How would you feel about a set of curious eyes peering through a window while your personal trainer puts you through the paces? Unless you’re the current Mr. (or Mrs.) Universe, sweating through twenty repetitions of pull-ups won’t likely engender a flattering impression before a gawking sidewalk audience.
That was the problem facing Perfectly Fit, a personal fitness/training studio that’s operated for ten years in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Perfectly Fit trainers work with patrons to help them achieve personal milestones, according to Brian Odell, president of Catalyst, Inc., a brand consultancy firm in Providence, Rhode Island. “The studio’s clientele have goals that range from competitive athletic training to seniors seeking an improvement in overall fitness for a better quality of life,” he says.
Another issue: Late afternoon sunlight that flooded into the studio through western-facing plate-glass windows. Odell wanted a sunscreen signage solution here that wouldn’t turn the studio into cave-like lighting conditions.
Seeking a solution that would end the unwanted audience and sunshine, Odell turned to Mark Mudgett, New England account manager for film manufacturer FLEXcon. Odell posed a series of questions in seeking a solution for his client: “What kind of print techniques could we use? Could we have an image rich in color, or did we have to steer away from those things? How do we minimize window glare but also add to privacy?”
Mudgett suggested digitally printing over-sized images on FLEXcon’s inkjet-printable, non-PVC fabric WALLdeco™ 6770. The white, removable fabric is also environmentally friendly and has a more muted appearance than vinyl.
The interior artwork illustrates one-word contemplative themes like “Believe” and “Do.” According to Michael Hicks, president of Perfectly Fit, the idea was to portray the types of activities their clients aspired to do in their personal lives, which Perfectly Fit could help them achieve. “We wanted the imagery to be motivational but not like a motivational poster,” says Hicks. “The graphics would help us establish an ‘environment’ conducive to this approach and be a part of the overall brand experience.”
The graphics were printed on a Seiko/Infotech ColorPainter™ 64S Wide-Format Solvent Printer at Graphic Innovations in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The striking images were easily installed on the interior walls, and a set of situational fitness images were affixed to studio windows. “The soft matte finish of WALLdeco helped Catalyst and Graphic Innovations avoid a harsh, shiny look that would’ve conflicted with the natural, comfortable ambiance they sought to achieve,” says Mudgett.
“There were a few clients in at the time of installation, and they were extremely excited to see the end result,” says Hicks.
The window artwork signage effectively guards patron privacy from sidewalk viewers, while advertising the studio and keeping out the afternoon sun. During daylight hours, the window graphics create an almost one-way mirror effect—clients in the studio can see out, but those on the street side can’t see in, according to Odell.
Perfectly Fit is a one-location studio that competes in an arena of multi-store fitness facilities, so after installation of the vinyl graphics, Hicks soon experienced another pleasant surprise: The newly installed signage had pumped up studio business by a beefy 16 percent post-installation.
“Perfectly Fit has a very one-on-one approach,” says Odell, noting the detail of the selection process. “So we created a brand experience and started with a vision statement and color of the graphics, right down to the subtleties—like the kind of surface.”
The printing process can be customized to respond to different lighting situations too. “Where UV sun hits these graphics, we had to step it up with the ink, to extend the life of those graphics. We looked at the whole scenario before we hit the button to print,” says Mudgett.
Speaking to those in the signage industry, Odell says this type of film material opens the door for the mom-and-pop sign shop to bring the same graphic capabilities to standalone stores. “Here’s an opportunity for a sign maker to go in and offer a signage application for doors and windows that can make their business unique,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be a personal training studio. It can be any kind of retail establishment—even one store.”
Odell says the graphics are designed to be removable, and the signage product allows even a small retailer to upgrade a visual look—something he observes larger multi-store chains already doing.
The graphics were sufficiently transparent enough to turn a workout setting into a light-filled, airy place of personal inspiration. “The response of competitors to Perfectly Fit’s new signage was to ‘ratchet up’ their graphics, because this little studio had outdone them,” says Odell. “Part of the feeling we wanted to create was that it’s hard to stay away from motivation.”
“A lot of national chains take advantage of bigger volume of facilities,” adds Mudgett. “They may offset [print] this whole thing. How does a little guy compete against that?
“We’ve given him the ability to have a level playing field when it comes to these graphics.”
Opportunities for the sign industry here are endless. So what might the next step be for Perfectly Fit? Odell mentions this could entail a sidewalk graphic, a ceiling application, or even signage on the carpet.
Meanwhile sign shops might want to consider partnering with a brand consultant as a way to help the client see their business from a more holistic perspective than just “signage.”
A “brand consultant” might be a single consultant working on his or her own or an agency with brand capabilities. You can typically find them online (via a Google™ search or social media) or through other trusted sources (such as word-of-mouth from others in the industry).In addition, the combination of the brand consultant and sign shop might have better luck winning new business if they go in together. It presents a more strategic face to the client—rather than simply a tactical one.
All photos courtesy of Catalyst, Inc.