.JPEG .PNG .PDF... Which one should you use?

Why are there so many file formats, and how do you figure out what you need?

Part of the reason for a large variety of file types is the need for compression. Large file types mean more disk usage and slower downloads. Another reason for the many file types is the variety of colours the image contains.

This graphic will help you understand what you need for any project.

Not sure what file type you need to send us for your project? Give us a call, we'd love to help!


Raster vs Vector

File Types

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RGB, CMYK & PANTONE, What's the difference?



Colour is one of the most important aspects of printing, it can attract, influence and increase retention, making your marketing team happy!
Colour is everywhere, and you have probably noticed that sometimes a colour looks different on screen vs. when it gets printed.


Why are there so many different colour modes?

A colour mode is a way to define colour, using different approaches to define colour. The different colour
modes tell the computer, monitor, or printer which colours to print/display. 
The 3 colour modes you need to know are RGB, CMYK and PANTONE.



RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue.
All of the colours created are a combination of red, green, and blue light. RGB colour “mode” is used for
anything that is light based or lit, such as televisions, cameras, computer monitors and even iPhones.

RGB vs CMYK colour



CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and “Key” colour (black).
All of the colours created are a combination of those 4 colours. The colours are similar to what you remember
in elementary school, Yellow and Cyan make Green; Magenta and Yellow create Red. CMYK is used for
anything printed, business cards, posters, signs. It was used in traditional screen printing, and
is now used in digital printing too!


Printing CMYK


PMS stands for “Pantone Matching System.”
Pantone is a universal colour matching system used to create colour consistency across a variety of platforms,
materials, and uses. The Pantone Corporation created over 1100 numbered colours, that can all be found
in a physical swatch book. Pantone colours standardize colours, meaning, manufacturers and customers can all
refer to the Pantone book to make sure colours match. Pantone colours are used for maintaining a consistent
colour whether you’re viewing it on TV or in print, usually a logo or packaging.

Printing PMS colour


What does IDENT use?

IDENT uses Pantone and we have a software that interprets CMYK colour codes to match its associated Pantone colour.

Why does IDENT ask for Pantones?

Pantone colours give us a consistent reference point, which allows us to keep the colour you need, regardless
of the project or how many times we print it. Each Pantone colour can be referenced in a swatch book that
contains specific numbers for each colour, along with a CMYK colour chart that best represents that colour.
Without the Pantone reference, your logo colour will come out different across various printing equipment.

Trust us, it’s no fun redoing 300 signs because we didn’t get the colours right!

Will I even notice the difference?

You bet! Although not always drastic, changes can usually be seen between RGB, CMYK & Pantone colours. You may see
RGB colours on-screen, 
but CMYK will be the printed colour version. Each Pantone in the swatch book includes
CMYK, RGB, and HTML values to reproduce that colour as accurately as possible in print and 
on-screen applications.


Coloured Printing

Don’t have a Pantone? No worries – give us a call and we can let you know how closely we can match your project!  

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Reflective Signs 101

Retroreflective vinyl, commonly referred to as reflective vinyl, is not self-luminescent. Its properties aren’t apparent in normal daylight conditions. Its glass or prismatic beads are specifically designed to reflect light back to the source making them visible at night when illuminated with artificial light, such as that from motor vehicle headlights. This reflective property is what makes road signs legible after dark without the cost of electric illumination. Reflective sign vinyl uses a variety of reflective technologies to produce different levels of shine. Two important considerations when choosing a reflective vinyl are how much light will it reflect (measured in candlepower) and how wide of an angle can it be viewed at (referred to as angularity).

Engineer Grade (Glass Beaded)
This material is specified for use on non-critical street and road signs, such as parking signs. Engineer grade reflective sheeting is also used often for reflective stickers and decals. Engineer Grade signs reflect at night when light hits the sign. The retro-reflective beaded material has a lifetime of (5/7) years.
Popular Applications: Parking signs

 Parking Sign

High Intensity (Prismatic)
This material is a non-metallized micro-prismatic lens reflective sheeting that is used mainly for reflective traffic and road signs, barricades or other road construction zone devices. High Intensity sheeting is highly reflective, and its durable topcoat protects signs and other traffic control devices against scratches and abrasion. It is used for more permanent traffic signs, and work zone devices.
High Intensity signs are used in areas where the street lighting at night might interfere with a sign’s reflection.
Popular Applications: Traffic Signs

Traffic Sign

Diamond Grade
Diamond Grade is a reflective sheeting that returns almost 60% of the available light to vehicle drivers which is about double what High Intensity reflective sheeting reflects.
Diamond Grade reflective material is at the highest level of reflectivity for traffic signs and is most commonly used on interstate highways and construction projects- and in areas where high visibility is critical.
Popular Applications: Pedestrian Crossing, Stop Signs

Pedestrian Crossing Sign, Night & Day

The following images provide a side-by-side comparison of the three different levels of reflectivity outlined above.

Different grades of reflective vinyl day & night

For more information on the different grades of reflective vinyl, give us a call, we'd love to help!

Big thanks to 3M for the use of their images.
3M has some awesome resources regarding reflectivity and why it's important - give their site some love by clicking here!

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Different types of laminates and their uses

So you've just started a new project, and now it's time to go to print. But have you thought about how you'd like your work to be finished? Did you consider that your project could use some UV protection or graffiti resistance? Below, we have highlighted your lamination options and their common uses.

Lamination is the process of applying a thin layer of film or liquid coating to a material, to enhance and protect the printed matter. There is a wide range of laminates available, all presenting different finishes.

UV Lamination

Liquid lamination, also known as UV coating, is an excellent way to add fade durability. This coating protects from moisture, dirt, fingerprints, and sun exposure. This options for lamination is used on all our aluminum signs unless otherwise specified.
Popular Applications: Any & All Signs and Decals

Pipeline Sign

UV + Anti-graffiti

This laminate is an overlaminate designed to protect digitally printed images and signs from a wide variety of stains and chemicals including paint and permanent marker. Graffiti can be easily and repeatedly removed using common economical cleaners without damaging the surface of the laminate. I-lam is the best option for long-term outdoor signage with limited anti-graffiti properties and anti-fade properties. 
Popular Applications: Signage in high graffiti areas

Anti Graffiti Lamination

UV + Abrasion

Lexan laminate is a great option for signage that takes a beating. It has a velvet finish that reduces glare, is scratch and tear resistant, and can handle heat. However, because continuous exposure to UV rays tend to discolour the film, it isn't recommended for long-term outdoor use. 
Popular Applications: Quad Stands, Decals With a lot of Handling, Large Indoor Displays

Lexan Laminate

Dry Erase

This laminate is a dry erase clear laminate, that is easy to write on and erase. It has a UV hard coat and a clear gloss surface that safeguards against ghosting or staining from dry erase markers. Dry Erase also has anti-graffiti qualities, that can cleanly remove the accidental use of a  permanent marker with the help of rubbing alcohol.
Popular Applications: Charity Cheques, Task Board, Incident Board

Dry Erase Laminate

Partial Lamination

A clear overlay protects writing on the tag from dirt, grease, moisture and alterations. Lift overlay, write message, peel off the liner, and press overlay over the tag.
Popular Applications: Car Seal Valve Tags

Partial Lamination

If you’re looking for a quote or you’re unsure of the best solution for your lamination needs, get in touch.
We’re always here to help. 

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Selecting the right material for your tags

We’re taking the “overwhelming” factor out of your decision-making process by compiling a list of materials showing what your tag material options are. Once you know the basics like, where is it going, will it be indoor or outdoor, is it temporary or permanent, you’ll be ready to make your selection.

Tag Materials

Cardstock is a paper stock that is thicker and more durable than normal writing or printing paper. Cardstock allows the option for perforation (perforation gives you the ability to tear off a portion of the tag), and can be written on with pen or marker. It is by far your less expensive option, but with that comes restrictions to it’s use; it is very temporary, and can only be used indoors. 
*Recommended to use standard sizes with a reinforced hole
Popular Applications: Temporary Maintenance Tags

cardstock tag

Polyart is a flexible, water, scratch and tear resistant paper-like material. It is largely used for perforated tags as it is more durable than Cardstock and also economical. It can be written on with a pen or marker, but isn’t ideal for permanent outdoor applications as it is likely to yellow from the sun and has a tendency to fade over time. Grommet or eyelet options are also available to reinforce holes.
Popular Applications: Perforated Tags such as Repair Tags

Polyart Perforated Tag

ABS is a thermoplastic material, that holds it’s shape, has the option for over-laminate and can be written on with a permanent marker. ABS is a great option indoors, and is a better outdoor material than Polyart or Cardstock, but has the possibility to snap in very cold temperatures (like Canada ☹). Grommet or eyelet options are also available to reinforce holes.
Popular Applications: Lock Out Tags, Valve Tags

ABS tag

Bannerstock– most popular- 5-year warranty
Banner Stock is a great option for tags, as it is tear proof, cost-effective, durable, flexible, can handle hot and cold weather, and can be written on with a pen or marker. Although Bannerstock is a great option, it cannot be perforated – leaving you to choose between Polyart or Cardstock for perforated applications. Grommet or eyelet options are also available to reinforce holes.
Popular Applications: WHMIS products, Lock Out Tags

Banner Stock Tag

Lamacoid is a lightweight non-conductive 2-ply and 3-ply plastic material for engraving, that comes in a variety of colours. Lamacoids are easily mounted with standard adhesives, and there are outdoor versions with uv stable properties available.
Popular Applications: Engraved Nameplates, Engraved Power Panel

Lamacoid tags

Aluminum, White Vinyl, Subsurface Print, Metalphoto or Laser Engraved – All aluminum signs have a 5-year warranty at IDENT 
Aluminum is a solid metal material, that is durable, lightweight and doesn’t rust or decompose. There are four types of printing options available, White Vinyl, Subsurface Print, Metalphoto or Laser Engraved.

-White Vinyl Aluminum has an adhesive vinyl overlay allowing us to print in colour, print double sided if desired and the tags can be written on with a marker. 
Popular Applications for Vinyl: Valve Open Close

-Subsurface print is an electrochemical process that changes the finish of the metal, leaving the option to only print in black or standard colours. Subsurface print is usually used for the purpose of being engraved, can be used for 10+ years (when printed in black), and can only be written on with an engraving pen.
Popular Applications for Subsurfaced print: Pipeline Abandoned

-Metalphoto is a photo-sensitive anodized aluminum used for applications where permanence, resolution, variable data or a combination of these characteristics is required. It is almost identical to Subsurfaced print, but is more effective and photo-sensitive. High resolution makes it possible for barcodes, QR codes or other symbology that may be required.
Popular Applications for Metalphoto: Nameplates, Labels, and Control Panels.

-Laser Engraved Aluminum can be seen as a selective laser material removal, because the laser removes the anodized layer from the aluminum piece. Laser engraving leaves the material with a matte finish, black lettering, and allows the option to be written on with marker or engraving pen. (Can only be printed in black)
Popular Applications Laser: Pipeline Abandoned

Aluminum Tag - Laser Engraved

Tag Material Table


Still feeling stuck? Regardless of the location you’ll be placing your tag, we’ve got a material that will work in both terms of practicality and functionality. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a recommendation, or if you would like to place an order! 

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Picking the right material for your signage needs

The decision-making process is never easy, we make so many quick decisions unconsciously; others we agonize over. We want picking a material for your signage needs to be easy, so we’ve compiled a list of materials showing what your options are. First, you need to ask yourself: where is it being applied, will it be located indoors or outdoors, how long is it going to be up for, and any additional factors you might need to consider.

All materials we offer at IDENT, can be printed double sided, and other than the banner stock, come in sheets of 48” x 96” or smaller but can be made larger with 2 or more pieces.


Sign Materials

Coroplast is lightweight, recyclable and inexpensive, making it an easy choice for temporary signage, billboards or golf tournaments. It can be used both indoors and out but isn’t ideal for a long term sign as it is easily damaged.
Popular Applications: Temporary signage such as temporary lease signs, temporary directional signage, temporary reflective construction and traffic signage. Also a popular choice for special events and tradeshows.


ABS is a lightweight, thermoplastic material that isn’t recommended for outdoor use as it can snap in very cold temperatures (like Canada ☹). If you’re looking for a material that gives you a good balance of cost and performance, ABS will often be a good choice.
Popular Applications: TDG Placards, Indoor Wallcharts, Indoor Tags, and Indoor Safety Signs.  

Banner Stock
Banner Stock is a great option for regularly transported signage, as it can be rolled up and is fairly lightweight depending on size. Banners are often mounted using ropes, screws, bungee cords, etc. inserted through metal grommets along the edges. It also makes an excellent outdoor tag, as it can handle Canadian winter and is tear resistant.
Popular Applications: WHMIS and Do not disturb tags, and large signage for special events.

ACM (Dibond)  
ACM is a dense lightweight material that combines two aluminum layers with solid plastic core and comes with a protective film on both sides. This rigid composite material isn’t ideal for all signage needs, as it should be mounted flat. Mounting ACM to a post is a gamble, as it can bend, snap and raise the protective film.
Popular Applications: Outdoor wall mounted safety signs, display and exhibition and architectural signs.


Aluminum – Most popular & All aluminum signs have a 5-year warranty at IDENT
Aluminum is a solid metal sign that is extremely durable, lightweight, and don’t rust or decompose. This material can be engraved, stamped and comes in multiple colours with the option of 3 different reflectivity’s: Engineer Grade, High Intensity and Diamond Grade.*
Thinner aluminum options are available and make for great tags!
Popular Applications: Pipeline Signs, Wellsite Signs, Facility Signs, Out of Service Tags/Stamped Valve Tags, and any long-term outdoor application.


* Things to consider when choosing a reflectivity: how often is the road travelled at night, and the speed. If you still aren’t sure what reflectivity would work best for your project, we’d love to help you narrow that down.  

Signage Materials Chart

Still feeling stuck? Regardless of the location you’ll be placing your sign, we’ve got a material that will work in both terms of practicality and functionality. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a recommendation, or if you would like to place an order! 

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Oh Deer! What you need to know about Alberta Wildlife Signage

Wildlife signs have their purpose all year round, but we’ve seen a spike in orders recently and thought we’d lend a hand, so bear with us while we cover some basics. Typically speaking there are 4 types of wildlife signs: Stock Crossing Signs, Stock Warning Signs, Wildlife Information Signs, Invasive Species and Wildlife Warning Signs. 

Types of Wildlife Signs

Wildlife signs aren’t just used for National Parks and highways, there are many reasons you would need to put up Wildlife signage. Some reasons include, but are not limited to: Wildlife Management, Fisheries Management, Water Management, Vegetation Management and Security. If your company has a license/lease to use public lands for oil-related uses, you are required to have these signs at the road entries so the roads can be easily closed if needed. 

Land act signs

For all those eager beavers wondering if there are any rules or regulations, for private property, the answer is no! You can pick a standard wildlife sign such as a Warning sign, or something more custom.

But in Alberta, for example, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) co-manage public lands under the Public Lands Act. Under this act, the AEP can require the installation of signs for a variety of environmental controls at roadway entrances to the public land being used for energy operations.

These signs have some requirements that must be followed in order to be compliant:

  • The signs must state the appropriate land notice
  • Text must meet the minimum height requirement
  • Signs must meet a minimum size requirement
  • Signs require a level of reflectivity
  • Signs require a border

If you want to ensure that you are compliant with the AER and AEP regulations, give us a call. IDENT has been Canada’s leader in oil and gas signage for over 35 years. We pride ourselves on being the experts on regulatory and compliance signage so that you don’t have to worry. We’re in your field!

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Different Types of Posts & Bases

Signs are, without a doubt, our first love. We obsess over making sure we produce the highest quality of signs we can, putting the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from our 35 years in the industry to work. Like every superhero needs a sidekick, every sign needs a solid foundation to keep it upright and visible.

When it comes to the structural support for your signs there are several options, each optimal for a different setting. There are zero and minimal ground disturbance methods, as well as regular and heavy duty posts. We’ll walk you through each type so that you’ll be confident which option is best for your project.

Posts - Regular & Heavy Duty

Posts are by far the most popular and reliable method of putting up a permanent sign in a location with no restrictions on ground disturbance. ⅓ of the post is typically put into the ground, which usually equates to roughly 2-2.5 feet for an average post. The reason you’ll want to make sure that you get this deep into the ground is that this ensures that the post is beneath the frost line which will prevent the likelihood of the post shifting during a frost heaving.

While there’s little difference between regular sign posts and heavy duty sign posts aesthetically, when it comes to function you’ll want to make sure you have the right post for the job. Regular posts are used for smaller signs (up to 2 sq ft) in places where the ground is relatively soft and there isn’t a lot of wind. And, just as we figure you’ve assumed, heavy duty posts are best used for larger signs and in places where the ground is rocky or harder, and they are much better for areas that tend to be windier.

Heavy Duty Post

Minimal Disturbance

Our minimal disturbance bases are designed for easy transport and are made up of 2 90 degree “V” brackets, each with 6” spikes on the end that penetrate the ground and provide a solid foundation for the signpost. Another bonus for minimal disturbance bases is that you don’t have to worry about locating lines with MGD.

There are a couple of scenarios when placing a permanent post a couple of feet into the ground isn’t a viable option. First, there are times when permission is required to put anything into the ground more than a twelve inches. Second, perhaps you need a semi-permanent solution for putting up a sign. In other words, you need the sign to be secured but you want to be able to easily remove it easily after the project has been completed.

Minimal Disturbance Post

Zero Disturbance

For situations where the ground is just way too hard for a post, or you simply need a temporary sign, we’d suggest you go with zero disturbance options. We covered quad stands in our blog post What You Need to Know About Temporary Road Signs, but there is a second option that we’d like to tell you about: concrete bases.

Quad Sign Stand

Concrete bases are a solid option (pun definitely intended) for putting your signs where they need to be. These solid and stable bases provide perfect anchors for either a regular or heavy duty posts without the need to penetrate the ground, plus they’re great for windy areas. These bases can be custom made, giving you total control over the diameter, thickness, and weight.

concrete base

Spring Assembly

Regardless of if you’re putting you’re using a minimal or zero disturbance option, if it’s going to be put in a windy location you may want to consider adding a spring assembly. A spring assembly will allow for the sign to be temporarily pulled toward the ground, providing just enough give in your sign to reduce the stress on your post to prevent the sign from shearing off or the post to be uprooted. Spring assemblies also work well for parking lots or farmland with animals since the flexibility it provides lends itself well to minor bumps and nudges.

Regardless of the location, you’ll be placing your sign we’ve got a post option that will work both in terms of practicality and functionality. Take a look at our posts and bases and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a quote or would like to place an order!  

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What You Need to Know About Temporary Road Signs

Temporary signs have their purpose all year round, but we definitely see a spike in orders come winter! One extremely Canadian reason is that as the temperature drops and snow and ice begin to accumulate, it’s time to put traffic signs on ice roads! Another common reason is to make sure all signs are compliant while awaiting final approval for leased land.

When Do You Need a Temporary Sign?

Ice Roads

While most people may think of winter as a time with more driving hazards and reduced access, for many oil and gas workers, ice roads provide access to areas that are otherwise unreachable the rest of the year. While Canadian winters may seem endless when we’re in them, these ice roads are only functional for part of the year. Permanent signs won’t work on these roads for a very obvious reason: if you try to hammer a post and sign into the ice, it probably won’t be there come spring when the ice melts. They are also an expensive option for a road that won’t be around for very long!

Legal Subdivision finalized by AER

Temporary signs are also quite commonly used while awaiting final approval for Legal Subdivision (LSD) use. No one wants to invest in a permanent sign for land use that is very short-term or has not yet been approved for longer-term use. That said, it’s also extremely important that all work sites have all mandatory signs. Check out our blog post on preparing for an audit for a refresher on what’s required.

Your Best Options for Temporary Signs


No matter what your temporary signage needs are, we have a solution for you. Our favourite type of material for temporary signs is Coroplast. Coroplast is a corrugated cardboard with a plastic core, making it both lightweight and durable. It can be printed on either one or both sides and can also be made reflective to ensure visibility as the sun sets at an increasingly early hour.

One of the best things about Coroplast is how easy and versatile it is when it comes to putting signs up. Coroplast can easily be cut into arrows, diamonds and rectangular shapes.  Holes can be pre-drilled and reinforced with grommets, or nails can be used to secure these signs to walls, doors and stands. We’ve even seen them nailed to trees! Double-sided tape can also be used to affix them to flat surfaces. Our recommended method for setting up your temporary road sign is with a quad stand and a sandbag or two. It’s easy to set up and will fold flat, making it easy to transport and store your signs.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you that Coroplast is the way to go when it comes to your temporary signs we’ve got one final point: Coroplast signs cost less than aluminium signs. Coloplast signs are the best way to free up funds for more important things like the 10L thermos of coffee or the 3 extra pairs of long underwear that are essential for working in those arctic conditions.

Other Options

There are other temporary signage options available of course. One great option is aluminium signs mounted on quad stands; they can be easily set up, moved, and stored over the summer, making them perfect for reusing each winter. Wooden A-frame sandwich boards also make great temporary signs and can be printed single or double-sided. These options are a little pricier than their Coroplast counterpart, but they do last longer and can be reused years to come.

If you’re looking for a quote or you’re  still unsure of the best solution for your temporary sign needs, get in touch. We’re always here to help.

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Holiday Charity Giveaway

One of the ways that we at IDENT love to show our gratitude to the people and communities that we work with across Western Canada is to make charitable donations to local causes and organizations throughout our different sales regions. This year, to celebrate our 35th year in business, we thought it would be great if you had a hand in helping us give away $3500 (5 donations of $700) this December.

The Process

In mid-November, we asked for your nominations for your favourite charity in each of our 5 sales districts (BC, Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta, Central Alberta, and Northern Alberta). We then took the most-nominated charities in each district and asked for your votes!

The Winners

Without further ado, here are the winners that YOU selected to receive donations as part of our Holiday Charity Giveaway:

Southern Alberta

Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

Central Alberta

Alberta SPCA

Northern Alberta

The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation


Kindersley Food Bank


Fort St John Big Brothers Big Sisters

We want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped us choose charities for our holiday giving, and an even bigger thank you for all of your continued support. 2017 was our 35th year in business and we couldn’t have done it without all of you!

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