The Ins and Outs of Signage Substrates

Demystifying large format substrates and how to choose the best options for your brand.

Sintra, who? Corrugated, what? Polycarbonate… wait, is that a soda? 

With all the strange jargon and obscure brand names, selecting substrates for your brand’s signage can feel more like a nightmarish chemistry class than a meeting with your printer! But not to worry, we’re here to fill you in on everything you need to know to avoid sub-par substrate selection and ensure your signage is suitable for its intended application. Let’s begin by demystifying the three main identifiers printers use to categorize large format substrates. 


First things first, assess the desired athleticism of your signage – that is, how flexible should it be? Rigid signage is typically stored in flat sheets, has some dimension to it, and may be installed as a standalone piece or within a frame. If you’re looking for unique shapes or cutouts, this is likely what you’ll want. Rolled substrates are aptly named as they are not only stored IN ROLLS but also can be printed and re-rolled for easy transport and installation. Think banners, wallpaper, etc.

Once you know your base material type, consider the location and desired level of permanence. Some substrates are classified as weatherproof, meaning they hold up to extreme heat and cold without warping, melting, rusting or fading. Special finishes and laminates can also be applied to materials that are not innately weatherproof to make them so. These are great for exterior and long-term signage needs, as they are more durable. Predictably, this can also make them a more expensive option. However, there are plenty of signage applications, particularly in the retail world, that don’t require such high levels of permanence. 


Next, let’s get into options. We’ve outlined some of the most common signage substrates below, but keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list. 



Aluminum is often desired for its stand-out aesthetic qualities. In other words… it’s super shiny! It’s highly durable yet lightweight, making it ideal for long-term installations, and it can be used for a variety of applications both indoors and outdoors including signage requiring photo-quality graphics. 


A semi-rigid plastic material ideal for indoor displays, it’s impact resistance makes it ideal for signage used in point of purchase (POP) displays and interior window graphics as it doesn’t dent or scuff easily with frequent handling. 


Often referred to as coroplast, this substrate has a construction similar to cardboard, only made of plastic – making it better suited for outdoor use. It is lightweight and commonly used for short term exterior signage like promotional lawn and real estate signage. 


The brand name you might often hear buzzing around this category is Sintra®, and it’s a favorite of ours too. This premium option for long-term indoor use is available in a range of colors and thicknesses. Common applications include posters, in-store displays, and cut outs. 


These rigid, indoor substrates all have a similar construction consisting of foam on the interior and various materials on the exterior. Foamcore for example, has a paper exterior making it more affordable, and better for short term signage. Ultraboard on the other hand, has a harder plastic exterior making it an excellent choice for vividly printed panels for permanent signage or high-use displays.


An ultra-tough material that is typically either transparent or opaque white. Its aesthetic qualities make it ideal for backlit signage, windows and any signage intended to resemble glass. It can be used for outdoors signage with a special UV finish, however as is, polycarbonate is better suited for indoor use. 


Acrylic has similar aesthetic qualities to polycarbonate, however extruded acrylic is more malleable than polycarbonate, making it better suited for signage with smooth edges. Another option, cast acrylic, has the unique quality of yielding frost white markings when etched. Both are great choices for long term signage in outdoor or indoor applications. 



Banner material is extremely versatile and comes in a variety of textures from smooth to perforated mesh. It’s suitable for indoor and outdoor use for both short and long term applications. Common applications include hanging window displays and speaker covers.  


Depending on the quality of the vinyl, clings can be used both indoors and outdoors everywhere from window displays to your company airplane fleet (dare to dream). With proper maintenance, vinyl can last for years. Yet it’s also easy to remove and affordable to replace frequently. making it a great choice for seasonal retail displays. 


Highly affordable and easy to transport, poster paper is ideal for short-term indoor signage. It offers a dual-sided printing option, making it a great choice for POP displays, ceiling hangers, and you guessed it, posters. 


Canvas is a highly durable option that can be used both indoors and outdoors. It has an unmistakable woven texture and adds an organic, tactile element to displays. This option is great for trade shows as it is also easy to store and transport. Some fabric substrates can also be stretched over frames to create a polished look for semi-permanent indoor signage – a common technique used in athletic facilities


In addition to factors like weather resistance, desired longevity, and flexibility of your materials, other questions to ask yourself when considering substrates could include things like: 


Consider the level of permanence you really need for your signage. If you’re a retailer that undergoes frequent signage refreshes, a business in a rental space, or a company that may undergo a rebrand in the future, it might not be the best option to indulge in top-tier substrates. In addition to the cost of the substrates themselves, consider the size and weight of your materials as they will determine your shipping costs. 


In addition to the graphics, messaging, and fonts on the signage, your substrates also play a key role in communicating brand identity. Are you going for a rustic, clean, minimalist, modern, or industrial vibe? Are you looking to achieve a certain texture or opacity? Additionally, the quality of the graphics you seek, and whether or not you need dual sided printing, may help steer your decision as some substrates offer more vivid color printing than others. 


Ease of Installation is a particularly important factor to consider for retailers depending on employees of all ages and skill levels to assemble displays on the floor. Signage that is heavy, cumbersome, and requires complicated hardware to install might be best to avoid for short term signage. Substrates with magnetic backing, on the other hand, are a great option for ease of installation. Additionally, for applications like Trade Show displays for example, consider which substrates will be easier to store and re-assemble.  

With such a plethora of signage substrates to choose from, choosing the right one for your brand’s needs might seem like a daunting task – but the great news is that you don’t have to do it alone! Thysse has an experienced team of Large Format experts, many with over 20 years in the industry, with the know-how and resources to take your next project from concept and production to hardware selection and installation.

Have something in mind and need help fleshing out the possibilities? Drop us a line! Or head to our Large Format service page to explore more on your own. 


Six supercharged signage categories and what they bring to the table for your business.

Brand signage serves to positively impact your business in a number of ways – from aiding in brand awareness to informing and persuading visitors. Something we discussed in-depth in our last post, and emphasized with an ‘actual’ metric ton of stats from everyone but your mother

That said, certain categories of signage are better suited for accomplishing specific tasks than others. In the world of brick-and-mortar retail and Facility Branding, you might hear frequent references to a few major classifications of signage. The power of these categories tend to be tapped more often because of one very important reason: They work! 

Having a basic understanding of each, and the core purposes they serve for a business, is a great first step in deciding where to place your focus. Note that while we’ve laid them out here in tidy listicle format, these categories are not mutually exclusive


Arguably the most powerful category of signage in terms of immediate impact, Point of Purchase (POP) signage refers to vendor-provided signage and displays strategically placed in a retail store to draw attention to a product. We’re so very impressed by the power of POP signage to influence consumer behavior, that we’ve actually done a full-frontal deep dive on the subject here

POP advertising can be used to promote sales, highlight seasonal products, product features, and announce new items. It can consist of one sign, or be used to create an entire signage ecosystem – a reset. POP signage provides an opportunity to influence customers at the time it matters most. Say you’re in a store with 30 different brands of toothbrushes. Which one will you choose? You might gravitate toward the one with a sign directing you to “Feel the Tongue-Scraping Action!” Even the slightest nudge toward a unique product feature or promotion can be enough to move a product from shelf to cart.


It was the Greeks and Romans who first laid the foundation for modern wayfinding solutions. Fast forward a few thousand years to the invention of modern cities, and one might say humanity took the wayfinding ball and ran with it. Now the subject of countless studies, wayfinding signage is defined asinformation systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space” (SEGD Association). Subtle color cues, font choices, even different icons and imagery can impact the way a sign is observed and interpreted. 

This category serves to get visitors from point A to point B in massive facilities like airports and hospitals. It can aid in the flow of foot traffic, and in the retail world, can direct consumers to the products they intend to buy. In less expansive facilities wayfinding signage creates separation between departments and/or identifies collaborative spaces. When done right, wayfinding signage can even serve as an extension of the brand itself.


Before you can move product out the door, wielding the power of your handy-dandy in-store POP advertising, you first need to get people in your door – that’s where exterior signage comes in. Exterior signage is categorized as that which lives outside the four walls of your establishment. This class requires substrates and hardware that can withstand the elements in all four seasons, from coast to coast. 

Exterior signage can direct patrons to your business (think sidewalk signs or billboards) and identify it once they arrive. Exterior signage is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and works with your logo and established visual standards to create a recognizable brand. It also serves to lure in your customers, and as a mini visual ‘preview’ of what customers can expect to find inside your doors. 


Vinyl clings are defined as graphics printed on ultra-thin vinyl with adhesive backing, which are then cut and carefully applied to surfaces like windows, floors, vehicles, walls, and ceilings. Vinyl graphics range from small logos to full-on wall murals, and can serve a near limitless number of purposes for your storefront. Want to learn more about the process? Check out some of the wacky lingo involved in a vinyl graphics install. 

In addition to adding substantial aesthetic appeal to your window displays, clings can be used to enhance privacy on street level office buildings, or inform shoppers about promotions, safety measures, menus and store hours. They’re both an accessible and effective way to give your storefront a refresh without committing to expensive or permanent fixtures. Though it’s worth mentioning that with proper installation and appropriate substrates, vinyl graphics can last for months or even years! Take the lobby in your office building, for example. Vinyl graphics can be used to turn the blank white wall behind reception into a welcoming experience that represents your brand and core values to all who enter.


Signage doesn’t always require that you invest in ultra-durable substrates or heavy duty mounting equipment. There are a plethora of substrates to choose from that look polished, both rigid and flexible, while serving a wide range of applications from overhead banners to window signs. 

Temporary signage serves to draw attention to one-off events, tradeshow booths or special promotions that have a shorter life span. Any retailer who’s ever faced a Black Friday weekend and come out alive should be intimately familiar with this category of signage! 


That’s right, it’s 2021 and just about everything short of your morning pancakes has gone digital – now including store signage. Digital signage utilizes an electronic medium, usually a screen, with the capability of displaying dynamic (think GIFs and video) digital content. Screens are mounted in strategic locations around the facility, and can be controlled via one centralized location for efficiency.  

Similar to wayfinding, digital signage and its impact on consumer behavior is a hot topic for research. It’s particularly appealing to certain businesses because once installed, it’s extremely cost effective and involves zero waste. Content can be updated almost instantaneously, and can feature interactive content like animation and live feeds. This category of signage is highly versatile, and often used to communicate information to large audiences. Take airports for example, which have a regular need to inform travelers of critical safety regulations and flight status changes at a moment’s notice.  

While this is not an exhaustive list, familiarizing yourself with these signage standbys is a great place to start in deciding the best option for your business and customers. However, choosing the right type of signs for your storefront is just the lead in. 

The most effective signage is that which reflects the quality of your products and services, as well as your brand’s unique identity. Partnering with a printer like Thysse, who handles projects from design through installation, ensures consistency of brand standards across multiple assets, print processes and store locations. 

Have questions on substrates, or a creative idea you don’t see listed here? Drop us a line on our contact page and ask for more details! Or head to our Large Format services page to scope it out for yourself.

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Boosting Sales with Brand Signage

Why Your Store’s Signage Should Never Be an Afterthought

Ever passed a window that made you whip a u-ie,  just to take a peek inside? Maybe you’ve snagged a bag of BOGO tortilla chips, ever-so thoughtfully placed in a display next to your usual salsa? Chances are, it’s happened more than once. 

From alluring window displays to the tiniest of shelf talkers, few elements deliver more impact for a brick-and-mortar locale than in-store signage. In a consumer study conducted by Brigham Young University, products with signs outsold products without signs by 18%. 

Think of it this way: Signage presents an opportunity to influence consumer behavior at the very moment it matters most – at the time of purchase. And with retail traffic up 44% since the beginning of 2021 (Forbes), it’s prime time to consider how you’re communicating with customers in store.


What would Starbucks be without the iconic green mermaid? What would McDonalds be without the infamous, golden arch? These businesses are prime examples of how signage can work with key brand assets to build recognizable spaces, displays and products. Even when the logo appears on a sign without the business name, we still know precisely which brand it refers to. 

Incorporating custom signage that serves as an extension of your brand (through consistent use of color, fonts, and imagery) builds brand awareness. The more recognizable your brand is, the more it stands out amongst competitors, and the higher the likelihood it stays top of mind at purchase time.

According to Neilson’s Global New Product Innovation Survey, almost 6 out of every 10 people surveyed said that they prefer to buy new products from brands that they already know and are familiar with. In fact, consumers in both North America and Latin America stated that brand recognition was the second biggest reason why they would purchase a new product; the first reason being the price.

MADE YOU LOOK! | Signage Attracts Attention

Signage presents an opportunity to tell your brand’s story on a physical, interactive level. Effective signage creates an experience for your customer, rather than just another ho-hum trip to the store. Incorporating themes that highlight your company’s history, mission or values elevates consumer engagement and makes their visit a more memorable experience.

Consistent, professional-looking signage also functions to build trust with the consumer, as the perceived quality of your signage sends a distinct message about the quality of the business itself. According to FedEx, 68% of customers believe that signage reflects the quality of a business and their products. For instance, if you encountered a sign for a furniture store that appeared dingy and outdated, you might also assume that the furniture on the sales floor would be dirty and have a faint smell of last night’s fish dinner. 

Additionally, enticing outdoor signage and window graphics can have a significant impact on the way a storefront performs. Nearly 76% of customers said they entered a store or business they had never visited before based simply on its signs (FedEx). 

“PLEASE STAY 6 FEET APART” | Signage Informs

What would happen if you walked into a giant, sign-less grocery store? Perhaps you’d wander aimlessly through four different snack isles before finding the gluten free crackers. Maybe you’d scour the shelves in three different canned food isles before finding your jar of pickles! As benign as this scenario seems, a similar one involving an emergency hospital setting is, well, a lot less fun to imagine. 

In addition to boosting visual interest and brand awareness, signage also serves the critical function of informing and educating visitors. It aids in navigation and organization, something referred to as wayfinding signage. It educates customers on unique product features and highlights sales and promotions – all of which have been proven to significantly boost sales and basket size.

In-store display signage highlighting a specific product feature benefit. Image credit: Pinterest, REI164VM

Finally,  if there were to be, say, a global pandemic, signage could serve to communicate important safety protocols. Throughout 2020-21, many facilities utilized signage like directional wall and floor graphics to manage the flow of foot traffic. This helped to maintain safe distances between visitors, ultimately allowing stores to stay open and operational.

BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR! | Signage Persuades

Here’s a thought-provoking statistic: When customers arrive at a store, they often lack specific purchasing goals – 82% to be exact. Instead, they come with a very general list containing things like ‘socks’ or ‘bananas’. Shoppers then decide which specific brand of socks or bananas to purchase on the spot. 

This is where the persuasive power of Point of Purchase (POP) advertising comes in, significantly increasing impulse sales and cross-selling opportunities by targeting consumers when it matters most – purchase time! Merchandising similar items together (like chips, salsa, and guacamole ingredients) with an engaging sign is proven to increase basket size. Consider this large U.S. grocery store chain, that increased basket size by 19% – despite hurdles presented by COVID19 – by simply incorporating signage into smart displays. 

Image credit:

Take this shelf talker, for example, highlighting the wholesome values of a well-known food brand. A simple, informative sign attached to the shelf below a product can attract enough interest to drive a customer to put this product into their cart over other gajillion similar brands next to it. 

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK | Signage is Efficient

At Thysse, we like to think of store signage and facility branding as ‘set it and let it’ marketing. Intentional long term signage can provide advertising for years on end without requiring much maintenance. Hence over time, signage requires less of an investment than other forms of paid media, yet still has a lasting impact on sales. 

Signage can be fabricated using materials that withstand everything from searing sun to polar vortexes. It can be built to last for days, to be changed seasonally with every store reset, or years. It can be installed in a near infinite number of ways, from vinyl floor decals to elaborate wall mounts and ceiling hangers.    

Printers now have access to more green signage solutions than ever before –  substrates that are recyclable, compostable, and shortest-distance stocks allow you to keep your messaging fresh in the marketplace without having to break the bank or fill the landfill. 

Effective brand signage is both an art and a science. Understanding how to make your various pieces work in harmony – and choosing the right materials, messaging, and install methods – all play an important role in achieving your desired level of permanence and performance. 

Thysse has a dedicated team of experts, from designers and color management staff to experienced fabrication specialists and installers, who understand your brand signage serves as a direct reflection of your businesses. We also understand that getting your signage where it needs to go is half the battle, and offer streamlined kitting and shipping services to make it happen. 

Trusting Thysse with your signage offers the unique opportunity for a collaborative partnership. Have some ideas of your own? Not sure where to start? Give us a shout! Or head over to our Large Format page to explore more on your own.

An Interview with Thysse’s Director of Specialty Graphics: Jim Hagen

He’s Not Square, But His Graphics Are.  

Meet the guy behind your next Specialty Graphics installation.

Based on our last post, which demystified some absurdly ‘out-there’ industry jargon, you know Thysse’s Director of Specialty Graphics is a witty, downright likable guy. Sure, being the jovial sort makes every communication and project more enjoyable, fostering a highly-collaborative environment for your Specialty Graphics installation.

But did you know he’s also an indisputable expert at his craft, with years of experience and an infectious passion to match? We asked Jim to set his squeegee aside for a moment to give our clients a glimpse of who they’d be working with if they trusted #TeamThysse to fabricate and install their next Specialty Graphics project. Here’s what the guy behind the magic had to say: 

Thysse: How would you capture the essence of what you do in a thirty second elevator pitch? 

Jim: I install graphics and displays in your space to improve brand awareness. My team and I digitally print and cut custom, full-color graphics, and install them to bring our clients’ designs to life within their facilities.

You’ve been working in the industry for a respectable length of time. How long has it been? Do you remember your first project? 

Jim: Let’s just say if my career were a child, they’d be a young millennial hopefully in grad school by now. My first vinyl graphics job was lettering a Mazo Cheese tanker truck. My installation was awful. Wrinkled, crooked with a ton of bubbles. It was so terrible that the guy felt bad for me. Said it looked great, paid the invoice, and gave me a giant wheel of cheese. That was in 1994. I think I still have some of the wheel of cheese left.

Jim, it’s time to toss that cheese! Wrapping objects of all shapes and sizes with ultra-thin vinyl involves a pretty niche skill set. What led you to a career in this field? 

Jim: In the Air Force I trained to repair avionics systems. Turns out, repairing aircraft electronics is pretty dull if you’re looking to scratch your creative itch! After helping a few friends with their logos and promotional materials, I decided to invest in my own vinyl graphics equipment. I did that as a side gig while my day job was still in electronics. Eventually, it turned into a second full-time job and one had to go! I chose the better option.

Have you ever wrapped any of your own spaces or equipment?

Jim: It’s always been easier for me to work on projects for someone else because I’m helping bring their vision to life on a piece they love. After all the years spent working on clients’ projects, two years ago I finally did a color change wrap on an old car of mine, now fondly known as Stella.

Is there a project you’ve always wanted to work on? 

Jim: I’ve always wanted to work on wraps that “theme” children’s areas in hospitals. I once wrapped a mobile X-ray machine at American Family Children’s Hospital to look like a fire truck. That way when it’s wheeled into the room, it doesn’t look so frightening. 

People who haven’t worked in the industry may not realize the skill and craftsmanship involved in a project. What are some of the unique challenges and considerations involved in an installation?  

Jim: Installing graphics in a space or on a 3D object is much different than a website or a flat printed sheet. The graphics need to flow all the way around. Sizing the graphics correctly, then executing the installation to match the client’s original design is a huge undertaking. It’s a giant leap from the computer screen to the walls in a reception area! 

Have you had to learn any special skills to execute an install?

Jim: Ambidexterity? Over the years, I’ve learned to write, knife cut, scissor and squeegee with both hands. Sometimes you find yourself in a position where only your left hand can reach what you are working on. 

Word on the street is that you have some pretty epic hobbies outside of work. What do you like to do in your free time? 

Jim: I’m definitely all over the place with what I like to do in my free time. I’m a nerd for vinyl records and vintage electronics, like the 70’s Marantz™ receiver I’ve been repairing. I think the old gear just sounds better! I’m a hack on a water ski and surfboard, and enjoy spending time with our horses. I don’t barrel race with them like my wife does, but I do love a very fast trail ride! Oh, and I can’t forget cruising in Stella.

 What’s something that might surprise a client about the install process? 

Jim: Some clients look oddly at me using a propane torch to heat the vinyl I’m installing. It’s an open flame typically used on hard-to-remove metal hardware, or to remove paint from furniture. I like to use a propane torch because it’s cordless, easy to control and the heat is instant. 

Knowing a quality install from a poor one might not be common knowledge for the average person. What are some common mistakes to watch out for? 

Jim: Each project brings its own challenges, and if an installer doesn’t take time to create accurate templates and detailed installation guides, it can really affect the longevity and impact of the final product. Creating square borders for leveling, and ensuring perfectly straight graphic overlaps can mean the difference between an exceptional and average installation.

What are the benefits of working with a company who can manage both the production and installation aspects of a project? 

Jim: In short, accuracy and efficiency. Your printer can evaluate your design, modify it to suit the space, and produce the graphics with the installation in mind. If necessary, they can design around trouble areas like door handles and outlets, all while considering the existing architecture and furniture. When it comes to the ‘wow’ factor of an installation, it’s all about the small, but important, details.

A lot of people don’t get to do what they love for a living, but it seems like this is more than a daily grind for you. What is it that motivates you?

Jim: It starts with meeting business owners and seeing their passion. I’m always honored when a client trusts me to translate and install their designs, that ultimately will help grow their livelihood. I’ve made some great connections with some of the hardest working people I know and gained their respect – that is a high achievement in my book! This sounds corny, but for me, every installation is personal. My business reputation means everything to me. I guess I’m old school. 

Now that you know a thing or two (or twelve) about the man behind the headshot, it’s hardly a surprise why Jim fits the Thysse bill. In 1941, Thysse’s founder set the precedent that we’d define ourselves by our passion, pride, and craftsmanship. Eighty years later, we still take that sentiment pretty seriously around here.

For us, Specialty Graphics is the sum of the whole installation process, from helping our clients translate their designs and fabricating exceptional graphics, to bringing their design to life in a physical space. The connections built along the way are just one more of the joys in choosing Thysse to be where you go with your brand

Got a cool design in mind and need someone to help with execution? Want to go water skiing with Jim? Give us a shout, or feel free to explore more on your own first.

Interested in a fabulous install but not sure where to even begin? We’d suggest starting a conversation with our Experiential Design team to see how we can help.

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?


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.

Thysse is a G7 Master Qualified Printer – How Does That Help Your Brand?

Color consistency is kind of our business, and we’ve got a shiny new badge to prove it

Even before the first purchase, your brand meets your customer in a variety of ways: packaging, store signage, mailers and vehicle wraps – all creating a perception of your company, its offerings, and, perhaps most importantly, its quality. If these are all working in harmony, that’s a great representation of your brand, and creates strong awareness.

Now imagine each asset, each physical manifestation of your company, being produced in a different facility, with different standards. Each requires different inks, substrates and print processes and variation in each can lead to significant color inconsistencies across the range of materials. We’re not trying to scare you, a small variation here and there is typically within an acceptable margin of error, and likely won’t be noticed by your consumers or prospects. 

So why the hue and cry over color inconsistency? For starters, color is one of the most emotional attributes of a brand. It’s an important part of why consumers decide to embrace (or reject) your message. Color consistency reinforces trust, and inconsistency of colors associated with a brand subconsciously diminishes it – eroding brand loyalty and your products’ perceived value. 

In plain English? Stringent color management is essential to your brand’s credibility. 

The good news however, is that vendors can be assessed on their printers’, processes’, and people’s ability to achieve color consistency, and Thysse just happens to be an expert in all three. Only a printer of the highest compliance level may be classified as a G7® Master Facility Colorspace (Ahem – that’s us).

So, what the heck is a G7® Master Certification?

First things first, it’s a 3-tiered qualification system verified by Idealliance®, a worldwide provider of industry standards in graphic communications. G7 certification at every level ensures your brand is produced with exceptional quality, color matching, and color consistency, regardless of where you do your printing or what device materials are printed on.

G7 is aptly named, as it includes evaluation of Grayscale + seven colors (CMYKRGB); it is a set of global specifications for achieving visual similarity across all print processes. For those who don’t dream in Pantone® Super Swatches however, all this color lingo may be, well, a bit of a gray area. 

Here’s the gist of what G7 allows your printer to do:

  • Align all processes to create a strong, consistent visual identity for your brand
  • Preserve the integrity of your brand standards to the highest degree
  • Consistently match and replicate provided color targets 
  • Make it look like you dropped some serious cha-ching on your advertising 

Can it get any better? Why yes, actually. It can.

In addition to exceptional color consistency, G7 can reduce pain points and make communication with your printer easier by providing a foundation for less subjective conversations about color. Increased efficiency in production and process control also have their perks, including reductions in: 

  • The physical and actual cost of proofing and shipping prior to print 
  • Waste and make-ready overhead time during press runs 
  • Design times which means fewer revisions and quicker turnaround
  • The need to travel onsite for press checks

What exactly does it take for a printer to get certified?

This is the section that usually involves a lot of jargon, Delta E’s and indescript acronyms. Don’t worry, we won’t get too technical – we’ll leave that to our in-house color management team. In simplest terms, for a facility to become G7 Master Certified, each device must be calibrated to a set of independently verified and globally-approved color specifications. Next, the machine’s color files are inspected using a serious instrument with a Mary-Poppins-of-a-name;  a spectrophotometer. Finally, the output is compared to a G7 data set and performance overall is evaluated.

To eliminate any potential for a VW-level cover up, this process is repeated a second time with added specifications. Once targets are achieved within a certain tolerance, the results are sent to an independent agency for review. This final test determines whether a printer passes or fails the G7 certification, and if attained, remains valid for one year. 

So… do I need to fire our printer?

We’ll leave that up to your best judgement, but know that not all G7 Facilities are [qualified] equal. A printer’s compliance determines which of the three levels Idealliance will award. Splitting up the 4-color process into color (CMY) and black (K), the base level (Master Grayscale), notes that a printer can consistently define and reproduce standard curves referred to as the neutral tone ramp. When these are produced well, then all other colors tend to fall in line more easily. A great first step in achieving color stability but evaluation doesn’t stop there.

A Master Targeted Facility takes it a step further by ensuring that, in addition to those neutral tones, its devices are able to print consistently across primary color targets (CMY), and secondary color targets (RGB) as well. Seems reasonable, but we’re not done yet.

The third level and final level of compliance is the most stringent: the G7 Master Colorspace Certification. (Spoiler, we have it!) In order to obtain this title, a facility must demonstrate it can consistently reproduce the entire spectrum of colors. 

That’s the neutrals, the primary and secondary solids, and everything in between – which is about 1,620 patches (about 1,300 more than the level before it).

Also unique to this level, is that the standards are assessed separately for both printing and proofing, with proofing being even more stringent.  

Thanks for the enlightenment, now what?

When it comes down to it, the best way your printer can help your brand is to be a proactive partner. Thysse’s people, processes and yes, even our printers, will ensure that the world always sees your brand in the best possible light. Your brand’s visual integrity is upheld by adherence to your unique brand standards, and G7 or no G7, we take that responsibility seriously. 

But hey, that top-tier, world-wide accreditation of G7 Master Colorspace Facility definitely tells us we’re still where you go with your brand.

Interested in a brighter future for your brand? Head on over to our contact page and ask us for more details.

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

Thysse Unveils New Campus and New Capabilities.

New Address, Same Thysse Culture.

Monday, July 27 marked the next chapter in the Thysse legacy. The company opened the doors on its new headquarters, a 95,500 square-foot building in Oregon, WI. The new campus, situated just a stone’s throw from the previous Netherwood location, is the third expansion in seven years to support Thysse’s enhanced services and growing lines of business.

The building itself is as functional as it is visually impressive; featuring 2 glass lined stories and triple the production space. The new location brings together a full in-house design suite for Thysse’s Experiential Graphic Design team, moves all production, specialty graphics, and fulfillment services to a single site, creating greater efficiencies for Thysse’s customers, and enhances the close team culture for its employees. For President Jason Thysse, this is the real measure of success,

“Since my grandfather started Thysse in 1941, this company has always been about the people. We designed the new campus with both client and employee needs in mind, and the result we’ve realized with the team of Thysse architects, designers, and assistance from OPN Architects is a dream come true. We are very excited for this next chapter in Thysse’s story!”

Fleet of Thysse delivery trucks at new campus

Director of Operations, Nick Brevik knows that the new campus will start showing a return on investment almost immediately,

“The move to a larger space that can house all our services in one location minimizes our logistical inefficiencies. We’ll be able to reduce travel time, particularly in fulfillment, and we’re able to increase our service offerings, adding on foil stamping and embossing capabilities starting in August. The bigger production space allowed us to bring in a larger format and faster press, as well as the prepress workflow to support it, effectively doubling our offset printing rate. The move also increased fulfillment storage by 30%. Thysse has always looked for the best way to meet our customers’ current needs, while simultaneously planning for their future; this move is a continuation on that promise.”  

Thysse’s new address, as of July 27th, is 780 Cusick Parkway, Oregon, WI 53575.

Production space in Thysse's new campus

Although the building was completed for Thysse, it wasn’t done alone. The project had many partners involved including: The Village of Oregon, Oregon Community Bank, Wisconsin Business Development, OPN Architects, Newcomb Construction, and Thysse’s very own Experiential Design Team. Thank you for your support and assistance along this journey!

To stay up to date with what’s happening at Thysse, stay tuned on our social channels and at

Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

For more information, contact Jen Braga, Thysse, at 608.249.6951.

Get ‘Em to Stop, Look and Grab: The Power of Point-of-Purchase Advertising

The Power of Point-of-Purchase Advertising

Brick-and-mortar shoppers today need help. They don’t always know what they want, and even if they do, they can still be overwhelmed by shelves overflowing with options. Point-of-purchase (POP) advertising can show your customers the way and help you move product in the process.

Business consultant Bob Adams, MBA, calls POP displays “[o]ne of the best investments of your marketing dollars.” That’s because they allow you to dramatically increase the impact of your product “at the moment it counts most—at purchase time.” 

To help you leverage this valuable sales tool effectively, this post will help you:

  • Understand just what POP advertising is
  • See why it’s crucial for your brick-and-mortar sales efforts
  • Learn common examples that could work for your products
  • Use POP advertising more effectively with tips for smarter strategies 

What is point-of-purchasing (POP) advertising?

POP advertising typically refers to vendor-provided signage and displays strategically placed in a retail store to draw attention to a product. To increase purchases, vendors and retailers use POP advertising to promote sales, announce new items, and highlight seasonal products.

Don’t take the second P (purchase) in POP advertising too literally. In the past, yes, POP advertising referred specifically to the purchasing/checkout area. But gradually retailers and manufacturers realized the power that POP advertising could have throughout a store.

Point-of-purchase vs. point-of-sale

You might see POP used interchangeably with POS (point-of-sale). Just know that, technically speaking, POS has the narrower meaning of advertising designed specifically for where people actually pay for their merchandise. (For examples of POP advertising, see further below.)

Get an accurate perspective on bricks vs. clicks: The advantages of point-of-purchase advertising still matter

No discussion of in-store sales efforts like POP advertising would be complete without first acknowledging the reality of the online shopper—emphasis on reality—and the status of brick-and-mortar stores. 

Researcher and retail consultant Candace Adams, PhD, says that people still “do most of their shopping for groceries, drug, and general merchandise products in brick-and-mortar stores, and, despite the growth of e-commerce, they enjoy the in-store experience.” 

Market research company eMarketer estimates total online retail sales for 2019 will be somewhere around one-eighth the size of brick-and-mortar retail. And although online commerce is growing, also forecasts it will level off and even decline slightly by 2023.

All of this points to POP advertising’s ongoing importance for the brick-and-mortar store. In fact, Jason Wood, Director of Display Development for Mars Wrigley Confectionery says, “Display has become even more critical as we try to connect with consumers through meaningful … promotions.” 

Also, keep in mind factors like these:

  • Grocery store growth. Grocery store openings saw a 30% increase in 2018.

  • Brick-and-mortar expansions. Amazon, Wayfair, and other online-focused companies will be rolling out physical stores.

  • New teaming to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar. For example, Kohl’s is partnering with Amazon by selling the online giant’s gadgets and accepting its customer returns.

  • The importance of shoppers touching products. Research shows that touching products actually increases the chances of buying. POP advertising draws shoppers in and helps get them to touch merchandise.  

Know the various types of point-of-purchase advertising 

Don’t be stuck on a single idea of what POP advertising can be. There’s a wide range of possibilities, from floor to ceiling and everywhere in between. Take a look at these examples:


Stand-alone signs or banner stands can be situated next to products or sit on top of them. You can also create a pathway with signs that lead to the actual product. And depending on the store layout, POP signage can also hang from the ceiling above a product display.

Shelf talkers

A smaller form of signage, these can appear on merchandise aisle shelves, attached directly below products or projecting from the shelving. 



Consider how this brick-and-mortar Amazon uses testimonial shelf talkers. Customer review snippets like this could be used on anything from guacamole to golf balls.


These are typically two- or four-sided displays with peg board (and sometimes shelving) placed in high-traffic main aisles. Gondolas can use a hybrid of retailer-supplied material with manufacturer signage and work well with a variety of goods.

Floor graphics

Bold in contrast to the floor color and super-simple in messaging, floor graphics typically are used directly in front of shelved products.  

Freestanding displays

How far can your design team’s imagination go? Freestanding displays can take on any shape you can imagine as long as they’re stable and strong enough to hold products. When sized appropriately for their location, these can go nearly anywhere in a store.

Dump bins

A form of freestanding display, these can usually be found in main aisles. Their name is fairly self-explanatory: Products—often smaller in size like socks, candy bars, or rolls of tape—are dumped in and allow for easy 360 degree grabbing.

End caps

As their name suggests, these are situated at the end of merchandise aisles. They usually face into main aisles or more open store areas. End caps can actually bring together a combination of POP advertising like those mentioned above. 

Technological additions

POP advertising can include digital signage and even video display. As with any POP endeavor, be sure to weigh the longevity of the project with its overall expense. One caveat: Be realistic about shoppers’ ability or willingness to view video.

How to increase the effectiveness of point-of-purchase advertising

Now that you have a background on the state of POP advertising, let’s turn to more tips on how to make the most of it. 

Stay vigilant with your brand colors

Plastic substrates, card stock, corrugated cardboard, possibly even other materials like wood or metal—these each require their own unique manufacturing and color application processes. Unfortunately, this is where color-matching issues can emerge.  

Just like your packaging or your marketing materials, you want your POP advertising brand colors to be accurate and consistent. Make sure your colors undergo rigorous color management. If they don’t, it can cheapen your brand image or even diminish your brand’s recognition.

Color management requires that your POP advertising printer or manufacturer thoroughly understand your brand colors—and your expectations for their performance. It can also include procedures to verify accurate color output and involve adhering to industry standards for color accuracy. 

Be mindful of the need for speed by using simple messaging

Shoppers today are inundated with options. “We know from studies and a growing body of academic literature that time-pressed shoppers struggle to quickly sort through these options,” says retail marketing consultant Scott Young of Perception Research Services.

Fortunately, POP advertising can combat analysis paralysis by delivering a message that’s compelling because it’s simple to digest. 

“Typically,” says Young, “when displays become too complex in trying to explain product differences, they are simply ignored.” 

Cost considerations: Create a display durable enough for your needs

Corrugated cardboard is common for POP displays. Relatively inexpensive, the material lends itself to an array of creative design possibilities. But it does have its shortcomings: Don’t expect to break down and reassemble that cardboard display too many times before it shows wear. 

But if that’s not your plan, then corrugated could still be king. You may, however, have more long-term needs for your POP displays. That’s when more durable material like plastic or even metal could be worth it.  

For any situation, view your POP advertising with a shopper in mind. Your signage and displays should always look pristine to them. 

Take the grab-and-go idea seriously in your design

Be sure form doesn’t trump function. For grab-and-go shoppers, that means making your products easy to access in your POP displays:

Use good shelving fundamentals. Prevent the need for bending over or reaching awkwardly for a product. Also, don’t require a shopper to maneuver a product out of the display like it’s some kind of challenge. 

Keep it stocked. Do all you can to make sure you and your retailer keep your POP display stocked. In the age of the impatient shopper, they’ll just keep moving if it’s empty.   

Get it in high-traffic areas. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to do. Form good relationships with your retailers, and you’ll have more say in securing prime real estate on the sales floor. Also, give them incentives like discounted orders if they use your POP items. 

Make POP advertising assembly foolproof.

Make assembly of your POP advertising as foolproof as possible

If you’re setting up your own POP advertising, you obviously want assembly to be fairly easy. But even more important: If you ship it to your retailer for assembly, don’t forget that it could be a 16-year-old, part-time store clerk who puts it together.

The moral here? Work with a POP advertising printer or manufacturer who puts a priority on creating signs and displays that are easy for the end-user to install—and update, if needed.

Use cross-merchandising to drive more sales

Cross-merchandising displays work because they make it convenient for people to buy multiplerelated items. Here are some examples:

  • Simple snack combos like chips and salsa or cheese and crackers
  • Holiday cookie ingredients from frosting and flour to sugar and sprinkles
  • S’mores necessities (chocolate bars, marshmallows, graham crackers)
  • Charcoal with lighter fluid
  • Flashlights with batteries
  • Snow shovels with de-icing salt

Keep evolving: POP advertising works if you work it 

Using POP advertising should be a dynamic process. Keep trying to improve upon it with every success or setback. What’s really moving your products effectively and what’s not? It’s up to you to know and adjust your POP advertising accordingly.

Ultimately, your investment will pay off with increased sales and a happier retail partner. But always remember to keep your focus on the shopper. As their needs and wants evolve, so should your POP advertising.

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