Vital Signs

Signage is your business’ first impression yet, for many in the industry, it is often an afterthought or even a nightmare. Here’s the lowdown on getting the best signs for your venue’s needs.

Brett Dallas, Creative Director at Fremont Creative Sign Co., began his business 11 years ago, partnering with a colleague from a previous signage company. His firm specialises in signs for gaming and hospitality venues.

Fremont is named after Las Vegas’ famous Fremont Street, which is known for its iconic neon signs. This is also the story behind the business’ tagline: ‘Inspired in Vegas, crafted in Sydney’. Today, Fremont’s service includes the design, manufacture and installation of a number of products including pylons, LED screens, indoor and outdoor venue branding and more.

Put yourself in the shoes of a member of the public passing by your business. Signage is always the first thing you notice. Effective signs can make a huge difference to the perception and performance of your business. Members of the public will base their opinion of your business on that initial introduction.

Despite this, signage is often overlooked by business owners, and can be the last thing to be planned or budgeted for in new projects. As Dallas says, “Signs are the first impression of the business but normally the last thing thought about.”

He explains, when opening a new business, proprietors and venue managers tend to budget for good signage. “But as the build goes along,” he adds, “That amount normally gets reduced significantly and often there isn’t enough for the signage after the build.”

This is a common story but it’s not the way things should be. Branding and signage should be the first few considerations when putting together the budget. Investing capital in ineffective signage – which is still expensive – is perhaps another concern for venue owners.

“I’ve seen people spend money on signs that are ineffective,” says Dallas. “They’ve thrown their money out the window.”

If you’re considering new or updated signage, look at the value – not the price – of the service. This provides peace of mind. As Dallas points out, “The cheapest sign companies are that way for good reason. [They] can cost you more in the long run.”

Given Dallas knows signs like the back of his hand, he has some tips to share for ensuring you get the best sign for your business.

Starting out

First of all, what should you think about when planning new signs? Good signage delivers a clear message, confirms your credibility, connects with and motivates your target market and concretes customer loyalty.

Furthermore, you’ll need to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve with your signage. Think about your clientel and what will strike a chord with them, and also think about the positioning of your signs.

Track record

When shopping around for sign companies, first check their track record. “Have a look at their portfolio,” says Dallas. “Is their past work to your standard?”

Along with the standard of their work is the style. “If the signs in their portfolio are all a similar style, then they will design to their own capabilities or routine, and not your venue,” warns Dallas. So look for a brand with a diverse portfolio.

Creativity and service

Some sign companies will take a sign project right from the design stage to the finished product. For those that don’t, you may need to seek the expertise of a design agency first.

Companies providing end-to-end sign solutions are great for both costing and convenience, as customers may otherwise find themselve having to seek a number of services to get the project finished.

“Some people end up having to go to branding agencies, then a designer, then a sign company, then an installer,” says Dallas. “And they may have to go to two sign companies because a lot of sign companies don’t do certain types of work.”

A good sign company will also provide guidance throughout the whole process. As Dallas points out, “Our clients come to us because they don’t know what they want. We’ve got so many trades involved in certain aspects of making a sign, and everything is custom-made. Signage is so varied, you really need someone with knowledge to direct you.”

Branding

Your signage should reflect and amplify your brand so it’s important the branding itself is good.

“[It’s difficult] to take a bad logo and turn it into an amazing sign,” says Dallas. “Getting the brand and the logo right from the outset is very important to how it transforms into signage down the line.”

Relationships

Developing a long-term relationship with any creative company can provide remarkable benefits for your business.

“The industry is forever changing,” says Dallas. “Clubs and hotels are always renovating, always reinventing themselves.”

For those in the business with a focus on continually updating and modernising their look, building lasting relationships with sign companies is even more important. A close partnership with a signage company means they’ll gather knowledge of your venue over time and help you develop a unique and lasting style, which has further advantages in quality and efficiency.

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