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Reliving the 2017 Sign Expo

The editors reflect on another trip to Las Vegas, and one word is hard to forget: textiles.




Some 20,000 sign guys and gals gathered for the first day of the 2017 ISA Sign Expo last week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The rows of red and black carpets were as familiar as ever, but something was different this year. As we spoke to dozens of shop owners, industry suppliers, and global thought leaders, it became clear that it’s the sign guys and gals themselves who are beginning to change.

Photo courtesy of ISA.

We saw a crowd of people who are ready to adapt and innovate, finding new ways to maximize the value of visual communication. They’re embracing the cloud and pushing suppliers to experiment with new ideas. They’re topping their facilities with solar panels and insisting on and sustainability. They’re showing interest in hiring, marketing to, and even learning from millennials. They’re wrapping and printing on everything: skateboard wheels, nursing pods, shoes, kitchen appliances, and of course, .

The Soft Sign Expo?
Rare was the conversation where textiles weren’t mentioned at one point or another. Latex printing came up almost as often. It seems PSPs are ready to embrace it: soft signage is sophisticated, lightweight, recyclable, foldable, washable, easy (and cheaper) to ship – all around usable. There was much talk about texture and the concern for what the fabric felt like; it seemed many were willing to pay a premium just for that tactile sensation. (And from soft signage, it’s not a far leap to .)

Educational Moments
• “ will become the primary spenders in the next two to three years.” –Steve Bench, Wisconsin Business World, “Generational Differences: Millennials at Work”
• “Change the way you position your product to turn it into a high-margin conversation.” –Pat McGrew, Keypoint Intelligence, “Wide Format: Using Data to Increase Profit and Create Opportunity”
• “There’s always a lower price out there. Don’t get involved in a race to the bottom. But: always follow up.” –William Farquharson, Idealliance, “The 25 Best Ever.”

For live updates during major industry shows (or to see more from last week at ISA), check out our Twitter accounts: and .




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