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Sell more than the truck lettering

Thursday, April 11, 2013

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.


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Comments  3

  • Isaac 12 Apr

    I think these type of graphics, eventhough they are great to look at, cause the opposite for a business.  When the small business owner tries to reproduce this type of logo they come to realize how expensive it is to produce so many colors. Eventually they will be forced to downgrade their image and in this competitive world, one very important factor is continuity.  I believe that if we are going to help the small business owner we need to think about more than just pretty vehicle graphics and think about the different applications it will eventually have.

  • Dino Lawrence 12 Apr

    Too Many Colors?   Ah...thats were the designer shows how ,as Brian Schofield says."if it won't work in black & white" ...it wasn't strong enough to begin with". With digital printing ,that doesn't apply anyway.We build a solid original image in black & white...and depending on the application, add colors -effects.We do plenty of one color on color T-Shirt designs without losing the 'signature image' .It HAS to work in one color...newspaper ads, fax, check imprinting .afforable one color promo printing. Do the design right the first time and don't work backwords. That all bells and whistles logo ,almost illegable, was usually done to pump up a weak "point & click" design to make up for lack of creativity.When it gets broken down to black & white, it will always fail.

  • Nick Marandola 12 Apr

    Hi Rich,

    Well done I have been following your progression in the sign industry for years in terms
    of your marketing and business strategies along with Dan A. I have always believed in
    branding businesses effectively will achieve great results for your customers. I have run my business for years on customers not being able to afford this color that image etc
    and have always struggling. One day the penny dropped, I went after better clientele
    changed my thinking to different marketing strategies joined network groups etc became not just a tradesman but was also involved in the business side of the sign a game.My point is if you market your product being signage and you offer a great but I mean great service and and product stand out from the crowd with a difference, you will not attract customers that can't afford multi color logos and high end work you will attack a higher end.

    I would like to thank Rich and Dan for their contribution to sign craft keep up the great work, without you guys in the sign trade making a difference we would always do what we have always done.

    Thanx heaps



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