New and unique applications prove attractive.
BUSINESSES BOTH LARGE and small turn personal cars and trucks into business vehicles thanks to ubiquitous, easy-to-apply magnetic door-panel signs. School booster groups of every stripe, from marching bands to hockey teams, convey their pride with bumper magnets. Perhaps most commonly, professionals from every field — think realtors, vets, plumbers and electricians — share important contact info on helpful, easy-to-hand-out magnets that dot refrigerators across America.
While there will always be a demand for these familiar types of magnetic messaging, some sign companies have begun thinking out of the box — or, in this case, off the car or fridge — when it comes to magnetic media uses. Here’s how two companies are making the most of magnetic signs.
MODIFICATION MADE EASY
There’s no denying the application ease of magnets. Clients can easily stick them up and, when it’s time to change, peel them off and replace them in seconds. Unlike traditional signs, which often require specialized machinery or expertise to install or change, any employee at a client site can confidently modify a magnet sign. This simple flexibility makes magnet signs an attractive option for clients in retail who desire advertising adaptable enough to showcase multiple, changing brands or varied, seasonal products and sales.
Shaw PPC Design based in Novi, MI, has developed numerous magnet signs for major national retailers such as Cabela’s, as well as grocery chain clients including Michigan-based Busch’s Fresh Food Market and Food City, which operates in several states across the US.
Recently, Shaw created eye-catching, beer-bottle-cap-shaped signs — to be positioned over the grocery stores’ newly designed upscale beer and wine departments — formed from ABS molded plastic layered with a magnetic fronting. Clients can then order customized magnet “tops” for the beer caps, which Shaw prints in-house, featuring logos of various beer brands they want to showcase.
This new signage option has become a welcome source of revenue for the grocery chains. “It allows the stores to sell those spots as advertising,” said Don Schroeder, program director with Shaw PPC Design. “Whether it’s Miller Lite or a local beer brand, distributors can come in and sign one-year leases for a logo spot — and then the stores can easily change them out with a quick magnetic switch when the term is finished.”
The magnetic sales floor signs Shaw has designed for Cabela’s Outpost stores also capitalize on magnets’ flexibility and ease of use. To showcase Cabela’s range of seasonal outdoor fashion, Shaw created magnetic signs that mimic framed photographs, which hang on the sales-floor walls. As seasons change, the stores can simply replace the magnetized interior photograph accordingly.
Because the magnetic signs are lightweight and easy to ship to stores, they’re a very cost-effective option when new signs are needed. While Schroeder estimates that magnetic signs may cost roughly 20 percent more than traditional vinyl signs, clients recoup their investment — and then some — in savings when ease of sign modification is considered.
“It saves the stores a ton of money, because rather than changing out the entire graphic — as well as bringing in professional sign installers and having to do it at night — the new magnet signs can just get shipped straight to the store to be changed out seasonally,” Schroeder said. “Once they arrive at the store, the store manager — or whoever — can swap them out easily in minutes.”
Magnets can also easily transform a potential eyesore into a trendy and attractive space.
Indianapolis-based sign company Eye 4 Group worked with Rhelm, a student housing community in Pensacola, FL, near the University of West Florida, to transform a standard shipping container into an inviting build-site leasing office.
The client wanted to beautify the shipping container — but in a way that wouldn’t damage it, since they faced charges upon its return for any damages to its walls. This constraint meant traditional sign panels — which require drilling; or vinyl wraps, which could have left adhesive residue — were not viable options.
Magnets were the solution. Eye 4 Group designed a series of panels to mimic boxwood hedges that would cover the exterior of the container. To create these, Eye 4 fabricated aluminum composite material (ACM) panels and covered them in artificial turf. They then used multiple high-powered magnetic disks to affix a cross-bar system on which the panels were mounted — without harming or altering the container.
“Basically, each 4 x 8-ft. panel used six magnets that held the panel in place and allowed us to apply graphics,” said J.R. Knight, Eye 4 Group’s CEO. Once the lease period was complete, the application was easy to remove and left no damage to the shipping container itself. “We were able to quickly take the hardware and the panels down and salvage the magnets for a future project,” Knight said.
Since the Rhelm project, Eye 4 Group has used a similar magnetic system — this time using magnets with hooks and vinyl printed panels with grommets — to attach signage on a shipping container for a client in Texas.
Eye 4 Group has also created custom interior magnetic signs for clients including RPM Pizza, a large Domino’s Pizza franchisee whose Midwest Division is based in Indianapolis. For this client, Eye 4 was asked to develop an entire magnetic dry-erase board wall on which the company could use magnetic frames to showcase goals, achievements and other important announcements.
Knight and his team approached the project in layers, first adding a magnetic adhesive material to the wall and then topping that with a vinyl graphic wrap to showcase the client’s logo. “It looked like a standard interior wall wrap, but it was actually magnetized,” Knight said.
While Eye 4 Group occasionally outsources some magnetic sign printing, it does most of its magnetic sign creation in house. In most applications, Knight’s team prefers to print graphics to a vinyl laminate which is then affixed to magnetic material — rather than attempting to print directly to the magnetic material itself. This layering process, he says, is particularly key when magnets are meant to hold up to exterior exposure. “When creating our magnetic vehicle magnets, while it may seem cost-effective to just lay down a direct print on a magnet, that simply doesn’t hold up the way we want in the sun and weather,” Knight said.
In addition to layering the print process, Eye 4 Group also selects the appropriate thickness of magnetic media to best suit the application — whether interior or exterior, large scale or small. “We like to use different thicknesses of magnetic media — either a .30 or .33 magnet base material, and then we apply our graphics directly to that magnet base material,” Knight said. “Then it’s cut to size and shape and ready for whatever application. Obviously for vehicle doors and tailgates, we optimize for exterior conditions.”
And while vehicle magnets will always be popular, like Shaw PPC Design, Eye 4 Group likes to tackle unique, custom projects in the magnetic media space. “We try not to be just the standard vehicle magnet company,” Knight said. “We like to set ourselves apart by doing some of these different approaches that are a little bit more custom than just your standard magnets.”
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