January 2009

Signs of the Times

Author: Lynne Hummell | Photographer: photography by anne

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign” goes the lyric from the 1970s song by the Five Man Electrical Band. The ubiquitous nature of signage continues into the 21st century and is testament to what the folks at Sign D’Sign in Bluffton already know and promote: People read signs and react to them.

Therein lies the central business philosophy of Sign D’Sign, says owner Mitch Evans. “A sign is one of the most economical marketing tools a business can have,” he said. The initial cost might be a lot higher than a print ad, for instance, but comparatively the sign will be more economical. “A sign does a lot of work and can last a long time,” Evans said.

As an example, Evans said one popular new signage technique is a vehicle wrap, in which most of the surface area of a vehicle’s body is covered with a full-color graphic printed on vinyl. These mobile advertisements typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000, Evans said. “If you expect to drive that vehicle for several years, the cost obviously is spread over that time,” he said. For a $3,000 wrap, the cost over four years, for example, is just $62 per month. Add to that the high visibility of an eye-catching graphic rolling through traffic, and the result can be very effective at a low cost.

More often, though, businesses use traditional signs to market themselves—primarily to mark a location—and Sign D’Sign can provide just about any type of sign that can be dreamed up. “We do all kinds of commercials signs, from Beaufort to Savannah,” Evans said. (A sales office in Savannah adds convenience for Coastal Empire customers.) The list includes on-site company signage, construction site signs, real estate, school and government buildings, retail—any business to business application.

A commercial sign can stand alone, such as on a post or concrete “monument” base, or it can be affixed to a wall or door. Materials and techniques vary widely and include dimensional letters, painted signs, sandblasting, wood signs, lit signs and neon. “We don’t see much neon around here, but it is an option,” he said, alluding to the Hilton Head Island restrictions on outdoor neon.

Knowing those restrictions and other standards is an important part of the service his company offers, Evans said. “We offer the full gamut—design, permitting, manufacture and installation,” he said. The permitting process is a long and tedious one, but required for compliance with town regulations.

Sign D’Sign’s Sean Congleton handles sales, marketing and customer service, including assistance with permitting. “We have a good relationship with the town,” Evans said, “and we work with them to make the (permitting) process easy for the customer.”

Customers just beginning the process of choosing signage will be glad to know that they only need to have an idea of what the purpose of the sign will be. The Sign D’Sign staff, led by manager Debra Cintron, will help with the rest. Congleton will visit the site, take photos, learn what the standards are for the location, and then discuss with the customer particular design ideas, colors, sizes and material choices.

In-house designers then use the customer’s logo, verbiage and lettering ideas to create a computer image of the proposed sign. Upon approval, the production team translates the design to the finished product, which is then installed as the final part of the process.

A customer can take care of other image marketing solutions at the same time. “We also design and produce business cards, interior signage, car signs, whatever the customer needs,” Evans said.

Evans, who moved to the Lowcountry from New Jersey in early 2007, knows from experience that the key to any successful business is customer service. He previously owned a printing company that had a sign division. He remembers that in the late 1980s, machinery became available to make many jobs easier, such as cutting vinyl letters. The sign-making process became similar to printing, with increased speed, quality and personalization. Color options increased, and these days it is almost as economical to use full color as it is to use just one or two colors.

Sign D’Sign’s new large-format digital printer has many uses, Evans said, and can save time and produce higher quality, more personalized products. “We want to be a one-stop shop,” he said, “and we can be because of the breadth of our services, from the smallest business card to the largest sign.”

Though his business is primarily commercial, about half is temporary signage, Evans said. These include site signs for construction projects, such as “future site of …” signage; real estate signs for individual agents; and banners.

“We do a lot of banners,” Evans said. Banners tend to be smaller and used for special events, both commercial and personal. Another category of temporary sign is sponsorship signage such as those used for benefit golf tournaments and similar charity applications.

If a new sign is not feasible, Sign D’Sign can often refurbish the existing one. For example, they recently power-washed and repainted the signs for a local bank. “In better economic times, they might have gotten a new sign,” Evans said.

A lesser-known service offered is the installation of signage that can be shipped here from larger national companies, such as chain stores. “Many of these companies have their signs created in a central location, then shipped out to their various stores,” Evans said. “They often prefer to hire local vendors to install the sign rather than pay an employee to travel.”

No matter the size or scope of the job, it’s all about providing what the customer needs, and doing so in a timely manner. With all the signage options available, “Our specialty is our speed, from order to install,” Evans said. “I pride myself on meeting deadlines, on being dependable and trustworthy.”

Sign D’Sign
39 Persimmon St., Unit 404
Bluffton, SC 29910
Hours Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
513 E. Oglethorpe Ave., Suite K
Savannah, GA 31401
Hours Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm

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