Short-term signage has many uses. Besides targeting consumers with marketing messages or providing direction; it can promote a brand, club, or person even at a parade. Depending on the scope, these moving advertisements are found at local events to celebrate holidays like the Fourth of July or St. Patrick’s Day or grander occurrences such as the Rose Bowl or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
No matter if the design of a float is grandiose or homemade, it always needs a sign to share what it is, who is on it, or the sponsor. In addition, marching bands and dance teams hold banners or flags during a parade to showcase their name, where they are from, and even what they are performing. Traditionally, graphics were sewn or screen printed to flags and banners. Due to high costs, the same banner or flag would be used repeatedly.
Digital print decreases the cost and allows for more personalized signage that can be used semi-regularly depending on the location or parade. A variety of applications are classified as parade signage and these projects can be printed onto a variety of mediums, from textiles to vinyl and rigid board.
Signs of Seattle
Adding parade signage to existing offerings is an easy way to expand a client base while working with familiar applications. That’s what Signs of Seattle, based in Seattle, WA, set out to do when it opened its doors in September 2005.
Today the print service provider (PSP) is home to ten employees that create exhibits and displays, banners, a-boards, indoor signage, outdoor signage, vehicle graphics, and window graphics. While about one percent of its sales are considered parade signage and graphics, it finds this segment a viable profit opportunity that aids in getting their capabilities noticed.
A large portion of its customer base includes small businesses throughout the greater Seattle, WA area. Dave Desrochers, president, Signs of Seattle, shares that these same sized organizations are the biggest purchasers of parade signage. Of note, parade signage orders come in routinely for the Seattle Pride Parade, which is held annually every June. Coinciding with that, Desrochers notes that most signage banner requests occur throughout the Summer.
Housed in the company’s 3,500 square foot space is its Hewlett-Packard latex printer, which runs its parade banners. Typically the PSP designs the banners and/or flags for its clients, offering free design services for orders over $300. Quick turnaround is essential, especially in the banner trade, and the team at Signs of Seattle generally creates parade banners in two business days depending on the client and level of design help required.
The PSP recently introduced Parade Banners, which are vinyl wrapped around a PVC pole to resemble a flag. The durable application can be used repeatedly and handles well outdoors thanks to the latex ink. Parade Banners are full-color, double-sided prints that are completely customizable. The pole—including graphic—is six feet high, with the width of the graphic 21 inches.
Capture the Flag
While Signs of Seattle’s main source of income does not come from parade signage, it is considered a great addition to its list of capabilities. The application complements existing work and does not require any learning curve to design, print, or finish. Offering parade signs, banner or flag, is one way to ensure a printer is always running and captures a piece of the traditional banner and flag market. The second part of this series studies a PSP who creates parade signage using both vinyl and textiles depending on customer requests.