Do you need to catch up on the lingo?

There are some things we say here in the shop that you might hear about the design process, but not quite understand. We are always here to help!

The Process

Wire frame: A basic layout that doesn’t have design elements.

Comps: The next creative step, usually when the design goes digital.

Prototype: A later stage.

The Look

Bleed: Allowing a design to go beyond the edge of the pages.

Grid: Used in print and digital to help align elements to create consistency.

White Space: The area left empty to bring focus to other elements on the page.

Gradient: Fading from one color to another or from opaque to transparent.

Padding: The space between a border and the object inside of it.

Margin: The space between a border and the objects outside of it.

Files

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group. Good for image with gradients.

PSD: Photoshop Document. Format of files that come straight from Photoshop.

PDF: Portable Document Format. Good for sending materials to be printed.

PNG: Portable Network Graphic. Supports transparency. Good for the web.

EPS: Encapsulated Postscript. File extension for a graphics file format used in vector-based images in Adobe Illustrator.

SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics. XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation

The Letters

Leading: The way lines of text are spaced vertically- also known as – line height.

Kerning: Adjusting the space between characters in a word.

Typography: The art of arranging type elements in a n attractive way.

Font: A collection of characters, punctuation marks, numbers, and symbols.

The Web

Below the Fold: The area of the web page that a user must scroll to see.

Responsive: A web design that adjust the layout for different screen sizes.

Resolution: The number of dots per inch; 72 dpi for web and 300 dpi for print.

Web Colors: Colors used on the web, represented by a 6-digit hexadecimal code.

Web Safe Fonts: Fonts that most users likely have. ie. Aerial, Georgia, and Times New Roman.

Acronyms

CMYK: The four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).

RGB: An additive color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. Used for screens.

DPI/PPI: DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch) both describe the resolution (or clarity) of an image.

UI: User interface design is a craft that involves building an essential part of the user experience; users are very swift to judge designs on usability and likability.

UX:User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. 

 

We hope this helped. If you have any questions or would like more information on a specific topic, let us know! Call us today at 316.264.7446!

Paint the Town Red

For so long, people avoided using red in their signage. This was especially true for the retail and science industry. We were told it was taboo: red is bad. You know, unless you were either McDonalds or Coca-Cola, who for the longest time proved with their logo that sometimes it is best to break the rules.

The 21st century has come a long way and we’ve since seen a new dawn of red. From Crimson to wine, Scarlet to Chestnut, businesses have not only found that it’s okay to let customers see a little red, but that it’s actually a really, really good idea.

Old Ways: Red reminds people of being “in the red.”

What was some of that old thinking? According to psychologist – the same ones who told the fast food chains that brown and orange were good ideas (sorry, Arbys) – red came with several bad connotations.

Accountants – typically the last department that should make creative and graphical decisions – would point out that seeing red numbers in business meant that you have endured a loss. Loss which would lead to failure. And people listened.

Blood is also the color of red when it is exposed to air. The color of blood leads to the process of death: anxiety, fear, warning, “danger-danger, Will Robinson,” and the inevitable end.

It was also the color that lead to anger and agitation. The whole, “never show red to a bull,” thing is true. With humans, the traditional thinking wasn’t too dissimilar. The phrase, “seeing red,” was crafted within our culture over time, not in a focus group on Madison Avenue.

New Ways: the psychological power of red

In recent years, it has been discovered that a color that can stir such emotion, although negative, can also stir as much of a reaction when done for positive means. It encourages people to use a little less of their head and a little more of their heart when making decisions.

Red has also become to represent power and passion in western civilization. This is something Eastern civilizations has known for centuries. There’s a reason why Japan and China uses red as a prominent color in their country’s colors.

The truth of red is found in its shades

The great thing about red is that each shade can elicit completely different analytical and emotional reactions. While, shades like Lust and Scarlet can encourage more of the more animalistic side of life, shades such as Redwood and Tuscan Red are typically warmer and more compassionate in tone.

Red might be the one color that has a shade for every emotion. And given its resurgence, one should probably shed aside conventional reservations for the color.

The world has changed. There’s a good chance a shade of red represents it.

Still want to know if you can see red with your next sign? Contact us today.

Top 10 Tips for Effective Sign Usage

Effective signage is truly the difference between revenue growth and a stagnant bottom line. Unfortunately, all too often signs are an after-thought, and businesses just put up something that’s cheap. Big mistake! Avoid common pitfalls with these tips.

Tip #1: Less is more.

Whatever your sign’s purpose, less is always more. Think fewer colors, less text, and one bold graphic instead of several competing images. The more information you squeeze on a sign, the less information your customers will remember. Edit, edit, edit!

Tip #2: First impressions count.

It’s true: people will judge your business by how it looks from the outside. A quality sign is critical to projecting a professional image. Don’t skimp on materials or printing; it will just come back to hurt your brand. 

Tip #3: Understand the concept of ‘first read.’

All signs should have a focal point that immediately attracts your customer’s attention. Ideally, this should be your business logo or marketing message.

Tip #4: Capture attention and use it.

Stand out with bold graphics or bright contrasting colors. And once you’ve got your customer’s attention, be sure your sign clear and concisely communicates your marketing message.

Tip #5: See, shop and purchase.

Nearly half of all retail sales come from impulse buys. If your store is poorly signed or lacks sign advertising all together, you’re robbing your business of critical impulse purchases.

Tip #6: Make sure your sign is easy to see.

Don’t hide your sign behind outdoor landscaping or a store shelf cluttered with merchandise. If the view of your sign is obstructed, no one will take the time to read it.

Tip #7: Ask for help.

Designing, producing and installing effective signage can seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. A reputable signage company will have a team of friendly and professional graphic designers and production managers on-staff, who can help turn your ideas into reality. Their job is to help you – just ask.

Tip #8: Light it up.

Whether your sign is indoors or outside, it needs to be well lit. A few, inexpensive lights will ensure your sign is seen come day or night.

Tip #9: Set the mood.

Whether it’s contemporary and cool or upscale and luxurious, signs at the entrance to stores, businesses and restaurants tell customers the type of building they’re about to enter, and prime them for a positive experience.

Tip #10: Hang it.

The ideal signage solution for storefronts and restaurants in busy pedestrian areas is a hanging sign. While pedestrians can sometimes miss large signs on top of buildings, a hanging sign positioned at eye-level will stand out. 

 

Are you ready to make a statement? Call on us for any of your signage needs! 

 

How Do I Clean My Sign?

How Should I Clean and Store My Banners?

Taking care of your banner gives your business, organization, etc. a great impression. Here is a quick and easy tip to cleaning your banner. It is recommended to clean vinyl banner wit a mild dose of soap and water. DO NOT use any aggressive chemicals, abrasive materials, or cleaning pads that could possibly ruin the color print. It is important to rinse the soap completely to ensure all of the soap residue is removed. Be sure to dry you banner before storing.

When storing your banner, roll them with the lettering facing to the outside. It is very important to remember that a banner is NEVER to be folded — always roll!

Are the Magnetic Signs on Your Vehicle Filthy?

To care for a magnetic sign, remove the magnetic sign from the vehicle at least every two weeks. Clean the vehicle and the sign with a gentle cleaning solution and water. Reapply the magnetic signs to a clean, dry surface. Even if it rains a lot where you are, take the time to remove the signs, clean them and reapply them to you car’s clean, dry surface.

How to Clean Your Acrylic Sign.

Acrylic logos are fairly easy to clean, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best results. DO NOT use any kind of cleaning agent that contains ammonia or harsh chemicals. NEVER use glass cleaners or common kitchen grease cleaners on your acrylic signs. AVOID abrasive material. Rough scouring pads or cloths can cause the dirt you are wiping off to also be ground into the acrylic, causing tiny scratches. Finally, never wipe your acrylic sign with a dry cloth, as this can also grind the dirt into the acrylic in much the same way as scouring materials will do.

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s concentrate on how easy it is to clean acrylic logo signs the proper way.

The best way to clean acrylic logo signs is with clean, lukewarm water and a clean, soft, nonabrasive, non-linting cloth. If the sign is large and located out of reach, you can use a pressure washer instead.  Mild soap or detergent can be mixed with the lukewarm water when necessary.

For a streak-free sign, dry with a clean, dry soft cloth.  Gently blotting the sign with the cloth is the safest way to ensure a beautiful result. For signs that cannot be easily reached, you can simply allow the sign to air dry.

If your sign has a more stubborn cleaning problem, you can purchase cleaning agents designed specifically for acrylic. Make sure to double-check that any cleaner you purchase, other than a mild soap or detergent, is safe to use on acrylic. These products are specially designed to clean, polish or buff acrylic and can be found at your local hardware store or online.  Follow the directions on the product, use soft clean cloths, and your acrylic logo sign should continue to look as clean and brilliant as the day you bought it.

How to Clean a Metal Sign.

You probably spent a good bit of money having your custom metal signs made so it’s important to know how to clean and keep them looking new so they attract new business and build your brand. Custom metal signs are generally very easy to clean and maintain but specific metals or coatings may come with special handling instructions. The following five-step method is a general guide for cleaning most metal signs and logos.

Step One: Always use a soft cotton cloth to lightly wipe away any loose dust on the sign. Use a light touch to avoid scratching the metal.  

Step Two: Fill a bucket with warm water, adding 1 cup of mild liquid dish soap and 1 cup of white vinegar. 

Step Three: Dip a soft cotton cloth in the cleaning solution. Wring out the cloth well.  

Step Four: Gently wash the metal sign with the wet cloth, re- wetting as needed. Again, use a light touch to avoid scratching the metal. 

Step Five: Dry sign with a clean, dry, soft cotton cloth. And last but not least: Note: It’s important these cloths be soft and dry or you risk scratching your custom metal sign. NEVER use harsh chemicals or abrasive materials to clean custom metal signs, unless the manufacturer of the sign specifically states otherwise. If your metal sign comes with cleaning instructions, read them carefully before cleaning your sign. 

If you follow these five easy steps you’ll be able to save money by self maintaining your signs and keep your signs looking their best. 

 

 For more information on cleaning your custom signs or in having one made for your company, contact us today!  

6 Questions To Determine The Best Material For Your Sign

It’s impossible to count the number of times we’ve had clients come in or call with an order, but they were uncertain what material they needed. There’s a set of questions we always ask when this happens. In an effort to expedite the order process, we’ve decided to share these questions with you—

1) Where is this sign going? Different materials are ideal for indoor signs versus outdoor signs. You don’t need a giant 4’ x 8’ aluminum sign for your tradeshow booth when a lightweight banner will do. Nor do you want to use a banner for your construction site sign that needs to be up for several months.

2) What is this sign being used for? This is similar to the question above, but if you tell us you’re looking for a banner to use in your tradeshow booth versus a banner to hang in front of your business, we’ll probably tell you about items we offer specifically for trade shows, such as tablecloths and backdrops. These options create a more professional appearance at such events. Knowing about a particular event you’re using a product for helps us make the best recommendation.

3) How are you mounting this sign? Just like where you’re using the sign, it’s important that we know how you plan to hang it. This helps us determine if any special brackets are required, if the sign will be single-sided or double-sided, and if the material we’ve picked will truly work best. For instance, if you want a 4’ x 8’ banner to use outdoors in an open space, we’d recommend mounting it to u-posts. You’ll also want wind slits because Kansas winds can quickly shred a banner without them.

4) How often will you use this sign? Continuing with the trade show idea from question #2— Say you ask about a foamcore board, but tell us you’ll be using it at several expos. We’re going to steer you in a different direction. Some materials are meant for one time use, while others can be used several times. Foamcore tends to get dings and dents during transport to and from events, so in this instance we’d be more likely to recommend a retractable banner or PVC sign.

5) How long will your sign be up? Are you setting up wayfinding signs for a one-day event? If so, we’d probably recommend coroplast yard signs. On the flipside, if you’re ordering a storefront sign that you hope to use for several years, we’ll probably suggest aluminum or a different long-term material.

6) What is your budget? You might come to us thinking you’ll only be able to afford a 4’ x 8’ banner to hang above your business storefront, when in reality you can afford a 4’x 8’ aluminum or polymetal panel. By being forthcoming with your budget for a sign, we can help you get the best bang for your buck on signage.

Take these questions into consideration before placing your next sign order. It makes the order process more efficient and allows us to better understand your needs before making additional suggestions. 

Graphic Design: 4 Things We MUST Know Before Starting Your Order

­When you’re placing a signage order with any company, it’s imperative that you ask about art charges and set up fees. It would be awful to get an unexpected $150 charge on an order you for which you were only quoted $100, right? We certainly think so!

As we mentioned in this blog, having vector art is an absolute must when creating signage. Without vector art we cannot print or plot cut materials for signage. If you’re unable to obtain vector art for your signs, it doesn’t mean we cannot help you. However, you’re likely to accrue an art charge.

Some shops will outsource the graphic design, but we staff two designers in house. One of whom has over twenty years of experience in the industry. At Signs & Design we typically charge about $75/hour for graphic design.

You can always expect to be notified beforehand if your order requires any graphic design time, as well as provided an estimate before we begin. There are several things you can do to help reduce the time it takes to recreate old art or for our graphic designers to put together artwork from scratch—

  • Identify any fonts. Even if you don’t have existing art, fonts are a crucial part of logo and sign design. By letting us know what type of font you want before our graphic designers get to work, you’re reducing the time they spend searching for fonts that fit your image. We suggest using dafont.com to locate fonts that you like. Once you’ve found one, you can provide the font name when placing your order.
  • Provide reference images. Research examples of logos or sign designs that you like before placing an order. This is especially crucial when you don’t have any existing artwork. While our designers are talented, having a starting point is always helpful. It ensures that they are on the right track at the beginning of the design process.
  • Know your colors. Here we talked about different color formats including Pantone. If you have specific Pantone colors required for your branding, make sure you note these when placing an order. If you do not have specific color values, it’s still helpful to note what colors you’d like to see in your logo. Whether you have a specific color in mind (i.e. K-State purple) or a vague color (i.e. dark blue, somewhere between navy and royal), it’s useful information.
  • Know dimensions. When we do a project such as a vehicle wrap, we always take the dimensions ourselves. But if you are calling in an order for something like yard signs, real estate signs, or site signs, we’ll need you to provide those dimensions. Our designers create vector art, meaning we can enlarge the design without reducing resolution. This isn’t helpful when you tell us your sign is a 4’ x 4’\ and it’s actually a 4’ x 8’. That’s going to result in a redesign and more graphic design charges accrued because it’s proportionally incorrect.

One last thing to note when discussing graphic design is that it will add time to your order. Though we do strive to send out proofs in a timely manner, placing an order with vector art in-hand will always expedite the process. If you have existing artwork and are unsure if it follows our artwork guidelines, you can view those here.

 

Artwork Guidelines

  • VECTOR ARTWORK
    • Convert type to curves or specify typestyle.
    • Convert outlines or strokes to a shape or path— ensures proper thickness of design during conversion.
    • Designate Pantone equivalent for all spot colors.
      • Gradients or transparencies may be reproduced in 4-color process.
    • Artwork should be at size & laid out containing shape indicating the final panel or sign size & placement.
  • RASTER (4-COLOR PROCESS) ARTWORK
    • Images must be 150 resolution DPI or higher at print size.
      • Resolution cannot be increased if working with lower resolution image to start.
    • Digitally created process images should be CYMK format.
      • Note any color change in the image when converting from RGB to CMYK and adjust colors as needed.
    • Need copies of all original supporting files used to create an image.
      • When sending Photoshop images do NOT flatten or merge layers.
    • Spot colors should be used in addition to the process image when color is critical such as company logos, text or borders. Large coverage backgrounds may also require a spot color.
  • NON-DIGITAL ARTWORK
    • Any non-digital artwork needs to be supplied in largest format possible for scanning and recreating.
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    • All artwork with colors to edge of finished product need bleed.
      • 1” on banners
      • 1/4” on all other products
    • Artwork should not include additional printer marks aside from crop marks.
  • ACCEPTED FILE FORMATS
    • EPS, PDF, JPG,PSD, TIFF
    • All files must be at size, in Windows format, and at 150 DPI.
    • Print image of file to go with work order.

Real Estate Signs: Options, Costs, & More

Aluminum real estate signs are an excellent signage option for realtors, property management companies, event companies, and more. With an aluminum panel bolted into a heavy duty angle aluminum frame, the longevity of these signs is worth the initial expense.

We offer real estate signs in two main sizes: 24” x 18” and 28” x 20”. Another size that is becoming increasingly more popular is 30” x 18”. Base pricing on these signs includes a heavy duty frame with a double-sided, full-color sign panel. The 24” x 18” signs start at $50 and the 28” x 20” signs start at $60.

Here’s a 24″ x 18″ real estate sign with dry erase laminate. Our client uses this each year to sell tickets to the Midian Shrine Circus.

When we assemble real estate sign frames, we typically use a digitally printable film and laminate or cut vinyl. Both options have a lifespan of about seven years before the print starts to fade. Cut vinyl is most often found on signs with one color text and a white background, while laminated digital prints are used when a sign is multi-color or has a colored background.

One question we frequently get when it comes to real estate signs is if the client can save money by using a coroplast blank (like garage sale signs) in the frame instead of aluminum. The answer is yes, and no. The initial cost of using a coroplast sign panel is less expensive. We UV print instead of applying vinyl or digital graphics, which saves money. However, UV prints do not last as long when used outdoors. The coroplast material itself is also not meant for long term use. This means you’ll have to replace the panel more often. Thus you might save money up front with coroplast panels, but you won’t in the long run. 

There are several specialty options available for real estate signs such as dry erase laminate or reflective material. Dry erase laminate is ideal for entities like Home Owners Associations, who can use the same sign but change out information for monthly meetings. Reflective material is becoming trendier for realtors who want to increase the visibility of their signs in the evening hours. Specialty options will add to the cost of a real estate sign, and depending on the material it can shorten the lifespan of the sign. For more information regarding real estate sign pricing or materials, contact us here or via email at sales@signsdesignwichita.com.

Shedding Light on Color

For someone unfamiliar with print industry lingo, all of the jargon related to color can be confusing. What’s CMYK? What about RGB? Why can’t you use RGB for print? And what the heck is Pantone? Like we said, it’s confusing!

Essentially there are two main divisions to color: RGB and CMYK. Pantone is an ultra-specific color guide that spans both RGB and CMYK.

RGB

RGB is an acronym for Red, Green, and Blue. This particular color profile is meant for the digital spectrum (TVs, computer monitors, etc.) since each color is a wavelength of light. All three wavelengths have 256 depths, starting at 0 and ending at 255. When combined these depths allow for 16 million color possibilities. Crazy, right?

To get a color, you simply pick the intensity for each wavelength. For example, white in RGB is written as 255, 255, 255, meaning Red depth is 255, Green depth is 255, and Blue depth is 255. On the other end of the spectrum, black is 0, 0, 0, meaning there’s a complete lack of light.

It’s important to note that even though we design our projects in CMYK, you are viewing them on an RGB based screen. Thus, the colors will always be slightly different than what your screen shows. More importantly, the colors will display differently depending on how your screen is calibrated.

RGB appears differently on a screen versus in print because it is a light based color profile.

 

CMYK

Where RGB is a color profile based on light, CMYK is based on ink combinations. It stands for Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). In the print world, CMYK can be referred to as full-color printing or 4-color process.

CMYK starts with a base of pure white, unlike RGB, which starts with a black base. Colors are then produced by adding different values of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Thus when you write out the combination for white in CMYK, it’s written as 0%, 0%, 0%, 0%. Meaning there is no percentage of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, or Black covering the print surface.

Just like screens all show RGB colors a bit differently, printers print CMYK colors different. At our shop, we have solvent, latex, and UV printers. All three print the same color profile differently than the other. It’s not a drastic difference, but it is different.

While RGB is an additive color profile, CMYK is subtractive. In super-sciencey terms, this means the printed color  subtracts or reduces the amount of light reflected from the print surface.

Pantone

As if RGB and CMYK aren’t confusing enough, we’re going to throw in Pantone colors. Pantone is a system of standardization for colors that bridges all color profiles. Each Pantone color has a CMYK and RGB standard so that the color is the same regardless of whether it’s being printed or viewed on a screen.

Pantone’s catalog has over 1,400 colors. Pantone colors are written as PMS, followed by a color number, and then a C, U, or M. C stands for Coated, U for uncoated, and M for matte. This refers to the print surface.  

You can usually get pretty close to a PMS color when printing in CMYK, but for companies that are sticklers for exact branding, PMS colors are the way to go. Having a PMS spec ensures consistency in your branding no matter where you go or what product’s being made. It is also worth noting that requesting PMS colors often means additional surcharges on your order.

If your head is spinning trying to understand all of this information, your takeaway from this article should be—

All three color modes have their own purposes.

 

  • If it’s digitally printed, it’s CMYK.
  • If it’s on a screen (computer monitor, TV, phone, etc.) it’s RGB.
  • If it’s screen printed, it’s PMS.
  • PMS colors are the most specific color profiles, and useful for ensuring consistent branding.
  • Your proof on a screen will always look slightly different than the finished product because it’s in a different color profile.

 

Custom Christmas Gifts: A Brief Tale of Disaster, Ingenuity, and Christmas Spirit

Everyone loves to say that holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but with all the hustle and bustle it’s not uncommon for disaster to strike. Last month one of our clients, Callcap, contacted us looking for custom Christmas goodies to send to several of their major clients. With access to thousands of products here, we were happy to help.

Typically when someone reaches out to us for customized products, we create a presentation with a handful of options best fitting their needs. This is what we did for Callcap. They picked a cute mason jar filled with brownie brittle and adorned with a beautiful bow and decal, and we ordered the product.

A few days after placing our order, the vendor called with terrible news— they were out of Christmas goodies until 12/22. Thus making our pre-Christmas deadline unfeasible. Don’t get us started on how a food vendor runs out of food. We’re still not sure how that happens.

We pride ourselves on being good problem solvers, so we quickly got to work looking for alternative products. No luck. Either our vendors couldn’t meet the deadline or their costs were astronomical. It seemed the only solution would be for us to do the jars ourselves.

We’d find the jars, fill them with goodies, put decals on them, and then figure out how to tie a proper bow. But what kind of story would this be if disaster didn’t strike again? So, we ran into another dilemma. Michaels was out of stock of the plastic mason jars we wanted, and it seemed like nobody in town or online stocked them.

The search for the perfect jar didn’t take too long. Walmart offered a cute jar that allowed a ribbon to be laced through the lid. Knowing our luck at that point, we quickly purchased all the jars we needed for the project.

Since we had deviated so much from the product our client originally wanted, we felt it best to put together a sample product before creating a bulk batch of them. Normally our vendor would send us a photo sample before we approved the order. If you’re ever ordering custom products, it’s good practice to request at least a virtual proof.

Luckily Callcap was pleased with the product and we were able to move forward. Once the jars were finished, bows and all, we boxed them up individually and shipped them out to Callcap’s clients. At the end of the day, we were quite happy with the results. Check it out.

The most difficult part of this project might have been learning how to tie a proper bow. It took LOTS of practice to get it right.

 

Sometimes you’re just going to have a project that seems to be one disaster after another. But we firmly believe that with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, you can always find a solution. To browse our promotional products, click here. You can also request a quote here.