Sign & Digital Graphics

December '19

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • December 2019 • 23 ing industry. The vinyl options available for lettering that could be produced by someone with very little sign experience was disheartening. It changed everyone's perception of what it meant to be in the sign business; to produce signage, and lettering for businesses, and how fast it could be delivered. One of the reasons I felt it was impor- tant to review and outline the differences in our vernacular is because, in today's sign industry, there are a lot of new sign companies out there, and to make things as clear as possible and understand that "lettering" is a stand-alone process. It's kind of a verb, too. It speaks of the prod- uct that is being sold, or made, and it also is applied to the process of, or act of pro- viding a set of letters for use on a wall, window, door, whatever. Lettering is not a sign; it is a description of a process, and it also describes the product used in the process of "lettering"… whether it is a vinyl letter, or a channel letter… it becomes a sign once "the set of letters" are installed, and a word(s) is formed that now identifies, points to, describes or warns about something. Everyone has heard this before: "Look at those huge red letters; your sign is so much more readable now." What does the term lettering include? Channel letters; flat, cut-out metal letters; plastic formed letters; cut vinyl letters? The options seem pretty basic and they look like they would be easy to sell to a customer. However, old guys like me have learned over the years (the hard way) that you better know what you are selling before you firmly plant both feet in your mouth and sell a set of letters that can't be built at that size, or installed where the customer wants them. Or even Today the words "graphic" and "digital" have been stirred into so many areas of the sign industry that the term "lettering" is almost lost in translation. Prismatic lettering. Trim cap failure. worse, elements of the letter fail and your client is faced with these examples. Every lettering type has a differ- ent application, a different installation method, and certainly can complement, or take away from the brand, identity or style that the business is trying to por- tray. This is basic design 101, however telling a client that you can get X, Y or Z to match their custom font in their logo could put your butt in a sling when you realize that when dealing with outdoor signage, there are a host of consider- ations that will affect which lettering option you should recommend. Before I go any further, let me set the stage and define the market of which this article is referring to, and that is the outdoor sign market where lettering options are being considered and com- pared for use in outdoor applications, not the inside of a store. Also, it is assumed that we are dealing with scenarios where the client wants a long-term solution, not just a temporary sign. So the sub- ject of longevity, readability, wind load, snow load, red iron and membrane-lined roofs become critical (and costly) details to recognize and work around. Lettering

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