“Glory, fly the banners high Glory, rend the day with your victory cry.”
—The Showdown, Deus Invictus
Banners have always been associated with glorious battle charges and royal proclamations of ownership waving boldly over giant castles. As such they have come down to us over the centuries with a very noble heritage. Even today banners can hold a positive connotation in people’s imagination.
Marshall McLuhan famously said that “the medium is the message.” Therefore banners are an ideal way to transmit messages using a well accepted and positively viewed medium. The problem with banners, of course, is how to hang them up. So here are some ideas to get you started…
Good looking wall-mounting hardware is important for a good looking banner, like this unit from BannerFlex. (Image courtesy of Kalamazoo Banner Works)
Indoor banners have to look perfect since they are seen at close quarters. Every detail counts in their printing, construction and hanging. But they do not have the rigid constraints on durability that their outdoor relatives have, allowing extra leeway to create beauty.
Stretch-frame systems, such as those made by Alpina Manufacturing, offer an easy way to make close-viewed indoor banners look great. They are attractive, easy to use and allow graphics to be changed out quickly. This type of system works great in retail and restaurant environments. They are available in numerous sizes and configuration and can be used for large outdoor jobs as well.
The Orbus Formulate line of framing systems uses a tension fabric hanging structure that is made in the U.S.A. Formulate combines state-of-the-art zipper pillowcase dye-sublimated stretch fabric coverings with advanced, lightweight aluminum structures to provide unique design, functionality, and style. They also have a variety of three-dimensional and two-dimensional frame shapes for great selection.
Hanging structures like these can attract and command attention in a trade show booth or retail space, are easy to change and always look great.
The most common problem with outdoor banners is getting them to hang straight, tight and even. There are a number of framing systems on the market that solve this problem. Alpina’s Banner Grip system is easy-to-use and uses moveable, adjustable clamps that do not rely on precision fitting, finicky rope inserts or non-adjustable D-tapes. Not only is it easy to install and great looking, but the tension lasts a long time for a more permanent placement. It can also be used for rigid substrates like plastic and composites.
One of the leading innovators in the field of pole-mounted banners is Kalamazoo Banner Works (KBW). Prior to their products, brackets consisted of steel pipe arms welded to steel collars that were then bolted to light and utility poles. This had a few problems. The steel could bend and stay bent in the wind. Also, the steel collars were rarely tight enough on the varying-sized poles and subsequently would come loose in windstorms. This allowed the banners to flop around and rip and tear in wind gusts. Steel also is prone to rust, adding another problem.
In 1983 KBW pioneered the use of fiberglass arms to get around these problems. The fiberglass arms are not only rust proof, they can bend in even the strongest winds. They also developed the heavy-duty Band-It brand strapping system that allows installers to tighten the banner hardware onto any size pole. This system makes use of special tools that can custom tighten steel bands around the poles. The bands are threaded through the hardware to hold it securely in place. It has become the standard in the sign installation industry.
BannerFlex hardware, from Kalamazoo Banner Works, is strong and flexible. (Image courtesy of Kalamazoo Banner Works)
Next they developed the canted bracket arm. This upward-angled arm helps to keep the banner taught and prevents flapping. It directs the wind force to the banner arm, which in turn deflects some of the force. This was followed by the introduction of the BannerFlex D3 adjustable bracket that allowed installers to make on-the-fly adjustments to the distance between banner arms and accommodate differences in banner sizes.
There was still a problem with attaching banners to the ornamental and fluted poles common in heritage areas, so KBW developed the MetroBracket. This incorporates the size flexibility of their other brackets while maintaining a sleek, compact look that fits in with the specialized look of the poles. Other unique products include fiberglass pole brackets, square pole adaptors, flower pot holders, custom finials, wall mount plates and others.
Installing banners on poles has generally meant using a boom truck, resulting in huge extra costs. FlagTrax, is the name of the new installation method. It is manufactured by KBW’s parent company Consort Display Group. This system uses a track that is mounted vertically onto the pole or wall. A flexible rod is inserted into the track. It carries the banner or flag up to the final mounting height. The access point for this tamper-proof track can be mounted at shoulder height for maximum convenience or at the eight foot level above the ground when added security is required. This alleviates the need for anything more than a small step stool and reduces installation costs dramatically. It also has the added benefit of making it possible for clients to order banners more often.
Hanging banners doesn’t have to be difficult. Lots of help is available from trade magazines (like this one), suppliers and industry websites. For example, the www.kalamazoobanner.com website features useful information like a Wind Force Calculator and a banding size guideline. Hang banners with ease and pride using professional products.