With many outdoor retractable banners, your advertising is only as effective as the sunlight is. Some time around dusk that bold, attention-grabbing advertisement in your shop window or on the sidewalk becomes less effective with each moment of the sun’s descent. By the time nighttime revelers are filling the streets around your business, the sign might as well be put away until tomorrow morning.
This is why so many businesses invest in backlit displays, especially as summertime fun has young consumers relieved of “school nights” staying out later. Grabbing their attention is easy with the right message and a well thought out advertisement design. The sign can be just as effective as the ones you post in the daytime with the versatility of being able to get attention well into the night.
Capitalizing on the heavy foot traffic and more robust financial activity of the warmer months is a must for every business. By utilizing a backlit display, your shop or establishment will stand out and can continue to draw people in after dark. The results will be filling up coffers in advance of a slower winter business, built more on customer loyalty and necessity than new curious shoppers.
For a lot of businesses the key to success is hiring an expert sales staff. People with a clear understanding of how to sell are a vital resource for any company to tap into, and they can turn a business with no customers around with their grit and determination. Of course a vital part of effectively using a sales staff is giving them the resources necessary to make significant inroads with clients.
For a sales staff on the street or in other public forums like business conventions, this means giving them some items that immediately legitimize your brand. Specifically, some form of large format banner that can quickly catch the eye of a potential customer and give initial information on exactly what your company does.
With a retractable banner stand and signage that clearly articulates the big picture about your company, a salesperson can start his pitch with a notable advantage over the competition. For a salesperson, not having to explain the basics allows him to move right into what makes your company special. The result is a multi-tiered approach that can reap immediate sales.
Helping your sales staff inevitably helps your company, and a portable banner stand is exactly what they need.
All too often businesses attempt to ram as much information as possible on a retractable banner stand or billboard. While the impulse to provide consumers with as much information as possible is understandable, it can make an advertisement ineffective and convoluted. When designing a large format banner, you should communicate with as little info as possible. The key is to boil a message down to its essence, enticing consumers without overwhelming them.
If you are planning on putting a retractable banner stand outside of a shop or warehouse, you can use that proximity to help you. A high impact phrase like “SALE” or “FRESH FOOD” along with an inviting photo of the items or food you have to sell can go a lot further than specific text defining what you are selling. As soon as consumers make a connection with your banner, their vision will be drawn towards your shop itself. The result should be a quicker bridge to actual sales thanks to a simple, effective message.
When designing your banners, be sure they sell your products without asking a lot of a consumer. The more text, the more chance the customer has to bail in the middle of taking in a message.
The New York counter-culture magazine Avant Garde only ran from 1968 to 1971, but in its scant 14 issues, it had a profound effect on the world of media and advertising, and most of that influence came from its arresting logo. Designed by Herb Lubalin, the Avant Garde logo was so popular and influential, it led to the creation of its own typeface, ITC Avant Garde.
In 1970 Lubalin expanded the logo into all capital geometric letterforms and, in the ensuing years, a number of other typographers took turns building the font into a full-fledged typographic family, including lowercase forms, multiple weights and condensed and expanded widths. Besides being built from a logo, Avant Garde is also noteworthy for being created for the explicit use of logo design. Unlike most typefaces, Avant Garde isn’t meant to be used “out of the box.” Instead, the intention is to use the many alternate letterforms and edit the letters themselves to line up and intersect with one another.
It’s a tool plenty of designers were happy to utilize, and Avant Garde continues to be a popular typeface in logos. It had a particular cachet in the world of music, with plenty of bands, venues and poster artists implementing Avant Garde’s bold, geometric forms. When used correctly, Avant Garde can still look revolutionary on a backlit display or retractable banner.
Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Paul Renner in 1927. Its dynamic, powerful forms have made it a favorite of not just designers, but also filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson, who has used Futura exclusively for the titles and credit sequences in all his live action films. Futura can even be found on the moon: it was the typeface selected for the plaque left by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
Influenced by the Art Deco and Bauhaus movements, Futura sticks to geometric forms like perfect circles, triangles and squares and is set in a consistent weight. It was a tremendous success and was especially prevalent in the marketing and advertising of the ’50s and ’60s, though it continues to enjoy great popularity and respect among graphic designers today. As the name implies, Futura is particularly good at conveying a contemporary or futuristic aesthetic, even as its origins date back to the 1920s.
Not unlike Helvetica, Futura works well for backlit displays because it’s a bold and easily readable typeface. It also comes in a number of weights that make it very versatile: Futura Bold and Futura Heavy are great for large scale print work, while Futura Light and Futura Condensed look better in smaller sizes, like on retractable banners.
Helvetica was originally developed under the name Neue Haas Grotesk in 1957 at the Haas Type Foundry of Münchenstein, Switzerland. Initially, typographer Max Miedinger created Neue Haas Grotesk to compete with Akzidenz-Grotesk, today an all but forgotten sans-serif that, at the time, was very popular–one of the first sans-serifs to be widely used. Miedinger wanted his typeface to be neutral so it could be used for a large variety of purposes, a goal he unequivocally accomplished.
By 1960, the name was changed to the more English-friendly Helvetica to make the typeface more internationally marketable. Suffice it to say, it was a huge success and Helvetica in many ways came to define advertising of the ’60s, which rebelled against the cluttered, busy and wordy approach of the ’50s with the clean, simple minimalism Helvetica so perfectly embodied.
Despite its initial popularity, Helvetica has only gained traction in the ensuing decades. It continues to be a favorite of designers all over the world for its beautiful form and versatility. Today, Helvetica is often confused with Arial, but the two types are not the same. Designed in 1982, Arial is like a knock-off Helvetica: many of the elements are the same, but the execution is severely lacking. It nonetheless became very popular itself when Microsoft packaged Arial with their Windows operating system after Apple snatched up Helvetica for Macintosh.
Few typefaces have become as ingrained with our society as Helvetica. If you know what to look for, you’ll see it almost everywhere. The New York Subway System uses Helvetica almost exclusively. Many U.S. street signs are set in Helvetica. So is U.S. currency. If you’re reading this post on an iPhone right now, your user interface is in Helvetica as well.
Corporations tend to be fond of Helvetica’s clean and bold look too. Corporate logos that have been set in Helvetica include American Airlines, American Apparel, Crate & Barrel, Jeep, Target and, ironically, Microsoft, who don’t include Helvetica with their operating system but did use it for their old wordmark. But despite being embraced by governments and corporations both, Helvetica still somehow retains its cool, hip image, even decades later. Ask any random group of graphic designers what their favorite font is and Helvetica will likely lead the pack.
The same characteristics that make it great for logos and signs — its simple, clean aesthetic and bold, powerful forms — also make it perfect for large format banners and retractable banner stands. Helvetica may seem innocuous in its ability to serve any style or type of design, but it’s also a strong, eye-catching type that draws people in, plus it’s easy to read and looks great at just about any size.
If you’re making large format graphics or creating signage or posters for display on retractable banner stands for a trade show, commercial or retail environment, you may be interested in finding some design inspiration in today’s most popular print designers. While most design is done digitally these days, created and made to be seen on digital displays, there are still graphic designers devoted to the art of print, as you’ll see from these talented print artists.
- Scott Hansen: The work of designer Scott Hansen–pictured here–evokes a different time: the late ’60s and early ’70s to be specific. His print work emphasizes the muted color schemes and affinity for lines and patterns of the time, creating an instantly recognizable, often duplicated aesthetic that feels both nostalgic and contemporary at once. Also make sure to follow his blog for more design and photo inspiration.
- Jason Munn: Known primarily for his work designing gig posters and other music memorabilia, Jason Munn has created work for artists as diverse as Sonic Youth, Toro y Moi, Cass McCombs and Flight of the Conchords. His posters are minimalist in form, creating visual puns and fascinating scenes out of the simplest geometric shapes, few colors and negative space. You can also find his work in the Alamo Draft House, The New York Times Magazine, Wired and in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Graphic design goes through a lot of trends, from the minimalism of the ’60s to the over-edited graphic flourishes of the ‘90s, but one trend that seems to be stubbornly staying put is the use of textures to artificially distressed print graphics. The distressed look became popular in the ‘80s, when the Do-It-Yourself ethos of the punk scene gravitated toward the dirty, unformatted and unedited look that was a rebellion from the clean, geometric forms of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Today, distressed text and graphics are frequently used in mainstream design (take a look at any department store’s t-shirt selection for proof), as well as in design connoisseur circles where the look of vintage, physical pieces is highly desired in this age of digital desktop publishing.
To create distressed prints for your own large format graphics, first you’ll need to find a distressed texture. You can scan a paperback cover or other paper product yourself or find one online. Then, in Photoshop, simply use the Overlay layer blending tool to add the textures to your own graphics. You may need to desaturate the layer first or adjust the levels or opacity to get the right look. You could also use the Select Color Range command to copy only the distress marks from the page and then paste them onto your file. Now your retractable banners look attractively aged and tangible.
Many banners we see are well made and eye-catching, but there are some common mistakes we unfortunately see a lot of. Typically a bright, colorful banner is a great way to get someone’s attention. If you are using colored text however, make sure you follow the Gestalt Grouping Principal. Let’s unpack this simple principal.
Gestalt observes how people group information based on sight. He has many rules but the one of importance to us is color grouping. If you have multicolored text, people will assume the pieces of text in a certain color belong together. If you don’t, the viewer may experience some confusion. This rule is not set in stone, but it is certainly something to consider if you are making use of colored text in your portable banner. Before you submit a banner for printing, have unbiased eyes look at it. Others can quickly catch mistakes you may be overlooking.
Color can be a powerful tool for giving your message impact and resonance. Unfortunately in some cases, it can take way from your message and ward off viewers. Make sure the color you choose is serving, not hindering, your message. We are always happy to lend our insight!