As Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, you may be looking for ways to help your digital signage clients transition into this new season. We’ve compiled some ideas for summer digital signage content below.
The Outside is Now In
Tell your clients to take advantage of the growing outdoor crowds. More people will be walking, dining, and enjoying time outside, so clients should focus on any outdoor digital signage or screens that face the outdoors.
They should then consider their marketing goals for passersby. Are they looking to draw people into a retail store, advertise a summer sale, or just offer a friendly seasonal greeting that helps to build their brand?
The summer season is full of celebrations like graduations, Father’s Day, and the Fourth of July—make sure your clients’ digital signage is speaking to these events. Whether it’s a holiday sale, a schedule of events for a long weekend, or a patriotic branding display, viewers are more likely to engage with timely content because they can relate to it.
Viewers are also more likely to relate to relevance. If you’re working with a retail client, for example, make sure they’re using their digital signage to promote items that are currently in demand like patio accessories, gardening tools, pool equipment, frozen treats, and beach gear versus items that may not be as popular in the summer months.
Weather-based marketing can also be effective. In fact, according to Weather Unlocked’s The Complete Guide to Weather Based Marketing, weather is the second biggest influence on consumer behavior after the state of the economy. Weather Unlocked’s report cited the example of Stella Cidre’s effective weather-based marketing using digital signage: Stella Cidre reported 65.6% increase in year-over-year sales during the period they ran their weather-responsive DOOH campaign.
Some digital signage systems have built-in features that allow certain content to trigger when the temperature or another variable reaches a certain threshold. For example, if your client is a pharmacy, they can tie their digital sign into the pollen count and advertise allergy medications when the count gets high. Or maybe you’re working with a restaurant. When the temperatures skyrocket in July, have that establishment’s digital signage trigger messaging promoting the restaurant’s frozen drinks and ice cream specials.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES — We are very proud and highly encouraged to announce that the Signs of the Times Brain Squad, a group of owners and top managers of sign companies in the US and Canada that was started in November 2020, will soon reach its 250th signup.
The Brain Squad has played the central role to the content included in Signs of the Times each month since the magazine’s redesign in April 2021, and in related posts on signsofthetimes.com.
Benefits to sign company owners and top managers of Brain Squad membership include…
The opportunity to have your name, company name and either a survey response or project with images included in any of the following departments of the magazine: Inbox, Calendar/Manager’s To-Do, Tip Sheet, Benchmarks, Brainstorms, Line Time, True Tales, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, Buzz Session/Do You, Don’t You and Ask Signs of the Times. Ever wanted to see your name and company in print? The Brain Squad provides many paths, every month!
The opportunity to review all the data from every survey. That’s right! We don’t just collect information from you; we’re happy to share it — in advance of publication, too! A link at the end of every survey takes you straight to the full results.
Finally, a free, awesome Signs of the Times Brain Squad t-shirt in your choice of color (light blue or gray), delivered to your home or office — upon the submission of your first survey.
Brain Squad members earn a FREE t-shirt in either light blue or gray upon completion of their first survey!
SPORTS VENUE SIGNAGE gets more innovative and interactive by the day — and for good reason: the fan experience. Whether wrapped around a 12.4-acre stadium or serving as a memorable photo opp, these six projects aim to reel in the fans and hype up the athletes for an unforgettable game-day experience.
When the University of West Alabama (Livingston, AL) decided to get new video scoreboards for both their Tiger Stadium and Pruitt Hall Gymnasium, they called Mitchell Signs (Meridian, MS). Mitchell installed three new Watchfire Signs videoboards into their venues. “UWA wanted to do this right, and we really trust the quality and reliability of Watchfire Signs,” says Kyle Edmonds, vice president of sales at Mitchell. The new video boards showcase player profiles and videos, live-action, replays and timing, and scores and stats.
To make this behemoth Milwaukee Admirals helmet, Sign Effectz (Milwaukee) designed the mask with 3D CAD modeling and then sliced the model into 2-ft. cross-section profiles that were machined on a Gerber Sabre 408 router, explains Adam Brown, president, Sign Effectz. The helmet then went through a process, from making a plywood, skeleton-type base, to shipping it to be airbrushed by artist Chuck Wenzel of Wenzel Designs (Milwaukee), then back for interior painting and benches for fans to sit inside for photos.
Fun fact: Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus not only graduated from but also borrowed his moniker “The Golden Bear” from Upper Arlington (OH) high school’s mascot. With a connection like that, the signage had to be good. Enter Atchley Graphics (Columbus, OH), who created the signage and wall wraps with EFI and HP wide-format digital printing, Trident CNC and Trotec laser-cut acrylic, and 3M media materials for dye sublimation digital printing to tie together the school’s new branding, explains company CEO/owner Derek Atchley.
A Whole New Ball Gate
After working on other projects at Coors Field in Denver, RiNo Sign Works (Lakewood, CO) leapt at the chance to create their new Gate E sign. RiNo Partner Willis Wood says they had to first fabricate the wireway where the illuminated, 28-in.-tall channel letters would attach — and where all the wiring and power supplies would be stored — using a MultiCam CNC router and SDS Automation return bender. The wireway and letters were welded then painted using AkzoNobel products.
A Fin Facade
Major League Soccer FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium (Cincinnati) is large enough to house 26,000 fans inside and sturdy enough to hold 385 fins outside. Jones Sign (De Pere, WI) — tasked with fabricating the vertical fin facade, its steel substructure and its pixel-point, SACO-programmable lighting — worked with global design firm Populous and New York-based Turner Construction along the way, says Laura Myers, director of marketing, Jones. The 40-ft. fins were pre-fabricated in Jones’ Green Bay manufacturing plant and installed in large sections, saving time and space, explains Myers.
When Bethel University (Arden Hills, MN) Royals’ stadium underwent a multi-million dollar renovation last year, Franz Graphics (Minneapolis) was ready, having spent the past nine years providing graphics for the program. For the new signage, General Manager Chad Nannenga says they used 18-oz. exterior grade scrim and Ultraflex UltraMesh Supreme banner materials with HP latex print technology. They also custom built a framing system for the graphics to allow for an easy change of materials off the bleacher structure, and it doesn’t rub and wear in windy weather.
“SCHOOL’S OUT FOR summer,” as Alice Cooper first sang in the ’70s — already for most college students. High school kids will follow around the end of this month. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that summer help can alleviate at least some aspects of the labor shortage everyone’s generally experiencing.
However, it does take smarts to also see it as an opportunity to inspire a young person to consider entering the sign business after graduation. With so many sign companies all over also reporting extreme difficulty in hiring “the right people,” why not dedicate part of your summer to starting to mold a “right person” yourself?
Few things sharpen the mind more than teaching, and in doing so, you may unlock new or better methods for some tasks or procedures due to your training sessions. Your summer helper should also appreciate doing some “real signwork” in addition to sweeping up or filing. That appreciation could develop into something more.
I’ll always remember the first intern I worked with, who was great. At the end of the internship, she said, “I really appreciated this and learned a lot, but I also learned I don’t want to go into publishing.” That’s OK, too; although, I later found out she had taken a job in publishing. You never know.
I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating: Whether or not a student returns to your company or any shop as an employee, the sign industry needs this. Give it a try this summer.
To celebrate National Women’s Month in March 2022, the City of Houston honored some of Houston’s Top Businesswomen. Minuteman Press franchise owner Sharon Rayner was honored with this award.
Sharon and Paul Rayner have owned and operated Minuteman Press for over twenty years in the Westchase District of Houston. They have grown their business along with the growth of the Westside of Houston as a vibrant business community.
The Rayners came to the forefront as leaders in their business community because of Bounce Back USA, a free initiative launched by Minuteman Press International for local communities in 2020 that was featured in Forbes.
They used the ideas and materials supplied by Minuteman Press World HQ and created Bounce Back Westchase. They connected community businesses to local customers by using business organizations and local leaders. Houston City Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas was one of the first supporters of Bounce Back Westchase and nominated Sharon for this prestigious award.
In Sharon’s acceptance speech, she not only thanked the hundreds of people involved with Bounce Back Westchase, she recognized the importance of women as business leaders. “Women provide a different and important vision for any business. As printers, we enjoy that our profession is helping people,” she said. “Every day, we help our customers succeed, from small businesses to non-profits up to some of Houston’s Fortune 500 companies.
“Our success is based on helping other people be successful. So, they, in turn, can help others. This community of helping others is what makes Houston a great city.”
Erick Rios, Houston Area Manager at Minuteman Press International, added, “I’d like to congratulate Sharon Rayner on her well-deserved award as one of Houston’s Top Businesswomen. Sharon and Paul have been exemplary Minuteman Press franchise owners and business leaders for over twenty years. I truly admire their work ethic and continued dedication to their clients and their community.”
The Official Proclamation states:
WHEREAS, Women’s History Month recognizes the achievements and impacts women have made on history. To this end, the City of Houston is ever indebted to the phenomenal women that have made invaluable contributions to the City with their many worthwhile endeavors; and
WHEREAS, the City of Houston’s success and thriving reputation is due to the many organizations, such as Minuteman Press – Westchase, that strive to increase the quality of life for all;
THEREFORE, March 29, 2022, has been proclaimed as Women of Westchase Day in Houston, Texas and it is encouraged that all Houstonians join in thanking these women for their staunch community advocacy and for inspiring the community with their compassion.
Sharon and Paul Rayner’s Minuteman Press franchise is located in the Westchase District at 3711 Briarpark Drive, Suite 395 in Houston, Texas.
AP Lazer® introduces a new entry-level laser machine, the AP Lazer SN2616LR, featuring a low rider carriage cart, allowing the machine to effortlessly move from its standard position to the floor with a simple press of a button. The new patented model can engrave any object without size and weight limitations.
Designed for profit-seeking hobbyists ready to scale their business to the next level, the new machine targets a large segment of the population who join a growing trend of startup entrepreneurs and become part of the Great Resignation. The AP Lazer SN2616LR is armed with 60-watt CO2 laser power and a 26-by-16-inch cutting and engraving area.
While the customization market continues to grow in popularity, the SN2616LR provides the business owner with an entrée to a less competitive part of that market—large object customization, which includes floor engraving. The new laser machine provides entrepreneurs with the ability to expand in the rapidly accelerating and profitable emotional marketplace.
Side Hustle Nation reports 45 percent of working Americans, 70 million, have a side hustle. In the past ten years, hobby laser machines, along with other low-cost personalization machines, such as vinyl cutters, sublimation printers, screen printing and embroidery machines, have entered basements, and garages of homes. Creative hobbyists have realized great success through channels such as Etsy, e-commerce, and social media. Their products have touched the hearts of buyers.
“From 2020 to 2021, during COVID-19, our sales went up by 50 percent with 90 percent of that growth from business startups. That’s when we decided to speed up our entry-level business machine development,” said Tong Li, AP Lazer® CEO and inventor of the machine.
Previously all hobby laser machines could only engrave small objects, and low-cost hobby machines come with minimal tech supports, leaving business owners struggling and stuck with simple technical obstacles. Small business owners, especially side hustle hobbyists, routinely work off hours, weekends, and holidays.
With a patented open architecture and a low rider carriage cart which moves the laser to any height, SN2616LR can easily engrave furniture and home décor, floors and pavements, doors and windows, and wine barrels and bottles—along with anything a hobby laser can engrave and cut. It can also lead entrepreneurs to enter the funeral market to engrave caskets, cremation urns, granite monuments, memorial keep sakes, and pet memorial products—another fast growing market in recent years.
AP Lazer provides a 24/7/365 tech support on all their machines, saving time for entrepreneurs to grow the businesses they love.
“Stepping into the emotional marketplace without size and weight limitations is both exciting and profitable,” said Li. “So far, the business world focuses on spending billions to run emotional marketing ads pretending to fill the emotional needs of the consumers. Creating meaningful products by engraving sentiments that evoke love, inspiration or special memories on something even as mundane as a dollar store wine glass, can directly satisfy a customer’s emotional need, and generate high meaningful profit. That’s a huge difference compared with running high-cost emotional ads.
“In the emotional marketplace, all sentimental needs are satisfied with meaningful products—that’s a revolution.”
FRANKFORT, IL — Sign industry veteran John “Jack” Frederick Theobald Mostert, Jr., 96, passed away on April 11.
Starting as an artist about 80 years ago, Mostert’s first job at age 16 was blowing neon with a sign company in Memphis, TN. At the beginning of World War II, he began Cadet training and by the end of 1943 he was commissioned to the US Army Air Corps. Mostert finished navigator training in 1945 and was preparing to be shipped to Japan shortly before the war ended and he was sent home.
In 1947, Mostert founded Mostert and Ferguson (now Artisan Signs & Lighting) when he had just started school at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the early years, the company specialized in sign lettering, gold leaf and neon signs. The business expanded its services in 1977 with the acquisition of Artisan Signs & Lighting (Orland Park, IL), a manufacturing plant known for channel letters, box signs, pylons and EMCs.
Never afraid of heights, over the years Mostert was commissioned to paint towering brick walls with ads for businesses, dangerous train overpasses and even lettered water towers in his 80’s.
In 2008, he retired and passed down his sign legacy to his daughter Ruth Pellegrini, who now owns the full-service sign and lighting company. She says her father “was known as the best sign man in Chicago in his prime.”
When Mostert traveled to Mount Rushmore at the age of 92, he said he related to the men who carved the presidents from stone, according to his obituary. He is preceded in death by his wife Charlotte Mostert, son and grandson — and survived by his brother, six children, foster daughter, 31 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and his church community, as well as his calico cat.
The Richard Childress Racing (RCR) team has developed new-for-2022 wrap designs for its NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series race cars—all printed by skilled RCR Graphics Center wrap technicians on the facility’s new Roland DG TrueVIS Series wide-format printer/cutters. The Graphics Center, located on RCR’s expansive campus in Welcome, North Carolina, has a staff of ten and uses Roland DG inkjets exclusively to create wraps and graphics for its race cars as well as for the team’s various support vehicles.
RCR designs new race car wraps for its sponsors each season. In addition to its existing sponsors—Bass Pro Shops, Dow, GetBio, Breztri, Huk, Alsco, Cheddars, BetMGM, and Lenovo—RCR has added several new sponsors for 2022, including True Velocity, 3CHI, Whelen Engineering, Bennett, United Rentals, and Global Industrial, all of which required completely new wraps.
“Designing, printing, and installing high quality wraps for all of our race cars and support vehicles is extremely important to our team and our sponsors,” said RCR Graphics Center Manager Nick Woodward. “With millions of racing fans watching our cars intently at racetracks throughout the country and on TV, everything needs to be perfect. The vivid color, exceptional detail, and outstanding productivity we get from our TrueVIS inkjets allows us to produce wraps that exceed the expectations of our sponsors, year after year.”
According to Woodward, the unsurpassed color accuracy and production capabilities of these advanced devices are essential to creating eye-catching wraps for all of RCR’s cars under a very tight time schedule. “Our TrueVIS machines and the specially formulated TR2 inks they use, including new Orange ink, enable us to hit our sponsors’ exact corporate colors,” Woodward noted. “The expanded gamut allows us to match any color we need to achieve for partners’ wrap schemes, and the vibrancy and precision of the graphics are nothing short of amazing.”
Woodward points out that, in addition to this year’s new sponsors, the team has also added a new driver—Austin Hill. “We designed and produced a stunning wrap design for Hill’s No. 21 Chevy, and both the driver and the wrap made their debut at the February Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona—a race that Austin won in his first start with RCR,” said Woodward. “We were extremely proud of both Austin’s performance and the No. 21 car’s new Bennett wrap printed on a TrueVIS.”
“We are proud to have all three of our brands recognized as top franchises of 2022,” said Catherine Monson, CEO of Propelled Brands, said, “The recognition is proof of our business model’s efficacy in providing business ownership opportunities and the quality of support provided to our franchisees to help in their success. We look forward to our continued growth in the years to come.”
The FRAN-TASTIC 500 recognizes 500 of the franchising industry’s leading brands that open the doors to business ownership through franchising. Brands are chosen based on criteria including brand identity, turnkey model, superb training, and scalability.
“Franchising helps people change their lives and take control of their future,” said Alesia Visconti, CEO and president of FranServe Inc. “A brand that makes our annual “FRAN-TASTIC 500” list shows that it values a fun and rewarding lifestyle and emphasizes people fulfilling their dreams of business ownership through franchising.”
Pointe Orlando is an outdoor dining and entertainment destination that’s located along busy International Drive next to the country’s second-largest convention center and surrounded by 46,000 hotel rooms on Orlando’s primary tourism corridor.
Since 1998, Pointe Orlando has been the Convention Center District’s premier dining and entertainment complex, made particularly attractive since, unlike traditional enclosed malls, it’s open-air-type design allows guests the ability to “enjoy year-round mild weather.”
However the owners of Pointe Orlando recently undertook the redevelopment of this property in an effort to improve connectivity throughout the center, create gathering places, improve sense of place, add artistic experiential elements, and elevate tenant visibility.
Examples include The Link, a new, visually captivating one hundred-foot-long passageway featuring lit ceilings, artistic floor patterns, and retail storefronts that improve first-floor connectivity for guests.
The center’s two valet areas were upgraded with an elegant valet canopy featuring a glass overhang, column uplighting, and mounted signage, which both creates a sense of arrival and enhances the atmosphere while guests wait under cover for their vehicles.
A new gathering space was created in the center’s primary courtyard, with colorful seating, playful shade structures, and new upscale lighting, which replaced a previously existing pond.
Meanwhile the two prominent corners of the property were reimagined with a sculptural centerpiece that draws the eye and announces the project to pedestrians and vehicles on International Drive.
Accompanying this renovation was the need for new signage that would guide guests along this makeover. To realize this, Creative Sign Designs, LLC partnered with Brixmor Properties to fabricate and install new wayfinding signage (digital and static), room ID’s, and various branding elements.
Creative Sign Designs, LLC is a nationally recognized, full-service provider of custom, exterior, and interior signage and environmental graphics solutions. Their corporate headquarters is based from a 50,000-square-foot integrated manufacturing facility in Tampa, Florida, with another manufacturing location in Orlando.
“[Pointe Orlando owners] desired a company who could take on the challenge, work through the complex design, and develop a consistent, efficient way to manage, manufacture, and install all the signage,” says Creative Sign Designs Director of Sales Dean Brooks. “We have the ability to fully understand and take conceptual drawings and convert those to actual fabrication drawings. We also can develop fabrication methods to meet the complexity of the design required.”
The sign company states that, for maximum effectiveness, it is essential that signage programs “be capable of guiding people to, through, and out of facilities in an orderly manner.” These philosophies are prominently on display throughout this project.
“The overall project included more façade and dramatic lighting in lieu of standard functional lighting, new wayfinding signage, upgraded landscaping, environmental graphics, and site amenities,” says Brooks.
Creative Sign Designs designed and custom-created wayfinding signage for Pointe Orlando that included bright and visible colors with dramatic shapes and layers that add depth. All of the wayfinding signage is branded together so that there is a consistent, even flow. Creative Sign Designs also provided custom paint finishing to many of the pieces.
One of the main things that stands out is the shape of the signs. “There are no rectangles here,” says Brooks. “They are modern and unique!”
The signs were designed to have curved faces and project diagonally to one side. Creative Sign Designs undertook a full custom build to achieve this. “To add complexity, we included acrylic push-thru copy and symbols that were consistent with the curved face,” explains Brooks.
Brooks stresses that signage can play a huge role in keeping things modern and fresh on a property. “Older and out-of-date signage can indicate that a property may not offer newer or updated retailers and restaurants that are more desirable,” he says. “Technology today offers a wide variety of amenities that come to be expected.”
For example, Creative Sign Designs took advantage of popular interactive directories on this project. “At this site, they’re not only popular for guests, but the owners have taken advantage of advertising revenue with them,” says Brooks, “which allows them a good return-on-investment.”
At Pointe Orlando, the on-premise digital directories not only offer guests the ability to interact with the technology but also can even take selfie photos of the user.
The digital directories incorporate a high-end LG-MRI touch screen display. Air flow and rainwater disbursement were essential challenges to address in order for the LG display to keep within its factory warranty. “This was so critical that LG-MRI officials flew to our facility to oversee the development of the custom air duct and water disbursement system,” says Brooks. “These systems had to be designed and fabricated by hand once we installed the display itself.”
LG-MRI tested each unit to make certain these systems were working properly. “According to LG-MRI, [we] were the first company to be able to design a complete shroud (cabinet) to house this type of digital display without voiding its factory warranty,” says Brooks.
The project had high-end hardscapes being installed, which mostly included glass beading embedded within. This meant that all the signage had to be installed in specific phases. “This limits what can be placed on the hardscape such as crane truck, lifts, and equipment for install,” says Brooks. “We worked with the general contractor to make sure we were respecting finished work and utilizing equipment that did not compromise other trades.”
This was also an “active” site at the time, meaning it was still open to the public during the day and evening. This limited Creative Sign Designs’ working hours at the site, requiring detailed pre-planning to “get in and get out” during the tight work hours.”
The vehicular directionals were installed with poured foundations using a direct buried steel support column. The general contractor provided primary electrical advance of their sign install.
The digital directories were installed via poured foundations with embedded threaded rod for sign attachment. The general contractor made sure all the electrical and data lines were in place prior to the install.
The blade sign wayfinding proved to be a simple install using Tapcons. The general contractors provided wall blocking in advance.
For the canopy-mounted channel letters with raceway, Creative Sign Designs met up at the site with the general contractor and sub-tier contractor who manufactured and installed the canopy to determine how to best attach the signage. “We created custom brackets based off their shop drawings,” says Brooks. “Our raceway had to be a specific radius, so our design team took templates to make sure their shop drawings were accurate. The sign ended up being a perfect fit.”
Consistency played a key role with Creative Sign Designs on this project—both with the owners of Pointe Orlando and the contractors.
The company provided weekly updates and progress photos to the client. Meanwhile consistent coordination and communication with the general contractor during planning and installation proved vital, as it allowed the installation to move seamlessly and efficiently (although the pandemic did cause things to slow down at the site and change priorities on what went up when).
When it comes to sign design, Brooks feels that a basic sign is looked at differently than a sign designed with bright, inviting colors and unique shaping. “You can’t help but look at this signage—mission accomplished!”