The BrightSpot

Recently, I was given the privelege of working on a project in Paris for Louis Vuitton. The team and I flew to Paris to work with several other contractors on what was really the perfection of a new look. This experience working with such a high-level design team taught me so much about what sets this group apart in terms of image and branding; the quality and value of the Louis Vuitton brand is visible in every aspect of every final product.

The design team in Paris meticulously develops a thoughtful theory and creative design on paper, then renders the design as a three-dimensional model – allowing all finishes and products to be examined, critiqued and improved upon again and again until perfection is achieved in all areas. The entire process is a collaborative effort by a remarkably talented group that consistently exceeds expectations.

What I witnessed in Paris stands in stark contrast to what I’ve noticed from the many companies we deal with on a daily basis. Time and again a company will send its specifications through a general contractor who then sends the pieces out to bid in order to get the lowest price. Finishing touches are usually hasty, last minute additions after a project is behind schedule and over-budget. As a result the company has to compromise its goal because of budgetary issues or because the chosen vendors failed to deliver the high-quality product originally intended. Repeatedly I deal with customers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a project only to be met with frustration and, after escalating construction costs, forced to sacrifice the beautiful details originally intended for something cheaper. In the end, the company devalues its own brand.

There is a reason the Louis Vuitton brand is considered one of the most valuable brands in the world… the brand is never discounted. An acute attention to detail and desire for quality is present from the very beginning. The team itself is designed for the pursuit of perfection.

In walking into the Louis Vuitton flagship store on the Champs-Élysée, I found myself admiring the exquisite purses lining the shelves. One purse in particular caught my eye. After asking the sales woman to see the purse, I patiently waited as she put on her white gloves. The woman held the purse with such presentation that you might think it to be the most perfect purse ever made… a flawless work of art. Seeing this made me smile; I knew it was perfect. And I knew that somewhere, there was a design team that painstakingly worked out every detail of the finished purse before it was even put in production.

Perfection is the only expectation and always the result

Just because you can’t do exactly what a customer asks, doesn’t mean you can’t do something

I run two very active sign manufacturing facilities in the Pacific Northwest. Both facilities drive an incredible amount of product out the door each and every day. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and being able to hit deadlines; that’s why we have been so successful over the last 35 years. However, every week we have at least one customer calling and begging us to manufacture a job for them that they need IMMEDIATLY, obviously neglecting to give the proper time frame for ordering. These customers are usually quite desperate and demanding by the time they get put through to me.

“I know the job completion date wasn’t for three weeks but I need it installed by Friday!”
“Please can’t you just push this sign through…my Grand Opening is this weekend!”
“I have this great project for you guys but I need it installed by the end of the month!”

I really feel bad when speaking to them about the situation they have put themselves in, but rather than just telling them “no” like most sign shops would do, or taking their business with no intention of meeting that expectation, I like to spend a few minutes talking with them about why this is such an emergency. Usually, after a little empathy regarding their situation, I find out that Friday is the day that the building needs to be turned over for occupancy… Not that the job actually has to be completed.

“So what you need are signs on the door for the occupancy inspection that will be done on Friday?”
“Yes! Without the signs the whole project won’t be turned over and it will cost me a fortune!”

“Well, obviously I can’t produce a large signage package like that overnight, but I certainly see why you are so stressed out. Why don’t I make some temporary signs for all the code sign locations so you can get your occupancy, and then we can take the time we need to manufacture quality signs for your facility.”

“Can you do that?”
“We do it all the time.”

I made the temporary signs. Problem solved. They didn’t get what they thought they wanted… but they did get what they really needed. “Just because there’s nothing you can do, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.”

customer-support-office1. Don’t be so fast with a “no.”

The key to making an alternative suggestion work for a customer is to avoid immediately sharing what is not available. Take a little time since the customer has no idea how long it actually takes to process his/her request. Use that time to focus on the customer’s actual interests, not just his/her stated request. Try to determine what’s really going on, and how flexible he/she might be.

2. Don’t try to explain your way out of a high-effort situation.

People often waste too much of a customer’s time and mental energy explaining why the customer can’t have what he/she wants. While doing so might seem logical, typically it comes across to the customer as defensive or combative: “All you’re doing is justifying why your company can’t give me what I want. How does that help me?”

3. Don’t take the customer’s request quite so literally.

In many cases, the service a customer requests and his/her actual need may be very different. When you understand the full context a different need may emerge.

In my case the “Just because there’s nothing you can do doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do” approach succeeded on multiple levels: One, I got a great new customer and project, and the contractor got a sign company that they knew could help them out in stressful situations.




vista-place-pylonWe just installed this beautiful pylon sign at 2990 Commercial Street SE for CD Redding for their wonderful new strip center.

We appreciate their quality craftsmanship on the project, and can’t wait to begin patronizing their first tenant Five Guys. Great burgers are always a favorite on this side of town.

We hope anyone looking for a new place to set up shop will take a look at the center…we can already see it is a busy place with lots of hungry foot traffic.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Pantone has launched two mobile apps for color-aware creatives: MyPantone for Android and myPantone 2.0for the iPhone.

MyPantone for Android brings Pantone’s popular iPhone application for capturing, creating and sharing color palettes to the Android platform. It gives graphic, digital, multimedia, fashion, interior and industrial designers access to more than 13,000 Pantone colous wherever they go. The included libraries are the Plus Series Formula Guide (coated and uncoated), Plus Series CMYK, Color Bridge, Premium Metallics, Pastels & Neons, Goe (coated and uncoated), GoeBridge (coated), Fashion + Home Color System Library (paper and cotton), and Fashion + Home nylon brights.

Each color swatch in the myPantone for Android application includes sRGB, HTML and L*a*b* values. MyPantone for Android also automatically generates a variety of harmonious colour combinations. Additionally, cross-referencing color capabilities aim to make it simple for users to find similar colors among the various Pantone Colour Libraries. For example, users can identify the Fashion + Home Color that most closely matches any Plus Color.

MyPantone for Android takes advantage of Android’s built-in camera to let the user capture whatever inspires them. Colors can be extracted from any photo stored on the Android and matched to the closest colors.

Color palettes can be sent as Pantone Color Chips, or as swatch files that can be used in Adobe Creative Suite (.ase) and QuarkXPress. Designers can also share their color palettes by automatically posting notification of new palettes to Facebook or by sending them to the Pantone hosted website

myPantone 2.0 for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is a free update for current myPantone users. myPantone 2.0 provides designers with CMYK data for all Plus Series Colors. Another innovative feature myPantone 2.0 offers is the ability to connect to Pantone’s Color Manager desktop software to upload color managed data for Pantone Colors based on ICC color output device profiles

Pantone says that the iPhone, iPod and iPad app’s interface has been improved as well. Now myPantone 2.0 allows users to calibrate the iPhone display to view color-corrected Pantone Colors within the application. An X-Rite calibration device is required for calibration, such as ColorMunki Photo, Design or Create, or the new ColouMunki Display, i1Pro or i1Display 2. Additionally, myPantone 2.0 allows users to print from compatible iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch devices using AirPrint.

MyPantone for Android is available for download at the Android Market store for $8. It’s compatible with Android 2.2 or higher.

The iOS-compatible MyPantone 2.0 is a free upgrade for current owners and is available for download to new users in the iTunes App Store for $10. Current myPantone users will be prompted to download a free upgrade. MyPantone 2.0 is compatible with iPhone OS 4.0 or higher, and can be used on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Meyer Sign Co. of Oregon (Portland) has donated an energy-efficient, outdoor, electric sign to the Portland Metro Habitat for Humanity ReStore, one of the organization’s shops that resells new or gently used building materials and home-improvement products. Habitat for Humanity builds homes in the Portland and Vancouver areas by leveraging ReStore revenue. ReStores across the country raised more than $25,000 to help build Habitat homes in 2010.

The $8,000 donation, recently presented to a Beaverton, OR ReStore, is one of several local, sustainable projects in which Meyer Sign Co. has participated.

Original Article @ Sign of the Times

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