There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to small dimensional signs–not the least of which is that you should expect to charge the same amount for the labor for a small sign as you would for a much larger sign. Possibly even more. This may not apply to small one-dimensional, one-color signs, but it’s especially true for small dimensional signs that entail at least a modest amount of detail.
I have found this to be true straight across the board, but it takes doing a few to really understand the concept. Maybe it’s the loss of profits that really drives this point home. Because a sign is small the client will not always understand this very real certainty, so getting what the sign is worth can oftentimes be difficult. Most of the time we as designers and sign makers are distanced from this issue, because most customers don’t want a small sign. The implication of a small sign is that “I don’t need to be seen.” or “My business is not that important.”
But sometimes there’s that situation where the client occupies an outlet where there is no choice. In these cases, we cannot sell our design and fabrication services simply based on square footage. This is because in many instances, design time and fabrication time tend to have little to do with the size of the sign.
The folks at Potters Books found themselves in that situation, as there is only one place on the storefront for a sign to be hung and it is on the fascia of the building. The space available measures 12" x 8' and this is a retail outlet that needs to compete in a busy tourist area.
I wanted to design a sign that would catch the eyes of the walking public and give the client as much value as possible for their money spent. I believe I achieved this. But I will be honest in also saying that we didn’t profit as well on this job as we should have, although we certainly did better than we had in the past with detailed small work such as this. There was not a big profit here but we came out okay on this one–mainly because I calculated the difficulties with production and made every effort in the design to counter those difficulties as much as possible. Fitting the small router bits within the design was something I had to take time and get right before I proceeded and although that stage was probably the profit killer it made the rest of the production go so fast I think it was worth it!
Sometimes in cases like this I like to rationalize how we can simply allocate the losses to our marketing strategy. What I mean by this is that if the sign can sell more signs, then in fact it is profitable in the long run. So, to some degree as a marketing strategy, it is a good business move. (How’s that for a rationalization?!)
In all seriousness we must charge accordingly with these often ignored small projects. After all, if they are designed effectively they can sell more product–as well as a bigger sign. So, the value is truly there! Follow along with the photos here to see how I made efforts to tame the unforgiving small dimensional sign and this time I did walk away with the shirt on my back.
Until next time…Thanks for listening!