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British Sign Awards Preview

With its wide range of award categories to choose from, Brenda Hodgson takes a look ahead to this new annual initiative and investigates why you should get involved

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Soyang Europe says the British Sign Awards are a good opportunity to take a look at the talent that is out there. This picture shows how Soyang’s AlumiGraphics material was used at the Earls Court Book Fair

A Chance to Shine

The British Sign Awards scheme was introduced by the BSGA to provide a showcase for the outstanding work created and delivered by UK-based sign-makers every year. The inaugural awards in 2014 proved a resounding success, attracting over 250 entries across all categories and producing some outstanding winners, including the showpiece for the Heinz Innovation Centre in Holland, produced by Kettering-based Sign of the Times, which carried off the coveted Sign of the Year Award.

We were very proud to have been awarded this top accolade and it’s certainly helped us

“We were very proud to have been awarded this top accolade and it’s certainly helped us while tendering for some of the very prestigious contracts we have on-going at the moment,” says Darren Roughton, managing director at Sign of the Times.

The massed winners at the British Sign Awards 2014 show their delight at the accolades awarded to them

He adds: “We are now working on new projects for Barclays Bank in New York, Nationwide Building Society’s new call centres and on a new brand and information exercise for the National Trust. These are just a few of the new projects we have in line and ongoing for the foreseeable future. All in all, things have been going very well since we won last year’s Sign of the Year. The award has certainly helped to increase the volume of work we undertake and our overall fortunes.”

Jonathan Burge, managing director of Absolute Sign Group, was similarly delighted with last year’s award for Roll-Out Programme of the Year: “It was great that the judges understood what was involved in organising the signage roll-out for Worldpay to happen across the globe at exactly the same time.

“The award was greatly appreciated by all the staff involved and brought a genuine feel-good factor to the business.”

David Catanach, director of the BSGA, is certainly happy with how well supported the event was in year one: “As the only trade organisation dedicated to the sign industry in the UK, the BSGA is in the ideal position to organise an awards scheme which recognises and rewards excellence in sign making. And the comments from last year’s winners demonstrate that the awards have real meaning and can have a significant impact on a business and its bottom line.”

Demonstrating a continued commitment to promoting the skills and creativity of the UK sign and graphics industry, for the second year running, diversified technology company 3M is the overall corporate sponsor of the British Sign Awards 2015.

“However,” Catanach continues, “while the BSGA had the idea of running the awards, the fact is that none of it would have been possible without support from our sponsors, who this year include 3M, sponsor of the whole awards scheme.”

(Above & below) Billy Branston’s Bus, the project that won Allen Signs the accolade of Vehicle Graphics of the Year, was sponsored by William Smith

William Smith will sponsor two vehicle graphics categories—Commercial and Personal Vehicles Graphics, while the other sponsors and their categories are as follows: Spandex with DI-NOC (Interior Signage Scheme of the Year), Trade Etching Direct (Crafts-man Award), Amari Plastics (Small Sign-maker of the Year), Blackburns Metals and Plastics (Architectural Sign of the Year), Vink Lighting (Illuminated Sign of the Year), Atlantic Tech Services (Wayfinding Scheme of the Year), Nationwide Platforms (Roll-out Programme of the Year), Soyang Europe (Wide-format Project of the Year), and Epson (Innovation Award). In addition, Signs Express is sponsoring the Product of the Year and Roland DG has stepped forward to sponsor a special award for the Apprentice of the Year. There are also three further categories that as yet have not received a sponsor, which are the Sign Construction Award, Retail Signage of the Year, and Leisure Industry Sign of the Year.

Taking the lead

Over the past 40 years, 3M, through its Commercial Graphics Division, has been manufacturing films for vehicle fleet, corporate ID, in-store signage, and point-of-sale graphics applications.

Richard Davies, trade marketing manager at 3M, says the company is pleased to be the lead sponsor for the awards for a second year:  “We have a close affinity with the sign industry in the UK and we are pleased to be able to support a scheme which recognises and rewards the skills and creativity of British sign-makers and brings the whole industry together. Our involvement in the scheme is also a demonstration of our active support for the BSGA which continues to work to promote and safeguard the future of the sign industry in the UK.”

At the 2014 British Sign Awards, Kettering based Sign of the Times carried off the coveted Sign of the Year Award with this stunning showpiece for the Heinz Innovation Centre in Holland

3M says its support of the initiative though is underpinned by the participation of its aforementioned two key distributors, William Smith of Barnard Castle in County Durham and Bristol-based Spandex. One of the key motivators for 3M’s participation is its ambition to increase awareness of its DI-NOC materials range, which is designed for architectural interior and exterior decor applications. The film faithfully replicates original materials as diverse as solid woods, stainless steel, marble, and stone at a fraction of the cost through a choice of over 700 different finishes.

‘A word from our sponsors…’

William Smith’s sponsorship is reportedly born out of a keen desire to support the sign industry and also, as a member of the BSGA, to support the Awards’ organisers.

“Sponsoring these two categories provides us with an excellent means of demonstrating that support,” comments marketing manager, Chris Bradley.

He adds: “Vehicle wraps and graphics continues to be a rapidly growing market sector for sign-makers; and with individuals as well as businesses looking for that ‘something different’, there’s huge scope for creativity and innovation.”

Soyang Europe’s managing director, Mark Mashiter, is similarly enthusiastic about the awards: “Soyang Europe is sponsoring the Wide-format Project of the Year category for the second year running, in order to help celebrate the phenomenal creativity within the sign industry.

The British Sign Awards 2014 trophies produced by Trade Etching Direct, which will once again be creating the trophies for this year’s event

“We have a strong desire to be involved and, as we celebrate our tenth birthday this summer, it’s a good time to take a look at the talent that’s out there and acknowledge how the blank canvas we provide by way of rolls of media is being transformed into exciting projects. It deserves our support.”

Based in Corby, Northants, Trade Etching Direct (TED) offers a facility to etch metal signs for sign-makers throughout the country. Managing director, Anthony Dullaghan, expands on the company’s involvement: “Having made the award trophies last year, we decided that we would like to sponsor an award this time. As a trade supplier we felt that it would provide an opportunity for our customers to showcase their work.  Etching is one of the oldest methods of producing signs in metal and we feel it is important that the industry’s traditional skills continue to be appreciated and used, so we were delighted when the organisers decided to introduce the new Craftsman Award.”

A lasting benefit

If you are in any doubt as to whether to enter this year’s British Sign Awards, both sponsors and organisers emphasise the advantages and benefits of taking part and offer their own words of encouragement.

“I would positively encourage sign companies to enter in any of the wide choice of categories available,” says Bradley, adding:  “The benefits are many, the most significant being recognition for the work you do, and a sense of pride in your company.”

Dullaghan adds his endorsement: “The key benefits for entrants are recognition within the sign industry, higher exposure, and an opportunity to show off your skills to potential customers. And, of course, if you win one of the categories, then the trophy is something that you can be proud to display.

“The British Sign Awards are something that it’s great to have in the industry and we will certainly be encouraging our customers to enter.”

One of the large signs made by Trade Etching Direct (TED) (1,900 x 750mm), sponsors of the Craftsman Award. Etching is one of the oldest methods of producing signs in metal and TED feels it is important that the industry’s traditional skills continue to be appreciated and used

Soyang’s Mashiter concurs: “The British Sign Awards is a great opportunity for sign-makers to stand up and shout about something special they’ve achieved or produced. It can be very inspiring to be involved with (and win) an industry award and provides exposure and credibility for the sign maker. So many of Soyang’s materials enable our customers to be highly creative and the British Sign Awards is an ideal showcase for sign-makers to demonstrate their skills and craftsmanship.”
Catanach believes the awards are important because they provide both winners and short-listed entrants with a unique marketing tool.

“Winning or being commended for a British Sign Award provides independent and credible validation of a sign business and its products and helps build the trust of customers,” he says, adding: “It can also provide a terrific boost for staff and be a catalyst for taking a business forward to bigger and better things.

“Any sign business that has completed work of which it is proud should take the time to enter.  It doesn’t take long and success could have a major impact on the future of the business.”

A fitting reward

The 2015 awards will be presented at a gala ceremony to be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre (EMCC), located on the campus at Nottingham University, on Tuesday October 13th.  The event is open to all UK-based sign businesses, so you do not have to be a member of the BSGA. Entry is also free and forms and instructions can be found on the awards website at www.britishsignawards.org. The winner from each category will go forward to the final judging for the ultimate accolade—the Sign of the Year Award.

O Factoid: “First find your crown and then wear it, then your crowd will come towards you with ovations”—Constance Chuks Friday, author “I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either”—Jack Benny, comedian O

Closing date for entries is September 11th and they will be judged by an independent panel of industry experts and, to keep the playing field level for all, the identities of entrants are redacted prior to judging.

Catanach concludes: “Our aim is to make the Awards Ceremony the event of the year for the sign industry. It’s an ideal occasion for sign businesses and industry suppliers to come together in a convivial atmosphere to celebrate all that is good in British sign making.”

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