Introducing SI'BON: 20 Years of Supporting Signmakers


We spoke to Ron van Rijssel who is the Managing Director of SI’BON one of the supporting associations for the Pure Digital Show. We talked to Ron about SI’BON, their goals and his experience in running the Netherland’s largest Sign Association.

What is SI’BON?

SI’BON is focused on the sign industry and sign companies. We are a sign association and sign companies can join and become a member but they have to have a level and good reputation. We give a licence to sign companies and they have to have a certain criteria to meet to become members and therefore they must be reputable. Part of our objective is to educate people with the understanding of what Sign Innovation really is.

We are trying to give sign companies the position so that everyone can easily recognise the label of SI’BON and the importance of signs.

We support our members in every way with the key elements that a Signmaker needs for their business. We run events and all kinds of things, giving our members advice, providing them with research and running events to help them to grow their business.

We do ‘quality certification’ and we would like everyone to know what sign is.
There is a close alignment with the mission for the Pure Digital Show. This is the same for us and we want to be able to educate and inspire the creative industry – by doing so we can also create an awareness to the end user of the possibilities with digital printing in particular.
The gap between sign making and the creative sector / end-users we also see as a problem. It depends on which people you are looking at. The advertisement companies will know 60% of what they have to know – but end users know only 30%.

End-users could be all kind of companies, vehicle companies, customers with a shop, retail companies and they need a lot of things, and you have the people with an office, and we can make some way finding on the outside of a building. Lighting advertisements.

A lot of people have seen these products and they have to find the companies who can make it and we help them by providing access to the quality products and there is still a lot of products that people are not aware of the possibilities and they are missing out.

Digital printing is really important for us and our members. In the past they may have covered a building with plain tarpaulin but now they can cover a huge construction site with a large format print to hide unsightly building works. There is so much digital printing – this is on a vehicle, in an office, in a house, in a shopping mall. The scope and importance of digital printing have grown and is a big part of the sign industry - maybe not 100%, but in almost every sign there is printing especially for the colours.

You can do much more with digital printing and it is at least 50% of all sign jobs.

How many members does SI’BON have? And what is your aim?

We have 300 members – mostly in the Netherlands with 280 and have 25 in Belgium. 
For us, the quality of our members is more important than the total amount. Each member must meet the quality level. Our members are in the middle and high level of the design market – we tend to not have the low end but instead the more sophisticated.
In the Netherlands, we have 1200 sign companies so we can grow but this will take 10 years because it is a slow process but every year we are growing.

What have been the key changes in this period?

SI’BON has been running now for 20 years. These days the products are much more complex. Our objective now is to be able to get the profit and also deliver higher value, impact signs and really big and complex logistical jobs. This is complicated logistically. If you are in the retail and you have 100 shops that need changing at the same time, it will make it very complicated. 
If you just look at display products you see this is not that easy to make a business from it. So the signmaker has to be creative and innovative in order to get a good price. Digital printing makes the market much bigger so they can grow in it.

This makes the projects much more conceptual and arresting. Everyone can put a picture against the wall and a sign company can now do it in 10 different ways, with different materials, with varied data, there are all kinds of ways to make the visual.
The term ‘signmaker’ is a misleading term. It is much more than that. The marketer makes the concept and the sign maker applies with the right materials.

It is true. Signmakers are not great commercial people at selling things – their focus is on making good products and because of this they don’t invest the majority of their time with customers. A lot of sign makers are waiting for their customers – and if the customer says OK, it is no more than that. It could be much more and Pure Digital is good because it is trying to address that.

To support Pure Digital we will be able to let the end user know what is possible and this event gives us the opportunity to show this.

For further information on  SI'BON go to their website