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Tips for Designing the Perfect Outdoor Banner

Outdoor banners offer businesses an affordable and effective way to boost brand awareness and attract new customers or clients, but only if they’re eye-catching and have a clear purpose. Read on to find some tips for designing the perfect outdoor banner that will make it easy to take advantage of this fantastic advertising technique.

Choose the Right Banner Type

There are many types of outdoor banners. Most are made from durable vinyl or mesh, but they come in different shapes and sizes. There’s a big difference between a light post banner and a Fence Wrap. Determining what type of banner will be the best fit, how large it will be, and where it will be placed can help designers figure out which direction to take things in when it comes to design. Popular options include:

  • Light post banners
  • Step-and-repeat banners
  • Wall wraps
  • Flags
  • And more

Pick an Appropriate Material

When it comes to materials, vinyl is the most popular option for standard outdoor banners. This material is durable, UV-resistant, and holds ink well. Vinyl can stand up to rain, wind, and snow, too, provided the banner has reinforced edges. Just keep in mind that for fence wraps, in particular, printers generally recommend windscreens for vinyl banners. Otherwise, the wind could wind up tearing even the strongest banner.

Mesh banners are generally a better fit for fences. They can also be used to cover scaffolding or to create backdrops for outdoor stages. The reason this material is considered the best option for these applications is that, unlike vinyl, mesh features tiny holes that allow air and some light to pass through. They are opaque enough to prevent people from seeing into a construction site but offer 30% airflow to ensure the banners will hold up to even exceptionally windy conditions without blowing away.

Define the Purpose

Creating the perfect banner requires starting with a clear purpose in mind. In most cases, that means more than just informing the public of an organization’s existence. Common examples of more definite purposes include:

  •  Announcing upcoming events
  • Advertising products
  • Promoting sales
  • Improving brand image
  • Engaging the community

Designers that take the time to think about their specific goals are more likely to wind up with cohesive final products that accomplish more than just covering a blank space.

Show, Don’t Tell

To be effective, banner designs need to stand out in people’s minds. No one will remember a banner that consists exclusively of words on a monochrome background, no matter how interesting the contents of the text happen to be. Banners are all about visual appeal, so show, don’t tell.

Try to choose a central image that captures the purpose of the banner. The right image will vary based on the banner material and the intended purpose. For promoting sales or products, simple graphics of the company’s most essential offerings could work just fine. For improving brand image, on the other hand, a photograph of a smiling employee or a satisfied customer could do the trick. Just be sure the central image and theme will appeal to the business’s target customers.

Choosing images also requires consideration of the banner’s size and material. Crisp, clear images are a must, so use either high-resolution photos or infinitely scalable vector images rather than raster graphics. For mesh banners, try to keep things simple. Complex images won’t look right when applied to 70/30 mesh.

Stick With Short, Sweet, and Legible Text Blocks

While banners shouldn’t include long paragraphs of text, most can benefit from the incorporation of a short, simple message conveyed in an easy-to-read font. Experts generally recommend phrases of seven words or less, with a maximum text-to-image ratio of one to three.

Determining the right font size is uniquely challenging for large-format printing. There are some general rules of thumb to follow when it comes to letter height, though. Aim for 6 to 12 inches for sidewalk signs, 8 to 12 inches for storefront signage, 10 to 14 inches for light post flags, and 12 to 24 inches for fence wraps and other large banners. 

Experienced designers also recommend performing a readability test. Try standing as far from the banner as the average onlooker. For most fence wraps, light post flags, and sidewalk banners that should be around ten feet away. If the text isn’t completely legible, adjust the font, letter height, or color contrast accordingly to resolve the problem.

Keep Things Simple

The advice to keep the text short and sweet also applies to the overall banner design. Most people only spend a few seconds glancing at banners as they walk or drive by. They don’t have the time to take in complex graphics any more than they do long strings of text. Capturing the attention of passers-by requires using simple designs with clear focal points and bold colors.

There’s no need to try to include everything about a promotion or an event on a sign. Instead, view the banner as a way to entice potential customers into finding out more on their own. Just be sure to include social media handles, a website, or a clear call to action so that people know how they can find additional information.

Choose the Right Banner Printer

Outdoor banners are much larger than the standard materials on offer at local print shops, so businesses need to find specialized printers that have not just the right equipment but also expertise in large-format printing and design. Look into what kinds of banner printing services the company offers, and choose one that uses high-quality materials, offers a quick turnaround time, and has experience working with a range of clients. 

Some printing companies also offer graphic design services, which is very helpful to business owners who want to print their first large-scale outdoor banners. Even if a client company is going to keep most of the design process in-house, it’s still a good idea to consult with a large-format graphic designer to ensure that the proportions are right and the images and text will look sharp when they’re blown up to full size. Choosing the right printing company makes the entire process easier.

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