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Sign Design – Raster vs. Vector Art & Resolution

Have you ever tried designing something on the computer? It’s not as easy as you would think! Graphic design has come so far from hand-drawn thumbnail sketches. Sketching out your ideas on a piece of paper is simple and un-constricting. However, if you want to transfer than design to the computer so you can further manipulate the artwork, you must understand the program you’re working in. The most basic way to get your design on the computer is to simply scan it or take a picture with your phone (smartphone) and upload it onto your computer. Modern sign design is like this, except the graphic designer needs to be able to edit and manipulate every element of the design. Customers who already have artwork (for example photos, logos, text) can send these files to the designer who can then use their skills and knowledge to adjust your artwork and design your sign or vehicle wrap.


Understanding Vector and Raster Artwork

Consider the size of a business card. Now think about the size of a billboard. There is a huge difference in size between those two products. The artwork (size) for the business card cannot possibly work for the billboard. That has everything to do with the format of the artwork in the file. Vector artwork (a term known very well by graphic designers) is the best to work within large-scale printing because it can be used for small-scale printing and large-scale printing. Vector artwork is created using special software programs. Vector art is made of points and lines; elements that scale to any size without losing clarity. Vector artwork is ideal and necessary for large-format printing. On the other hand, Raster artwork is made of tiny squares called pixels. Any image you look at on a screen (your phone, television or computer monitor) is a raster graphic. Raster graphics can absolutely work for large-format printing, but the image must be high resolution. Here’s a graphic to help understand vector vs. raster artwork:


Vector vs. Raster Graphics

Vector vs. Raster Graphics

Understanding Resolution

Raster artwork is made of tiny squares called pixels. Pixels are like puzzle pieces, that when arranged correctly and put together make a picture. You can see individual pixels if you zoom in as close as possible in an image. Resolution is the term used to explain how many pixels make up an image. Low resolution means that the image you’re looking at has fewer pixels per square inch. High resolution means that the image has more pixels per inch. It’s important to know, however, that you can’t simply convert a low-resolution image to a high-resolution image. Only high-resolution can be converted to low-resolution, not low to high. Low-resolution images are ideal for designing for a screen (like a website) or small-format printing (like business cards). High-resolution images mean a larger file, but they are necessary for large-format printing.

Vector vs. Raster

Image Zoomed in to show pixels

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Company Sign Design Fort Collins – Top 5 Sign Design Mistakes

A sign’s job is simple. It tells customers or the general public who you are, what you do, where you are, and how to contact you. A sign is functional and completely necessary in terms of establishing an identity or brand. A sign’s job is never-ending. Workers clock out at 5, but a sign works 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Since a sign is so important, might as well make it attractive and easy to read. And while you will want your sign to stand out and be original, you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Here are the top 5 sign design mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Do not use a business card design as your sign. Signs need to be direct in the information that they are providing. Using a business card layout for a sign usually crowds the sign and makes it hard to read. When you are driving by businesses at 45 MPH you don’t have time to read their tagline and mission statement. You’re looking for a service and a logo/name. Keep it simple.
  2. Do not use a refurbished piece of plywood or metal as your sign. Even if you paint and re-finish the piece of plywood, that finish will not last long. Within a year you could find yourself in deep trouble with the upkeep of that sign. Having a permanent sign made out of the right materials will cost more, but is an imperative investment if you want to be taken seriously.
  3. Do not use a banner as a permanent sign. While a vinyl banner is inexpensive and works well for advertising specials or temporary information, you shouldn’t use it as your permanent sign. If you, as a business owner, want your business to be taken seriously you need to look into investing in a permanent, sturdy sign.
  4. Do not use light colors on a white background or dark colors on a black background. These designs may look great close-up, but step back and imagine moving past your design in a moving vehicle.  The chart at the end of this article is good to use for picking color combinations.
  5. Keep the whole design of the sign SIMPLE, the design of your sign relays an instant, functional message to the viewer. A graphic design professional that is trained in advertising and effective sign design will get the proper message displayed.
  6. As budgets allow, show your potential customers how serious you are in your business – Lighted channel letters, an architectural monument sign, exterior dimensional letters mounted to your building – these are all types of signage that show everyone, including your competition, that you are in the business for keeps! Potential customers see the business as a stable and trustworthy establishment that they want to do business with.

Connecting Signs is your trusted partner in Northern Colorado for all signage needs. We specialize in large format printing, vehicle graphics, interior directional sign panels, ADA signs, lobby signs, banners, monument signs, and dimensional letters.

Contact us and we’ll be your trusted partner to get your business the attention it deserves. We truly believe that the only way for us to be successful, is if your business is successful!

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Branding basics for your small business

// // Branding basics for your small business//

As a small business owner, you spend many hours thinking and working on many different aspects of running your own shop, and getting to the profitability stage should be your main goal… You know that your customer service will be un-matched, and you’re confident your products will shine amongst competitors – but HOW do you get your brand to reflect what sets you apart, gets noticed, and customers wanting your products and services? Here’s a few simple branding tips that will help get you well on your way to building your brand in your community – whether it be Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Denver or Cheyenne.

  • A brand is a brand – Your brand isnt about your customers choosing you over your competitors, rather it’s about them seeing you as the solution to their problem. This means that you clearly need to research the wants and needs of your customers and prospects, and determine how your brand can personify your solution for them. Don’t rely on what you think they need, you need to know what they’re thinking. At some point, everyone will quickly recognize your company’s brand and emotionally respond to your message.
  • Lego my Logo – Wouldnt it be cool to have a logo so popular (like sports teams, sports apparrel, etc.) that complete strangers would pay to show it off! Companies that have achieved this (like sports apparel manufacturers) spent millions on getting their logo to that level of notoriety, and it will probably never happen for the small business – but it’s fun to dream anyway :). It does though, underscore the importance of a nice simple, recognizable design.
  • Ha-ha very funny – Laughter is the best medicine, right? Although keeping things light can work in some instances with a company’s branding and logo, make sure it matches what your firm does. If it’s a little over the top your prospective buyers may not take you seriously. Law firms, financial advisors, insurance companies, etc. probably don’t benefit too much from a logo featuring a cartoon character in a straw hat. On the other hand, a local rafting company’s brand/logo doesn’t need to look like something that a big corporation would have.
  • Tag, your “it”! – Develop a tagline that personifies your brand in a meaningful and concise way. It should work together with your logo since the two will be together all the time. Your logo and tagline is the one-two punch that defines your small business’s brand in a manner of seconds – it should be easy to remember, and tell complete strangers what defines your company.
  • Constantly consistant – Make sure your brand is always shown in a consistan manner – on business cards, letterhead, signs, web site, social media pages, uniforms, vehicle graphics, and all forms of advertisment. Being consistent in your branding and customer experience is key for real, honest buy-in from everyone that interacts with your small business.

The main thing to remember is that your brand is what sets you apart from the guy down the street. It shows what your business is about, what’s important, and who you stand for.