Tips for Designing Your Fabric BannersAugust 21, 2018
Fabric banners are usually made from polyester, vinyl, or canvas, and your choice is driven by many different factors. For example, what fabrics are available at the printer you’ve selected? Are you particularly attached to that printer or would you pick a different one if they had the fabric you want? Also, what kind of event are you hosting?
Outdoor events need banners that are waterproof and non-reflective, so they can still be viewed in sunlight. This matters to a lesser extent indoors, because the glare of artificial lights can also make banners illegible. You need to think about whether your banners are single-sided or double-sided, and whether they need to flap in the wind or be secured to the ground using pegs, water bags, or brackets.
These are all practical concerns though. Design requirements are a little different. Decide if you want to go full colour, grey scale, monochrome, or black-and-white and find out what your banner supplier has on offer. If your chosen firm can deliver the volumes you want in the time you want, and within your budget, you might consider changing your colour scheme to match the inks they have available in studio.
The colours you use will depend on the mood you want to create, the current season, and your brand palette. Warm colours are cosy and inviting. Cool colours are calming but they also create psychological distance, which gives an air or conservatism and authority. Valentines and Christmas demand lots of red sparkle.
Whichever hues you choose, confirm the print quality. You want something that won’t be faded out by UV rays, and won’t scratch or chip during your event. Storage cases help too. There are few things as frustrating as digging through the office store before an event and finding your banners in ruins. Carry cases can also help you move your fabric banners offsite.
A mistake many designers make is to neglect the words. Yes, one picture can replace a thousand utterances, but there’s still a place for text. Balance it out, not using too much copy or too little. Experiment with an existing banner. Walk past it in the office, or drive past one on the road. Make note of how many words you could read in transit. If you couldn’t get past the headline, your customers won’t either, so write a strong tag line and leave out the fluff.
Put your logo at the top (or bottom) of the banner where it will stand out. Then lay out your words and images top to bottom, left to right, or vice versa in countries where that applies. Some countries in Asia (India, UAE, Japan) do their writing from right to left, so keep that in mind, especially if the banners are visual, or have wording in their native tongues. If they’re in written English, then it’s fine. Leave enough blank space though, for easier consumption.
Your design also has to factor in the size of the banner. It’s not smart to use the same visual and resize it. A text-filled banner is pointless on a billboard, because you can’t read it all. It’s equally useless on a desktop, because the print will be so small it’s likely to smudge or blur. For buntings, consider using a single icon or logo. For retractable banners or 6m media walls in Sydney, you can be more generous with your words and pictures.
Be careful with your flappers
Moving fabric banners can be a good advertising tool. When they sway in the breeze, the movement catches the lateral vision of everyone around, nudging them to turn and look at it. This means by the end of the day, they’ve drawn more eyeballs than other banners combined. However, you can’t control the wind. So you don’t know which part of the flag will be visible when your prospects turn. They might glance over when only half the logo is showing.
Worse, the wind may flap the fabric so aggressively that viewers can’t read it at all. Rotating feather flags can be helpful, because they turn as a unit instead of wobbling in sections like a bunting or bali flag. Make sure your banners are double sided, to increase the likelihood of consumers getting the message on a windy day.
Also, test your fabric banner with a fan to see which part is consistently visible, and use that in your layout. Essential messaging should be on that part of the banner e.g. brand name and logo. Find out whether your banners are washable. Some need to be cleaned with a loose duster, because wiping them with a damp cloth could wash off the paint.