By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Retail signage extends into a range of applications, from traditional hanging posters, shelf talkers, and aisle markers to some of the newest trends in wide format digital print like silicone edge graphics, corrugated cut outs, and window clings. Seasoned print service providers (PSPs) need to be ready to tackle any and all of these requests at a moment’s notice, or risk losing out on potential business.
To do so, most print shops are equipped with the latest technologies, which are compatible with a versatile selection of media and provide high-quality output. These features are especially necessary in the retail sector, where customers aim to stand out from the competition and insist their brand needs are met.
This two-part series looks at two PSPs who regularly work with customers in the retail and promotional segment and create wide format graphics of all kinds.
Mighty Sign Makers
With a background in hospitality and early childhood education, Kelley Campbell, owner, Specialty Graphic Solutions (SGS) LLC, opened SGS in 2011. At the time, she was looking for a business opportunity that would mean no travel, but allow her to continue serving other businesses—something she enjoys doing. Based in Vancouver, WA, wide format digital printing is the core of the company’s business.
With three employees in addition to Campbell—who she refers to as “the mighty sign makers”—SGS offers car wraps, dimensional signage, exhibit and trade show displays, and wayfinding signage, to name just a few of the services offered. Most of its customers are based in the Portland, OR metro area, but some are also located in Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Dallas, TX, and Montreal, Canada.
In a 2,000 square foot space, a VersaCAMM VP-540 from Roland DGA Corporation is the workhorse of the shop. “It provides great quality output and is reliable,” explains Campbell. The company has always owned this particular printer. When Campbell began the business, which is affiliated with Signworld, she was offered a package that included the Roland printer or another vendor’s hardware. She’d only heard good things about the Roland and liked the media versatility it offered.
When it comes to retail, SGS has produced a lot of different applications for its customers including banners, posters, window graphics, floor graphics, point of sale displays, life-sized cut outs, dimensional letters and logos, rigid signs, frosted glass, directories, and menu boards. This type of work is done on a monthly basis, on average at least ten jobs a month, according to Campbell. She says that about 15 percent of the company’s customers are considered retailers in the traditional sense.
The Roland VersaCAMM VP-540 is used and it offers “clean, high-quality prints that are great for retail since customers are often up close and personal with the displays, versus signs that are seen from a distance,” shares Campbell.
Not only does the PSP handle the production aspect of the work, it also works with customers on the installation portion. However, for a lot of retail projects, the products are made with “ease of installation in mind, so the customer can put them up themselves,” she continues.
Media choices vary when it comes to retail work. A favorite for print vinyl is Orafol Americas’ Orajet 3640 soft calendered PVC digital media and Orajet 3165RA intermediate grade calendered digital media with RapidAir technology, sometimes paired with Oraguard 210 PVC laminating film as needed. GFPhoto photo realistic paper from Coveris Advanced Coatings is used for posters. Specialty media varies, but Pure Color Monet Canvas from Seal, part of Acco Brands was recently used to create a 48×48-inch outdoor menu for a local bakery/café.
When creating retail signage, lamination is always a consideration. Campbell says the need depends on longevity and how the graphic will be used. For example, counter and floor graphics are always laminated. For floor graphics in particular, the shop prefers to use Lamex 5-mil textured laminate, which is purchased through Fellers. Signs that are moved around a great deal will also be laminated to reduce scratches and stains. For short-term signs—anything used nine months or less—SGS doesn’t generally use a laminate.
An ongoing customer of SGS’ is iQ Credit Union, the company has worked with them since October 2011. iQ has 12 main branches plus a few campus branches run by students. The marketing team at the credit union is creative and places a lot of effort into creating fun and engaging themes to promote services offered to its members, according to Campbell.
Examples include the promotion of “monstrously” low interest rates with seven-foot tall Sasquatch cut out displays at each branch. This was followed up with a cut out of a Sasquatch sitting, which was placed in an actual kayak, and part of a giveaway at individual locations. Simultaneously, SGS created 24-inch long footprints as floor graphics so visitors could walk in the steps of Big Foot.
Other jobs include graphics for “doggone” low rates with paw prints for floor graphics, counter graphics, and signage of dogs, “save a latte” with coffee-themed graphics and posters, “crab a great rate” Summer theme with sand pails and beach themed signs and posters, and “no monkey business” with monkey sock puppets.
Most recently, SGS worked with the marketing team at iQ to create four-foot tall woodchucks—one for each branch, and an a-frame with two 4×6-foot signs that sit in the back of brand new pickup trucks that are for sale and parked at some of the credit union locations. These graphics are part of a year-long outdoor adventure theme.
For any of the work the PSP has completed for the credit union, it receives as much as four weeks’ notice to as little as two days’ notice—it depends on whether it’s for an upcoming promotion or a special one-off project. Quantities vary, but on larger items—like the standup woodchucks—one graphic per branch is made. Smaller items including posters, counter graphics, and floor graphics are generally made in quantities of three to ten per branch.
“Because iQ’s team is always ultra-responsive to member, staff, and community needs, SGS is always ultra-flexible in finding a way to meet the credit union’s goals and deadlines,” explains Campbell.
On average, the PSP turns around jobs in five to seven business days—including test prints if color accuracy assurance is needed. SGS relies on its X-Rite, Incorporated i1 color measurement system to reproduce iQ’s exact red on each piece of print media. All of the work is handled by the Roland VersaCAMM VP-540 and media varies based on the job, but Orajet 3640, Orajet 3165RA, and GFPhoto are used for over 90 percent of the prints created.
While iQ’s marketing department does not lack in creative expertise, it does defer to SGS on occasion for structural ideas. Campbell explains that when the Sasquatch concept was first presented, the credit union gave the PSP a rough drawing of the design, but needed help figuring out how it would stand up and work with the various objects it would eventually interact with like the kayak. SGS was happy to solve the challenge.
SGS has made a name for itself with its Roland device, which allows it to offer a variety of work to its customers. In the retail segment especially it has found success in creating graphics for floors to standees. Its relationship with iQ is a great example of this.
In the second part of this Web-exclusive series learn about Sharpe Retail of Winston-Salem, NC and its work for retail clients.
Nov2016, Digital Output DORS1611