Signs of the Times: Trends to Watch for 2018
You’ve probably noticed how technology makes just about everything a moving target. Signage is no exception. We talked with people at the International Sign Association and some leading sign makers to learn what trends sign designers and fabricators should be aware of as we go into 2018. There are no surprises, but success in 2018 will come from paying attention to these four.
1. Photopolymer Signs Poised to Lead
Construction is booming in many cities and every office building and high-rise office tower needs signage. Around North America, photopolymer signs are poised to be the leading interior signage technology in virtually all types of new commercial construction. Interior signage encompasses maps, directories, room identification and more, much of it required to be ADA compliant (see ADA.gov for the details). This provides unprecedented opportunity for sign makers. Adding your expertise to every proposal or project can make you the go-to resource for developers, architects, and sign designers. Your detailed knowledge of ADA-compliant signage can show customers and prospects how photopolymer technology is the ideal solution for their internal signage needs. Support your message by drawing on the ADA compliance expertise available from Nova Polymers and how Nova Polymers’ certification as a GSA-approved resource for ADA-compliant materials helps ensure the signs you produce meet local, state and federal standards.
2. On premises advertising
It used to be that consumers would visit stores to buy things they saw in ads on TV, in magazines or newspapers or heard on the radio. Nowadays that customer-attracting duty is the job of on-premises advertising. Almost every retailer is festooned with signage hung from ceilings, sticking out from shelves and wired to shopping carts. Some flash bright LED lights to seize shoppers’ attention. Photopolymer signs are not normally a part of this, but that doesn’t mean you are left behind. So how do you get in on some of the action? Go find a partner.
One of the most important trends in 2018 is something you may already be doing. Partnering is knowing how local companies can complement your business. This way you can refer a customer to another company that does work you don’t, or even coordinate some jobs with the work of another company. Partnering can be especially important because many signage companies produce only a limited range of sign types.
For instance, if you provide photopolymer signs chances are you don’t handle vehicle wraps. But if you can partner with a nearby business that does vehicle wraps it’s fairly straightforward to pass the work you can’t do along via referral, or even offer to manage the entire process.
Sign businesses tend to be specialized, making it all the more critical to find companies to partner with. As you do this, be sure to look at opportunities in all directions. For instance, the quick printer or commercial printer down the street probably has customers who need durable photopolymer signs. So see if you can partner with that printer The company you are doing wayfinding signs for may need large wall murals or marketing collateral, so can you partner with a large format printer to produce those materials? There are many variations on such alliances and it doesn’t have to take much effort, especially if you are only referring business to each other. To get started, pay the other business owners a visit or talk with your counterparts at meetings of your local chamber of commerce or Rotary. But however you do it, get out there and start partnering in 2018.
4. LED Signage
On your drive to and from work think about how the exterior signage you see has changed in recent years. Large format digital printing was once a predominant tool for many signs, but now LED technology is replacing the front- or back-lit printed signs on many businesses. Two types of LED signs are appearing everywhere. One is the replacement of flat, digitally printed signs with LED arrays, often above the entrances to stores. Second is freestanding signs, often with some type of animation. While some municipalities have regulatory issues with such signs, LED signs are going to become more common in 2018 and in the years ahead.
LEDs, by the way, can present a prime opportunity for partnering because many companies that produce them are still fairly small operations. LED signs can be assembled in relatively tight spaces, even garages, using readily available LEDs and circuit boards. This makes the segment easier to enter and can make partnering with a LED sign business easier because the owner may be looking for ways to expand their businesses. And you, being a seasoned sign pro, have a lot to offer—and probably know how to partner.
The sign business is continuing to evolve. ADA-compliant photopolymer signs are becoming more valued. On-premises advertising helps drive sales for countless products. LEDs are offering hard-to-miss choices for a nation where signs are the first thing people look for on roadsides, in malls, retail stores and office buildings. All these trends offer new opportunities to partner and grow your business in 2018.