Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Makes A Good Magnetic Sign?

Before You Order Magnetic Car Signs....

There is no doubt that you've driven around town and noticed the multitude of cars and trucks which sport magnetic signs on the sides of their vehicles. Mobile Marketing is all around us. And with the cost per view being so economical, what better way to get your message out there.If you're one of the many folks who have realized the importance of this "no brainer" advertising method, you know that it works!

But before you rush out or online to order your set of Magnetic Car Signs, there are some considerations you should think about. Not all magnetic signs are created equal and I'll explain why. Probably the number one magnetic sign faux pas that we see in our business, are design flaws. It is important to work with a sign designer who can guide you on the content and design of your magnetic signs.

You may be saying..designer for magnetic signs? It's not rocket science, I can design them or I'll just order online and  use one of those "do it yourself" magnetic sign design applications.


Before you get too excited to order the great deal you found for a pair of magnetic signs, let me explain what you need to think about. First, you need to be sure that your vehicle does not have panels (or the area you intend to put the magnetic sign) made of fiberglass or aluminum. Some of the newer cars being made, are not made of steel. So your car needs to be steel or your magnetic signs won't stick.
A Long Magnetic Sign

SHAPE Of Signs

One consideration when fabricating your magnetic signs is the corners. Magnetic signs can have squared corners or rounded corners. While both corner types will work, rounded corners will offer better wind resistance and be less likely to be lifted up at the corners by the wind when travelling.

Magnetic signs can also lend themselves to be cut into different shapes. In our business, we call that a "die-cut". Not every magnetic sign is a good candidate to be a die-cut shape. It really depends upon the business and logo design. When a die-cut sign can be utilized, it can be very eye-catching and memorable.
An Attractive Die-Cut Magnetic Sign

SIZE Of Signs

The size of your magnetic signs is an important consideration. This is one area when using a sign professional is important. Every size magnetic sign will not work on every car. Also, the type of car plays a key role in determining what size of sign will work. At Vital Signs, we have templates of every car and truck. Our designers create the design of magnetic signs based on the type of vehicle and the contours of that vehicle. A magnetic sign should be placed on a flat surface, not on the contours of a car, or it will be gone before you can make one trip around town. There are not standard sizes for magnetic signs, they should always be customized to fit your specific type of vehicle.
There is a whole lot going on here...where do you look first?

DESIGN of Signs

I mentioned that the most common issues we see with magnetic signs is a flaw in their design. Most often it is the word count. Too many words and too much information on your magnetic signs defeats the whole purpose of having them. If there is too much information crammed into the space, the message is not easily read or will not hold a viewer's attention in traffic. The only thing worse than a wordy set of magnetic signs...is a whole car full. Too many signs can look too busy, confusing the viewer(s). We get that you have a great business and offer lots of quality services, but the rule of less is more applies when designing magnetic car signs. Trust us...we know this after many years in the business. 
What Does That Small Print Say?

SIGN Details

Sign details like text size, color palette and the design of how they are integrated together matter. Some logos feature images also. When incorporated in a balanced way, images can greatly enhance the design. We see customers who come to us excited over a sign they saw or a cool, curly font they are set on for their signs. Unfortunately, text type and size make a huge difference in read-ability. Curly script fonts are better left to print design, not your magnetic signs that you want everyone to read in a very short amount of time in traffic. It is for these reasons, a sign designer is highly recommended in helping you to get the most effective magnetic signs for your money. Of course there are some customers who are insistent on using their own design. See if you can spot those in traffic, now that you know what to look for.
Great Colors and Easy To Read

Material Types

There are two types of magnetic sign types. There are the magnetic signs which have a digitally printed design applied to the magnetic material. And there are also magnetic signs which have cut vinyl applied to the magnetic material. To make this choice, the sign design or logo will play a large part in the decision. If a logo lends itself to being cut into vinyl, we can use it. Most often when the logo or sign design has multiple colors or color blending, it will always be digitally printed & then applied to the magnetic material. With regard to the pricing difference between digitally printed and cut vinyl, it will typically be a small difference between the two. 


So how long should they last? This is a hard question that again, is dependent upon which material is used to fabricate the signs. It will hinge on weather and climate variables of location and/or vinyl type. Some vinyls come with a longer guarantee, but can still wear differently in harsh hot and cold climates. And of course, the life of your magnetic signs will also be dependent upon your care of them. They should always be applied to a clean surface and cleaned every couple of weeks.

Vital Signs Can Create Your Magnetic Signs!

Vital Signs has the two ingredients necessary to ensure that you receive magnetic signs that will work for you 24/7. Experience and creativity. We know how to make a successful magnetic sign combo that is sure to get you noticed. Magnetic Signs are such a small investment with huge ROI potential.
Let Vital Signs do the work, while you reap the reward!

Call Vital Signs TODAY!!

Don't forget to sign up on our homepage for our Quarterly Build Your Brand GIVEAWAY! It won't be long now until we draw the name of our second winner. Is your name in our hat?

(412) 494-3308 or www.vitalsignspgh.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Location Location Location!

Curb Appeal Matters

A Weathered  Residential Neighborhood Sign 

The phrase Location Location Location is widely used and understood in the real estate world and beyond. It means that the neighborhood and location in which you purchase your home from could make a  positive future difference at resale time.

For any of you who have watched the home make-over programs on HGTV you have seen the emphasis that is put on the exterior curb appeal of the homes and yards within a residential neighborhood. That is because it's important. If the outside is not attractive and inviting, no buyer will be interested in seeing the inside of a home.

Sometimes I notice neighborhoods in the area in which I live which have clearly dropped the ball on their residential entrance sign and landscaping. Perhaps they once had  a committee or homeowner's association that handled such matters. Maybe their first sign was put in at the initial establishment of the neighborhood by the contractor and never thought about again. 

One thing that is clear however, is that a weather-worn neighborhood entrance sign in poor repair or appearance will not enhance the value of the homes which are in it. In fact, it will do the exact opposite. 

A Paint And Weather worn Entrance Sign.

Details Matter

Think about it. You have been told or heard that your home is the best investment you will ever make. Part of that investment is dependent upon how you keep it up. That includes both home repair and appearance, as well as the yard and landscaping in which it sits upon. Why invest in all aspects of your home, if your residential front entrance makes a shabby first impression.

It is easy to drive in and out of your residential neighborhood without any consciousness given to it's appearance. It is because we are used to it & don't even think about it. But look around. What do you think when you pass a shoddy neighborhood entrance sign or one which has faded so much, the words are difficult to read? 

A front entrance monument or post and panel sign should be considered to be an extension of your property. It's importance is worth developing a beautification committee to maintain your neighborhood's front entry and appearance and your future bottom line.

An Attractive and Inviting Residential Monument Sign

From A Vital Signs Perspective

We are happy to come out and examine your residential sign to see if the sign can be updated with a new sign face or suggest a material choice for a new sign which will withstand weather for longer . Vital Signs has showroom samples and multiple examples and styles of various neighborhood entrance signs to help you choose from. We are experienced with Neighborhood Homeowner's Associations. Please call us today to speak with our design team. 

Vital Signs (412) 494-3308


By the way, don't forget to enter our Build Your Brand GIVEAWAY on our homepage!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What WOOD You Choose?

The Substrate Choice

We make signs from a large variety of materials. In the sign industry, we refer to the material in which we place the message on, as a "substrate". A substrate can be metal, acrylic, foam, wood and engineered wood products,etc. Today, I would like to take a look at the difference between real wood and HDU (High Density Urethane) from a sign standpoint. 


There are a number of considerations to think about when trying to decide which product to use. Probably at the top of the list is the durability of the product. It is important also, to consider where the sign will be located (indoors or out) and exposure to the elements or other possible impacts.


As defined by Wikipedia, wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems of roots and trees & other woody plants. It is an organic material that has been used for thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material.

Wood in the strict sense, is yielded by trees, either softwood or hardwood. For instance, the wood from broad-leaved trees (Ex.Oak) is called a hardwood. While wood can be fabricated to create attractive signs (as well as many other products), when used outside there are some distinct disadvantages. 

An exterior sign is going to be exposed to weather with the change of the seasons. It will expand and contract, and may also experience bacterial/insect degradation.The primer seal may be broken. Paint, will degrade and the sign will require maintenance or replacement to present and maintain an attractive appearance.


HDU Also Called Sign Foam

Engineered wood products are becoming a bigger part of various industries, including the industrial, construction and signage arenas. Engineered wood products are produced for application~specific performance requirements. 

Different Sign Foam Textures

HDU or High Density Urethane is a  rigid synthetic foam. HDU was first introduced to the sign-making industry in the late 1980's. There was a genuine need for an alternative to wood. A product that could withstand harsh environments and be more cost effective. Unlike wood, Signfoam will not warp, crack or bow like solid wood when exposed to the elements and humidity. It is slightly lighter than wood. HDU Sign Foam can be seamlessly laminated together to create any size, shape or form. HDU is also waterproof and impervious to solvents.Sign Foam is more cost effective than wood. Because of these positive attributes, Sign Foam is the preferred sign choice for most sign-makers. For the customer, this means a long-lasting sign at a better cost savings than using real wood.

Blast, Carve and Route

What makes Sign Foam continue to grow in popularity in addition to the details mentioned above is that the traditional wood carving tools that you use on wood will work great on Sign Foam. Because there is no grain, directional carving is not required. Penetration into the material is much faster than wood. Grain devices are available that will create the illusion of wood grain. 
Wood or Sign Foam, Can You Tell?  (Hint: SF)

For most people it would be very difficult to tell the difference between a substrate made with real wood vs. Sign Foam. Many creative techniques, using multiple levels of blasted or carved panels offer you (the customer) more three dimensional art for scenery, logos or other images. All types of router tools can be used to create an attractive sign.

Made With Sign Foam Panels

Not sure if an HDU sign would work for your project? Contact the Vital Signs Design Team to discuss the options. We have showroom examples; photo albums and can discuss your specific project to determine if Sign Foam will work for you. We look forward to helping you!

Call Us Today at (412) 494-3308

P.S. Don't forget to enter our Vital Signs Build Your Brand GIVEAWAY!! Visit our homepage at: ://www.vitalsignspittsburgh.com/ & click on the Treasure Chest to enter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How You (The Customer) Can Help Us!

Let's Be Partners

You need a sign(s) and we make signs..so we already have the makings of a great pairing. But there are several other key variables that could serve to make this partnership succeed with flying colors. For instance, many customers come to us with only a vague idea of the type of sign(s) they need. Some have given little thought to what types of signage they may require; what the design will look like, etc. 

This post is written for our customers who need guidance with sign planning. One of the documents that Vital Signs has compiled, is Sign Details To Consider. This resource asks important questions for you the customer, to consider when contemplating the purchase of signage. If you can go through our list and answer the Sign Detail questions, than you have already helped us immensely in starting to understand your signage needs.

Technology Apps


There are very few of us that do not have a cell phone these days. It doesn't matter whether you have an Apple or a Droid. And for those of us who are ...hmmm...let's just call it, 'Empty Nester' age or somewhere in that neighborhood, we thought that all of these "apps" are for the younger generations. Not! I want to tell you about a few apps that can help you (and us) in determining your signage needs.

For example, you need a sign for your business and just happened to drive by a business in a nearby city or even on vacation and saw a design that would be perfect for your type of sign. Stop the car! It only takes a moment to hop out of the car & utilize the camera on your phone to take a snapshot or two of the sign(s) you like. 

We love it when our customers do this. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Having an image of what you would like helps move us in a direction. From that image, we can see the style or texture/material you like, possibly the colors you want, maybe the shape of the sign, whether it has lighting or not & what kind, or maybe just the feel or attitude of a sign (like the fun upscale grooming shop name/sign design below).  It also helps us to be able to check with your local city or township codes to see if your desired sign type is allowable.

Another Colorful Scenario

Let's consider an existing building that just got painted. You need to match your current sign to the building, but don't necessarily need or want the expense of a new sign, we simply need to match the paint color to a vinyl we intend to use for the sign face replacement. A few neat apps come to mind. There are paint color matching apps made by Sherwin Williams, Behr, Benjamin Moore, and others. So easy with just the push of a button, even I can do it.

Measurements Matter

We've all heard the phrase, size matters. It does, and especially so when talking about signs. Correct measurements for signs are critical. There are a few apps that make sign & site measurement easy. For instance, the I Handy Carpenter is a cool app that includes 5 tools in 1. Take a look;

Level With Me

  • Plumb Bob Level: Verifies the verticality of lines or walls.
  • Surface Level: The best tool to ensure that any surface is flat & level.
  • Bubble Level Bar: A digital level.
  • Ruler: Measures in inches & centimeters.
  • Protractor: A simple & fast way to measure angles from 0 - 180 degrees. 

Photo Measurement Too..

Can Add Measurements Right Onto The Image

There are at least a few or more photo measurement apps that are available for the click of a download. What makes this type of app especially useful to people (and Sign-makers) is that we have the ability to take a picture of an existing structure and add/draw measures right on the picture. Being able to measure dimensions, angles & areas in a photo is a huge time-saver. And sometimes our customers choose to do the legwork of obtaining their own sign permit. This type of app would be helpful to provide some of the necessary information needed for a sign permit application.

For most, if not all of our customers, Vital Signs utilizes email, phone & fax in the planning & during the communication period of the sign purchasing process. Some of these apps can be really helpful to both the customer and to us, your sign company of choice. There are literally thousands of apps and we have to be careful not to use all of our phone memory in putting them on our phones. But a few key apps can assist all of us greatly for both business and residential purposes. 

Face To Face

Vital Brainstorming

We still appreciate the opportunity to sit down with our customers and brainstorm your sign project. But a few apps along the way can save time and move the process along. Not to mention...they're just cool!

Don't Forget..

Hey..one more thing..don't forget to click on the TREASURE CHEST on the Vital Signs' Home Page for your opportunity to win our Build Your Brand GIVEAWAY! this quarter.

Call Us Today For Your Next Sign Project!

(412) 494-3308