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Window Graphics

Printed signage is expected to return to a growth market by 2024. Carys Evans looks at the benefits of this medium and how to access work in this profitable sector

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DECAL window manifestation is ideal for retail signage

A window of opportunity 

With approximately 290,315 retail outlets in operation across the UK, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd when attracting customers. It is crucial to grab the attention of busy passers-by as well as creating an intriguing display that will attract new customers, who are unfamiliar with a brand and its products, and who would have otherwise walked straight past. 

Window graphics are a great way for businesses to enhance the customer’s buying experience through graphics and print. They are inexpensive and can be installed quickly. When they attract the customer’s eye, they can serve as a creative method to display exactly what a business offers, including promotions and sales. A more practical benefit is that window graphics are also a good way to mask unsightly views such as rubbish bins or alleys.

Window graphics are a popular marketing medium. Image: Drytac

Investing in window graphics to add to your offerings could be a smart move as Smithers Pira forecasts a return to growth market of printed signage by 2024. The firm states: “As economies grow, government and private investment in infrastructure and buildings also tends to grow, increasing the demand for informational signage.”

A rise in online shopping also means that retail shops have to up their point-of-sale designs – meaning an even bigger demand for retail signage. This opens the playing field out to sign-makers and print-service-providers looking to widen their offerings and expand their services. But what exactly are the benefits of window graphics as a marketing medium, and how do you go about adding this product to your offering?

Getting it right

Window graphics have long been a fundamental part of marketing. From creating eye-catching displays to enhancing consumer experiences through wayfinding and information. Chris Green, head of channel visual communications and hardware at Antalis reflects on the history of this medium: “It was in 1909 that the Selfridge’s department store on London’s Oxford Street first opened its doors; and with it, the art of window dressing was introduced to England. Featuring the longest window facade ever seen in Britain, the store achieved instant fame with over 150,000 people visiting the premises by 6.30pm that day – a testament to the power of visual merchandising.

“Faced with stiff competition from e-commerce and rival bricks-and-mortar outlets, retailers have never had to work so hard to catch the attention of passers-by and, ultimately, capture sales. With just a few seconds to attract and engage with passing trade, it’s crucial they get it just right.”

Although the design of window graphics is important, Green emphasises the importance of the material on which it is printed. Green explains that the quality and style of material has a big impact on how aesthetically pleasing the finished display looks and praises emerging technology for the accessibility of the medium.

Green continues: “With emerging technology and materials, modern window graphics make it easier than ever to create interesting and attention-grabbing displays. A wide range of highly effective, yet simple to use, solutions are available across a variety of applications.

With emerging technology and materials, modern window graphics make it easier than ever to create interesting and attention-grabbing displays

“Looking to the future and all things digital, interactive windows will become a more immersive experience. Studies by POPAI have shown that displays with motion can increase sales by up to 317%. Already on the market, we are seeing sign-making materials evolve and respond to this trend, with digital screens, motion light boxes, moving signs and light displays featuring in some of the most up and coming brands’ window displays.”

Green suggests that as long as commercial printers and sign-makers make sure to understand the difficult task retailers are faced with when it comes to standing out from competition, it is possible to generate a new customer base and sales stream through starting that initial dialogue.

Window graphics can be used to promote seasonal deals and promotions

Green says: “When considering the design of a shop window, retailers will be following the principles of engagement relating to visual merchandising, namely: to attract attention from a distance, having visual stand-out; to engage with those directly outside the store, sparking interest and, critically, an emotional connection.”
Antalis offers a range of window graphic solutions such as the Coala One Way Vison – a white gloss perforated vinyl designed to enable the printed surface to be viewed on the outside, whilst maintaining the view from the inside.

The Contra Vision BACKLITE is a translucent perforated window film that allows see-through graphics to be enabled at night using back lighting from inside the window – allowing retailers to stand out after hours.

With retailers changing stock and promotions regularly, a window graphic that can be easily added, removed and repositioned is crucial. For this purpose, materials such as Kernow MetaliK, Oracal 8510 and Oracal 8300 are a great addition to a business’ portfolio.

In terms of how to add window graphics to your offering, Green adds: “At Antalis our advice to sign companies looking to add window graphics to their offering is to share our expertise of what can be achieved through print combined with today’s modern sign and display products. We can work together to demonstrate to creatives and end users how striking, creative and exciting graphics can help trigger that emotional response with passers-by, and maybe entice repeat, or even new customers through the door.”

The quality and style of the material is just as important as the design. Image: Drytac

Plenty of options

Soyang Europe has been offering window products from its partners at Soyang Technologies for many years. According to the firm, products with optically clear characteristics are most popular. Soyang offers a range of window films from Drytac which are PET and optically clear, as well as being repositionable and removable.

Similarly to Antalis’ Coala One Way Vision, Soyang Europe offers products which can be used to create privacy but still allow the light through such as Sunshade OPP, a perforated window film and DECAL’s frosted etch glass product.

The DECAL frosted etch glass is popular with corporate environments due to its ability to be cut to create different graphics and shapes, creating a sparkle effect in different lighting. The product also comes in different colours such as red, green and gold for the festive seasons.

DECAL offers a range of frosted etch glass products. Image: Drytac

According to Kerrie-Anne Moore, sales and marketing manager at Soyang Europe, the firm has added more products from Drytac and DECAL in recent years due to market demand for different adhesives and more durability and thickness of films.

Moore says: “It’s highly likely that the print providers are already serving the retail industry with signage, point-of-sale displays or floor graphics, so window graphics is a natural extension of that offering.

“The team of material experts at Soyang Europe can advise on which window graphics products are suited to a customer’s end application as well as their print hardware and ink technologies. At Soyang Europe, we always recommend test printing and applying products prior to final installation of a job.”

Drytac has also included window graphics in its portfolio for some time – “Long before the fad today on windows,” says Shaun Holdom, global product manager at Drytac. The firm began with its WindowTac in 2010, a two-sided mount film which enabled customers to apply a graphic from any printer, printed on standard material and used as a window film.

Drytac ViziPrint is a repositionable window product

“The window graphic market is growing at great pace, the amount of windows in any building can now be used as an additional space to relay a marketing message,” explains Holdom. “Also with the enhancement of digital printers to be able to print white inks and multi-layers, each side of the window can display a different message.”

In terms of how to access work in this sector, Holdom says: “The development of the materials which enable customers to print on now is growing all the time so there is a wide range of materials which can be printed on any ink technology, most Eco Solvent/entry-level printers will need a material which has an ink receiving coating. UV printers and high-end latex devices can print onto most materials with any special coating.”

Rob Goleniowski, head of sales at Roland, warns those new to the medium of hidden factors, such as the semi-opaque effect of transparent materials: “Although this can have its uses, it isn’t ideal for creating high-impact marketing messages. To make the graphics stand out, they should be backed with white vinyl or a layer of white ink, if you have the capability.”

Invest in kit

Much like Soyang Europe, PressOn has experienced increased demand from offices and corporate spaces in the last few years. The firm which has been producing window graphics for the last 15 years put this down to window graphics and glass manifestations being more recognised as a branding and marketing opportunity.

Andy Wilson, managing director of PressOn also lists the development of technology as another factor: “Recent advances in printer capability and technology has been a real turning point for PressOn.

“Our new HP R2000 printer has enabled us to print an incredibly clear and dense white ink on window graphics. PressOn has been able to offer clients contemporary and unobtrusive white window graphic designs for corporate spaces which are aesthetically pleasing and practical.

In terms of the benefits of window graphics as a marketing medium, Wilson comments: “Branded window graphics used in office environments help staff, visitors and clients to understand a brand’s story. The many creative solutions available in terms of substrates and design options meet a variety of needs from the client.

“From a practical perspective, window graphics can also be used to complement office interiors and spaces through designs that are inspiring, help convey a brand’s character and values or even as wayfinding and signage.”

Window graphics can also be used to complement office interiors and spaces through designs that are inspiring, help convey a brand’s character and values or even as wayfinding and signage

For PressOn, recommendations and referrals have been key to accessing work in this growing and profitable sector. To achieve this, the firm regularly publishes strong case studies to increase its credibility and grow its reputation in the window graphics market. After the positive impact the firm’s investment in the HP R2000 Hybrid printer has had on its ability to produce high-quality window graphics, Wilson also stresses the importance of investing in a good print set up.

As the benefits of window graphics speak for themselves, Goleniowski suggests entering the market can be as easy as simply walking up your local high street and offering your services to local businesses.

Goleniowski elaborates: “The key to securing the work is being able to demonstrate the value of window graphics for the business – the boost in footfall and the subsequent return on their investment. From there, you can begin to build a portfolio of examples which will help gain more business.

O Factoid: Smithers Pira forecasts a return to growth market of printed signage by 2024. O

“With the fate of the high street looking uncertain, businesses of all sizes are trying all they can to stay profitable in a very competitive marketplace. In a lot of cases, this amounts to creating relevant, seasonal offers on a regular basis. This is good news for companies producing window graphics as it provides a fertile opportunity for repeat business.”

Having spoken with those serving the sign and print industry with window graphics solutions, the general consensus is that this medium is one that is only growing in popularity. In order to access this profitable sector, the advice is to get to know your customers and the markets they serve in order to make helpful suggestions and recommendations. Market your business well to generate an increase in credibility and invest in the necessary equipment to create competitive products and designs using high-quality materials.

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