December 30, 2012

Misconceptions of Magnetic Signs Part 1

Magnetic signs in snow
Our company car with magnets installed.
Let me begin by saying that I have been in the magnetic sign industry for many years. I would consider myself to be very knowledgeable as to what new technologies and trends that take place within the magnetic sign industry, as well as having a pulse to the changes that have occurred over the years. There are a few negative rumors circulating regarding our industry that I have found frustrating, to say the least. The countless hours I have spent, recently addressing unfounded concerns from my customers are becoming somewhat overwhelming. I would like to outline and discuss these rumors and common misconceptions circulating around about magnetic advertising signs in order to inform my customers, as well as other small business owners that have been swayed from considering vehicle magnets. I will be doing this in a series of posts, but to start off, I will go a little into how we got started and include a short story about a conversation I had with a past client.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to one of my customers who purchased signs from us many years ago when we were just getting our magnetic sign business off the ground. I had left a prominent Art Director position in Indianapolis to start my own company selling magnetic signs out of the back bedroom of my small house in Bloomington, Indiana. At the time, I had a 2 hour a day commute, and could not stand to be away from wife and child. I was working long hours in an art room that was understaffed creating ads and for companies like Coca Cola, Victoria’s Secret, and Burger King. It made more sense to me to start a small business that could help other small businesses afford great signage at an affordable cost.

Installing magnetic signs
Re installing our magnetic signs after cleaning.
The previously mentioned customer had purchased magnets for their whole fleet of trucks about a week after I had left my position. This particular client was one of my first big orders, and I was so pleased to hear upon receipt of their order that they absolutely loved their magnetic car signs. All of a sudden I was hooked on getting this type of feedback. Around 5 years later, he decided that it was time to replace his signs, and as I had learned later, one of his associates had suggested a different company who was locally owned. He agreed to look into it, and ended up going with adhesive vinyl graphics that were installed at the local shop instead of the magnetic signs. He told me the shop owner convinced him to go with vinyl graphics over the removable magnetic signs for his fleet, and that was his first mistake. According to him, the artwork used on his vehicles "came out great", the trucks looked just the way he wanted. He said it ended up being more costly after installation, but all in all he was happy. It was 2 years later that he had decided to do some re-branding and realized why magnets were the better option for his business. He had a graphic artist come up with a new logo and tag line for his business. He also began offering new services, and did away with some of the outdated services he had performed in the past. He went back to the sign shop that had originally installed his vinyl graphics for an estimate for the new ones. After the removal of the existing graphics and installation of the new, his costs were much higher than the first time he had the vinyl installed of the old logo. The client also included a promotion on the new vinyl graphic installation that he thought he would run for a few years. Again, he was satisfied with the vinyl graphics the second time. It wasn’t until fuel prices went up considerably, that he had to do away with the promotion. He went back to have the promotional part of the vinyl removed. When removed, the paint below the adhesive lettering had stayed in perfection condition, the rest of the vehicle had begun to oxidize and where the letters used to be, stood out on the vehicle like a sore thumb. This left him in between a rock and a hard spot. It was nearing the time that he would purchase new vehicles, to trade them in or sell them outright, would be more difficult due to the burned ghost image the vinyl had created by using vinyl lettering on his trucks. He went ahead and purchased blank magnetic sheets from the same local shop to cover the ghosted image of his old promotion until he was ready to buy the new trucks. The blank magnets he purchased were different, not made in the USA and were obviously of less quality that the original magnets he bought from us, way back when I had just started Accent Signs & Graphics. He said the back was glossy, and the blank signs kept curling up or just flying off at normal town driving speeds. This leads us to the conversation I had with him last week. He had called me back after all that time to get a quote on magnetic signs for his new trucks. He explained to me his decisions, and what reason swayed him to go with the vinyl graphics in the first place. At the time, he did not foresee having to change his logo or services, or needing to stop his long running promotion for new clients. He came back to us for his magnets and his new signs are installed on his new trucks. He went with a die cut magnetic signs that practically replicates the look of the permanent vinyl graphics. He plans to order more magnets in the spring to advertise his seasonal promotions. He believes that this will give him greater flexibility with his marketing ideas by having the ability to use different signs illustrating specific services for each season. He does snow plowing in the winter, lawn care in the spring. This is a perfect example of why magnetic signs are a perfect alternative to adhesive vinyl graphics, especially for small business owners. Remove, reuse, re-brand… On the fly!

When purchasing magnetic signs, please make sure you are fully educated on the quality of the sheeting, the print production method, and the company you are purchasing them from.
The first thing to look for is magnetic sheeting with a 030 mil thickness. Thicker, is not better with magnetic sheeting. The thicker magnet does not have as many magnetic poles per square inch as the 030 mil, yet it has to hold more weight to the vehicle. The chances of losing a sign are greater with the thicker sheeting. In addition, the thicker sheeting has more wind resistance than the thinner sheeting. You will also want to steer clear of anything less than 030 sheeting, as it does not have enough of a pull rating to keep the signs from flying away. Magnetic signs can be printed in a number of ways. Most companies will use a digital printer, screen printer, or die cut adhesive vinyl to create your signs from. If ordering digitally printed signs, be sure to ask if the company uses UV inks, and a UV laminate. Screen printed signs are great for short term use, as they tend to fade quickly. Adhesive vinyl signs are made from die cut outdoor vinyl that is applied to the magnetic sheeting. There are many types of vinyl that shops can choose from. You will want to make sure that the vinyl is high quality enough to last 5-7 years outdoors. Always check into your sign company prior to making a purchase. Ask for references from previous clients, look them up online at Look up their years in business and when possible speak to their clients about their experiences. (review sites are easily manipulated, we suggest contact one of their customers directly) The only reason your magnetic signs would not last 3-5 years outdoors would be do to failure to follow the care and cleaning instructions that should be included in every magnetic signs order you place regardless of vendor. You should never put your signs on and forget about them. The do require some care, but it’s easy and we have discussed this in an earlier blog post under Care and Cleaning. 

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