April 22, 2013 will mark the 43rd anniversary of the global movement known as Earth Day. Even though most of us alive in 1970 still thought the word “green” referred to a color, there’s no doubt that in 2013 the event sets off an annual maelstrom of attention surrounding all things “green.”
And with the International Code Council recently passing the first ever International Green Construction Code (IGCC) with its implications for signage, it seems an appropriate time to look at what the sign industry is doing to minimize its carbon footprint and protect the environment. So here’s a closer look at some things the sign industry is doing to be more eco-friendly—and that you can check to see if your preferred signage provider is implementing if sustainability is a priority for you.
Best Practices in Sustainable Sign Design and Production:
Life cycle. Although typically not the first thing that comes to mind, this can be one of the simplest ways to reduce environmental impact. The idea is simple: the longer a sign stays in use, the less it adds to the waste cycle. Things that can extend life cycle include choosing durable signage materials as well as using modular and other sign designs that allow components to be updated without replacing the entire sign every time.
Production. Today’s technologies have greatly improved digital printing and image production standards. Image printers with water-based paints and coatings with no harsh chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Additionally, improved cutting and other signage production techniques maximize material usage and yield less waste.
Installation. Another less-than-obvious way to provide eco-friendly signage is through installation methods. For instance, by choosing mechanical fasteners over adhesives, it can be easier to update signs (see Life Cycle above) while also eliminating VOC’s commonly found in adhesives.
Lighting. While there’s no doubt that signage sometimes needs to be illuminated to be effective, the type of illumination method you choose has a significant impact on the energy used. Solar-powered exterior lighting is the best option, but LED displays are another good option thanks to its vastly improved life span of up to 10 years.
Recycling. It will come as no surprise to anyone that a core tenet of any successful green signage approach is recycling – and fortunately there are many options available. From material take-back programs from leading brands like HP to recycling scrap materials, it’s becoming easier than ever to successfully recycle. And cutting edge closed loop recycling like that offered by flooring supplier Mannington Mills’ LOOP program can now even repurpose unusual materials such as post-use adhesive-backed graphic materials (think balled up, peeled off wraps) to be used as a binding agent in tile flooring materials, as they did after the Vancouver Olympics.
Finally, it’s important to remember that “green” practices that work in other industries may not work in signage. For instance, popular green building materials like bamboo may not meet fire and building codes or work with tactile letters and raised Braille characters to comply with accessibility sign guidelines.
Happy Earth Day!
Did you know April was National Community Service Month? According to the Corporation for National Community Service, volunteers provide a powerful economic and social benefit to communities across the nation. But just as in your personal life, the benefits you get by giving of your time can make volunteering professionally as rewarding for you as for those you’re helping. From making connections to bolstering your reputation in the community, corporate community service can have a positive impact on your bottom line as well as on the people or groups you’re supporting.
With this win-win scenario, it’s no wonder that research from the National Conference on Citizenship shows the national volunteer rate reached a five-year high in 2012. So if you’re looking for ways your business can get involved in community service, here are 5 ideas to get you started:
1. Research Your Options. There are numerous online resources you can use to find volunteer opportunities in your local community, including Serve.gov, Volunteer.gov and Volunteer Match. Also consider options that align with your business, whether that’s donating professional services or supporting a non-profit that’s also a client.
2. Know What You Have to Give. What’s realistic in terms of what you can offer: One time support from one person? Multiple days with larger groups of volunteers? Regular weekly or monthly support? Different organizations need different levels of commitment so be clear from the start about your availability and make sure it meets their needs.
3. Make It a Group Effort. Volunteering with others is personally enriching but can also strengthen connections with customers and staff. In fact, promoting your company as being committed to community service can be a great way to attract new employees as well as clients.
4. Be a Virtual Volunteer. If you have a computer and the necessary skills you could lend a hand to a local organization over the computer, or offer to participate in advisory sessions via the phone or video conferencing.
5. Serve On a Board. If you really want to give back, consider serving on a board for a local non-profit. Contact an organization you feel passionately about to see if there are board openings, or turn to online resources like Monster’s boardnetUSA.
Don’t let April pass you by without getting out and volunteering for National Community Service Month!
Henry Ford’s most famous quote to describe the ubiquitous Model T was “You can have it in any color you want, as long as it’s black”. Something so revolutionary to American culture, that changed our demographics, geography, our fundamental core, only came in one color. We’re used to that though aren’t we? The first iPhone? Black. Men’s slacks? You better like black, brown, or navy. Who could forget the lovely shade of IBM beige?
Today though, businesses and consumers are waking up to the colors and patterns of the world around them. You can buy an iPod in no less than 9 colors, a Ford Focus in 10 vivid hues, and for the more adventurous, slacks come in lovely shades of red, purple, and green. Why stop there though? With new advancements in technology almost any object can be customized to fit the personality and mood of the person strutting around with it.
Nowhere is this more evident than the sign industry. It used to be easy to describe a sign. They said things like “Open, please come in!” or “Sale 50% Off!”, were square, and frankly, kind of boring. You had a few colors to choose from, a few materials, and that was about it. Not anymore. New print technologies allow nearly anything you can imagine to be easily customized, and for a very reasonable cost. Want your new couch to match your new wallpaper? No problem, print the upholstery with a custom color. Do you want your waiting room chairs to be emblazoned with your corporate logo, complete with an accurate color match? Simple. A sign suddenly doesn’t seem so square does it? The only thing limiting the applications is the depth of your creativity.
So next time you are yawning while looking at your white walls and gray carpet, remember it doesn’t have to be this way. You live on a planet full of color. Every surface, every texture, every object in your space doesn’t have to be boring. Make it yours, make it pop.
In our emails and case study this month, we’ve been talking about Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) – what it is, why it’s important and how Signs By Tomorrow has been able to assist some of our signage and graphics customers with their IMC strategies.
But if you don’t already have an IMC strategy in place, it can be daunting to get started. In this blog we offer some practical tips to set you on your way to a successful IMC plan!
1. Develop a strong brand identity. Any successful marketing initiative starts with a strong brand. If you can’t clearly articulate your brand’s unique position in the marketplace (and “high quality” or “personal attention” doesn’t cut it, everyone says that!), how are prospects or customers going to know what you stand for? Consider your brand’s “personality” (i.e. Apple is fun/irreverent while Microsoft is more conservative/professional) and points of differentiation from your competitors.
2. Develop clear brand standards. Even if you don’t need a full-blown style guide, every business can benefit from some clearly outlined guidelines that will ensure consistency across your marketing and branding. You can decide which elements are important to address, but common ones include colors (be specific – don’t just say “blue” as there are about a jillion shades of blue!), typefaces (think how they will look on both your physical signs and digitally), other graphic design elements such as logo size and position, and even writing style, such as whether to write “website” or “web site.”
3. Designate a “Brand Champion.” Every organization should have one person who has primary responsibility for protecting your brand. If that person sees it being misrepresented, he or she should bring it to the attention of someone with the authority to make a change and ensure it is on the same page with the rest of your integrated marketing communications.
4. Identify operational touch points. Stop for a moment and walk through your business process from the point of your customers. What is the very first point of contact they have with your brand? It could be a website, the person (or machine) on the other end of the phone, the custom signage they see outside your store or office or even an in-person visit. Do all of these represent your brand the way they should? From this initial interaction through the final interaction (could be payment, return or support), identify every opportunity to reinforce your brand essence to build customer loyalty and repeat business.
While following these steps does require a significant investment of time initially, once these IMC processes are in place you will find you can be more efficient while boosting ROI with better results.
Good luck and remember your local Signs By Tomorrow signage and graphics center is here to help with all your Integrated Marketing Communication needs!
When planning a new building or venue what tops your task list? Location, interior design, maybe rent?
Where does wayfinding signage sit on that list?
Custom directory signs are a necessity for any new building or venue, yet it tends to be at the bottom of the priority barrel. At Signs By Tomorrow, we believe that directional and wayfinding signage and graphics can be fun, whimsical and even aid in increasing your brand perception through unique and engaging design.
Check out these 5 twists on traditional directional and wayfinding signs:
- Try customizing your ADA and other mandated indoor wayfinding signage with your company’s branding and identity. Custom ADA signage can be manufactured from various colored materials to match your identity. You can even apply graphics or engrave signage with your custom logo.
- Choose materials that match your office setting. Is your organization focused on environmental sustainability? Then maybe natural looking routed or engraved wood materials would be a good fit for your office. Work in an industrial setting? Consider brushed aluminum as your wayfinding signage material of choice.
- Add depth and dimension to your wayfinding signage by combining materials. Place clear acrylic over a metal backer for an industrial or modern look.
- Quickly and easily showcase your business as modern and sophisticated by including digital signage displays as part of your wayfinding graphics. The latest digital displays allow you to change directories with the touch of a button.
- Take advantage of today’s enhancements in routing technology to transform your wayfinding signage into custom shapes to fit your needs and stand out from the crowd. From simple ovals and triangles to more complex objects, your custom signage can be cut to a custom shape and graphics applied to replicate the look of your products or brand’s logo.
In today’s business environment it is vital that you differentiate yourself from the competition and position your brand at every point of customer contact. By customizing even the simplest of signage and graphics you are strengthening your brand and creating better brand retention.
Customizing your wayfinding signs can also help delivery upon your brand’s IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) messaging; we’ve outlined strategies and tactics to help you start up a IMC plan in previous blog posts.
Don’t forget that custom directory or wayfinding signage isn’t exclusive to the interior of your building—exterior building signage can be branded as well.
To learn more about how Signs By Tomorrow has helped clients create exciting and unique outdoor signage read our recently published case study on the topic.