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Continuous evolution across two continents

As the year draws to a close, many will be starting to reflect over the months that have passed and have begun to look forward to what the next year will offer. For the sign industry, 2019 has been a year of continued growth, innovation and creativity.

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Monson reflects on the sign and visual graphics industry

The signage franchise business is going strong with FASTSIGNS having added over 200 new locations over the last ten years. Next year the franchise group will celebrate its 35th anniversary as well as 25 years of operating in the UK.

Catherine Monson, the group’s chief executive officer has been in the signage and visual graphics industry for ten years, and over the years has witnessed various shifts and growth areas. Monson spends time in both the UK and the US where FASTSIGNS is headquartered which means she is also able to provide insight into the two countries' similarities and differences.

Monson describes a rise in digital signage as the most notable growth area: “In buildings very often the directories are digital directories. Inside show rooms or lobbies of companies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, very often there’s digital signage. There’s been a real dramatic change in ten years.”

Monson predicts an increase in the use of signage and visual graphics in textiles and interior décor

As well as digital signage, Monson has also experienced an expansion of visual graphics such as interior décor like custom wallpaper and tabletops using wide-format print technologies. She also says there has been real growth in wayfinding signage, architectural signage and experiential graphics, as well as vehicle graphics.

While the US is charging ahead of the UK in terms of digital signage, Monson explains that this may actually be down to the countries’ makeups. She says: “If you were to look at much of the real estate and buildings in the UK that businesses are in, they are dramatically older than the buildings in the US.

“So, where you have buildings that are hundreds and hundreds of years old and where the streets are narrower and smaller and there’s less space, real estate space itself might be smaller for the same business in the UK than it would be.”

If you were to look at much of the real estate and buildings in the UK that businesses are in, they are dramatically older than the buildings in the US

As a result of this, Monson describes how the signage is very often smaller and sparser in the UK than it would be in the US due to the addition of more windows on larger buildings and less regulation rules from the city or government about the size of signage.

Just as the US is taking the lead with digital signage technologies, the UK is charging ahead with sustainability and environmental efforts. This is something Monson predicts the US will catch up on in the next five to seven years.

Looking forward to the future of the industry, Monson is confident that the sector is going to continue to grow and develop due to the fact that there is always a need for it regardless of the economic status.

Buildings in the US are bigger and have more windows, so as a result use more signage

She says: “What we like about the signage and visual graphics business is to a great degree it is recession resistant. If a business is going to open a location, they’re going to need signage. In the winter season if [a business] is going to have a sale for the holidays, they’re going to need signage and graphics.

“There’s always going to be conferences and events even in a recession there will be industry events and business conferences and business conventions. They are still going to need signage and visual graphics. One of the things that’s so great about this business is that companies are still going to need signage and visual graphics even in a recession, so there’s a recession resistance to it.”

In terms of what is going to drive the next year’s growth markets, Monson predicts more digital signage, expanded use of graphics in areas where you hadn’t thought about using them before, more interior décor, and even more of a focus on sustainability and environmental protection.

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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