Thursday
Jul292010

Decal Removal Tips 

One of the nice things about vinyl graphics is that unlike paint decals removable.  Most of the time decals can be removed with a simple application of heat. Every once in a while you will get a decal that is very difficult to remove. The photos below show what happens when instead of properly removing decals a U-Haul dealer painted over the decals with latex house paint.  Bad idea.

Below the photos you will find decal removal tips. 

 

When we did the vehicle wrap pre-inspection we discovered that the dealer had painted over the original decals with latex paint. It was quite a mess. Fortunately we were able to remove both the latex paint and the old decals including the adhesive. The photos show the before and after. 

Below is the same truck "After"

If you have a vehicle with vinyl graphics that need to be removed here are some tips:

1. Heat the surface throughly before attempting to peel the vinyl off

2. Pull the graphics at a shallow (10-20 degree) angle. Many times that will allow the vinyl to pull the adhesive off while it is being removed.

3. Take your time! Repeat. Take your time!. Even though you can pull the vinyl faster without taking the adhesive, take your time, pull slowly and try your best to take the adhesive with the vinyl.

4. If you have any adhesive left, use 3M Adhesive cleaner and a little elbow grease.

5. If your graphics are deteriorated so badly that you can not peel them, there are
removal discs available at auto parts stores that will attach to a drill and are good at getting small areas off.

6. Never use a razor!

7. If you have any problems don’t continue, just 
call us or stop by the shop and we will be glad to show you the best way to remove your particular job.

8. If all else fails, we do offer a removal service, just stop by with your vehilce and we will be glad to give you an estimate and schedule you a removal time.

Sunday
Jul252010

A Rant About Spec Work

If you are one of the 99% of clients that does NOT ask us to do spec work, thank you. This post is not for you.  If you are part of the 1% please read on, as we are making some changes that you may be interested in.

From time to time I will have clients that want a design done for their business on spec.  “Spec” is short for a design that is done on speculation. In other words if I do work  on spec there is no guarantee that I will be paid for the work.

  The clients proposal to us usually goes something like this: 

I need a new custom logo for my business, I would like you to do some designs for me to look at, and if I like one I will pay you for it.

or this

Can you send me a few designs for a wrap on my car? If I like one I   will have you do the wrap

Image Graphics does not do artwork on spec. Here is an analogy to help explain why:

Suppose you own a restaurant and I stop in for dinner. Rather than looking at the menu and making a choice I ask your chef to prepare me several different dishes. I will try a little of each one and pay for only the food I like.

That does not seem like a good way to run a restaurant does it? It is not a good way to run a design business either. Unfortunately, I have fallen more than once to the temptation to do spec work on the past. The results?

  • Clients that have taken the proofs, and used them without paying for the design. 
  • Hours spent on research and design that turned out to be fruitless.
  • Paying clients are forced to pay additional overhead time to cover those who do not pay spec work.
  • Many times we have received artwork that other designers did on spec, along with an offer to bid against them using their work.

During an interview Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Computer) paraphrased Paul Rand (Logo Designer) when discussing this very subject. Steve said that Paul told him: 

"I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve the problem for you the best way I know how. And you can use it or not – that’s up to you. You are the client. But you pay me."

Just like any other professional I expect to be paid. If I put my experience, talent, and design skills to work for you, I deserve to be paid for that service. Sometimes the feeling is that a designer just “makes it look nice” or that because the job is done on the computer that it is some kind of video game, or something that is done for fun.

I have spent over half my life sitting at a computer doing one form of design work or another. and while I love doing art, the operative part of the phrase artwork is work. There is a lot more to it than just art. There is research of the clients business, competitors, what makes them unique and a personalized design based on this along with the other parts of the design process.  

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading my diatribe. I am aware that this does not affect 99% of Image Graphics clients. I also recognize the most of the spec work that I have done in the past was not shopped around to other sign shops. It's just that when I see my work going down the road with someone else's name on it, I get a little cranky.

To find our more about why we don’t do spec work click HERE.

 

 

Sunday
Jun062010

Branding on a Budget

In todays marketing world if you own a business large or small you are basically in a war. Competition for market share and shrinking customer budgets has increased dramatically over the past several years. One of the most cost reliable and cost effective methods of increasing your client base is by building and maintaining a strong company brand.

The American Marketing Association defines branding this way: “a name, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers”

What does that mean? Basically, what it comes down to is this, your brand is your identity in the market. It is that simple. For better or worse,  your companies image is largely determined by the appearance of your packaging. 

But, you may say, "I am in a service business,  I don’t have packaging."  When it comes to branding every business has packaging.  It is not simply the wrapper on your burger or the print on a can of soda. Packaging also includes:

 

  • Company logo
  • Business cards, stationary & invoice
  • Company vehicles
  • Website
  • Email address
  • Signage

 

No matter what business you are in, your brand {and therefore the value and quality of the work you do) is determined in part by these factors.  This is something that large companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds have known for years. They spend millions of dollars a year on branding to maintain and grow their respective markets. However effective branding does not require a huge budget. Small businesses that are market savvy realize that even though they can’t afford to spend millions of dollars on branding like large companies, they can no longer rely solely on word of mouth marketing either. Don't misunderstand, word of mouth marketing is fantastic. Here at Image Graphics we track how new clients find us and word of mouth continues to supply us with well over 90% of our clients. However, even word of mouth is helped with effective branding. All of this is intertwined in your customers mind.  

Another thing to keep in mind for the Fayetteville & Ft. Bragg area is that we have thousands of new customers moving in due to BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) and no matter how good your reputation has been over the years, they simply are not aware of it.

Like it or not they WILL make buying decisions based on how your company appears to them, whether it is on your company vehicles, your advertising, your location or your website. Basically however a customer first comes into contact with your company they will form an impression that can be hard to change, so it is vital that the first impression they receive is positive.

What do you do if you have a limited budget but would still like to build your brand? Step one is to lay a good foundation that you can build your brand on. What is the most cornerstone of a good brand? The most important factor in building your brand is your logo. A well designed logo is crucial.  Your company logo speaks volumes - what type of work do you do, are you trustworthy, how professional are you, etc.  Your logo is in most cases the first impression a customer has of your company and can either win over a customer or lose them completely.

  So when it comes to branding on a budget, before anything else make sure your company logo is representative of you, of your work and your products (if applicable).  See the logo design section of this website for more info on the elements of an effective logo design. 

Monday
May312010

Helmet Decals

Is your company doing work at Fort Bragg? If so you probably need hard hat decals. Did you know that Image Graphics can supply you with custom made decals full color and cut to shape in as little as 48 hours? These very same decals can also be printed on 3M Scotchlite reflective vinyl for high visibility and safety at night. 

You can also use these same decals to label your equipment, ladders, tools etc. so there is less likelyhood of an accidental mix up on the jobsite. As a special offer to anyone reading this blog, get a FREE heavy duty truck liscense plate ($35 Value) with any order of 36 or more helmet / equipment decals. This offer is good only thru July 25th 2010 and you MUST mention this blog when ordering. Limit one free liscense plate per order.

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