From paintbrushes and ply: the evolution of a signage company

Since Reade Signs was founded in 1980, the once time-intensive craft of sign writing has changed beyond recognition. Hand-made signs have morphed into large-format branded graphics produced using the latest printing technology. Hand tooling has been replaced by CNC machines. And health and safety requirements mean ladders are out and cherry pickers are in. Here, we look back at the early days of Reade Signs and reflect on what has – and hasn’t – changed about the signage industry.

£100 and a few tins of paint

Andy Reade, CEO, founded Reade Signs from his spare bedroom with £100, a few tins of paint and a couple of sheets of plywood. After leaving school he became an apprentice sign writer for a local one-man-band sign company, eventually moving to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. A lack of fulfilling work spurred Andy into action and he started to take extra jobs at the weekends and evenings, soon building a customer base and eventually setting up on his own.

Sign writing is a true skill. In the early days, Andy hand-painted timber signs, shop front fascia signs, vehicles and all types of different surfaces, including glass, painted timber and metal using specialist paints and traditional techniques. There were cut vinyl letter systems available, but back in the 1980s, these systems were basic with limited fonts and slow production times. However, the systems improved quickly, and the writing was literally on the wall for hand painted signage as a mass production method.

During the first three years, Andy moved from back-bedroom to garden workshop crafting signs for shop fronts, vehicles, job boards, builders and pubs – enjoying the variety of jobs and clients. As the business grew, Andy took on an apprentice himself and after ten years, Reade Signs moved to its first premises in Ash Vale, followed by several more moves as the business quickly expanded.

Roots and wings

It was during this time that Andy Fergus Smith joined, bringing a complementary set of skills to the team to help the company grow. Originally a graphic designer, he ran his own screen print business for 12 years before joining Reade Signs in 2002 as production manager. He was involved in graphic design, account management, operational and general management before becoming Director and shareholder in 2008.

In 2003, Reade Signs moved to its current two-floor office space and factory at Holder Road in Aldershot. At the time there were 15 employees, and this has now grown to over 40; with specialist teams bringing wide-ranging skills, qualifications and knowledge and including some loyal, long-standing employees and members of the Reade family.

Rapid developments in technology meant that sign writing evolved and expanded. The lines blurred between print and sign making and the possibilities for large format outdoor graphics to suit all budgets opened up new markets for sign makers. Full colour, photographic printing onto vinyl was a real breakthrough. All of a sudden you’d see images on vehicles, building site hoardings and temporary banners, where previously it would have been prohibitively expensive to have graphics on these platforms. Direct-to-media flatbed printers marked the next step enabling bigger, faster and higher quality printing onto substrates as diverse as ply and glass. Reade Signs invested in direct-to-media technology in the mid noughties and as the company continued to grow, so did the size of the clients. It was the booming property sector that Reade Signs really gained expertise in and today site signage, hoarding, marketing suites and directional signage remain at the core of our offering.

The signage industry – what’s changed

1. Signage rebranded

The signage industry has changed beyond recognition and the terminology used has had a bit of a rebrand in recent years; signage is now seen as a core channel in the marketing mix and an important part of achieving brand consistency. Knowledge of marketing and brands is vital to understand unique brand requirements and innovate. It’s frequently referred to as large scale brand implementation, brand activation, wayfinding or large format branding… or just plain signage.

2. Super graphics

Sign making has always been a craft, but in terms of scale, the industry has blossomed. There are very few screen printers and only a handful of artisan sign writers today; work centres more around implementation and management of projects, with multiple stakeholders and suppliers. From local beginnings, clients now come from all over the country. A baffling array of different formats are available for all types of signage, banners, hoarding, events and exhibition graphics, retail branding, vehicle graphics and marketing suites. Professional, quality signage is now available to any organisation and to suit any budget. The art of sign-making still requires a specialist skill-set, but the skills needed are very different.

3. Specialists – all under one roof

Over the years, as sign requirements reached a larger scale, a finished sign would require several specialists at different points throughout the process. You’d get the signage artwork agreed, then go to a sign writer, then an artist for the pictorial part, then you might go to a screen printer.  Now, technology and an expert in-house team means this is all under one roof. We have a large pool of skills, qualifications and knowledge from a team expert at quoting, sourcing and project managing to meet client demands and be increasingly competitive. 

4. Choice and demands

As larger companies and brands realised the importance of making a splash with signage, expectations become higher and lead times got shorter. Reade Signs now works with so many more materials – it’s not just ply and paint – there are hundreds of materials that can create different effects to represent a brand and grab the audience’s attention. It used to take weeks to apply undercoat, paint the ply, route-out posts – it was all quite laborious.  But now, full colour capabilities mean we have no constraints – we can print onto almost any material. Last year we produced six miles of panels for property developers, handled over 2,500 jobs and every day we have up to 20 installers out on the road. And from receipt of final artwork to installation on-site, we can fit 20m hoarding in just 72 hours.

The changing face of business and the economic impacts of the last 30 years mean clients are far more cost conscious and demand value for money from their marketing spend. The good news is that modern materials and printing techniques enable us to provide high-end finish using cost-effective materials to maximise any budget.

5. ‘Up a ladder in shorts and flip flops!’

There wasn’t much in the way of health and safety when Andy founded the company. He’d install signs ‘up a ladder in his shorts and flip flops – you would make things happen!’ For a long time now, though, we’ve been finding solutions to make it happen safely and observe strict regulations, taking regular advice from our own health and safety consultant. Training and accreditation is so important to being highly professional and maintaining high standards at every stage of the design, manufacture and installation process.

The signage industry – what hasn’t changed?

1. It’s all still marketing

Essentially, signage is still marketing; we might use more elaborate brand and marketing terminology, but it still serves the same purpose. ‘Brand activation’ is the art of driving consumer action – and was the same intention when creating a hand-crafted sign for The Red Lion! Our purpose is to make brands and messaging stand out, the industry sometimes just uses different terminology.

2. Reputation

As a business, our reputation still supports us in the same way it did from day one and has helped us grow our work with many national property developers and corporates. The service level requirements and quality control are still as high as ever and reputation enables us to continue to be creative and branch out into other exciting fields – beyond shop fronts to large-scale architectural signage projects and complex wayfinding solutions.

3. Apprenticeships

Andy started out as an apprentice sign maker and that’s something we continue to embrace as a company; it’s vital to invest in the future and pass skills on to a new generation. Continuous development and training is very much at the heart of the business – not just our passion to do a job well, but also the necessity to keep up with changing technology. Continuing the family theme of the business, we currently have two brothers working in production department, who joined as apprentices and show a real aptitude to learn, improve and work as part of our team. In fact, one of them recently won Young Sign Maker of the Year!

4. Passion for design

Andy Reade has always had a passion for design and this still is a driving force within the company as the market for large scale graphics and digital signage grows. While the business is unrecognisable from the company Andy founded, he’s keen to see it grow and progress to the next generation. It’s this passion, being flexible and constantly evolving that’s always been essential in the signage industry. For us, constantly improving and trying new things means short deadlines can be met, problems can be overcome with creative solutions and adjustments to changing situations can be managed smoothly.

How can I use lighting with my site hoarding?

Sign installation at Royal Exchange, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Clever use of hoarding lighting is a superb way of making the most of the best vantage points, highlighting messages and maximising the impact of your site hoarding. With one in eight people working night shifts, and darker winter months, great lighting means you can make the most of your marketing 24/7 for all passing traffic. Lighting elements include lightboxes, strip lighting and halo-illuminated lettering.

LEDs are available in many variations and can be used with timers in sensitive residential areas, also making it more cost-effective. LED header and footer hoarding illumination is low cost, great as a design feature and provides a subtle wash of light rather than illuminating the entire hoarding. Halo-illuminated lettering is great for highlighting your new development name or brand.

Lightboxes used within hoarding can be very effective. The use of shallow lightbox extrusion and printed flex-face panels mean the hoarding can take extra weight without compromising the structure. We always recommend getting the structure of the hoarding checked by a qualified engineer before adding any additional weight to it, such as light boxes, flagpoles or extended height sections as these all add extra wind loading to the hoarding. All these elements help draw attention to your advertising hoarding messages all year round and, if correctly designed, are very cost-effective.

If you’d like to find out more about how lighting can enhance your building site hoarding, please call us for a chat or if you’d like to discuss a project on 01252 336 000.

What is the lead-time for hoarding?

Beaufort Park site hoarding

Commissioning advertising hoarding panels often gets left until the last minute, but you can get the most value and impact by considering your hoarding cladding design and materials as early as possible to make the most of the pre-launch window. Allowing for different milestones such as ‘site acquired’, ‘under construction’ or ‘plots reserved’ throughout the life-cycle of the build can engage the community and build interest from the outset.

Advertising hoarding panels are a superb way of generating valuable word-of-mouth advertising in the local area, selling the future vision of the development and driving marketing suite visitors. Turnaround time for site hoarding will very much depend on the size of the hoarding project, but from final artwork, our average lead-time to manufacture, print and install 20 metres of hoarding panels in a single location is just three days.

Before you get to final artwork stage, we take the initial briefing and come up with recommendations for potential materials, styling and lighting options. We conduct a professional site survey and then agree the final design – either with our in-house team or with the client’s designers. It’s important to look at creative solutions for your budget, make clever use of manufacturing techniques and position key messages at high footfall points to maximise stand out. Leaving enough time means you can take these elements into consideration and create hoarding that stands-out.

Find out more about building site hoarding on this dedicated page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please call us on 01252 336 000.

Hoarding – Top tips for being bold on a budget

Hoarding – top tips for being bold on a budget

Every new residential or commercial development is different and requires tailored marketing to attract different audiences. But what are your options with advertising hoarding if your budgets have been squeezed, but you still want to make a big impact? Here are a few solutions we recommend…

I love the look of built up letters but don’t have the budget for stainless steel:
Instead of fabricated built-up stainless-steel letters, we suggest 20mm thick painted Foamex letters to highlight the development name.

Brass letters would set off my high-end development, but the costs are prohibitive:
Instead of using expensive metal materials – we can create metallic text in bronze or gold-cut vinyl to achieve a high-end effect.

The designer’s hoarding concept uses a spot-UV effect we love, but we can’t justify the additional cost:
Using a combination of matt and gloss laminate creates a superb spot-UV effect.

There are a huge number of competitors in the local area, and I want to stand out above the traffic:
Extra height sections of hoarding manufactured in Foamex are a great, low cost way to maximise impact at key footfall points and above the height of the traffic.

I want people to look twice:
Using different depths of hoarding can create an effective look – by building out parts of the hoarding or creating recesses, you can add interest.

I’m looking for a cost-effective industrial look and feel:
Vinyl applied on sterling board with Foamex built-up letters gives an original, contemporary industrial effect.

There are so many options and our team are great at coming up with creative solutions to suit any budget. Find out more about building site hoarding on this dedicated page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please call and speak to one of our hoarding experts on 01252 336 000.

Which hoarding is best for your housing development?

Which hoarding is best for your housing development

Hoarding is a temporary structure installed around the perimeter of a construction site for the safety and security of the site, construction workers and members of the public. It’s also a highly cost-effective advertising space to showcase a housing or commercial development, communicate the brand and attract sales.

For advertising hoarding, we recommend cladding the base ply hoarding panels with either digitally printed Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) or a direct vinyl wrap to the ply*. Both options will carry your message and images in high resolution full colour digital print and images can even be illuminated. We recommend headers and kickers be added to give a neat finish and again these will allow for lighting to be fitted beneath the header, which will provide a wash of light to illuminate the entire hoarding at night. They suit both short and long-term use and are easy to install, strong and secure.

Which material is best for my hoarding project?

ACM sheets – also commonly known by the brand Dibond, ACM is secured onto plywood. It’s made from two thin coil-coated aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core (polyethylene or foam). Printed ACM can be applied straight onto hoardings.

It’s a superb material for hoarding because it flexes and is very durable, offers sound reduction and is fireproof. The overall affect is a streamlined, professional look and feel. Individual panels can also be easily updated and replaced and is less expensive than vinyl wrapped ply.

Vinyl wrapped ply hoarding panels – comes with different effects and can be laminated or wrap sealed. Vinyl wrapped hoarding is popular with luxury, high-end building developments. This type of hoarding gives a very high quality of finish.

Site hoarding lasts for about three years, although it can be updated and refreshed at any point during the build. For extra longevity, hoarding can be coated with anti-graffiti laminate.

Our team takes a consultative approach and can provide advice on the best option for your development, based on the brand, location, site life-cycle and expected frequency of message changes. Find out more about building site hoarding. If you’d like to discuss a project, please give us a call on 01252 336 000.

*Vinyl wrap to ply requires a specific grade of ply, please ask for further details.

From apprentice to award-winner: celebrating young talent in the UK sign industry

Last week I made my way to Leicester with my colleague Marc Kisko to attend the British Sign Awards 2018. The awards celebrate some truly remarkable achievements that demonstrate the wealth of skills and creativity that make the British sign industry world class. Marc, who is 22 and has been with Reade Signs for four years, was shortlisted for the Young Sign Maker of the Year category. And I’m absolutely thrilled that he won the award!

From the outset, Marc has shown dedication; he completed his apprenticeship in 12 months – instead of the usual 18 – and demonstrated real development and problem-solving skills ever since. This approach has continued throughout Marc’s time at Reade Signs. It is his attitude that really drives him forward. Marc is a naturally quiet and reserved person, so it’s understandable that coming in to join an established team might be daunting. However, Marc has really demonstrated a thirst for knowledge, a drive for personal development and he works brilliantly as part of our team.

Marc has continued to learn and recently trained to use our state-of-the-art EFI Vutek LX3 Pro printer. Amira Bouchiba from CMYUK, who trained Marc told us: “Marc has been what I would call ‘the perfect student’… although he was not my only trainee, Marc stood out.”

Since qualifying, he’s really made this his mission and pushed himself ahead. This epitomises the drive and flexibility that has been at the core of the growth of Reade Signs and our founder, Andy Reade’s philosophy since he started his career as an apprentice sign writer.

Marc recently met MP, Leo Docherty, who visited us to learn more about Reade Signs and how we develop apprentices. Marc’s younger brother Kyle has also completed his Sign Makers apprenticeship with us, and our Assistant Account Manager, Jerome True has recently finished his Business Administration apprenticeship.

I’ve been thrilled by the rapid progress made by Marc. He’s just got his head down and got on with it. He is very conscientious and a pleasure to work with. Congratulations from all of us at Reade Signs!

“The Young Signmaker of the Year award is designed to highlight how vital training and apprenticeships are to the sign industry. Young people are the future of the industry and unless we provide them with the right training, the industry will struggle in the years to come. This year, we had a record entry for the award, demonstrating that enlightened companies continue to invest in young people, but it is essential that more sign businesses follow their lead. Our congratulations to Marc and to Reade Signs for showing the way.”
David Catanach, BSGA Director.

A guide to cost-effective advertising hoarding for new developments

Building site hoarding is essential to keep both construction site workers and members of the public safe. It’s also one of the most cost-effective advertising spaces for your new housing development and vital to drive marketing suite visits, enquiries and build a database of interest pre-launch.

If you are responsible for marketing, you’ll no doubt be looking across multiple channels at the most cost-effective ways to raise awareness of your new development. Advertising hoarding panels are a superb communications channel since they are exceptionally good value. A 48-sheet advertising billboard is likely to cost over £1,000 for a month’s advertising spot. Whereas, the equivalent hoarding in square metres will cost around half that price. When you consider that hoarding could be in place for 12 months or more, the comparable savings are easily more than £10,000!

Additionally, you can also refresh your hoarding panels in that time and adapt messaging based on interest and sales, or even advertise other developments and still make significant savings.

Making the most of your hoarding space

One of the key elements to get right is a professional site survey as this ensures messages work across numerous panels, which may have to be professionally installed at a gradient or around street furniture.

To maximise advertising hoarding and build awareness, make sure your design keeps to the development’s brand and incorporates bold colours, striking graphics and photography. Keep your hoarding design simple; you can say so much with a visual. Consider the best places for your messaging, taking into account the sizing of text for pedestrians and passing traffic. As a rule-of-thumb, one great image, a short headline of five to seven words, a call to action and your logo is ideal.

Find out more about building site hoarding on this dedicated page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please give us a call on 01252 336 000.

Wayfinding project wins global SEGD award

A project that we supplied and installed over 300 separate vinyl and painted wall graphics for has been awarded a Merit Award for wayfinding in the prestigious SEGD Global Design Awards 2018.

The vinyl and wall graphics of varying sizes were created for Here East. Spread over two huge buildings at the former press and broadcast centres of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Hackney Wick, it is now a thriving space that offers state-of-the-art facilities in an awe-inspiring environment.

We worked with brand and design consultancy dn&co, who created a wayfinding system to navigate the 1.2 million sq ft, to fabricate and install the inspiring and intuitive wayfinding. Find out more about the Here East wayfinding project.

wayfinding system

A guide to signage materials and formats

Signage can be created using a wide range of materials and formats that all deliver different effects and make brands shine and messages pop out. We work with clients right from the start of each project to consult on how to bring designs to life. Here’s a little taster of the different materials and formats on offer:

ACM clad – This stands for Aluminium Composite Material, but is also commonly known by the brand, Dibond. It’s made from two thin coil-coated aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core (polyethylene or foam). Printed ACM can be applied straight onto site hoarding to promote new developments, while adhering to health and safety regulations. It’s a superb material for hoarding because it flexes and is very durable, offers sound reduction and is fireproof. The overall affect is a streamlined, contemporary look and feel.

Acrylic – Perspex® is a well-known brand of acrylic sheeting. It is a tough, transparent, versatile thermoplastic used in many applications, particularly in visual communications, design and architecture. Acrylic is very resistant to shock, flexing, scratching and weathering. It comes in many colours and finishes and is totally recyclable. We apply acrylic shapes to hoardings to bring them to life, as well as for use in general signs and wall installations. It can be sprayed in different colours and makes brand logos stand out. We often use it self-coloured or reverse printed acrylic for stand-up letters, CGI pictures on hoardings and building exteriors.

Aluminium – A strong, light metal used widely in industry, aluminium is the most abundant metal on the planet. It’s malleable, so it’s easy to make into whatever shape we need, and it’s resistant to corrosion. We use aluminium for architectural features and walls, fingerposts, desk receptions, built-up letters and extrusions for banner frames.

Correx – Also known as fluted, or corrugated, polypropylene board, Correx is an inexpensive and efficient way to produce temporary signs or displays. Tough and lightweight, it’s easily cut to shape and comes in any number of colours and thicknesses. Correx is fully recyclable and is used a lot for outdoor signs such as estate agents’ boards.

Films and finishing – The effectiveness of our products is down to the materials and the finish we give them. Whether they need to weather gracefully to blend into a historic or rural environment or endure harsh conditions, the surface layer needs to do its job. The vinyl film or laminates that goes over our hoardings add to their longevity.

Foamex – A versatile, lightweight PVC foam sheet, that’s durable and easy to cut and shape. Foamex also has low water absorption, making it suitable for indoor and outdoor use. It comes in a range of colours and is a popular material for signage and displays. We can print directly on to foamex and it can be sprayed in different colours. We like to apply it to hoarding to bring it to life, adding a stand-out, 3D affect. We’ve even created an entire Santa’s grotto from foamex!

Glass – A hard but brittle fusion of sand, soda and lime, we’re surrounded by the many applications of glass and we use this canvas to apply graphics for signage and marketing purposes. We can create messaging on glass for marketing suites, using frosted messages, and apply crystal edge window manifestations to make subdivisions of internal spaces clearly visible.

Glass signage is also good for external architectural projects and we supply optically clear vinyl for windows. Toughened, low-iron glass is extra clear, noted for its higher light transmittance and reduced green tint. This glass is used with wayfinding architectural signage where information may change.

Graffiti proofing – We can apply a special anti-graffiti laminate seal to hoarding and signs to ensure they last. This is a special coating that makes it easier to clean your signage if it’s vandalised.

Green walls – Also known as a living wall, this is a vertical surface partially or completely covered with living greenery, complete with a growing medium and integrated watering system for interior spaces. Green walls are great especially if your external or internal space has a green and environmental theme.

Lighting – Signage can work for you 24-hours a day if it’s illuminated well. Here are some of the methods we use to spotlight your brand:

  • Illuminated lettering and lightboxes – These are additional ways to light up a hoarding and highlight your key selling points. Internally illuminated, they’re hard to miss, especially at night, and colours look bright and crisp. Lightboxes, with opal acrylic inlays for exceptional illumination, can be single or double sided, wall mounted, projecting, hanging or free standing. We can even fit them to hoardings, which we rout out and light up from behind.
  • LED, ribbon or strip lighting – A flexible product, this can have self-adhesive backing for use on any surface. We use this lighting in the headers and kickers of hoarding, to accent the design and draw attention to key elements, rather than trying to light up the whole hoarding.
  • Neon – These are luminous, gas-discharge tubes that contain inert gases, usually neon. Neon lighting can light up your logo or wayfinding signage in a bright and colourful way. Neon has a classic, retro look but we’ve also used it to add urban chic ambience to an ultra-modern setting.

Powder coating – This is applying paint in dry powder form to a metal surface, using a spray gun. The powder bonds electrostatically to the surface and then it’s heat treated to produce a tough coating that looks like a traditional liquid paint finish, but it doesn’t run and it’s more environmentally friendly. Powder coating is good on wayfinding signage because it’s both protective and decorative.

Printed manifestations and digital wallpaper – These are large-scale printed materials applied to walls, glass and even floors. They act like murals and can be used to add any design to your interior. Digital wallpaper – or super graphics – is artwork printed onto large areas to transform office walls, whether to support your corporate identity or brighten up the office space with some bold pop-art.

Reflective or pearlescent vinyl – This has a base colour and an accompanying colour. It is reflective and appears glossy, so we use it for hoardings and for vehicles.

Steel and stainless steel – Strong, durable and versatile, this long-established construction material is made from mixing iron and carbon in the right proportions at high temperature, but other additives give it particular qualities. Adding chromium creates stainless steel, which is highly resistant to corrosion. We use steel mainly for architectural and industrial signage, but stainless-steel fret-cut letters add an eye-catching element to signs and even hoarding.

Stone – Whether a natural-look stone or slate, we can cut it to size and shape, including bespoke lettering. This material is great for traditional architectural signage where the natural surroundings can blend around it. Stone signage also gives a sense of permanence and solidity to any environment.

Textured wall coverings – A technical name for wallpaper, it adds depth and interest with a huge range of aesthetic looks and feels. It’s tactile, encouraging interaction, so it works well in marketing suites.

Verometal – A thin, metallic coating containing bronze that’s sprayed onto a surface, verometal gives your signage the appearance of solid metal. We can create a matt, satin polished, high polished, rusted or patinated look to fit your requirements. Verometal is ideal for wayfinding and permanent outdoor signage.

Vinyl and painted wall graphics – These can be used to create bright, colourful and creative designs. They are adhesive, and can be applied directly to walls so we mainly use them for internal branding and wayfinding.

Vinyl wrapped ply – This can be added to hoarding to make it more rigid and it is popular for luxury building developments.

Vitreous enamel – This is made by fusing powdered glass to a surface by firing at high temperatures and can be opaque or coloured. The technique is more than a century old and has immortalised London street names as well as London Underground’s signage. Vitreous enamel is ideal for exterior heritage signage, standing the test of time beautifully.

Wind mesh PVC – Perforated PVC is used to make wind mesh banners. There are tiny holes in its fabric to avoiding wind damage, so it’s ideal for advertising large, new-build developments, such as apartment blocks.

Wood – Good quality wood can have excellent durability and looks high-end, ageing well when looked after. We use wood when it’s important to match the surroundings, such as the ply plaques we installed for a wetlands project. Timber frames are also used for gantry signs.

3D models – working with 3D technology specialists, we can develop a 3D printed masterplan to showcase housing projects. These are made from resin and printed through a process known as stereolithography (SLA). They depict with great accuracy a 3D visualisation of a new development for use within sales and marketing suites.

If you’d like to find out more about how we work with any of these materials and formats to make brands come to life, please email enquiry@readesigns.com.

Eight steps to signage installation

When it comes to marketing a new development, it’s important that signage needs are considered as early as possible to really help improve stand-out, get noticed and deliver the wow factor. A complete signage service starts with an initial idea and ends with a safe and timely installation that sends the right message through design, quality and functionality. Here we outline our tried and tested eight-stage process from idea to installation: 

1. Initial briefing

The first stage of the process is crucial for ensuring a successful project. Our team visits the site to find out exactly what’s required, understand the surrounding environment and the target audience. The visit covers signage locations, substrates and ground conditions for posts and footings and accurate measurements to confirm signage dimensions. The type of sites we work on are very diverse, so we also consider elements like anti-graffiti finishes in a city centre or wind-loading calculations on an exposed rural site.

Sometimes we’re sent a client’s sketches or designs, but a site visit gives us a real feel for the project, potential limitations or opportunities and sparks ideas about which materials and formats to use.

2. Developing the concept

Once we have the brief, we can recommend processes and technology to complement the project and engage the target audience. We work with clients directly, or in partnership with an appointed design consultant, throughout the whole project lifecycle. A preview of the concept is created, entirely to scale, so that proximity, heights, colour schemes and all necessary details can be viewed.

Next, is the fun part of selecting the right materials for the project based on suitability, within the limits of the budget. The technical knowledge of our team means we can often propose more cost-effective or innovative materials that offer the same durability and appearance as the client’s suggested option. Structural integrity is also very important; stronger materials are needed for large external signs to ensure only suitable materials are used for any job.

At this point a quote is generated, itemising every detail of size and material used to enable informed decisions that achieve the right overall effect at the right price.

3. Site or technical survey

Once the design and quote have been accepted, for large-scale signage projects, a full survey of the location is conducted to ensure the final design fits the characteristics of the landscape and the purpose. At this point, adaptations can be made in the designs to take the terrain into account; if hoarding has to be installed on a slope, for example, the design will have to be tiered.

Simple projects don’t require surveys, but if signs are being fitted at height, or access equipment such as a cherry-picker is needed, then a technical survey will highlight any issues that may not have arisen during the site visit. Issues can include: accessibility, power supply, terrain, vehicle access and the structural integrity of the building supporting the sign. Measurements can also be checked for high level signage.

At this point, site health and safety requirements such as inductions, parking or special permits for the installation team are also confirmed.

4. Design and prototype

We create a 2D colour visual of the design for the client to approve layout, colours and materials for the signage. For more complex, technical projects we also use high quality graphic visualisation software to produce 3D visuals and engineering drawings. These are also suitable for planning permission applications and can be used to address health and safety concerns. We can even make planning applications on clients’ behalf if needed.

It’s important that marketing communications for a new development or branding within a sales suite are aligned to the client’s brand and messaging. So, a 3D virtual representation brings ideas to life and gives all parties involved in the final project a sense of the bigger picture so that they can work together towards an agreed result.

5. The proof

A PDF proof for client approval is always sent before the manufacturing process begins. These are drawings that contain all dimensions, materials and sometimes an annotated image of the installation location. Once approved, a project manager will issue the job to our factory to start making the signage.

6. Manufacture

Signage can be manufactured from a huge range of materials, depending on their qualities and what the client needs it to do. Whether it’s timber, metal, plastic, Dibond or aluminium composite material (ACM), vinyl or laminate, our team will consider the most appropriate materials to suit the conditions at a specific location and bring architectural designs to life.

Metal is a versatile material, combining strength and longevity with flexibility, creating a multitude of shapes and sizes. Available finishes also offer a variety of visual effects; polishing, painting, spraying or powder coating. Timber has traditionally been used as a signage component to convey a rustic look, but we also use faux timber to achieve the same heritage look, at a lower price and with better longevity. Aluminium, brass, plastics, laminates, wood and even polystyrene can be incorporated into a design to give it the right look and feel.

Our skilled in-house staff use cutting-edge machinery and technology to construct signs that match client requirements. Designs are applied using powerful LED technology to meet the growing demand for higher quality and quick turnaround, better resolution and multilayer printing. In-house machinery is used for all cutting, no matter the material. We can even create a 3D effect to help a sign really stand out.

Printed hoardings and interiors allow flexibility for changing colours and designs quickly and easily, to match seasons or to advertise special promotions. All hoardings are made using weather-proof materials and coated with anti-graffiti seals to make them last longer.

7. Installation

Reade Signs manages the entire installation process using our own team, who have the experience to ensure signs are erected safely, securely and will stand the test of time. A pictorial database means clients can even view installations remotely; whenever we install a sign at a site, we take a full photographic record. That means clients have access to digital copies of all installations, providing an easy way to ensure a consistent look across many sites, or to order identical signage for the next project.

Safety and consideration are paramount. We’re used to operating in any environment; on a construction site, at height or on waterfronts. It’s vital that the safest installation methods and correct equipment is used, where necessary. For each project, a specific risk assessment is carried out and a method statement provided for approval. This is also read and signed by the installation team, so they’re fully aware of their responsibilities and how to carry out their work.

8. Maintain and refresh

Installation isn’t the end of the process as far as we’re concerned; even the highest quality materials can become damaged by external factors, and sometimes signage needs updating as events take place or plots are reserved. On-going support includes replacing damaged or out-of-date panels. When the time comes to remove signage, we dispose of all material in accordance with environmental regulations and best-practice.

A trusted team, with technical expertise

Taking short-cuts can result in signage that isn’t fit for purpose, or worse, is a safety hazard. That’s why Reade Signs provides an end-to-end approach to ensure every eventuality is covered and signage and branding projects are completed to the exact specifications, within the timescale and with health and safety paramount. To find out more about how Reade Signs creates eye-catching signage, please contact us, email enquiry@readesigns.com or call01252 336000.