Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are Brightness guarantees a bright idea?

-Deacon Wardlow

Companies do a lot to standout in the marketplace. Some focus on USP (Unique Selling Points), others have an established name/brand, while other businesses focus on innovation in the marketplace and/or performance and strong support. Lately, instead of innovating, many companies are claiming they have a great solution already in place and innovation isn’t necessary, i.e.  “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” They’re redirecting the buyer's’ attention by claiming performance “guarantees.”

First, a guarantee and a promise are two different things. If I promise someone I’ll help with a move - I may or may not back that up when they need me. If I guarantee I’ll help with the move - maybe I’ve put something in place (like a bond, surety, or a third-party) where if I’m unavailable someone will step in and take my place (because they’ve been paid to do that). Guarantee vs. a promise, pretty simple stuff.

Lately there has been a 10 year brightness guarantee thrown about. The “brightness” guarantee is interesting. LED Sign manufacturers are still leaning on the tried/true 5 year parts warranty when others are adding (standard) a promise and/or guaranteed 5 year on-site service program. Rather than step up and put a better warranty in place, they’re claiming 10 year brightness “guarantees” (really a promise). If a display is installed, the end-user can go back 10 years later and the display will be just as bright as when it was first installed. If not (and they can’t fix it to be as bright) they’ll pay a cash refund.

They’re throttling brightness and claiming uniformity:

The display starts at 7,500 Nits (a respectable, if somewhat low, brightness level). The LEDs are likely capable of about 11,000 Nits. The system is set to increase brightness overtime. Most LEDs depreciate their light output at a set level overtime and the system can be calibrated to increase the light output on the LEDs to maintain 7,500 Nits over 10 years.

The Good: It’s great to have the LEDs maintain a level of brightness over time and this allows a certain uniform expectation regarding image quality

The Bad: Aside from slowly increasing power (operation) cost, you don’t have to wait 10 years to see performance. If the guarantee were true, a client should (in year 2 or 3) be able to swap LED panels from any section and have all the parts look the same. This isn’t likely to happen (get ready for a refund).

Picture a car in long term storage sitting in a garage with a window near the car. Over time, the part of the car exposed to light will experience fading on the paint. The paint in the shade will degrade, but much slower than the part in the light. When that car is pulled outside, the lit part will look very different from the shaded part. Signage experiences a similar issue where certain components receive more direct sunlight than others depending on where a panel is located. The fading will cause uniformity issues and the guarantee won’t hold over time.

We’ll be there for you (really?):

This comes back to a promise vs. a guarantee. With a promise, the end-user is relying on the company to be in business for the lifetime of the display (and for them to honor the promise they put out when the display was sold).

The Good: If a company is true to its word, it’ll likely follow-through on its promise and support the end-user otherwise they risk losing a brand/image they’ve worked hard to earn.

The Bad: New ownership could come in or the company could go out of business. No business is “failproof.” Companies come and go. If a company made a promise and they’re sold to someone else, the new ownership doesn’t have to fulfill the promise someone else made. If the company goes out of business, what good is that promise when there’s nobody in place to follow-through. Promise vs. a guarantee…

It’s easy to make promises, especially a promise which won’t be called on for 10 years. It’s harder to really stand behind a product line and fully support that product with guarantees and sureties in place to ensure the client is taken care of at the end of the day rather than the manufacturer. Let’s look at the fine print. Where are the terms and conditions? Is the guarantee backed by a 3rd party? How about putting aside money in escrow? If there’s no money, there’s no guarantee.

Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts - thoughts - writings- etc. are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted. Direct emails can be sent to deacon@spectacularmedia.com for queries and/or assistance.

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