Banner stands provide a professional feel to exhibits, trade show booths, sales pitches, retail displays, and more. Large format print providers looking to expand offerings and generate new revenue often distribute banner stands to complement their print services and offer an end-to-end package for customers looking to properly display printed graphics.
Hardware for Many Uses
Today, most banner stands are aluminum or plastic to accommodate minimal weight for portability. Hardware typically consists of a horizontal base and a top header with vertical supports.
Patricia Heineman, owner, ShowCase Exhibits says her customers use banner stands for a variety of reasons. She highlights promoting products and services at trade show events; recruiting at job and college fairs; raising funds for nonprofit organizations; educating the public about federal, state, and local agency programs; at seminars; in schools; and in office lobbies. She adds, "Due to light weight and portability, many clients are using two, three, or more banner stands as visually stimulating trade show display booths."
Working through value-added resellers, Mark Bric Display Corporation’s banner stands are delivered to any conceivable client, says Larry Ragland, president, Mark Bric. Customers range from museums like the Smithsonian Institute, to medical centers, financial institutions, and thousands of individual clients for use at trade shows as portable presentation kits, lobby displays, and more.
According to Bob Holland, marketing manager, Standzall Display Systems, a division of Fandango Special Events, Inc., "the most common application is press walls for media events." In addition, he says, Disney, Paramount, Turner, and Warner Brothers use Standzall displays for film and TV production scenery walls.
EXPOGO! customers are mainly exhibit display sellers, sign shops, and graphic design houses, says Glenn Crowley, dealer support, EXPOGO!. "They sell them to their clients for use as portable, lightweight banner systems or full-mural graphic systems for trade show booths."
Mike Weimar, president, Impact Displays, has over 8,000 customers around the U.S. and some overseas. "The applications vary, but the most common uses are for recruiting, trade shows, and corporate and customer/ partner events."
Features of Note
Affordability, performance, ease of use, weight, functionality, size, and appearance are all factors customers look for when choosing a banner stand. Weimar says these attributes are all important and, "there is always a tradeoff between portability, ease of setup, weight, appearance, and price. For easy setup and appearance, many customers choose retractable banner stands."
Banner stand pricing varies based on many of the same factors. Other considerations, Weimar states, include the quality of springs used for a roller mechanism, whether multiple heights can be used, special features like Impact Displays’ rotating Revolver stand, colored end caps, and the quality of the carrying bag included.
Much of the decision on which banner stand to choose comes down to the venue and how often it is used.
"Usually if a retailer wants a banner stand, they do a Web search and talk to printers," explains Jerry Hill, VP, sales, Drytac Corporation. "A lot of it comes down to aesthetics—meeting a light duty, medium duty, or heavy duty stand, based on how many times they’re going to be putting it up and down, if it’s retractable."
He adds, "A lot of people ask, ‘what’s the difference between your less expensive and your high-end stands?’ The answer is twofold. One is the durability issue—if you take banner stands to 20 or 50 shows a year, that’s a different requirement than two shows a year. The springs have to be sturdy enough." The other differentiating factor is how easy is it to load the graphics. That’s not a major concern for those actually using the banner stand. The dealers and the printers are the ones that are going to be printing and installing the graphics."
Hill notes that there is a wide range of price points and quality levels in banner stands. "A trade show in Shanghai, China displayed a whole hall full of banner stands. There are probably 200 to 400 producers in China, from small factories to big factories. They may all look the same, but they’re not the same. The lowest price was $2.30 and it was made out of sewer pipe."
Installation Tips and Tricks
Most manufacturers and distributors say that banner stands are easy to install. Some stands do require a bit of finesse to setup without damaging the printed media. Before you even get to the installation, substrate choice is important, notes Camillia Mankovich, VP, marketing, LexJet Corporation. She recommends, "Choose dimensionally stable products that are opaque and do not curl. Vinyl banners will curl. Stick to blockout polyesters, polypropylenes, or polyester fabrics. Avoid laminating if you can. Different film types married together usually invite curl."
The physical assembly of banner stands is quick for even the novice user. "We don’t manufacture any banner stands that would take more than five minutes to assemble," says Larry Rubin, president, Testrite Visual Products, Inc. "We try to engineer them so even I can do it," he jokes.
Holland says it is not difficult to install Standzall products. "One person can easily place a graphic panel in a pair of stands. We recommend sandbagging the backs of the stands in high-traffic and breezy areas, or if the display item is made of heavier material, such as wood."
"Banner products are so simple that there’s not much to share by way of installation," adds Weimar. "The one tip I can think of is to first place the support poll into the unit, and then lean it back before pulling out the banner. This makes it easy to latch the top of the support pole into the top of the banner without standing on your tiptoes or on a chair."
Tex Visions LLC is proud of their products’ ease of use, with set up taking approximately two minutes or less. "Most of the time, the print is installed by our company before being shipped to the customer," states Ashley Werner, marketing manager, Tex Visions. "This allows the customer to grab the product and go." She adds, "We develop construction sheets for our products. This ensures that set up is easy for the customer."
Special care should be exercised during disassembly and shipping. Some retractable stands may fray fabric edges or tear paper edges if a banner is retracted at an odd angle. Once you take down a display, you can’t rely on your shipping provider to treat your investment with kid gloves, so a proper carton and cushioning is necessary.
Gary Survis, principal, First Trade Show, agrees that shipping properly is essential. The company’s online business, Go Green Displays, takes product installation photos and provides custom instructions. "Gener-ally anything used in trade shows— from a pop up display to custom booths—the damage occurs most often in shipping," notes Survis. "If someone doesn’t pack it up properly they can’t expect that whoever picks it up is going to handle it gingerly. It’s important that we educate on how to pack banner stands as well as set them up."
Heineman offers some final tips. "Never expose any plastic substrate graphic product to prolonged or high heat. Do not leave a banner stand—especially with media installed—for hours in a car or truck in 90-plus temperature. Do not ship them in the bag only. That is how endcaps and roller mechanisms get damaged or destroyed."
The Green Factor
The "green" factor is a source of contention. A few manufacturers and distributors of banner stands consider the environmental impact of the products they offer.
"Obviously you cannot pick up a newspaper, read a magazine, or even hear the news without somebody talking about the environment," notes Hill. Drytac applies those principles to its laminate and adhesive lines as well as its banner stands.
Recently, after a design phase of about nine months, Drytac launched its Panda Stand line. Available as a full retractable unit or an L-frame, the simple, sleek stands are fabricated from 90 percent renewable resources. The housing, support pole, and top rail are made of bamboo—the fastest growing plant on Earth.
The first order of Panda Stands was sold out about four weeks before it arrived. Now, on the third and fourth manufacturing run, every run continues to sell out. "Keeping up with the demand is our biggest goal right now. We’re trying to get the production to exceed the demand, and we feel like we will be there in the next month. We’re happy that it’s a success," says Hill.
Survis launched the online business, Go Green Displays, on Earth Day 2008. The company provides design, large format printing, installation and dismantling, and a selection of banner stands—including Drytac’s Panda Stand—and trade show accessories. "One of the interesting things about the green market is that there are several different kinds of green customers. Certain customers really want to communicate the green—despite whatever it says on the banner, they want it to look green," says Survis. He points out that he can tell a customer that an aluminum banner stand is made up of parts that are about 75 percent recyclable.
Meanwhile, he notes, "The beauty of the Panda is that it communicates a different look. Folks in the market trying to present their green positioning really appreciate that from the beginning."
In addition to offering Drytac’s Panda Stand, Go Green Displays developed its own eco-friendly modular exhibit system, The Glacier, which is made of recycled and recyclable aluminum frame, as well as a step-and-repeat system, which they call The Peacock.
The Peacock Step-n-Repeat is a one time use banner and stand display.
Go Green Displays prints using a low volatile organic compound process on fabric composed of 60 percent recycled content that is completely recyclable. When the customer is finished using the Peacock display, they ship the Step-n-Repeat back and Go Green Displays recycles it.
Survis says his company believes in what they call practical green. "You shouldn’t have to give up on aesthetics or functionality in order to achieve green and you shouldn’t have to pay a green tax on top of that. Our products are not 50 percent more than you would normally pay for green." He says that Go Green Displays offers banner stands that are only ten to 20 percent higher priced than non-green options, and in many cases they are equal in price.
Of course before a graphic is finished and mounted to a banner stand, there are a host of other environmental issues to contend with. "The other thing you need is a biodegradable material for printing," says Hill. "We will soon announce two new products—Bio Fab and Bio Fab Blackout—a natural fabric material that is biodegradable. It’s sort of a vinyl replacement." He notes that the print quality is excellent, and offers lay-flat characteristics so it doesn’t curl on the edge. "A big issue in the world of banner stands is edge curl," he adds.
A push for more green products and methods is here to stay. "Today there is a green way and a non-green way to do things. In the future there is just going to be one way to do things—green. Everyone is moving in that direction. It’s going to be less of an oddity and more mainstream," says Survis.
Drytac’s BannerBug line is the single most successful banner stand line the company offers. These products are available in multiple widths, single- and double-sided, and are made of a typical aluminum extrusion. The Banner Bug line uses a very low profile hook and loop tape made especially for this application to hold the graphic. The line is, "very heavy duty and has a very high acceptance rate," states Hill.
EXPOGO! Products include MagicPak retractable banner stands, Pactiva tabletop displays, ShowMax tabletop displays, ShowStyle briefcase displays, TranZibit portable trade show tables, and SmartPak graphics and banner cases. The Magicpak consists of carbon fiber rod and extruded aluminum base. Standard stock finish is black, but other colors can be special ordered. Available sizes include 33.5 inches wide by 80 inches high and 47x85-inch versions and a double-sided unit that is 33x79 inches per image. EXPOGO! also special orders unique sizes and develops custom displays. "The single-sided Magicpak is our most popular banner stand, and it’s now available with a molded shipping case and light kit," shares Crowley. The addition of the case and 50-watt halogen light accessories add to the banner stand’s versatility and simplicity of use.
For customers on a budget, Impact Displays offers Impact X and L style banners stands. "The X style is very inexpensive, however it’s also the most difficult to setup, and you can see the ends of the poles when viewing the banner," says Weimar. He says the X stand is unique in that the critical X style connector piece is made of steel rather than plastic. The most popular offerings from Impact Displays are the Impact Deluxe retractable banner stand and the Expand Quickscreen line of retractable banner stands. "The Impact Deluxe is a very attractive product with a high quality spring mechanism that’s extremely well priced for the high level of attractiveness and functionality it provides," says Weimar. He adds, "Customers with less budget pressure often ask for Expand products. Expand was the inventor of the retractable banner stand and they’re very well known for quality and attractiveness of its banners."
The company’s most recent products include the LexJet Economy line of banner stands sold individually or in discounted packs of six. Another new product, the LexJet Whirlwind is a double-sided sidewalk sign system with a water-fillable base for outdoor-durable use. While LexJet does offer some banner stands with scrolling features, says Mankovich, they are not the most popular, noting that scrolling options require more careful installation and care.
Mark Bric Display Corporation
Mark Bric products are made of aluminum, steel, and high-grade plastics. Available finishes include anodized aluminum, powder coated aluminum or steel, high-polish chrome, and high-gloss plastics in assorted colors. Ragland says the Mark Bric BannerUp Plus is the most popular single product, "Mark Bric BannerUp sets up in seconds. One of the beauties of the retractable BannerUp is its user-friendly simplicity." The sectional pole on the BannerUp is used to erect banners up to ten feet tall without the need for ladders or step stools. Users just use the top section of the pole to push the banner up to full height.
He adds, "Mark Bric SnapUp pop up displays led the current trend for extensive use of magnets to simplify display set up and take down. Mark Bric Flexiframe is the modular frame and display product line around which the company was first built." Some of Mark Bric’s most recent new products include Impression banner stands; SnapUp dye-sublimation fabric display; and the Mark Bric Ego Exhibit modular, structural display and exhibition system.
Southern Imperial, Inc.
Southern Imperial, Inc. sells ceiling, free-standing, and EndSign banner holders. Ceiling banner holders range from less than an inch to 48 inches, depending on how wide the customer’s graphic is. Free-standing banner holders come in both retractable holders and T style frames. Southern Imperial’s patented EndSign banner holders are unique in that they can be mounted on a wall or pegboard. All of the company’s banner stands are targeted toward trade show, retail, promotional, and branding displays.
Standzall Display Systems
Depending on the model, Standzall products are made both in the U.S. and overseas. One of the most popular offerings is the Standzall model ST-1 used for press walls. The ST-1 has a single adjusting knob, located behind the display item. The View-Through Bracket, one of Standzall’s newest products, is made of clear Lexan and replaces the adjustable bracket on model ST-1 or ST-2, which allows the printed graphic to be seen through the stand.
Testrite Visual Products, Inc.
Rubin of Testrite says that customers look for banner stands that are reliable, easy to use, and versatile. "We specialize in models that telescope in height and width, so I think adjustability is important for banner stands. One day a stand may be able to hold a graphic that’s seven feet high, and the next day you could use the same stand to hold a graphic that’s eight feet high."
Testrite offers portable stands ranging from retractable rollups to stands for retail applications. "Very often our customers sell our stands to brands who use them in POS and POP applications, and even in-store visual merchandising."
New additions to the Fall 2008 Testrite catalog include The Cobra and Mega Wave Walls. The Cobra is a uniquely shaped freestanding frame made of one-inch diameter aluminum anodized structure. Testrite states that it requires an easy, five-minute assembly. Mega Wave Walls offer eye catching banner display options in sizes from eight by four feet up to 12 by ten feet. Lightweight, portable, and sturdy, frames are constructed of one to a quarter inch diameter clear anodized tubing.
Testrite also creates custom banner stands based on specific branding, size, and aesthetic needs. "We can make custom bases, for instance, if Disney is looking for a base shaped like Mickey Mouse’s ears. We can also integrate onto the top of the unit a plaque with the shape of the ears. That’s the direction we are moving in—servicing custom requirements."
Tex Visions LLC
Werner says Tex Visions’ customers are concerned about affordability, weight, and functionality when they purchase banner stands and related products. Tex Visions’ banner stand hardware is mainly made of aluminum.
The most recent offerings include the Q-Frame Tex display system, Roll Ups, X-Displays, as well as Pop Out sign systems. The Q-Frame Tex can be hung from the ceiling, fixed to a wall, or used freestanding for single or double-sided advertising. The Q-Frame Tex50 with a semi-circular base has a modern, clean appearance and a strong, stable frame structure. It offers quick advertisement changes without tools or product knowledge, for single or double-sided banners. Roll Ups and X-Displays can house banners that are 2.6x6.6 feet and come equipped with cases. X-Displays have a tripod base with two fiberglass top poles.
Tex Visions also offers Varioform three-dimensional displays and a wide variety of optional accessories—weight bags, lighting, and carrying cases.
Growth by the Banner
Opportunity for the print provider or exhibit planner to grow services and business is attainable through the sale of banner stands. Environmentally friendly options continue to propel this already successful display market. Keep a keen eye to brand, quality, and functionality when choosing one that is right for you. As seen here, a wide range of options and a growing client base are available.