to print/file/share large format technical documents. New features include:

  • Ability to add custom presets with one-touch retrieval for those frequently used settings
  • Full integration with Canon Digital Print & Share cloud software

Users have more control over their workflow with access to editing functions such as invert, mirror, and black and white point adjustments. Custom presets help users control the scanner and increase control over printer settings.

Optional Software

SmartWorks V3.5 Plus gives users the ability to scan and print multi-page PDF documents on the fly. This allows users to take multiple drawings or documents, scan them in using the M40 scanner and either save or print the set as one multi-page document. In addition to this added feature, users can now perform color corrections and automatically crop the borders on their files using the preview mode and large touch-screen monitor, to ensure that they will be obtaining the desired output. The Plus version also supports PDF/archiving functionality.

PosterArtist with a new low MSRP of $395, includes essential features customers need to easily create posters, signs and banners. To make sharing simple PosterArtist now offers the ability to save posters including custom images, clipart, and fonts, to a new file format. This complete file can be exported directly from PosterArtist to Canon’s Direct Print & Share cloud portal software for sharing between users.

In addition, there are a host of independent software vendors that have made software available for use with these new imagePROGRAF printers. Cloud4MPS allows users to web enable compatible imagePROGRAF printers for Remote Device management, Status & Usage Readings, Consumable Management and more. Other companies include SA International, Technesis, Sepialine, EFI, Shiraz, Caldera, ColorGate, DEV Studio, SCP and PosterJET.


These new imagePROGRAF models are scheduled to be available on July 31, 2014 at manufacturer’s suggested retail prices of $4,995 (iPF785), $4,495 (iPF780), $3,195 (iPF685), $2,495 (iPF680), $8,995 (iPF785 MFP M40), $8,495 (iPF780 MFP M40 and $395, for PosterArtist. And ($595) SmartWorks MFP Plus software.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $36 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2013† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2014. In 2013, Canon U.S.A. has received the PCMag.com Readers’ Choice Award for Service and Reliability in the digital camera and printer categories for the tenth consecutive year, and for camcorders for the past three years. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. In 2014, the Canon Americas Headquarters secured LEED® Gold certification, a recognition for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of high-performance green buildings. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss and follow us on Twitter @CanonUSA. For media inquiries, please contact pr@cusa.canon.com.




Austin’s hotel, construction industries pumping up job growth, studies show

Austin’s hospitality and tourism industry, as well as its construction sector, are among the fastest-growing of any counties in the United States, according to two reports from Headlight Data released Wednesday.

According to the report, Travis County saw 5.5 percent growth in the number of hotel accommodation jobs between 2013 and 2014. That’s the sixth-fastest growing hotel sector in the United States for counties with more than 1 million people.

According to the numbers, Travis County added 469 new jobs in hotels between 2013 and 2014, expanding to 9,052 hotel jobs in total.

Thanks, Big Red Dog, for the Great Review!

“We worked with Miller off and on for several years, but switched to using only Miller over four years ago because of their service; it is prompt, and the staff takes care of us in a professional manner. Each and every time we send work to them, the production staff goes above and beyond to ensure the quality is high and that the end product gets there on time. Miller is by far the best in town at what they do.”

Cliff Kendall, Principal, Big Red Dog Engineering

Thanks Zach Scott, for the Five-Star Review!

I’ve been working with Miller since I first came to Zach Scott 25 years ago. I recommend them often as their quality and accuracy is always superb. I’ve stood in the shop and watched them do finishing work and witnessed the staff’s careful attention to detail. It’s clear that they know what they’re doing; they are always highly professional and know both the digital and manual side of quality reproduction. I also appreciate their guidance as to the best possible solution for what we need to create.

Jim Reynolds, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Zach Scott Theatre