Flags and Banners - Getting Creative - March 2014

Signs Express Ltd - Soft signage

Promotional banner hanging outside the York Dungeons Feather shaped flags for the council standing along a path

Rebecca Dack, Marketing & PR Manager with Signs Express Ltd., has seen the range of applications for banners vary significantly over recent years.
Retailers and events have traditionally utilised banners and continue to do so, but there are a number of other sectors that are now choosing this method of promotion.

“Local authorities and the public sector are using this medium more than ever before to promote their initiatives, and even as a more permanent form of branding,” says Rebecca. “Many local councils have recognised the advertising opportunity available by dressing the lamp posts on the high street with soft signage as forms of sponsorship for festivals, ‘in bloom’ competitions and city of culture.” In addition to demand from local councils, Signs Express franchises have reported demand from construction companies, retail parks as well as exhibition and conference centres across the UK.

So why are so many sectors branching out? Perhaps one reason is the improvements made in the substrates used to create the banners themselves. No longer relegated to exclusively indoor use, banners and flags can be created on a wide number of materials including those lightweight enough to create temporary hoardings, scaffolding wraps as well as portable displays used for short term promotions and events. “The development of die sublimation materials has given a new dynamic to soft signage, making it more attractive to the customer,” says Rebecca.

Another factor could be attributed to market research, as an increasing number of clients are realising the potential of inexpensive, temporary signage. “Customers recognise that movement attracts attention, and so are utilising temporary solutions to attract business,” says Rebecca, revealing that many customers are also choosing soft signage as a way to dress their premises through the selection of more ornate and decorative fixing methods.

Choosing the right soft signage

While more and more banners and flags can be found on lampposts and hanging elsewhere outdoors, not all substrates are suited to these conditions. Sign makers should be sure to clarify with the client whether the banner is intended for indoor or outdoor use, as well as what it is going to be fixed to. Having a clear idea of the fixing system will help keep maintenance to a minimum, even when changing the signage. “Once a tensioning system is in place, the sign maker only needs to replace the skin for each new message, keeping overall costs down but ensuring that the temporary messages are securely fixed,” says Rebecca. “Getting a clear understanding of the customer’s needs is vital, as a short-term promotion will affect the material choice and cost accordingly. “

To manage client expectations and price the project accurately, Rebecca recommends asking a number of key questions to ensure the job is done right and to increase the chances of repeat business:

 ·    How long is the campaign? This is what will determine the material and methods used.
 ·    Where and when this will be installed? Establish the fixing methods required for adequate tensioning.
 ·    Is it free moving (eg. a flag)? The anchor points need to be correct to ensure secure fixing and to avoid uneven wear and tear.  

Sign makers also need to ask the customer if they have the necessary permissions to install the signage – otherwise the job will be rendered useless!  
To learn more, visit www.signsexpress.co.uk.

Promotional teardrop flags standing on a pathwayPromotional banner hanging from the side of an art gallery


Fairfield displays

Butterfly track what signs can be hung fromA hanging Dulux sign in there shoppromotional sign hanging from the ceililng

Janice Fairfield, Marketing Director at Fairfield Display & Lighting, notes that banners have become not only a more cost-effective option for end-users, but also for sign makers as well.

Growth in technology in recent years has prompted more and more sign makers to take an interest in this market, as it’s no longer an expensive or time-consuming process to create flags and banners. “Because it’s become cheaper to make banners, they can be offered to customers at much lower prices,” says Janice.    

Creating the ideal banner requires the sign maker to take a proactive approach to the initial enquiry, ensuring to ask all the right questions to maximise the chances of ongoing contracts. “A good idea would to offer a price that includes four changes of posters or banners throughout the year, this way the client can be locked in,” advises Janice.

When it comes to conducting these changes, there are a number of tools to make it easy to swap banners in and out, including some new user-friendly systems available from Fairfield.

Putting sign makers in control

Fairfield Displays has just launched Signware, an extensive range for hanging and displaying banners.  

The range includes a profile called Anogotcha, which will hold banners and posters up to 2mm thick.  The profiles are made in 3 metre lengths and can be further customised by sign makers to suit the needs of the job.  With profiles available in colours such as silver aluminium or black, sign makers have control over the size and style of the banner display system to accommodate a wide variety of requests.

“One reason these profiles are incredibly useful is because the aluminium is robust and does not bow, so it looks elegant and will hold even large graphics firmly in place,” says Janice. The system enables banners to be displayed in foyers, theatres, retail stores, schools and public buildings, and so can work well for a number of clients.

Another reason the Signware range is beneficial for sign makers is the fact that it’s been designed for speed.  Utilised by a House of Fraser branch in the Midlands, the system allows staff to change the banners across the entire sales floor in just a few hours using the RoPole tool, which will lift the poster straight up to the ceiling and clip straight into the ceiling grid or the Signware ceiling mount. As poles are available in up to a 6-metre length, they’re ideal for use in retail buildings or restaurants. The Nickken retractable cord system, also available in the Signware line, enables users to simply change graphics by pulling the cord with a pole.

The third system is the Zipline™, which is great for large rollouts during which clients need to hang the same size banner from different ceiling heights.  
“This system allows you to drop a cable down and lock it into the position required without cutting anything,” reveals Janice.  “The added advantage is that if the follow-up campaign has posters of different sizes, it does not matter.  This is an inexpensive gadget that can clip straight into a false ceiling grid.”

To learn more, visit www.fairfielddisplays.co.uk

Hanging promotional sign in a park


GiraffePress Ltd

Promotional pop up roller bannersPromotional banner hung on the rails of a bridgeTemporary exhibition banners

With over thirty years of experience in the printing industry, GiraffePress Ltd. made the move to wide format in 2009. Since then, the company has seen a rise in interest in banners, particularly when it comes to indoor promotional advertising.

“Banners are a lot more cost-effective than other forms of traditional signage,” says Jason Pavlou Managing Director.

“If, for example, you were exhibiting at an exhibition, it is much cheaper to create 2 or 3 Roll-Up Banners than the larger Pop-Up type. Of course, if you wanted a large ‘flowing’ display’, then the modular kind is a fantastic option. These banners do not require electricity, (unless of course you wanted to add lighting), which helps keeps costs down.”

Roll-up banners and modular systems (Centro) are simple to set up, reusable, and graphics can easily be changed on the modular banners to act as a great ‘future value’ product. Roll-up banners are a great choice for start-ups, as they enable companies to get their message across loud and clear at minimal cost. Although they’re a great choice for companies with a limited budget, Jason notes that even large corporations use these as part of heir advertising arsenal. GiraffePress Ltd has clients across an extremely varied range of industries and professions turning to banners for their promotional needs. “The simplicity and cost works well for everyone, but especially for clients that need to travel abroad for exhibitions and seminars. My client base ranges from sole-traders to professional speakers including Nicci Roscoe, right the way through to large corporations and charities” says Jason.

Presenting the market with new opportunities

Since moving into the wide format market, Jason and his team have rapidly expanded their resources, investing in a Roland Versa UV print and cut machine, something Jason reveals to be a shrewd investment. His team are now able to print a varnish (either matt or gloss) adding up to seven coats of varnish to create a beautiful embossed finish. This look adds depth to the finished product, and can be printed onto almost any substrate. The service is a relatively new one, and GiraffePress Ltd. are one of very few companies in the UK currently offering it. There has been an increased demand for spot varnished banners in recent months, in addition to continuing demand for modular display stands. “These stands are similar to the curved pop-ups, except the graphic panels can be easily replaced as required to either one panel or more to fit the clients needs. “For example, if a client had 3 metre stand next week and needed a smaller 2 metre stand in 6 months time, they can just remove one part of the display to suit their needs,” explains Jason.

While banners and other elements of soft signage may have appeared as a hobby-sized market for some, for Jason, this niche has become the company’s biggest seller and has helped it to thrive.

“Print, as an industry, can be broken down into numerous sectors, large format is just one, and even that can be broken down again into smaller sectors,” he says. “Working mainly with banners may appear risky to some, but as the want for this product rises and the market continues to expand, there’s enough demand to prove that banners have become a substantial sub-market of it’s own. There’s enough work out there for everyone to go around”.

For more information, visit www.giraffebanners.co.uk.

curved banner wrapping around a desk


Roland DG

Roland Pro4 640-printerSoft signs hanging from the ceiling of a building

With more sign makers turning their attention to soft signage, there has been a spike in the sales of wide format printers designed to print onto these substrates at Roland DG (UK).

“Launched in 2013, our SOLJET Pro4 XF-640 wide format printer, nicknamed The Beast, has already become a popular choice for sign makers printing soft signage banners and flags,” says Rob Goleniowski, Business Manager of Sign & Graphics.  “It has tremendous production capacity – printing at speeds of up to 102m²/hr, making it ideal for high volume production or on-demand requirements.”  The VersaART RE-640 has remained another popular choice, growing over the years to become one of the most robust and cost-effective solutions for both textile and vinyl banner production. Retailing for under £10,000, this printer has become a staple for many sign makers looking for what Rob describes as a “flexible and robust production workhorse.”

The SOLJET Pro4 XF-640 and VersaART RE-640 can print both dye sublimation for textiles and materials and EcoSolvent for PVB banners. Combining ease of use, low running costs and reliability, these printers provide a high return on investment for sign makers. According to Rob, Roland’s success in the soft signage market can be attributed to providing sign makers with this sort of versatility. “We are one of the few manufacturers that can offer a complete solution,” he explains, pointing out that Roland DG offers everything from the hardware, software and inks that are used to create flags and banners.

Rob points out that despite its popularity elsewhere on the continent over the past few years, soft signage and flags have only recently started enjoying the same level of success in the UK. Until recently banners had been deemed by many as a niche market, but with businesses looking to diversify and gain a competitive edge, many are now adding banners to the roster. The increased focus on greener solutions and materials has also led many sign makers to explore this sector. “In line with this, manufacturers have also been working hard to improve the environmental credentials of their technologies by developing machines with lower carbon footprints, power consumptions and ink costs; and the greater availability of recyclable materials has boosted this further,” adds Rob.  And as higher shipping and logistics costs have made the delivery of traditional signage more expensive, it has become mutually beneficial for sign makers and clients to opt for more lightweight soft signage solutions such as fabric banners rather than PVC to keep costs down.

What to look for when venturing into the banners and flags market

When considering moving into soft signage, there are number of factors sign makers should take into account. Printing onto soft substrates, for example, can require different machinery to what’s already in place. “No one wide format machine will do it all,” says Rob, “however, there are some very flexible wide format technologies available today so ensure you invest in a machine that can grow as the company grows to provide you with maximum return on your investment.” And as is the case with all jobs, investing in high-quality machinery and materials will ensure the best possible outcome. “Don’t just go for the best price at the point of purchase – it’s a false economy and many sign makers out there will tell you exactly that.” Choosing reliable and robust products will enable companies to print, finish and fit banners with the confidence to know that the quality and vibrancy of the colour and the fabric will remain over time.

From retail and POS to events, festivals and general corporate signage, banners and flags can be utilised across a number of sectors, and open up doors to countless possibilities when it comes to sourcing new business.

To learn more, visit www.rolanddg.com

All print supplies

Banner attached to a crowd barrierFabrics Swatch samples Butterfly flag stand outside

Peter Miles, Textile Product Specialist at All Print Supplies, notes that improvement in materials has opened up more possibilities for sign makers to not only create eye-catching, high-quality signage, but do so for less.

In addition to being easier to ship due to the lightweight nature of the product, a number of fabrics are now crease-free and washable too, providing greater flexibility and longevity. “Many fabric solutions such as the spider frame also allow installation to be completed by the end-user, further saving time and money,” says Peter. “Therefore, sometimes the only cost from a logistic perspective is shipping a jiffy bag containing the print, rather than a large parcel and then specialist installation.”

This ease of transportation and installation proves particularly helpful when dealing with large graphics, which are increasingly in demand as the type of clients using this signage continues to vary.

Selecting the right fabric

Finding the right fabric to bring a  banner or flag to life is important to ensure rich colour reproduction and longevity of the product, something the team at All Print Supplies advise sign makers to focus in the early stages. Primarily important is the compatibility of the inks and media, advises Peter.

“Fabrics come with a variety of coatings applied to suit different end user applications, for example - flags, backlit displays, hanging banners and so on. It’s important to ensure the fabric has the right coating for the printer you are using and for the end user’s desired application.”

To ensure a high quality of print every time, the All Print Supplies Research + Development team work extensively to test various fabric, printer and ink combinations to ensure maximum compatibility and performance for a wide variety of applications.  Once the banner is printed, sign makers should then consider how it’s going to be finished, taking into account things like whether it will be hot cut or cold cut. “The majority of woven uncoated fabrics will naturally want to fray,” explains Peter, “but this can be overcome by hot cutting. However if you don’t have this facility, we recommend always stitching and taping hems to prevent this from happening.”
To learn more, visit www.allprint.co.uk.

fabric in a frame


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