Translating Specialty Graphics Lingo

He Said What?!

Specialty Graphics lingo guaranteed to make your mom blush.

“It’s skirting because you didn’t glass it right. You’ve got to stretch and torch it before you go back in with the squeegee. Now add a little more sauce, that should do it!”

Wait… what??

Though it reads like a complaint spewed by a disgruntled car wash patron, it is in fact something you might hear while observing a Specialty Graphics installation in your facility.

 In case you missed our back-to-basics definition of Specialty Graphics last week, think of them as the vast category of graphics and signage that can be applied to the windows, to the walls, and all of your equipment during a facility branding project.

Being the innately curious folks that we are, we decided to do bit more digging into this twisted lingo and see what we could find. Care to see the finalists on our list of wild and ‘other-wordly’ terms of the trade? Read on.

From ‘Stud Mounts’ to ‘Skirting’

The first one on the list isn’t that weird, but it is critically important during an install and equally fun to say. SQUEEEEEEGEEEEEE. SQUEE. GEEE. We digress…

As one might imagine, a squeegee is a flat plastic tool used to install vinyl graphics. It ensures a smooth and secure application free from bubbling and lifting edges. “Way better than a credit card,” asserts Jim.

“It’s how I refer to my neighbor’s lawn where it meets mine,” says Jim. Non-habit forming and 100% legal, weed borders are also the square frames cut around an irregularly shaped graphic that are removed before application. Their basic-yet-essential function is to help square-up the graphic and ensure proper alignment during an installation.

Guaranteed to make a middle school kid blush, kiss cut vinyl graphics are those printed on a larger sheet of vinyl, usually with an adhesive backing. The graphics are aligned using a laser, cut into individual shapes and masked front and back with an adhesive sheet. Pull the backing off, expertly apply with your squeegeroonee, and, voilà!

Get your mind out of the gutter! Handing involves creating a mirrored image of a graphic that is intended for two different sides of a piece of equipment. “For example, a horse’s head needs to be facing the front of a truck on both sides,” says Jim, “Because a horse would never run backwards. Duh.”

Jim insisted upon wearing sunglasses for this part. Stud mounts are dimensional graphics that are affixed to the wall using long, threaded screws. Wood or acrylic letters for example, get punched with holes in the back, mounted with screws, and slid into pre-drilled holes in the wall. The final product looks as dapper as the name suggests.

This is in fact not what happened to Marilyn while standing over the manhole. Although similar in ways, skirting in specialty graphics refers to vinyl that’s starting to bunch up around the edges after installation. “Hey, it happens to the best of us,” says Jim. But any good installer knows the remedy – a little stretching or heat before Mr. Squeegeepants usually does the trick!

Is it a close-to-capsizing tented ‘caution’ sign that says ‘wet floor’? Nope! More like a liquid recipe of baby shampoo and distilled water used to apply graphics to glass. Often referred to as “sauce”, we still wouldn’t recommend eating it!

Sounds dangerous, but is relatively painless. This thin tape with a super-strong Kevlar thread in it is applied before the graphics are installed along a future cut line. Pull the thread out of the tape, and it cuts the vinyl in one fell swoop. “I’m almost certain I heard it from a friend, who told my uncle, who then told me, that NASA invented it for installing graphics on Mars,” asserts Jim.

Smoothing out our list is a step in the installation process guaranteed to make your OCD tendencies tingle. This step involves pulling a large graphic smooth from several different sides to get it to lay perfectly flat before adding heat or going in with your squeegeemobobber. “Smooth baby!” Says Jim. He’s added finger guns to the sunglasses at this point.


Whether they’re in plain English or preposterous prose, well executed facility branding is worth well over 1,000 words. Armed with the lingo, materials, tools, and the capabilities to print on nearly anything, Thysse can help your brand speak volumes.

Have an idea for a project you’d like to kick over to us? Give us a shout! We’re always happy to talk through a project.

Prefer to go back to the basics first? Check out the beginner’s guide to Specialty Graphics here.

Is your space doing your brand justice?

SPECIALTY GRAPHICS: UNWRAPPED

If your company walls could talk, what would they say? Would they whisper the names of employees taking extra-long lunch breaks? Maybe spill the juicy details of who’s been hoarding pens from the supply closet? Perhaps they’d blow the whistle on the moocher who’s been tapping into your personal supply of Ranch dressing? They knew those scribbled initials weren’t just for show…

Unfortunately, while the walls can’t divulge the scandalous details of your office happenings, they can serve as a powerful tool to express your brand’s message. Your space can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to communicating culture, values and voice, without having to say a word. When paired with your website, logos, business collateral and other “quiet branding” your company can make quite the statement.

Facility branding is more than just slapping a logo on a wall; it’s the chance to showcase who you are as a brand. We’ve already shone a light on the most over-the-top facility branding capabilities from our Experiential Graphic Design team. Now let’s step back and unwrap the physical components at the foundation of these projects.

What are ‘Specialty Graphics’ and what makes them so… special?

To categorize this graphical multi-beast under one umbrella, we coined the term ‘Specialty Graphics’ in-house to help start the conversation with curious clients (ahem, that’s you). For all of the ‘type A-ers’ reading along, a basic definition could look something like this:

Graphics created using a wide range of materials that are applied to your facility’s windows, walls and equipment.

Yet, try as we may to squeeze them into a tidy corner of our website, Specialty Graphics truly do live in a world of their own. They can be customized any which way according to the eye of the beholder, using a near-limitless range of substrates and install methods. This goes far beyond signage – think wall decals, window clings, cash wraps, and privacy panels. All of them conveying who you are as a company and all of them available to improve brand perception.

An Unprecedented Return On Your Investment

Here’s the part where you scoff at the idea of facility branding as you picture your yearly marketing expenditure being reduced to a single roll of quarters. Rest assured that the scope of these projects ranges anywhere from a single vinyl logo install to a complete overhaul of your facility. And if done right, a little bit can go a long way. Here’s a curated short list of how investing in your space can have a tenfold return on your investment.

Create an Epic First Impression: Your space is more than the place you do business. It’s an opportunity to showcase what your brand is made of to both prospective and current customers. Specialty Graphics can be used to create stronger brand awareness, a walking tour for visitors, even showoff the range and quality of your products and services.

Attract and Retain Top-Notch Talent: Attracting talent on your reputation alone is a nice thought, yet younger generations crave something more. Prospective employees enter your facility expecting spaces that inspire, invoke innovation and encourage creativity. In addition to the ‘wow’ factor for new employees, Specialty Graphics can boost morale and increase feelings of well-being for current ones.

Create Designated Spaces: Well-executed specialty graphics are the junction of form and function. They can create necessary divides between departments or generate feelings of unity in common and collaborative spaces. Wayfinding graphics can be strategically installed in and around your facility to guide visitors and employees, all while serving as a visual extension of your brand.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT (Que 90’s Music):

We’ve told you what they are, and their range of benefits, but how does Thysse do it? Every project begins with a great conversation.

 “It starts with listening to the client talk about their ideas and the vision for what they have in mind. We ask a series of questions to narrow down the scope of the project. In that initial conversation, we talk about what we are capable of, which usually surprises the client. One of our biggest challenges is familiarizing our clients with the vast array of graphic products and processes we offer.”

-Thysse Director of Specialty Graphics, Jim Hagen

After the initial dialog of brainstorming and flushing out ideas, we provide a preview of the project, relevant samples and similar examples of what the final will look like. Any materials less than 2” thick, we print directly on them on our wide format printers. Depending on the scope of the project, some installs can be printed and applied all in one day.


At the end of the day, we want to provide you partnership and flexibility, from ideation through production and installation. Having one team tackle all aspects of your project not only ensures consistency with your brand standards; it also saves you time, money and nights awake worrying about the small-but-important details that could otherwise get lost in translation.

Got a cool project idea you’ve been dying to talk through? Give us a shout! We love to brainstorm new concepts.

Prefer to explore more on your own first? Learn more about Specialty Graphics here.

Experiential Design Dream Team: Defined.

We thought a few introductions to the team who tinkers with your brand translations was in order. After all, we’ve been playing them up as guides and experts of brand expression, but often they get reduced down to job title when we boast about our unique experiential design makeup. For one blog only, we’re putting a temporary spotlight their skills and storied pasts because it’s about time we bragged about these creative minds.

Loren Zemlicka | Principal

Loren Zemlicka, Design Principal

First up, the guy who started the foray into experiential design at Thysse. A creative in one way or another for most of his life, Loren brought his 20 years of graphic design experience and creative direction to Thysse in 2013 and only looked back to bring a few friends along for the ride (more on them in a moment). A renowned Play-Doh sculptor in his early years, he’s since moved on to molding enterprise brands into hierarchical masterpieces and has been known to moonlight a blog or two. Never content to master one skill, his efforts now stretch to encompass print design, web design, video production, copywriting, photography and of course, experiential (environmental) graphic design.

Geoff Sabin | Principal

Geoff Sabin, Principal Architect

Geoff Sabin’s a little shaggier these days than his picture would suggest, but he’s still got the same focus and drive on every project as he did on day one. Geoff joined our team shortly after its inception, and our house band has been thanking him ever since. Our principal architect by day, and on Rhythm Guitar and Lead Vocals by night/is-it-actually-really-early-the-next-morning, Geoff brings over 20 years of design and architecture experience to the Thysse crew. He can design a building, move on to design everything inside and outside the building, and then finish with  a design of the invitations for the grand opening. Geoff infuses creative energy into everything he does and has a very specific taste in pens – the now-discontinued Yasutomo Lupro Niji Stylist Markers to be exact. We’re still warring with the guy on eBay for the last box….

Kris Marconnet | Senior Designer

Kris Marconnet, Experiential Designer

Kris excels at visual branding elements in corporate, education and healthcare settings. A practicing lawn artist, she’s mastered the intricate turns and specific step counts to create an exact match to the revered Scottish “Royal Stewart” tartan in her own backyard. This latest design received modest praise from the neighbors, though they’re still a little leery after the more controversial piece, “Reclining Nude Eating Grapes.” We wish Mrs. Jensen well in her recovery… What were we doing? Ah yes, bragging about our master illustrator and logo developer. Probably swearing like a sailor internally that she’s the first designer on the list of praise, we’ll have to bribe her with cans of Bubly to make up for it. Like a silent assassin, her 25 years of accomplished design work often speaks for itself.  

Julie Kimmell | Project Manager

Julie Kimmel, Design Project Manager

We want your project to be beautiful, but we also want to be sure it stays on schedule and budget too. Hailing from the picturesque shores of an Illinois farm and a life spent raising hot dogs and bears, Julie is our professional creative management maven. We’re thrilled she left a string of Amazonian corporations, the three-martini lunches, fashion model shoots and glamorous haute-couture lifestyle behind to join our team; who doesn’t long for a hard hat now and then? With over 20 years of experience in creative and schedule wrangling,  Julie supports the team with financials, project planning, estimating and documentation on every design project and thankfully runs that weekly status meeting with military precision.

Allyson Casey | Concept Designer

Allyson Casey, Experiential Designer

We probably shouldn’t brag about theft on here, but you could say we stole Allyson away after collaborating on a multi-year project. Maybe stole is a bit harsh, we are pretty irresistible after all. She joined the Thysse Design crew in 2018 and brought her wealth of knowledge as a designer, art director, and artist along with. She’s also got a penchant for obscure indie folk music. If it’s got guitars, mandolins, or fiddles, you can bet it’s on her Spotify playlist. Typically armed with a cup of coffee and at least one AirPod in, she can nail a brand’s essence in record time, and translate it to walls, windows, and more. We usually pause the stopwatch for that second part.

Evan Hildebrand | Architectural Designer

Evan Hildebrand, Architectural Designer

Mr. Texas Panini himself, Evan comes to us from…Ohio. We’re kidding of course. This renowned humorist and ultimate frisbee cutter graduated Summa Cum Laude, with Distinction from University of Minnesota. Writing that out seems prestigious and oddly NSFW all at once… degrees and an eight-semester Dean’s list streak in hand, he then secured a sweet gig as a Design Associate in – you guessed it – Dallas, Texas. After perfecting his pronunciation of “y’all,” and confirming his cowboy boot size,  Evan hopped back to the Midwest and joined Thysse Design to specialize in 3D design, modeling, and rendering

Jen Braga | Marketing Director

Jen Braga, Marketing Director

We don’t make it a pattern, but sometimes we like the people we work with enough to hire them on our team. She’s been a project manager, designer, brand manager, and marketing specialist, and has a terrible golf swing, so we thought it’d be best to combine it all into one role on our team. Jen is a University of Wisconsin MBA graduate specializing in marketing and branding. She understands the importance of powerful storytelling, targeted messaging and may use the term “unaided brand awareness” approximately 23.5x more often than the average person.

Angie Biermeier | Designer

Angie Biermeier, Experiential Designer

We round out introductions with our very first Thysse Design hire. Angie came from the print design, copy layout and logo development world, and has since broadened her skillset, working in the built environment to create facility branding programs. Think that’s impressive? Wait till you see her Donnie and Marie memorabilia collection. With over 20 years of design experience, we’ll listen to her talk about the Osmond lunch boxes, coloring books, framed (and signed) 8x10s all day because when it comes down to it, Angie is a technical production artist wiz. Truly, her art file setups are a thing of art.


So there you have it, the team who draws the connection between material and messaging, and brings your brand into a new plane. In addition to these key personnel, we also have a staff comprised of a skilled craftsmen and women who love what they do. It is a team woven together with collective expertise and bound by satisfaction of a job well done.

Sound like a crew you’d like to kick it with even when the projects get hard? See if you have what it takes to join the team.

Curious to learn more? Let’s talk. We’re not salespeople. We’re just a bunch of passionate designers who love to talk through a project.

Experiential Design and Facility Branding

Bringing your brand to life in a physical space through experiential design.

University of Wisconsin School of Business – Grainger Learning Commons. The Thysse experiential design team designed, fabricated and installed a custom LED-lit donor wall, custom branded privacy vinyl, dimensional metal letterforms
University of Wisconsin School of Business – Grainger Learning Commons.

We sometimes use the phrase, “your brand is more than a logo.” It’s a way to start the conversation into brand experience and perception, to ensure our prospective clients understand the value of  consistent and quality representation across all lines of production and communications. Ensuring your vehicle wraps are aligned with your mailers, that these pieces match your promo products and work together for your brand is critical for ongoing success.

When our Experiential Graphic Design team works on a project, this idea is catapulted to a new level: your physical space is representing your brand – what’s it saying? Thysse Design understands that slapping a few art pieces on a wall may take up empty space, but it’s likely not improving your guests’ and employees’ experiences in any meaningful way.

University of Wisconsin Memorial Union renovation. The Thysse experiential design team designed, fabricated and installed custom wallpaper, custom wood millwork, hand-painted and formed aluminum, dimensional acrylic, direct-printed acrylic, vinyl graphics, LED lighting, fabric panels, interior and exterior signage, and wayfinding.
University of Wisconsin Memorial Union renovation.

Instead, we avoid haphazard messaging and disconnected art installations, by taking a holistic approach to understanding your brand and your audience. In these discussions and throughout the project, the Thysse experiential design team acts as guides to deepening your brand’s visual identity and to inform decisions about architecture, finishes, furniture, even lighting and electrical outlets. To ensure your brand and culture is best translated into the best graphic and physical form, our mantra is:

“Everything that goes on the wall has to mean something”

Seems like a tall order, but Thysse Design achieves this through careful balance of 3 elements: the message, the design and the materials. All three components have to be present in your space, in equal parts, for a truly effective and impactful finished product. When any one of these elements is lacking, the whole experience falls flat.

Luckily, we are uniquely qualified to build an environment for your brand that turns materials and messages into connections for your space and your brand.  Our team of architects, designers, project managers, copywriters and historians love to weave in a good story of inspiration and enthusiasm throughout your organization, and we especially love to work with people who are passionate about what they do.

San Jose State University Student Union. The Thysse experiential design team designed, fabricated and installed custom wallpaper, custom millwork, hand-painted and formed aluminum, dimensional acrylic, direct-printed acrylic, vinyl, LED lighting, printed fabric panels, acoustic fabric panels, interior and exterior signage, wayfinding, ADA and room signage
San Jose State University Student Union.

Thysse is where you go with your brand, and our experiential team proves that it’s ok if that path is currently a little unknown. We’re here to create experiences that elevate, illuminate, and inform. We believe your story is as important as the materials it’s printed on.

Because it’s your brand, but it’s our name on the line.

Curious to learn more? Let’s talk. We’re not salespeople. We’re just a bunch of passionate designers who love to talk through a project. Drop us a line at info@thyssedesign.com

Finding Inspiration in a School Bus

Nelson’s Bus Service has come to rely on Thysse to provide the “cool wow factor” for their branded collateral. Thysse has developed everything from business cards and pocket folders to giant bus-sized banners.

Most recently, Thysse completed a signage project for their facilities in Whitewater and McFarland, Wisconsin. Thysse began with a site study, identifying needed signage messaging and installation locations. We then amassed an overall signage inventory, designing a sign family that fit within the established Nelson’s Bus Service Visual Branding. We direct-printed the designs to aluminum panels with UV ink that would hold up to all weather conditions. Areas of raw aluminum was strategically left unprinted to catch the ambient light, creating a visually striking sign piece.

Who Trusts Thysse With Their Brand? – WEA Trust

Introducing a new product to the marketplace is often accompanied by uncertain anxiety. Market research is no guarantee. The best thing you can do is communicate your message. Effective communication of your message can mean the difference between immediate interest and the lack of … and immediate interest makes eventual adoption much more likely.

Where do you go? How do you begin?

WEA Trust went to Thysse for assistance with their new product launch. Thysse provided WEA Trust with creative, experience-driven ideas and guided their in-house designer through the large-format file development and production process. From creative concept to brand deployment, WEA Trust’s product launch was a success.

“My team at WEA Trust started working closely with Thysse when we began planning a big product launch. The product was new and different and we need to make a splash in the marketplace. The plan was to create an interactive experience that our guests would go through before the product launch presentation. And if that wasn’t enough, the whole thing need to be both mobile and re-usable.

Thysse’s expertise, creativity, and attention to detail were essential in bringing our vision to life. The event was a huge success and I can say without hesitation that without Thysse’s partnership, it would not have had the spark and energy that gave it life.

The team at Thysse is one of the best in the industry and I would highly recommend working with them on your next project. Very few agencies are producing the kind of truly experiential design that Thysse has been doing for years. They make incredible results and brilliant innovation look easy.”
– Dan Rose, Content and Branding Specialist at WEA Trust

Saving the Canvas, Saving the Art, Saving the Story

The art community in San José, California is evolved, involved and organized. Public art installations and murals play a significant role in the downtown landscape as almost any area lacking visual interest is seen as a possible canvas. This art community is especially vibrant at San José State University.

The San José State Art School building is located 35 feet from the Student Union building. This location is convenient for student artists – close to book store supplies, student resources and dining. However, when construction began on the new Student Union building, this location would become less than ideal.

Better Than Blue

In September of 2010, in conjunction with the San José State University Student Union Renovation and Expansion project, construction workers erected an eight-foot-high wall surrounding the Student Union construction site. The internal debate over the splintered eyesore of a barrier began almost immediately and requests from the Art Department to do something with the great plywood wall were made early and often. The school rebutted. The planks were painted. Blue. The students of San José wanted something more – something better than blue.

An extracurricular art club, the “Dirty Brushes” , saw an opportunity to create a public art piece and the blue wall was perfect for a large-scale mural project. The project know as “Better Than Blue” began in April 2011 with a small grant from the Student Union. More than 100 art and art history students would come to be involved in painting more than 45 different “self-portraits” of a diverse selection of famous artists on the blue wall.

Saving the Canvas

When exterior construction completed in 2015, the painted wall was scheduled to be demolished and discarded. Thysse stepped in. We knew the wall needed to be saved. It was artwork that needed to be preserved, it was a story that needed to be told. We hired a crew to carefully dismantle the wall, individually wrap each 8’ tall panel, place them into shipping containers and ship them to a local storage facility.

Almost a year later, as the interior construction on the Student Union was being completed, Thysse began the process of restoring the “Better Than Blue” wall by unpacking and sorting through the salvaged panels. We chose 30 panels that were in the best condition and hired a local artisan craftsman to properly restore, preserve and frame the pieces for display.

omg. These were my fav thing about campus

In August, 2016, a week before fall classes began, Thysse came in and installed the restored panels. When the students returned, the artwork that once adorned the construction fence they passed by everyday, the artwork they assumed had been lost and forgotten about, the artwork that reflected the San José State culture had once again appeared on the site. This time, inside and permanently on display on the walls of their Student Union.

Who Trusts Thysse With Their Brand? – Oregon Community Bank

The need for a corporate rebranding is usually a realization that comes from within the organization. Perhaps it starts with a logo that has begun to feel dated – a mark that doesn’t translate well to modern website and social media platforms – a mark that doesn’t properly reflect the company’s self-image. Perhaps it starts with an evolution of the company’s message and direction. Perhaps it starts with a new, energized vision of the company’s future. For Oregon Community Bank, all of these things occurred at about the same time and in 2014 they wondered …

Where do you go? How do you begin?

Oregon Community Bank turned to the branding team at Thysse. We began with a thorough examination of the existing visual brand elements, and OCB’s future plans. We then organized a series of Thysse-led employee charrettes in which we guided internal discussion focused around exposing the existing company culture and visions for the stakeholders’ outward messaging.
Thysse used this information to develop a complete rebranding that better fit an overall “Feel Good Banking” message and community mission. The finished deliverables not only included all visual identity assets (logo, typeface, color palette, print collateral, interior and exterior signage), but established the brand family for future OCB community branches.

“We were not only impressed with the end result, but the process in which Thysse employed during our rebranding process. They made it a truly collaborative effort by coming to us and leading sessions that drew out our thoughts, wants and needs. Thysse then took what we said and made it real. In the end, they effectively encompassed who we are as a bank and who we are as a brand. Simply put – success.”
– Elyse Smithback, Vice President at Oregon Community Bank