Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marketing Display or neon sign?

There are lots of sign companies.  There are lots of graphic designers.  However, the rarity of on-premise exterior marketing displays is a testament to the artistic talent, craftsmanship, and experience that is required to create signage at this level:

To create a display, that is both artistically compelling, and yet has the raw marketing draw required for a local business - that is truly challenging and rewarding when done right.

That is what makes the difference between a branded experience and a sign.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

National Sign means we do signs in Sacramento, and Kansas City, and Denver, and Boulder, and...

I work for a local company here in the Pacific Northwest.  When I give someone my business card, and it says "National Sign Corporation", I explain to people that we are a family-owned company based in the Puget Sound region with a strong local presence.  However, we do ship signs all over the country, and I don't want to minimize the fact that we have been awarded nationally with both our award-winning designs and our complete sign projects.

Here are a few photos from a project in Roseville, CA.  When you have a beautifully designed shopping center, there needs to be signage that can both attract attention, and cohere to the aesthetics of the experience.

Lit dimensional letters, welcoming to a 'tavern in a shopping center' concept

A lighted facade integrated into an interior patio, with copy 

Night view - the facade becomes a lighted display!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Michael Antonelli

Wanted to pass on this sad news.  One of my fellow employees, Michael Antonelli, apparantly drowned this last fourth of July weekend. The Everett Herald has a brief story here -  Personally, I have fond memories during the too brief time I worked with Mike in the shop.  I also have included the official memo from our company's owners:

Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Mike.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Think of a caption for this photo :-)

Here is a funny sign in Roslyn, WA.  I met someone at a fund-raising event for MDA.  They took this photo.  I'm not going to even attempt a quip to accompany the photo; I'm sure you can think of a few...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Push-Thru letters...

I recently was talking with a business owner who didn't have the space to go with a very large set of channel letters. Push-thru letters are a great alternative. They work great for viewing from a 25-50 yd range in medium traffic (30-40 mph). They also do not have the cost associations of channel letters, and most important, they look beautiful!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fundraising Event

I got stuck in a fundraiser for MDA - muscular dystrophy organization. Luckily, I have a personal connection with MDA as it runs in my family. I have 1 uncle and 5 cousins who died from muscular dystrophy. My mom didn't have me until she was 40, because she was afraid of having a son with muscular dystrophy.  Also, one of my cousin's grandsons has it now. His great-grandmother, my aunt Blanche Lohner was one of the people who helped start the organization in the late 40s. Please feel free to donate $5-$30 by April 27th. If you donate more than that, I will have to send you a Starbuck's card as a gift.

Here is the link -

Thank you for helping,
Isaac Duke

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Like New - the maintenance advantage

       One of our clients really values well-maintained signage and lighting at their 22 locations.  They understand that in their industry, signage is crucial to their sales.  Yes, they are a QSF(quick service food) franchisee; and yes, they get help from national ad campaigns.

       I had the opportunity to see one of their locations that was situated right next to a major interstate arterial, and it was hopping!  We had recently cleaned their signs, and replaced quite a few outages.  They were located next door to another huge franchisee in this part of the country, and the amount of difference in traffic was like night and day (no pun intended).  The competitor's store was dark, unclean, and generally looked dingy.  Our client's store was bright, spotless, and looked warm and inviting.  Not only was our client's store generating high volumes of drive-thru traffic; the well lit parking spaces were filled with customers.  It was fairly late - about 9:15pm - but the place was busy.

     We definitely can't take all the credit for this store's success, but it was sure a clear example of how well-maintained lighting and signage makes a difference in sales!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Your Best Customer

What makes a great salesman? 

Do they "turn it on" when they get into that important meeting with a "big" client?

Do they only focus on serving their important clients?

It isn't bad to prepare for important customers.  It isn't even bad to focus on how you address them.  However, I am learning that that part is easy if I have a mindset of serving everyone around me all the time.  Whether it is a customer, a fellow employee, my managers, my friends, and yes, my wife, everyone I come into contact with is an opportunity for me to enrich their life in some way.
Good business owners can smell someone who is "turning it on" a mile away.  They know if someone is approaching them to "get" something.  They can sense whether I am trying to use them to get money, or whether I am looking on their cares.  If I am not continually serving everyone I come in contact with, then it will be hard to honestly treat my customers with that integrity.

So, who is my best customer?

The person right in front of me!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another Great video about the value of signage

Here is a link to a great video I found which shows the value of signage -

Another rainy day in the Pacific Northwest

It is another rainy day in the Pacific Northwest today

And now is when all those beautiful channel letter signs, open-face neon, and halo-lit logos stand out among the bleak highways and by-ways of the communities throughout the Puget Sound area.  I have been in the signage business for over 17 years, and I love doing what I do.  There is something so beautiful about a well-crafted sign.

If you are opening a business in the Northwest, or if you are looking to attract more attention to your current locations, take a look at some of the beautiful signs we have fabricated over the years...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The three secrets to sales

1) Listen
2) Listen
3) Listen

There you have it - in three easy steps.  So easy to say, so easy to explain, but sometimes like a blind man writing about color.  Sales is truly a profession, and listening is the craft which is learned. So what to say?

Practice, Practice, Practice.  Don't just turn on your listening skills when talking to a business client, employee, or boss.  Practice with everyone you know - your friends, spouse, children, parents, co-workers, even the barista.  Then, when it is time to hear that tiny phrase that encapsulates what the customer wants, you won't miss it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Selling the Invisible

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern MarketingI have been driving a lot recently; which means I have been a listening a lot to CDs.  One of my favorites is an audiobook - Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith.  This is read by Jeffrey Jones (the emporer in Amadeus and the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). 

There is a simple premise - how do you sell services?  People can't fondle them, see them, hear them, listen to them - they are taking a risk and usually paying a down payment or signing a contract.   How do you calm their fears and dissolve their doubts?

Well, this book has some time-proven answers - simple, yet insightful. One of my favorite quotes is - everything is marketing from the initial phone answer, to the layout of the final invoice; every employee is involved in marketing and sales!

Types of Signage Letters

Types of Signage Letters - Here is a link to a great article on the differences between neon and LED. I pretty much agree with everything in the article. I have heard so many different sides to this argument. However, most of the claims made by one side are due to lack of experience or incomplete research. After thorough application of both neon and LEDs over years and years, they both have advantages - this article puts it very simply.