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Adding 'Wow' to Wide Format

Eight ways to further differentiate your customer's wide-format project from their competitor's.




In and of themselves, wide-format graphics will certainly stand out in a crowd of much smaller images. Just remember the first time you saw a very large graphic installed on the side of a building, for instance – that image probably is still in your mind today.

And while a supersized graphic can still draw our attention – particularly if the creative work is eye-catching or memorable – size in and of itself may no longer be quite the attention-grabber it once was.

There are ways, however, to help further differentiate your customer’s wide-format project from their competitor’s – to add a bit more “wow” to the equation and ensure that the project and the product gets the buzz it deserves.

1. Magnetics
Print providers producing elements for point-of-purchase and point-of-sale know that the only thing constant in many retail environments is, well, change. When it comes to producing these graphics, the use of printable magnetic media as well as magnetic-display systems offers the potential for jaw-dropping graphics with quick-change capabilities. The same holds true for any application that has temporary graphics needs.

CSI ( in Falls Church, Virginia, is no stranger to using magnetics systems as a way to accommodate its customers’ needs. So much so that it has produced a Red Bull sample wall in-shop to showcase the process. The wall was painted with magnetic paint, and magnetic panels were installed on top of paint, followed by the Red Bull graphic atop the panels.

Also keep in mind that you might be able to add additional “wow” to a client’s overall project by offering to produce promotional magnetized items for them, output onto magnetic media. More than $15 billion was spent on promotional products in 2009, according to Promotional Products Association International (


2. White Ink
White ink can bring a lot to the “wow” table. For example, putting down a layer or more of white ink and then printing on top of that will make the graphics “pop.” In addition, you can use white ink to bolster a graphic with a frosted effect. Plus, the utilization of white ink can help expand your media choices to include more clear as well as dark substrates, and even less typical substrates such as wood and metal. Using white as a spot color and/or a fill color is also possible with some printers.

At Unicorn Graphics in Garden City, New York, the shop is printing with white ink on a daily basis, using both an EFI Vutek QS2000 and an Agfa Jeti 1224 HDC FTR. “We are directly involved in some of our clients’ designs, and we work closely with their designers – we make sure they understand the processes involved,” says Robert Lee, Unicorn’s executive vice president. All of Unicorn’s clients understand the technical workings of printing with white ink – and the benefits, says Lee.

3. Metallic and Neon Inks
Use metallic inks to add something “shiny” to an otherwise staid graphic. For many, the use of metallic typically equates to sophistication; and this look, until recently, was generally available via screen printing, offset, or foil printing. Plus, keep in mind that you can typically combine metallics with CMYK colors to generate a variety of metallic hues.

RCR Graphics (Richard Childress Racing, used its Roland SolJet Pro III XC-540MT printer/cutter to produce metallic vehicle wraps for the Jeff Burton (#31) Caterpillar/ Chevrolet race car in last year’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 race at Talladega.

Neon inks are another opportunity: Launched last year, Seiko’s Neon inks are solvent-based fluorescents available in Hot Pink and Lemon Yellow for its ColorPainter W series. The inks, which can be printed as spot or composite colors with CMYK, glow under black lights.

4. Additional Dimensionality
Combine a flat graphic with a three-dimensional form and you’ve added an element beyond the standard two dimensions, an additional reason for the viewer to explore your client’s message.


A great example is what New York-based MetroMedia Technologies ( is doing with its 3D PosterProps product. Available in just about any shape or size, the PosterProps are dimensional, inflatable additions to two-dimensional graphics that easily install over existing posters, billboards, wallscapes, etc. No matter how you choose to achieve your particular 3D effect, doing so is sure to draw a viewer’s attention.

5. Get to the Floor
Once used almost exclusive for point-of-sale/point-of-purchase applications, floor graphics are now having an impact everywhere – from lobbies and public stairwells to stadiums, museums, streets, sidewalks, and just about anywhere there is foot or road traffic. And by putting the message at the potential client’s feet, you’re certainly setting your graphic apart from any vertical competition. You can print onto repositionable media designed exclusively for floor applications as well as onto inkjet-receptive flooring substrates. Late last year, Score! Las Vegas utilized BLT’s G-Floor Graphic (75-mil) for a 5500-square foot flooring system in its interactive sports exhibit; installation was done by Master Craft Carpet in Las Vegas.

6. Add a Multimedia/Dynamic Signage Component
Even if a client is reluctant to go “whole-hog” into dynamic signage, you can try matching up a dynamic-signage component with a wide-format static graphic – letting the technologies complement each other.

“When you present ideas to clients that demonstrate you offer a library of solutions that look good together, it can only help all parts of your business,” says Ricky Shannon, operations manager for Keith Fabry Reprographics (KFR, in Richmond, Virginia. KFR’s work with its client Jane Carter Solution resulted in this branded P-O-P display that incorporated both print work and a multimedia player.

7. Goin’ ‘Green’
For some clients, being able to boast that the print component of their marketing project is sustainable is critical – it allows them to further echo their green identity and perhaps stand out from their competitors. And other clients are mandated to integrate sustainability into their print work as a part of their corporate culture.

ProGraphix (, Austin, Texas, became SGP-certified in 2012 and now is on a mission to conduct “all of its activities in an environmentally responsible manner to benefit our customers, our employees, our suppliers, our community, and the world,” says owner Nicki Macfarlane. ProGraphix printed these shelf strips onto recyclable polypropylene film for client Whole Foods.


8. Cool Textures via Laminates
Yes, lamination can help bring a smooth finish and shine to a graphic, and then there’s the bonus of media protection. But, keep in mind that certain laminates can also add textures that will really make the graphic surface stand out.

For a project inside the University of Northwest Ohio’s suite at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky, for instance, CGS Imaging ( chose Mactac Carbon Fiber Deco Lam to seal the deal. CGS used the Deco Lam over Mactac bubble-free cast vinyl adhesive that covered the countertops and trim inside the suite. Chuck Stranc, president of CGS, says the laminate was chosen to “achieve a stunning effect to the countertops and trim, giving a custom look and feel.”

Of course, there are many other ways, methods, and technologies to integrate into your wide-format-wow toolbox to add more pizzazz to your graphics – including matching up your graphics with an interesting display choice (see page 22). Have any other suggestions for “adding wow” – please drop us a note at [email protected].




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