Signs are one of those things so engrained in the world that most people don’t stop to think about how they are concepted, created, and installed, let alone there is a pretty significant industry devoted to signage consistently developing education, tools and technologies.

I’ve been involved in a few signage projects and let me say the “measure twice, cut once” advice goes a LONG way here! For digital signage, my experience is primitive compared to some I see out there now, and what is going to come. I am really happy that I connected with ISA to hook up as a media partner for their upcoming ISA Sign Expo 2014 April 24-26th in Orlando, and I’ll attend the event so I can hunt down the cool stuff to share with you! In the meantime… meet Brandon Hensley and let me know if you’re going to the event!

Brandon_Hensley_Print_Media_CentrDC: Who is Brandon Hensley and what does he do? 

BH: I am COO for the International Sign Association (ISA), which serves the international on-premise sign and visual communications industry. I oversee the organization’s strategic direction and have worked to restructure departments, programs and services to maximize profits while maintaining the highest levels of efficiency and success. Under my leadership are ISA’s professional development and education, research and development, membership, marketing, communications and ISA International Sign Expo, which attracts some 17,000 sign and visual communications professionals annually.

I have spent over 15 years in event marketing, sales and management as well as overall association management. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Radford University.  I also serve as the Executive Director of the National Association of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD), which promotes the common interest and values that full service, sign supply distributors provide to the sign industry.

Personally… I have been married for 15 years to my college sweetheart Janet and live in Fairfax, VA, with our son Beck and our dog Cleo, a Golden Doodle.  I grew up in the mountains of Virginia and was the first in my family to graduate from college (Radford University).  While studying at Radford I spent a semester in Austria at Salzburg College and this ignited my passion for travel and have been on the road ever since.  I currently spend my time focusing on being the best father I can be as this is the most important job I will ever have. 

DC: I was quite floored by the scope of the sign industry. It’s one of those thing you take for granted when you aren’t in it… “signs signs, everywhere are signs” as the song goes! To give our readers some perspective, what areas of signage does your organization cover? 

BH: ISA covers all aspects of on-premise signs.  As you can imagine signage is a very large spectrum as everywhere you turn you see a sign, everything from a hotel room number with Braille, to a car wrap, to the massive glittery signs of the Las Vegas strip.   

DC: ISA Sign Expo is coming up in April and I am honored to be a media partner for the event and to work with your team. Please tell us about the Dynamic Digital Signage program, the significance of it’s inclusion, and how it was received by the “traditional” sign segment of your community. 

BH: We are enlarging and improving the dynamic digital program this year based on the demand and interest it generated at last year’s ISA Sign Expo. The Dynamic Digital Education Day has been expanded to include new sessions as well as some of last year’s favorites. The 2013 Dynamic Digital Education program sold out and we are building a larger “boat” to hold more participants. ISA has partnered with Almo and N. Glantz & Son who will be hosting dynamic digital events in conjunction with ISA’s efforts. The Dynamic Digital Park is already over the 2013 size at 3,300 net square feet, and will be significantly larger by the time ISA Sign Expo stages in April.  What we are seeing is many of our members adding dynamic digital signage to their overall portfolio of offerings. Our members and ISA realize they are the path to market for dynamic digital signage. Being in the sign industry means you have the entrepreneurial spirit in your DNA and one of the current hottest growth opportunities for sign companies is dynamic digital signage.

DC: Chris Price from GASC is one of my favorite people out there. Not only is he an amazing supporter of PMC, he actually encourages my antics! How did your partnership come about, and what is being planned for the INKjet Print Theater?

BH: Given the similarities in our associations Chris and I have crossed paths for years and often meet to discuss what is happening in the industry, and how we can better serve our members. The idea of a joint commercial print zone came out of one of our many brainstorms, and we went back to our CEOs and pitched the idea – the rest is history. There is no better idea than providing a live platform that leverages the strengths of two organizations to solve real life problems of their members. Late in 2013 ISA co-hosted a commercial print zone with GRAPH EXPO at Print 13, and now the program has been continued and expanded for ISA Sign Expo. The theater will provide hands-on solutions and free education sessions, where you will be able to see printers in action and increase your business knowledge in commercial print. The sessions are designed to solve the daily issues printers face as well as highlight how sign companies can maximize their potential in commercial printing. 

DC: I am currently fascinated by the Architectural Design Workshop being offered at ISA Sign Expo. It never clicked how much was involved when you see a building sign, or one that fits seamlessly into the environment in which it sits! Is this a new offering and who should consider taking it?

SEGD-Design-+ConnectionsBH: You are correct, it is amazing how great design in signage can help a person find their way without them even realizing they are being lead. Having a holistic look at signage as it relates to the environment is key, and is something our members have been doing for years. We officially started the Architectural Design track at ISA Sign Expo 2013 to meet the needs of the creative design sector of our attendee base. These sessions appeal to graphic artists, experiential graphic designers, architects, academics and urban planners. New for 2014 is our partnership with SEGD (Society of Experiential Graphic Design) who have created a full-day workshop called SEGD Design+Connections. These sessions focus on Placemaking, Branded Environments, Accessibility + Design and Media + Technology. These sessions are more aspirational than our other offerings, which focus on more technical education, so many business owners also like to take them to get inspired. ISA looks forward to continuing the campaign of being the organization that bridges the span between the art of design and science of build.       

DC: I must say, when I did an image search for “Brandon Hensley” a disproportionate amount of mugshots came up! If you could give your criminal namesakes three reasons to give up their current career and join the sign industry, what would they be? 

BH: Wow, based on your question I did the same search and there are a LOT of mugshots and a very motley crew, one of them is actually me. The largest reason to give up your current criminal career and join the sign industry is the community. I have worked in various industries over my career and never have I come across a group of individuals as passionate about their individual work and the industry as a whole as the sign community. There is a direct crossover between business and personal life within the sign community. When the times are good they celebrate one another’s success, and when the times are bad they offer a shoulder and circle the wagons,  it really is amazing and something I did not expect to experience when I started with ISA four years ago. When I first started at ISA I was told of this industry culture of a tight community and truly caring for one another. I was very skeptical and, to be honest, somewhat jaded to the idea of mixing two worlds I keep very separate.  It has taken some time but I am glad that I let my guard down and embraced the community, as it truly has provided and continues to provide a rewarding experience. I know you asked for three things, but the true answer is everything falls into the sign and visual communications industry being a  great community.

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