Application Spotlight: Extreme College Makeover

When it was time for North Central College (NCC) to create and update its existing brown and beige signage and build a sense of “North Central Pride”, Jim Godo, assistant vice president for marketing and communications of NCC, turned to FASTSIGNS of Naperville, IL and it’s president Shane Beard, to get it done.

“We are in the midst of celebrating North Central College’s 150th anniversary, our sesquicentennial. One of our objectives was to update and expand our campus signage,” said Godo. “Our previous signs were showing their age and many of our campus buildings didn’t have identification signs. Our goal was to have wayfinding signage throughout campus, have an identification sign for every building, and provide campus map signs at key entry points on campus.”

The project, which encompassed every part of the campus and included hundreds of signs and banners—including flags flying from every flagpole, more than 400 large-format banners hanging from every building, wide-format vinyl graphics on post and panel signs across the campus, wayfinding signs, ‘you are here’ maps, more than a dozen trophy cases showcasing the college’s history in every sport, conference banners in the gymnasium, wide-format paper “thank you” banners for donors and volunteers, wall-coverings and environmental graphics in the bookstore, printed awnings, pop-up trade show booths, ADA compliant signage, trash can wraps, more than 100 building address signs, as well as facility signage for parking lots—took an immense amount of planning and collaboration. The Office of Marketing and Communications and Building Operations staffs at NCC worked with Beard and the FastSigns Naperville staff to get the project off the ground and completed on time.

“I’ve known Shane for a long time,” said Godo. “He provides considerable expertise, knows our campus well, and cares deeply about the college.”

NCC’s Marketing and Communications staff worked on the details for sign locations and sign content and presented the project to officials from the city of Naperville to receive the proper permits. “There was a wonderful moment during the meeting at city hall in Naperville when officials praised the work and stated they wished all the projects they reviewed could be presented in as complete and thorough a manner as the college’s signage project,” said Godo.

“I give credit to the design and signage as a collaborative effort,” said Beard. “They collaborated with me on the shape of the signs, the installation of the signs, the necessary upkeep and updating of the signs, durability, and costs. We ended up with the simple, yet effective, rounded top design that allowed the seal to be displayed and left enough room for building identification and address on each one. We held costs down by moving away from applied 3D letters and went with premium vinyl that has a warranty of more than nine years.”

And time was a factor with this project. It was conceptualized in July 2011 and completed in time for the November 11, 2011 Homecoming/Sesquicentennial celebration.

FASTSIGNS of Naperville, IL, used its Summa 190 T plotter and Graphtec 7000 to cut all the vinyl graphics. They also used Avery A-9 vinyl for all the copy on the vinyl graphics. Mimaki JV3 160s and Epson GS6000 were used for all of the large-format output along with 3M’s IJ40 and IJ180 vinyl and equivalent laminate from 3M.

They turned to several partners as well, for various stages of the project. For the post and panel signs, they turned to Howard Industries, a wholesale manufacturer of exterior and interior architectural signage based in Fairview, PA. For all the wayfinding, directional, and maps, FASTSIGNS turned to Pineville, NC-based Ornamental Post and Panel, a wholesale sign manufacturer. Where appliquéd banners were needed, they turned to Oak Creek, WI-based Eder Flag.

“They coined the name ‘Rock Star’ to describe how our staff planned, organized, designed, printed, produced, installed, and followed up with each section,” said Beard. “We just didn’t say no. We found a way to make it happen. NCC treated me and my staff as though we were a part of their team.”

But for Beard, this project—and many others he and his staff have the chance to create—is more than just signs and graphics. He explains: “I attended a dedication ceremony for a long-time trustee of the college where the college decided to name the building after their family name and they were totally surprised by this. You should have seen the tears that this couple shed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the area....mine included. Try and tell me that all we sell is ink, vinyl, fabric, screws, and aluminum. We sell memories!”