8 ways to ramp up your flat sign designs

By signcraft

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

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In the recent SignCraft feature on Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs Inc., Palmerton, Pennsylvania, we noticed how many great-looking signs he did on flat panels. Brian mentioned that clients often come looking for a 3-D sign then decide it is beyond their budget. He converts these sales to upscale flat signs that deliver a lot of impact for his clients and excellent profits for his shop. We asked Braun to tell us more about his approach so that we could pass it along to you.

“Usually when a customer comes into the shop,” says Braun, “it’s because they’ve seen my dimensional work out in the field and they want something comparable. I usually end up working up a price on a dimensional sign because that is what they believe they need.”

But he’s ready with a price for a flat version of the sign when the cost of a dimensional sign is out of reach. A lot of his dimensional signs are for country clubs and resorts who have more resources than the average customer.

“Instead of allowing a customer to possibly walk out the door disappointed and with nothing,” Braun says, “I show them how they can walk away happy, within their budget, and with a sign that does the trick.”

Braun has found 8 easy ways to make that happen, giving a custom 3-D look to signs done on flat panels:

Use a panel. Besides helping you manage the copy, a panel in a contrasting color can add a 3-D effect.

Add a shadow. Experiment a little—try a heavy outline with an in-shade on the lettering or a cast shadow beside it. Or, a pale pencil thin shadow on the main copy. There are a lot of cool shadow effects to play with. It can be on the lettering or on the panel or both.

Try a layer. Look for one element that could be cut out and applied to the main panel, like the logo graphic. Or create the look of layers on the whole sign by adding a layer behind the edges extending out a little.

Effects can help. Adding a convex effect to the primary copy or a chrome effect outline works well. Using a chrome or gold effect border on a panel does, too. Use these effects sparingly, though.

Have something in the background. A pale image in the background can make the lettering appear to be raised, or push the lettering toward the viewer. A fade, blend or texture can do the same thing.

Cut it to shape. Maybe an interesting panel design, or maybe just slice off something to get away from the standard 4-by-8 format. Or, maybe cut a 4-by-10 down to 3-by-10.

Keep the primary copy strong. This is true for any sign—flat, 3-D or on a vehicle—but it’s worth repeating. It’s the most important copy, so why not make it obvious that it’s important?

Not every customer can afford a custom 3-D sign, but that doesn’t mean they won’t stretch their budget for a custom flat sign. These signs are just as profitable for a sign shop, and make great advertising for the customer.

Don’t miss Braun’s complete article in the September/October issue of SignCraft, with more photos and more details on his approach. Subscribe today.

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