Versatile signage that’s cost-effective


Shaving individual store expenses — even if only by a small fraction — can add up to be a very big deal.

That’s why so many businesses struggle when it comes to planning their visual communications and signage. They want the revenue that impactful signage can bring in, but they figure there’s no way to get big results without an equally big budget.

They’d be wrong.

As it turns out, today’s signage materials and technology — when put in the hands of experts — can work magic.

Whether it’s a custom woodwork look that’s light as air and easy to ship or mix-and-match displays, versatile signage allows you to stretch your budget much further than you ever imagined. But there’s a secret to getting the most value… and the most impressive results.

Here are some insider secrets to getting the most versatile, cost-effective, and impactful signage possible from our experts.

The big secret to the best value

Many brands don’t realize that the earlier in the process their print production company is brought in, the more value we can bring to the table.

At Imagine, we are the subject matter experts on substrates and production methods. We’re in the business of knowing that if we move a router blade down a quarter of an inch, we can fold a 3D display flat. So if we’re brought in during the ideation stage, you can consult with us and find out that the amazing idea you dismissed as impossible is possible… and more affordable than you might have thought.

If a company simply sends us a grid or spec and asks us to submit a bid, they’ve already missed out on opportunities for our team to design and configure the pieces in a way that will not only be more versatile but also will save on the total production costs.

“Cheap” versus cost-effective

To save money on signage that changes often, many stores will make the mistake of demanding the cheapest materials available. But when you look at the complete picture, you see where an alternative decision could actually be more cost-effective and look so much better.

For example, we had a client who was doing basic, 48’x 96’ paper signage because it was so inexpensive. But because the signage had to be replaced so often, they were paying for shipping all the time.

We showed them that they’d actually save money with a more premium — and reusable — material. Now, not only are they saving on shipping, but the store also has a more premium look and is more sustainable. Multiply that decision by 15,000 stores and the numbers get very real, very quickly, adding up to thousands of dollars in savings.

When you work with people who have mastered their equipment, materials, and their craft, you get innovative ideas — and a lot more value.”

Spotting savings — and ways to wow

Every project is different. And every client is different. So how we save money can’t be boiled down to a formula.

Instead, we stretch our expertise muscles and uncover opportunities where we can.

For instance, we’ve done “hub and spoke” shipping for one client because production was done in Chicago… but 90% of their kits are going to California. Instead of shipping each kit to each individual store, which would be expensive, we bulk shipped to a facility in that state, where the pallets could be broken up and individually shipped at a much lower cost.

Typically, the areas in which we can find efficiencies are in shipping, design, materials, and labor/installs.

Because of our experience, we know labor hours for installing displays can be limited — and the final product must look great. So, we can combine materials and techniques to deliver a premium product that meets the customer’s needs and is simple and quick to assemble and install.

Here’s a great example: We created a “wood” wainscoting wall out of incredibly light and economical foam core. Not only did it ship flat and only take a few minutes (and four pieces of tape) to install, it looked so high-end, it fooled the CMO. It completely transformed the look of the store but can easily be removed and stored if the client wants to try a different look for a while.

When you work with people who have mastered their equipment, materials, and their craft, you get innovative ideas — and a lot more value.

A hybrid approach

Another way we save people money is re-engineering the base design of their display instead of creating something brand new.

For a few clients, we’ve retrofitted existing fixtures to freshen up the signage. We can create displays that are impactful and durable, but that include some sections that can easily be swapped out whenever you like. We can also make some panels magnet-receptive, so you can use those in a different way when needed.

The ideal process

Instead of simply saying, “We need this sign and that sign,” stop first and really figure out what it is that you want to accomplish with your signage.

A few questions you may consider include:

  • What are your goals?
  • What is the environment?
  • Are there larger business objectives, like sustainability, that need to be met?

By asking those questions, you might realize that the way you’ve always done things doesn’t actually serve those goals.

Then, bring those goals to your vendor. During the meeting, be open — and don’t hold back. Ask the “silly” questions that pop up. Bring up the idea you saw and loved but figure you can’t do because it’s over budget. Talk about the overall vision and feel… without worrying about the “how.”

That initial meeting is the time to dream big, but make sure the vendor knows your budget. A good strategic partner should come back with a variety of ideas and options to help you achieve your goals — but they should be attainable.

Here at Imagine, we can offer good/better/best options, so our customers can select what they see as the best value. No matter which one they choose, every option will meet the client’s goals.

Many of our clients choose elements from each option, which allows us to give them exactly what they want.

The key to getting a high-impact look? Keep the focus on the goals, the budget, and the vision. The right partner will be able to take it from there.”

Putting it into practice

One client had about 18 iterations of their end cap signage out in the field. We pointed out that their versioning cost was quite high because of this, and that they would save a lot of money if we could print all signs in one run.

That encouraged them to take a deeper look at how many different materials they used for signs, which made them recognize the need for standardization.

We looked at several options. At the high end, we considered all metal construction with fabricated channels that would allow signage to slide in and out. A lower-cost option involved a heavy plastic backer or sandwiched corrugated plastic board with a magnetic surface. Any of these options would work beautifully and look great.

Every retailer wants their signage to pack a punch, but they’re often constrained by budget (for example, most retailers have about $2 per end cap right now).

The key to getting a high-impact look? Keep the focus on the goals, the budget, and the vision. The right partner will be able to take it from there.


Want standout signage that exceeds your expectations and helps you meet your goals? We can help!

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Connect with a team member today and craft a better way to communicate your message.

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