Banners that work

Banners That Work

Banners. Everywhere you look you see them. They hang in windows, on the sides of buildings and from ceilings. These signs and works of art project from posts lining streets, parking lots and venues for the purpose of bringing attention to the themes and events they portray. Banners are taking a front seat in the world of branding, image and advertising. The systems used to hang them also have a role to play in making them build impressions for you and your clients.

Building anything requires an investment of time and energy in the process. But it’s worth it. A smile makes a good first impression. Cheerfully opening a door for someone while flashing a smile accomplishes a longer lasting one. Say hello at the same time and you’ve just taken your impression over the top. Your banners can do the same thing through design, shape, size, form and method of hanging. Let’s explore some ideas and examples that might inspire a future project.

The visual content as well as context in which a printed display or banner is viewed both play a part in how well its message is conveyed. The framing or hanging system holding it in place does too. Put a ribbon on a box, and well, that box has suddenly taken on a new meaning and has gained heightened attention. Today’s full service sign and print shops have the means to put the ribbon on the box by adding a touch of fabrication to powerful design and printed output.

Large mesh printed banner display for Auctions America event produced by High Tech Signs.

There’s no doubt that excellent design paired with dynamic print translates to greater revenue with elevated margins. But let’s get back to the hanging systems that showcase our work. They too provide opportunities to increase your sales and boost the impact of printed displays and banners.

Adding an ornamental or decorative element to a standard frame or hanger system is one way to provide more sizzle to the printed piece they hold. If you happen to work in a shop with fabrication abilities then you are equipped to take advantage of this. If you don’t, there are plenty of sources to turn to that will aid in producing those components for you.

Our company is divided into four divisions of design and production fulfillment. A recent project for a major hospital in our local market required us to design, produce and install three custom banner frames for their exterior that presented multiple issues to solve creatively. These frames would be permanent, the banners within them large in size, and they would also be changed out frequently. There would also be times throughout the year where they would remain empty and we didn’t want the frames to appear like lonely metal rectangles. And, these frames needed to be approved by the building department. In this case, a variance process was going to be necessary as well.

Was all this worth it? Heck yes it was. The value of the project increased many fold, the client is happy, and the frames (with or without banners in them) are admired as works of art. This was accomplished by adding custom ornamentally fabricated components to a standard wall mount system from SignComp located in Grand Rapids, Mich. Now we’re working on a new project for the same client that will involve a large vertically printed mesh banner that will be stretched around a highly visible exterior corner of their health museum for kids. The banner will wrap the brick building’s corner using a SignComp supplied wall extrusion mounting system that will cover an area of four feet by thirty feet in both directions. When finished, the display will be a literal building impression.

Framing or hanging systems, made by companies who sell direct at wholesale to the sign industry, offer all of us in the business opportunities to provide our clients a range of display options. Even the materials that can be printed on has evolved from traditional banner materials to fabrics and dye sublimation that can be stretched over or around frames to make a variety shapes and sizes that stand out. One such company is Creative Banner, located in Minneapolis, Minn.

Projecting banners for IU Health provided by Valley Screen Process. 

“We sell a product called the EuroFit Fabric Hanging Banner that comes in round, square and triangle shapes,” says their product manager, Jim Siesennop. He shared how they continue to work on new products to bring their client’s additional options for shapes and sizes along with alternate uses of materials for indoor and outdoor applications. They keep a strong focus on unique products at excellent prices to allow all sign companies the opportunity to be competitive and creative through printed services, hanger systems and products of display. “We’re working on an exciting new product now that will be unveiled next year,” he says. And from the glimpse I received through a brief description, I can’t wait to see it.

Here in my native Hoosier state of Indiana, Doug Abamowski, owner of High Tech Signs out of Fort Wayne, and Karen Barnett, owner of Valley Screen Process in South Bend, both specialize in full-color print displays. Between the two, they possess a very impressive portfolio covering a range of printed banner displays and use of hanger systems.

“We produced two very large outdoor mesh graphics for the Auctions America event recently held in Burkank, Calif.,” says Abamowski. “These graphics were out of box due to the size and incredible impressions they left upon the visitors at this three-day event.”

The graphic panels were printed on Ultraflex’s mesh product Ultramesh 100 with pole pockets top and bottom installed by their client. The size of the banners were almost 20 feet tall by 70 feet long. Inside they also produced several large fabric banners each at 14 feet tall by 20 feet in length or larger. The largest of these was a fabric panel that was 69 feet wide and stretched around a truss system to became the focal point and dramatic backdrop for the event’s main stage.

Another of High Tech’s impressive projects includes a 14' x 14' three dimensional cube with dye sublimated printed graphics stretched on all six sides to bring attention to their client’s indoor exhibit display. Quite impressive.

At Valley Screen, they too provide brilliant print in many forms including a series of large angled wall projection banners for IU Health and a perforated mesh printed banner hanging over the Knute Rockne Gate of the University of Notre Dame’s football stadium. These banners are hung using standard components provided by Creative Banner.

Some banners don’t require fancy framing or ornamental elements to pull off their impression. In fact, a simple bleed image that appears to float off a wall with no exposed fasteners or hanging system might be the best solution for certain applications. We’ve utilized components from billboard supplier Formetco in the past to achieve very nice bleed image through poles and pole pockets wrapped around projected frames installed onto building surfaces.

Printed graphics applied to sides of semi trailers for Delta Faucets by Green Sign Company. 

Many sign shops have to keep things simple for both production and installation due to limited resources. Even with limits there are still plenty of choices for hardware and hanging systems that will help get the job done right.

I caught up with Shawn Green of Green Sign Company who provided me an example of their graphics applied to the sides of a fleet of truck trailers promoting Delta faucets using a mounting system provided by Epic Design in California. Robert Whitehurst of Cooper Outdoor Advertising in Corpus Christi, Texas, also provided examples of their printed hanging banners using systems by Alpina Manufacturing located in Chicago. It’s clear that with a little research you can find great solutions for hanging banners for just about any situation.

Hanging, framing and mounting banners that will build those all-important impressions starts with selecting the right system for your particular project. For instance, securing a large billboard sized outdoor banner to a light weight a-frame on a grassy hill overlooking a highway for the duration of a weekend is not a good idea. Even if the forecast calls for no wind, there will be. I can just imagine the phone ringing in the middle of the night due to that banner blowing five miles through the air and landing over the windshield of a semi causing it to end up in a field of corn, unharmed thank God, but still a problem that should have been avoided.

Now if that banner were engineered and produced properly, and hung with a good banner hanging system to something creative like flanking windmills securely anchored in the ground promoting the annual national windmill convention, that might be impressive—and safe.

Banners and their hanging systems today are a unique blend of art, architecture, fabrication, and branding. Don’t just make an impression with them. Build them.

Contact Scott if you have an idea or an example that you’d like to share that demonstrates a “building impression” for future articles on Building Impressions.