Organiser's Guide - Signs & Banners

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Organiser's Guide - Signs & Banners

What to bear in mind when commissioning signage for exhibitions, parties and other events.

Whether you need signs or banners for an exhibition, conference or party, a little bit of research before approaching a signage specialist will save you a lot of trouble.

The most common mistake is to try to ‘make the most of the space’ on your sign by packing in too much information. A well-worn industry phrase is the ‘Six Second Rule’. People aren’t going to spend 10 minutes staring at your signs in awe-struck rapture, soaking in every last detail; at best you have six seconds to communicate everything you need to get across. So the lesson is ‘keep it simple, stupid’. Don’t blind people with snazzy designs and busy graphics. Think bullet points, not paragraphs.


Think about which material you want your signs printed on. In the old days, designs would usually be printed on paper then fixed to the substrate (such as Foamex); now it’s possible to print straight to the substrate. So for a large banner sign that’s going to be used outdoors, it’d make sense to print straight onto PVC mesh, which allows the wind to pass through and is highly durable. Another factor to take into account is whether the sign will be in direct sunlight (outside or in a sunny room), as some materials will fade quicker than others. This is a conversation you definitely need to have with your specialist.


If you’re using pictures, make sure they are of a high enough resolution for what you need. You might get away with relatively low-res photo for a huge mesh banner that’s going to be viewed from a long distance but you won’t for a nylon sign that people will be standing close to. Consider, too, whether your logo is available in high enough resolution. If it’s been designed by a local printer and is being used as a letterhead, it will almost certainly pixelate if blown up bigger than 60cm or so.

Bear in mind how you’re going to hang your signs. If you’re creating signs for a hired shell scheme at an exhibition, you won’t be able to mark the panels, for instance. If you want to hang a massive banner, you have to make sure it’s a) properly secured and b) secured to something that can take the weight. Most venues will have their own rigging contractor to take care of this, so liaise with the management well in advance. The earlier you commission your signs and banners the better. Ideally, give no less than seven to 10 days’ notice (though most specialists should be able to turn an order around in 24 hours).