Most small businesses lack a cohesive image. Yet more than ever they have to compete with chains and franchises who often do a great job of creating a strong image (i.e., brand) for themselves. Compared to that, the owner-operated business can look pretty mish-mash.
Inconsistent generic signage on their vehicles and building, a business card that matches neither, a clunky website and lost opportunities to create a look that communicates who they are—it all adds to the chaos. What they really need to do is present themselves as professionals.
Rich Dombey, Rich Designs, Hillsborough, New Jersey, is a prime example of the sign shops who use their design skills to help small businesses create a professional image. It’s also a very successful approach for the shop.
Rich’s roots are in what many call Jersey-style truck lettering, which has been talked about in SignCraft a lot over the years. A curious combination of state law (New Jersey has long required that all commercial vehicles be lettered) race car graphics and rock-and-roll album cover design happened there forty years ago.
If it wasn’t created solely by Glen Weisgerber [GlenDesigns, Edison, NJ], this style was surely refined by him. He inspired a generation of sign people with his stunningly innovative work. They honed it into their own styles and built on his work. As they say, the rest is history.
Rich, rather than lettering a truck job then selling the client a logo based on that, now sells the design and a package of uses for it: trucks, stationery, yard signs, t-shirts, a website and whatever else they need to compete.
“Our goal is to create a cohesive image for our clients,” Rich says. “We know they need that to be as successful as they can be. We want them to look like professionals—like the right company for the job. And that means that every opportunity to build that image gets taken advantage of, from the website to the vehicles.”
After getting a feel for the business (and getting a substantial deposit), Rich does two designs for the owner to choose from. He presents that as a package that shows them the new designs and how they could take advantage of them.
As for the designs, Rich says he’s held on to his old-school roots. His goal is for the design to be easy to read and appealing to view.
“This is a great thing,” says Rich. “We can ramp up a client's business and get their phone ringing more often. We can be part of their success. We still need our ego scratched a little every day, and this work does that.”
You’ll find much more on Rich’s approach and lots of great examples of his work in the May/June 2013 issue of SignCraft. Click here to subscribe.