Recently, I did research and project management on some vertical vinyl banners for Concordia University’s new Athletic Center. Signage, or environmental graphics as we designers say, is always an adventure in estimating and I always learn something new. Below are a few things I have learned in my experiences with this type of work.
Lingo: “Pole Pockets”
Most vertical banners are hung using pole pockets. Let’s say that you are having these banners mounted on a light pole, the hardware required to hang the banners include two poles that stick out perpendicular from the light pole. The banner is then made with a sleeve at the top and bottom that slide over those poles and then caps at the end of the pole hold the banner in place. Those sleeves are called “pole pockets”.
Signage in general requires very specific measuring, plus or minus 1/4 of an inch can impact the look and the lifespan of your materials. Double check your dimensions carefully, and be very clear when communicating the dimensions to the sign shop.
For a project like this you should measure:
- the width of the poles (not including the caps on the end)
- the diameter of the poles
- the height between the poles
- the height including the poles
There are a ton variable for color that mainly depend on your artwork. A good general tip is that if your banner has PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors included you should give those PMS numbers to the sign shop so they know.
Reviewing the Estimate
The estimate is your best chance to catch any errors or confusing elements. Call the sign shop, ask a lot of questions, get clarification on lingo used, then make and keep your notes of the conversation. If the estimate needs to be corrected, make sure to get a corrected version before you proceed. Don’t forget to ask about turnaround time, proofing, shipping, and installation costs (if applicable), terms and return policies as these items may include extra fees.
Be very clear with your deadlines for the banners, items like these have a longer turnaround than everyday printed material. If you have a particular event that these banners need to be up for, make sure and let the sign shop know.
Most sign shops will send you a PDF proof. Review this document VERY carefully, double check the dimensions, artwork, and spelling. Have another person check it as well.
If you banners are not going to be displayed all year round, it’s important to be diligent in how you store them. Do NOT fold your vinyl banners. Unless they are being stored in a sturdy box, do NOT set anything on top of them. Creases and impressions will damage your banners, they may crack and will generally never look the same again. Store them in a dry, temperature regulated location to maximize the lifespan of material banners.
Note: These excellent banners were designed by a talented woman at Concordia University’s Foundation Office.