Wide-format Graphics: An installation as smooth as ice

Photos courtesy FastSigns

Photos courtesy FastSigns

By Peter Saunders
When solving a client’s visual communications challenges, it has become increasingly important today to serve not only as a sign shop, but also as a marketing strategist and branding expert. That was certainly the case when Hockey Canada, the nation’s governing body for ice and sledge hockey and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), contacted FastSigns International’s Vancouver franchise in January 2013 to commission graphics to temporarily brand the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, an arena in nearby Burnaby, B.C. The project was timed to prepare the arena for the fifth annual Esso Cup national female midget championship tournament, which ran from April 21 to 27, 2013.

“We had the opportunity to be Hockey Canada’s official sign and graphic supplier for the tournament,” says Paul LeBlanc, the Vancouver FastSigns franchisee. “The primary objective was to create excitement and make it clear this was a major sports event.”

Planning ahead
Hockey Canada needed promotional graphics to increase awareness about the upcoming tournament. So, the process began two months before the event, when FastSigns created banners to help promote it.

Then, LeBlanc met with the event’s organizers to establish a list of the further signage needs. As he and his team consulted with the client about the project, they discussed the need for a comprehensive plan for graphics that could withstand the arena’s low temperatures while adhering securely to a broad variety of very different surfaces, ranging from glass windows to porous concrete walls and floors.

“We also wrapped the Zamboni in advance as a promotional vehicle,” says LeBlanc.

Among the earliest pieces were promotional banners to increase awareness of the tournament.

Among the earliest pieces were promotional banners to increase awareness of the tournament.

One month prior to the event, the franchise received the artwork and began production of the graphics. The team created directional signs, for example, to help guide visitors to the main entrance and help control the flow of large crowds through the venue.

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With all of these factors in mind, the FastSigns franchise’s team of visual consultants visited the arena to make sure they had precise, accurate measurements of the space and to test different graphic materials in the cold environment.

It was also important to specify removable interior and exterior graphic materials, as the venue was scheduled to hold another event right after the tournament. Indeed, ease of both installation and removal would be key to the project’s success.

“We had only a day-and-a-half window to install all of the building graphics,” says LeBlanc.

Window graphics were used to highlight the arena’s entrance with tournament branding.

Window graphics were used to highlight the arena’s entrance with tournament branding.

From the outside in
The FastSigns team branded the light poles in the sports centre’s parking lot with custom banners for the event.

“We made them out of fabric,” says LeBlanc. “They could have been vinyl if longer durability were needed, but fabric banners are commonly used on street poles in this area and most people are more accustomed to that look than vinyl.”

Next, window graphics were used to highlight the arena’s entrance with tournament branding. With the careful placement of perforated vinyl films, these graphics helped draw outside attention toward the arena while still allowing clear views from inside.

“We chose a flat window-perf material similar to those used in vehicle wraps,” says LeBlanc. “From the other side, you can hardly see the graphics at all. You can just see right through them.”

Once inside the venue, FastSigns extended the Esso Cup’s themed graphics to floors and walkways. Using designs provided by Hockey Canada, LeBlanc’s team printed floor graphics and finished them with a laminate, both to protect the prints and to keep people from slipping as they stepped inside and headed toward their seats.

Simple but vibrant corrugated plastic signs were added to identify the various teams’ equipment tables. Other printed boards were hung from the walls, including master tournament schedules, static scoreboards and sponsorship signage.

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