Most customers purchase a banner for a very temporary need. Maybe a sales event, an announcement (such as a grand opening,) or a birthday, anniversary, or graduation event.
These are obviously "temporary" events. Lasting a few weeks to a couple months on average.
And that's normally what banners are designed to do: display your "temporary" marketing message. Which, of course, they will definitely do provided you have an effective banner design.
But after being in this industry for a long time, I've noticed that many banners often take on a "less than temporary" role. Sometimes being displayed for YEARS! In fact, I could say that it's fairly common to see a banner displayed for a year, two years, or more.
So what gives?
Why buy an expensive fabricated, pvc, or sandblasted sign if you can "make-do" with an inexpensive vinyl banner?
Let's take a look at this, because there are many factors.
1) How Long Will An Average Printed Vinyl Banner Last?
Suppose you want to display your banner for as long as it will last. Forever, hopefully! Well, no. Although, as mentioned above, banners have the potential to last for years, here are a few things that impact your banner's life-span:
Your local climate will have the biggest impact on your banner. Live in a mildly sunny/cloudy area? Very little or no rain? No wind? No snow or freezing weather? Your banner will probably last a long time. Perhaps a very long time (think months to multiple years on average- read below for more details:)
However, if you live in a climate with ANY extreme conditions (sun, wind, rain, snow, extreme temperatures or swings,) don't count on your banner to last very long. In some extreme examples, such as extremely windy areas, some banners can rip in a matter of days, or even hours, if the wind is strong enough!
And of course, as more info is posted below, how you mount your banner is very important.
B) Print (Ink) and Material (Media)
Many types of printing or application techniques can be used for producing vinyl banners. The "Old School Way" used to be plot-cutting different vinyl colors then applying these plot cut letters or logos to vinyl banner media (material.) While this worked (and still does,) it's labor-intensive, and limits the colors you can use for your banner. Using plot-cut vinyl limits a sign company to using only colors they have in stock. So forget about full-color pictures or hard to match colors. You need to use what the sign shop has: normally the basic colors. Think red, green, yellow, black, brown, purple, etc.
Using plot-cut vinyl on banners can extend the life-span of your banner in some cases, but shorten it in others. If your sign company used decent to high-quality grade vinyl to make your banner, it may increase the life-span. If they used cheap or low-quality vinyl, your banner may peel or crack quickly, again depending on the climate your banner is displayed.
Presently, most sign companies print your vinyl banner using wide format printers. This printing technique offers much higher quality color matches as well as high quality pictures directly to your banner. Be aware: different wide format printers (ink and production methods) play a huge role in the life-span of your banner. Some inks may not last as long in direct (heavy) sunlight, while other inks may fade quickly. Lets Go Banners uses only Mutoh eco-solvent inks. We've found that these inks perform and last incredibly well in direct sunlight and in challenging climates. (read about laminating your vinyl banners for extra life-span here.)
The quality of your actual vinyl (media) for your banner is also extremely important for life-span. Heavier vinyl media normally lasts much longer than lighter weight vinyl. Most sign companies refer to their vinyl banners as "scrim vinyl weight." Lets Go Banners normally uses 13oz Scrim Banner material. We often use 10oz for "super smooth vinyl graphics," (such as for our retractable banner stands.) We also offer as high as 16oz weight, but this weight is usually overkill.
C) How You Mount Your Banner
Mounting your banner correctly also plays a big (huge) role in how long it will last. If you're posting your banner on the corner of a busy intersection (such as for a community event,) you'll probably be posting against a fence or to a frame. While this works perfectly for displaying your banner for a couple weeks or maybe (if you're lucky) a month or two, the wind will eventually rip your banner apart. Unless you live in an area with little or no wind (see above.) Tell me where there's no wind?
If you hang your banner against a solid background/wall/frame, it will last longer, provided you secure it properly. The best way we've found to secure your banner to a static background is by using Ackland Media Frames.
There are additional ways to hang your banner (against a static wall or even in the open, here is an example.)
D) Exterior Influences (Excluding Climate)
Face it, sometimes people mess with your stuff. If you're hanging a banner in a high traffic area, chances are, it's going to get messed with at some point. Especially if people can easily "reach it." Think spray paint, graffiti, or even theft. We've heard many stories of customer's banners getting destroyed by some really mean people. But hey, that's why you chose to use a banner right? Cheap, easy to hang, so what. After all, it's a banner, not a thousand dollar hdu / sand blasted sign.
2) What Is My Desired (or Mandated) "Look" For Signage?
If you're in an industrial park or area where "anything" (or almost anything) goes, you can probably get by with a vinyl banner to display your marketing message. However, if you're in an upscale- prime retail shopping center or resort area, a vinyl banner probably ain't gonna cut it. Sure, even in upscale shopping locations, many, if not most landlords will allow you to display a banner announcing your store opening. (And often times you can use banner media frames to display your store opening on barricade or construction walls.)
Point is, your location, target client demographics, and your choice of "look" will play a huge role in what you can get out of your vinyl banner.
3) What Are My Landlord's/Management Company's Policies?
This one is huge. If you rent space, which most of us do, your Landlord's or Property Management Company's policies will govern exactly what you can or can't use for signage. And make sure you take heed to these rules; oftentimes your Management Company has (hopefully) researched local ordinances for a starting point for signage. After that, your Landlord will mandate what is acceptable based on what the company or she or he has envisioned for the shopping or industrial area. Hopefully your Landlord's choice of landscaping, building design, and overall "look" was what appealed to you in the first place.
Having owned commercial property in the past, I always tried to work with my tenants to help them accomplish their marketing goals while at the same time adhering to our building standards. Not sure? Ask your Landlord or Management Company. They will normally try to help you.
4) What About Local Ordinances?
Governing your preference, your Property Management's preference, or anyone's preference for that matter is local or state ordinances regarding signage. This comes first. If your Property Manager or you are not sure about your local or state laws, just Google to find the information. You should easily find contact information for your local or regional area regarding signage laws and ordinances.
It's not a good idea to try to go against these ordinances. Find out the rules, then do your best to make use of your resources.
5) Safety Comes First
Above everything else, safety always comes first.
As an example, if you live in an incredibly windy area, NEVER hang your banner where it might rip easily and cause issues.
If you live in a snowy or cold area, consider ice or ice cycles that could hang from your banner and cause damage.
These are just two ideas- please always think of safety first; have a qualified technician mount or hang your banner(s) to make sure you're doing the best job possible.
Make those banners last!