Ultimate Brand Presence
As a business owner, your goal for your physical environments should be to draw the most attention and bring the highest possible number of customers through your doors, and your signage will be one of the key deciders of this. What’s the best way to ensure your signage is doing its job? Well, sometimes the simple trick of bigger is better does the job best!
Large-format external signage is no new phenomenon, in fact it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book of presenting your business as the “place-to-go” for whatever it is you’re selling, if you’ve got a bigger sign than your neighbour, you’re more likely to be noticed. Proportional sizing is also a major factor in determining signage effectiveness, if your building is on the larger side, it’s only natural that your signage matches it.
Blaze Signs possess some of the most sophisticated and vast signage manufacturing expertise and capacity in the UK, to the point where the size of your sign depends more on how big your building is rather than what we’re capable of. With over 120,000 sq.ft. of signage space across two facilities, we’re able to pull off the largest of signage projects.
Next & Blaze Signs
Our promise of quality, reliability and industry-leading customer service led to our relationship with Next, the hugely popular and successful UK-based clothing and homeware retailer, as a signage supplier from 2022 onwards.
The newly formed relationship with Blaze Signs – one of the largest business signage suppliers in the UK – also coincided with the major rebrand by Next, which was officially unveiled in March 2022. The rebrand was carried out in part to celebrate the businesses 40th anniversary of operating within the fashion and retail industries.
The new logo and style shook things up by switching to an all upper case wordmark for the first time since 2007, while maintaining the simple and distinctive brand image that Next has managed to keep alive since their inaugural “next” logo in 1982.
It’s crucial that Next maintain brand consistency across their estate of physical retail environments, which means a large-scale rollout project! During the course of one year, the Blaze Signs team have been completing an average of 2 stores per week, with a peak of 4 sites per week, to bring their new brand image to life from sites in Rustington and Bournemouth to sites like the one we’re focusing on in this case study, Plymouth.
Each site presents its own challenges and opportunities, but the store in Plymouth Marsh Mills is one that deserves a spotlight and a deep dive into exactly how we pulled it off.
The Site & Brief
Situated in the south-west of England, in the county of Devon, Plymouth is a town known for its maritime heritage and historic Barbican district with narrow, cobbled streets. However, also found in Plymouth is a huge Next store in Marsh Mills, with over 70,000 sq./ft. (7,000 sq. m.) of floor space and an external wall height of 45 feet (14m), it’s one of their larger stores you’ll find in the UK.
Being a standalone store with its own car park, the branding opportunities are almost endless, and within the proposed signage suite put together by the Blaze Signs design team included a host of low and mid-level illuminated letter sets, ranging from 300mm to 850mm in cap height and fitted to a variety of backgrounds, from glazing to brickwork and sandstone monoliths.
The Big One
Standing at 3.2m (10.5 feet) tall, these letters are taller than most when compared to signs of a similar specification and build; these mega-signs are a feat of Blaze Signs’ engineering expertise based on both size and how they seemingly float above the main entrance to the store.
This process didn’t start with the manufacture and installation of the new wordmark however, it began a few months earlier… “Replacing the letters safely firstly required an extensive survey by a team of surveyors using access equipment to assess fixing methods, structural assessment, and production of accurate drilling templates. These templates were subsequently supplied to a 3rd party glazing contractor”. Jason, Project Manager.
When it came to the materials and technical design of the sign, our PM who delivered the project said; “The letters themselves were fabricated from aluminium, painted black, and populated with a total of 1500 bright white LED modules, arranged for optimal light dispersion, to contrast with the letter casings.”
With an extensive survey and our creative design layouts now complete, we needed to get down to the nuts and bolts of things, resolving how exactly the heavy signage would be fixed to the glazing. When we asked Jason, he told us this; “the flex-face letters were secured to both sides of 16 panes of purpose-made and pre-drilled 18mm toughened windbreak glass via mechanical fixings, with nylon spacers and washers on both sides of the glass. The reverse letters which you can see behind the glass from within the store itself is made from built-up aluminium with foamex backs. These were bonded to the inside face of the glass and aligned with the front letters via the pre-drilled fixing positions and mechanical fixings to ensure a flush and consistent finish.”
As with all signs that the Blaze Signs team manufacture, we ensured a thorough level of quality control was carried out on the signage before it left our facility, and then on site it was imperative that was performed extensive quality testing on the fixing method as well as testing and troubleshooting to ensure a smooth, even, and bright illuminated across the substantial letter faces.
However, you might be asking yourself, how did we get these heavy letters up over 8m (26 feet) in the air to fix it in its final resting place? The answer is the usage of specialised access equipment by accredited professionals… This included simultaneous use of a 20m (65 feet) Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) on the outside of the glass, with an HR15 articulated MEWP and a 14m (46 feet) scissor lift for the inside of the glass.
Our Project Manager added: “Following removal of the existing letters and subsequent installation of the new glazing, Blaze Signs crews then set about safely installing the signs in sizeable sections, working on both sides of the windbreak glazing simultaneously to ensure the front and reverse letter templates aligned perfectly. To protect the glass from undue pressure and direct contact with the metal casings and fixings, nylon washers and spacers (or gaskets) were used to create a barrier within the fixing holes.”
In the world of bespoke signage solutions, there are always going to be challenges that can crop up throughout the project, and it’s our job to ensure that the negative effects are minimised for our client and their customers.
Logistics was a prevalent issue when it came to the installation of these undoubtedly huge letters. We needed to adapt our agreed-upon work schedule due to one of the 16 glass panes that sit behind the letters being damaged and needing a replacement, and when you factor in the simultaneous use of a variety of complex access machinery, ensuring all fixings and spacers perfectly suit the corresponding holes in the glazing to minimise pressure and likelihood of damage to the glazing, and thoroughly troubleshooting the signage specification and illumination, you can begin to paint a picture of the lengths our projects and planning team needed to go to.
Another major factor that stood between us and the projects completion was the weather, the unpredictable nature of high-winds and rain rolling in meant that we needed to phase the installation of the flex-face letters, and to reduce the disruption caused to Next trading opportunities, we kept in close communication with all third-party contractors, the client, and the store team.
However, no challenge was too great for the trained and accredited Blaze Signs crews, and once all letters had been installed and safely connected to the power supply, the crew lit the letters up to see them in all their glory.
Next in Plymouth, Marsh Mills is the perfect example of how meticulous planning, incredible feats of manufacturing and engineering, and seeing big ideas through to completion can produce truly remarkable results.
Jason, our Project Manager said “This rebrand project at our client’s southern flagship outlet was as challenging as it was rewarding to curate and deliver. Overall, this was another great project for NEXT and a pleasure to work on, and the results speak for themselves!”
The Blaze Signs team is in prime position to provide large-format external brand signs that truly put your business on the map, with our talented and experienced projects team and the endless expertise and capacity of our manufacturing facilities. If you want to keep up to date with Blaze Signs next big project, make sure you’re following our social media profiles, which you can find below.