Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The FIFA World Cup 2014

Well, it’s nearly upon us. The 2014 FIFA world Cup from Brazil. An opportunity for each of the fans from the 32 nations represented to live every moment. Kick or head every ball. Make every tackle. All from the safety of our armchairs or bar stool!

There is a need in us all to support our teams, whatever we might think of their chances and so it is with us.

We’ve put up some of our own banners at work decorated with the cross of St.George. That they might only be up for a week is neither here nor there, they are a statement of intent.


 Forget the banners for a moment, look at that blue sky!!!!

32 nations represented in one competition.

What you might not know, is that Expandasign are represented in more than TWICE that many countries.

So if you’re looking for Global Branding Solutions, as well as local, you need look no further than Expandasign, a born winner. Unlike our boys who will do their best and we’ll still cheer them on!

Good luck England.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Who invented Polyester and the Sewing Machine? We did!

Yes, we did!

By that, I mean, Brits did.

The flying banner and other great products in the Expand A Sign range might have been conceived in Durban, SA, but the original wherewithal was most definitely supplied from this small, and as our comrades in SA continually point out to us, wet island.
My Mum had one like this!
The first sewing machine to combine all the elements of the 1700’s was a device built by English inventor John Fisher in 1844 for processing lace materials. Unfortunately, due to a cock-up filing Fisher's patent at the Patent Office, he didn’t receive due recognition for the modern sewing machine in the subsequent legal wrangles between two other American inventors (Singer and Howe). A theme that still has resonance today, but I mustn’t digress!

There was no legal dispute however when it came to Polyester.
Under a powerful microscope, obviously!

The first production and patent for a polyester fibre (they called it Terylene) was developed by the chemist John Whinfield and James Dickson in 1941.

But it doesn’t stop there with innovation.

At Expand A Sign, we’re still producing patented products, gaining design awards and are continuing to spend tens of thousands on product development. You might not know for example, unless I’ve already told you, that we weave and treat our own fabric (more patents) and employ a couple of bone fide Chemists full time for this particular part of our manufacturing process.

So, if you want to work with innovators and feel confident in your Branding Solutions, then give us a call and we’ll make sure your Brand stands out from the crowd.


And thanks Wikipedia for sharing too.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Can your Brand afford to buy cheap?

How is this helping the Brand?
"I'm fairly sure I can get that cheaper!" This is an exclamation we occasionally get. We had it more than occasionally at the height of the recession that the country seems to just be crawling out of. The consequences of actions based on this premise on Brand image are now becoming apparent.

To examine the circumstances of how we get to this type of exclamation we need to look at 2 things. The business driver’s for it and then the personalities behind it.

For the personalities, although there are grades from one end of the spectrum (not paying whatever you tell me even if it’s below what I’m willing to pay) through to the other (yep, that’s fine) the difficulties are at the former end of the spectrum but, more time, explanation and effort goes into the latter as people don’t want to abuse trust at this end! At the ‘won’t pay that’ end, then no explanation for the differences in pricing will win the day, even if not measuring like-for-like.

Both these personalities exist in Small companies and large corporations alike and, we all work for and with them all.
This is just not getting the Brand message across I'm afraid!

The business driver’s are a little different.

In the good times, that is any time not in recession, purchase decisions are made on quality, price and delivery. Delivery being not just a time issue but the going about it to make life easier for the client and the ability to get it right first time.

These are given, more or less, equal weighting.

So, in bad times, these weightings are changed so that quality is sacrificed at the Alter of price, and delivery is left alone (you might think). Clients like to kid themselves they’re getting exactly the same and will tell us so but we and, more importantly they, know this is not so!

If it were so, why would they come back to us when they can see good times ahead?

So, if the image of your Brand can afford to take a dip in the bad times, then please do buy cheap. If it can’t, then apply your own Brand values to the purchasing decision.

One of our longest standing Charity client's favourite phrases is “We can’t afford to buy cheap”. That’s a very strong statement when you’ve got a finite budget!
So if you want real Brand value for money, have a look at our banners and Branding Solutions.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Is English important?

Listening to the radio the past couple of mornings on my drive to work (about an hour and a quarter!), there has been a lot of chatter regarding the teaching of English.

New government rules mean kids taking GCSE’s will need a better understanding of English to get the best grades.

Some teachers believe this is putting more obstacles in the way of our children getting the best grades and that, for example, students studying science “do not need to have a good understanding of English”!

I’d like to consider that for a moment.

If we told our learners that they didn’t have to know how to spell correctly then the written word would, in time, become redundant. The same would be true for grammar, pronunciation and punctuation.

Whilst I will freely admit to making errors with both the spoken and written word (I trained as a designer and we have ‘previous’ with our lack of discipline in this area!) I still try hard to get it right, even half a century after I first started my learning journey.

If we only had the spoken word, think of the implications.

signs become pointless
No road signs. (Safety would be compromised, so not good!)
No more great literature.
No more computers (code)
No menu’s (I’m writing this at lunchtime, sorry)
No more just about anything

And, certainly no more messages that all you lovely brand managers want to get across so, no more jobs.
without words, this would never have taken place!
No more flying banners for us to make for you (but we can print quality images so maybe some work still for us) or any other of the great ideas Expandasign can bring to your brand with the printed word.

So, I think English Language does matter. But there again, I am only a designer!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stopping the Sun and the Rain

I don’t want to be a killjoy, but now the ‘monsoon’ season seems to have slowed down somewhat, we still have to think about protecting our heads from above.

Not from the rain, but the Sun.

If you can combine both with the same piece of equipment, then so much the better. If you can perform both these functions while getting across your branding message too, then woohoo, this is just the thing for you.

More companies than ever are using branded Gazebos, in combination with their Flying Banners, to get the corporate message across at their own or other organised events. The key thing here for customers, is that they are getting out there to see you!
 Strong (that's the Gazebo not the 'numpties')

At Expandasign, you know we will always use the best hardware. We have two types of gazebo frame. Standard & Premium. We have all the accessories to go with them like weights, half-wall rails, table sections etc as well as coming in different sizes.
Print to inside, as well as outside.
We also have excellent printing, as you’ve come to expect from us, in both single-sided and double-sided formats.

So if you want to get your message across, inside and out (saves having to cart other printed materials around!) then give us a call and we’ll see how we can help.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Never be afraid to ask

                                                    Sporting Social Hanging Cylindrical

We have, for over 10 years now, had some strange requests from left field as to whether we can do this or that.

Sometimes we have already done, so can point to actual examples.

Often we can say no we don’t, but there’s no reason why not and so do, and on the very odd occasion where we can’t, we will invariably know a man that can.

However, sometimes we get thrown a curved ball that just makes us go Doh! Why aren’t we offering this already?

And so today it was thus. One of our longstanding resellers phoned us and asked if we can print our hanging Cylindrical banners double-sided?

I paused and processed this question.

And this is how it went in my head.

Can we? Of course we can. The same way we make our double-sided Flying Banners? Yep, no reason not to. Will it stop the cylindrical folding properly? No, of course not, don’t be silly. Are there any downsides? No.

This took but a couple of seconds, so I could answer in the affirmative.

Maybe I ought to tell you too that we can also infill the bottom of these Cylindricals too, with or without printing.

                             Clever Retail Use                              Corporate Branding

These are versatile display products to get a message across and with the Exhibition season now getting into full swing, a cost effective solution worthy of consideration.

But the main point to all this is never be afraid to ask if we can do something you can’t find on our website. Maybe you’ll ask for something we should have already thought of too!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

How long will they last? (Or, How to look after your Banners!)

It’s getting to that point in the year again.

The Sun is beginning to slowly, after all that rain, tentatively show itself and spear shafts of light through trees and between buildings.
Enough of all that. What we know is that the outdoor event season will very soon be upon us and we all want it to go as smoothly as possible.

This means for some of us, checking our event equipment to make sure it’s all in good working order.
It’s no different for us and our Flying, Wing and Feather banners. With a little bit of TLC and attention, these will last for still more years to come.

Let’s walk you through some of the checks and small servicing tasks that need to be done.

Firstly, the printed fabric.

Were these last put away in a dry condition? If not, get them out, layout on a flat surface and check that the print is ok and that there is no ink transfer. (if there is, that will be a live with it or, get a new fabric. Sorry!) If just a bit grubby/muddy/slightly mildew they can be washed at 40 degrees on a quick gentle cycle, medium spin.

If you don’t have to do any of this then check around the fabric for any loose threads and that there are no holes, especially in the banding that takes the poles. If there are any here, they’ll have been caused by the band rubbing on another surface so a repeat of this is to be avoided. Smaller than a pole tip they can be stitched. Bigger and it’ll be a new fabric.
         Rolling up a banner fabric & pole set               Banner & poles in their bag
Now the Hardware.

Firstly, make sure you have a full compliment of parts. If you’re unsure, contact us and we’ll let you know what you had and when. Our records go back more than 10 years and we often get called on to use them!

For stakes and any rotating spindle, after cleaning off any caked on mud, make sure they still rotate. A little oil will not go amiss in the bearing and some grease/Vaseline around the base and underside of the spindle will minimise any water getting in.  If necessary, replacements for these items are always in stock as they tend to get ‘lost’ many times more than they are bent or broken!

For pole sets, make sure there are no cracks or breaks that will prevent them being used to full effect. We can replace (as stated in a previous blog) any individual pole section.

Where the poles join together, this method of fixing is a tapered friction joint. The male section should be lightly rubbed down with very fine sandpaper or emery cloth, once a year, to stop them sticking.
Lightly rub the pole joint with fine sandpaper or emery cloth
So, once you done these cursory checks and servicing, you’re ready to for another season. Good Luck.

If you’ve got any top tips that work for you, please share them too. Thanks.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

WHOOSH, up in flames!

An experience, from well over 10 years ago now, of going to see some fabric being tested at a BSI test centre (British Standards Institute) left a lasting impression.

My initial reaction was one of shock as the piece of material being tested literally vanished in a mighty swoosh of flames.

The next reaction was of laughter as the tester (clearly a technician at the top of his game) was a great performer with terrific comic timing. He turned to the group of us immediately the material burnt up and said “Well, that went up like the Hindenburg!”

That dark humour breaks the ice is sometimes a good thing and he judged his audience well as he now had our undivided attention!

This was all to show that there are some things unseen that we all take for granted. We don’t ever think about whether the clothes we are wearing, or the sofa we are sitting on will go up (very quickly) in flames when unexpectedly put to the test.

                                 Bad, very!!                               Good
Fireproofing is one of those unseen things.
“Why would I want my banner fabrics fireproofed when I only use them outside in the rain on this wet Island?”
Not an unreasonable question you could argue. However, we don’t know you will always use our branding solutions outside so we have to make sure there are no unexpected and unwanted surprises for you.
So, we treat all our fabrics, while we are making them, to the most stringent standards, easily passing the B2 test required at the European level.
Yet another example of our, this time unseen, attention to detail.
A pity some of our competitors don’t think like this!!!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

I don’t suppose I can buy replacement parts?

Ah, a question that gets asked more frequently than we’d ever have expected, together with the slightly less familiar “what's the least number of these I can buy?”

This is one we can't even blame on the Bankers. You know, those that caused the global meltdown and made us all tighten our belts and see where we could make economies and make do!

We can't blame them because; we've always been asked these questions.

Our answer has always been unwaveringly, boringly and predictably the same.

“You can buy as few as a single banner. In fact you can buy less than one banner because we will sell you individual components”

This is not a sales ploy. It's just the way we've always been.

We understand that occasionally, things get broken by accident. 

Items can get lost or mislaid, through no-ones intentional fault.

The MD decides a change of corporate design is needed (normally after you've just taken delivery of some new banners and you were not included on that memo!!!)

 A ground-stake and quick-connect pole section.
These are the most frequently replacement requests for ‘lost’ items. The ground stake, because someone forgot to take it out of the ground(!) and any one of many pole sections. This one just happens to be a quick connect base section pole with our Quality Control imprints on to determine batch and date of manufacture.

We got to this level of service not because we were dragged kicking and screaming to it but because, from the outset of our business planning, we believed (and time has borne this out) this is what you as the customer would want and need.

So if you need a replacement pole section or even a new fabric for what you already have, you can feel comfortable in asking for it, so please give us a call.

We can also advise on caring for your banners to make them last longer, which will be a later blog but, feel free to ask us about that anytime.

It's just a shame some of our competitors don't feel the same about your needs!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Higher still, and higher

Sometimes banners at events, whether they are Teardrop, Flying, Feather, Wing or whatever shape imaginable, don’t do the exact job the event organisers are after.

Therefore, some years ago one of our longest standing clients told us that they liked the height of our large banners but didn’t want or need the amount of print area that went with that larger size.

They did however really like the size and print area available on the medium size banners.

“We don’t suppose you have anything that might combine those elements for us. Also, we have looked elsewhere for something but nobody has anything!!”

Two things came out of this.

Firstly, we know that clients will ask around and that’s a good thing. It keeps us on our toes and invariably has a client coming back to us for a solution.

Secondly, we had the solution all along; if only the client had told us they had this issue!! (We do always ask if there’s anything we can do and if the solution fits the bill. If we forget, please remind us!)

The solution was to put the medium Flying Banner fabric onto a large pole set. Simples!
                            The Great Swim                                    Hard Rock Calling

It’s actually a bit more technical than that for us as we have to extend the banding on the banner edge, which is a tapered piece of material (to mirror the tapering of the poles as this makes a better fit, smoother operations etc but, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, this is our attention to detail!) and make some other very minor adjustments but, for the client, it’s that simple.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention, it’s a more cost effective option for the client too!! 

We’re quite pleased our competitors don’t offer these types of client solutions. 
Medium fabrics on EXTRA LARGE pole sets!!  

Yes, there really are some banners in this shot!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Do we need to get that technical? Yes, it’s attention to detail.

It's a funny thing, but when everything is going along tickety-boo, people don't seem to want to know any detail.

As soon as something breaks, we all want to know why, how & what in minute detail, whether we're going to understand it or not.

I'm no different.

However, the smallest details can make a significant difference in how well something does, or doesn't work.
Knowledge and expertise combined with a willingness to look for solutions in places that we wouldn't normally look make those little differences.

We notice these differences with our competitors, who for many years have copied our simple products but, haven't really looked closely enough or, properly understood why we do it that way. They just look for the cheaper, quicker solution for them. Not for you, but for them.

For example, on our Flying Banners (teardrop shaped), we include a thing called a leech line in the straight edge of the material. What does this do, I hear you ask. (I have a vivid imagination)
The leech line exposed

Well, it has a twofold purpose. Firstly it stops the printed banner material being in continuous and varying tension, which is not good for the shape of the print or fabric. Secondly, it stops that straight edge oscillating (I was going to use flapping but I like this word more!) in squally winds and thereby reducing the life of the banner.

                        Nicely tensioned banner        Another nicely tensioned banner

What is it? It's a piece of very tough braided cord that is sewn into the seam of the leading edge of material. A vital small element that's there for the wellbeing and longevity of your banner.

So, do we need to get that technical?

Yes is the answer.

Because if we don't, no-one else, including our competitors, will bother. (To give you the product you deserve!)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

All Banners are double-sided, right? WRONG!

Well it is true that every banner has two sides to it, but that's about as far as it goes and by no way answers a brand managers questions.
What's most important for a Marketing Manager is Brand recognition together with the campaign message.

Now, we can’t all be as well known as Coca-Cola or McDonalds (and we've worked with both of these!) and we can all recognise their logo's whether they're back-to-front, upside-down or even just a slither of the design.
But we're not all as fortunate as that!

So, what to do, what to do?

First, don't be fooled by some of our competitors who will tell you their banners are double-sided when, what they mean, is right-reading one side and a mirror (back-to-front) image on the reverse.
We can print like that too, but better than most as we get around a 95% ink strike through the way we print.

Next, if you want right-reading print to both sides, ask first if the banner company can do this. Ask to see a photo, preferably with the banner in strong light behind it so there's no 'show-through'. Once you've got that, you can move forwards with confidence.
same design, same colours
single and double-sided
We've been producing true double-sided print for well over 8 years now.

We can do this because we've spent vast amounts of money on our own internal R&D Department. Not only this, but we even have our own material coating plant.
And if that weren’t ownership enough of the process, we actually produce our own fabric from yarn to finished product.

2 sides of the same banner

We could be developing an OCD with this, don’t you reckon?

Maybe our competitors should do the same?

It would certainly be better than trying to fool you into thinking they made double-sided print!!!

If you’d like to know more, let us know. We’ll listen to what you and your event needs, not what we can get away with!