Between special events, fundraisers, and sales, the holiday season is a busy time for banner advertising. For many organizations and businesses, it may be one of the few times each year you work with a banner print shop. As the person in charge of banner media sourcing decisions for a retail company, local government agency, or community organization, this may leave you in an uncomfortable position. No matter what sort of organization you work for, advertising budgets are often very slim. Without an existing relationship with a banner print shop, sourcing banners and signs for the holiday season can be a difficult experience.
Much like the anxiety faced when selecting a new mechanic or home contractor, it’s natural to worry about not getting the best deal on your holiday banner media. Whether it‘s a fear of overpaying for products or selecting a print shop which only offers substandard materials, or being advised to purchase the wrong material for your needs, inexperience can lead to apprehension. In order to make the best decisions, there are a few key points to understand in order to be confident in your print shop sourcing choice.
Arming Yourself with Knowledge
There are just a few fundamentals to understand when it comes to banner media and what makes material high quality. Luckily for those who are apprehensive about which print shop to source their company or organization’s holiday banner print needs, the details are not overly complicated. Armed with the basic knowledge of banner media, you will be able to make a confident decision for your banner advertising campaign.
Most banner fabric comes in two grades: screen grade and digital grade. Screen grade vinyl material has a “soft hand,” or a low degree of rigidity. Most banner fabric is of this type. Despite the popularity of this material, screen grade fabric is not ideal for modern roll-to-roll digital inkjet printers. Three-quarters of banner media issues involve feeding and tracking problems, wrinkling, or head-strikes as a result of limp fabric being used with modern digital printers.
Premium brands like Herculite Bantex offer a stiffer hand. This increased rigidity makes it specifically designed for digital grade printing and eliminates tracking and feeding issues. Even if the print shop only offers screen printing but stocks high-quality banner fabric, it’s worth considering. Digital grade banner fabric can also be used with screen printing, offering many of the same benefits as it does with inkjet printing.
Another common problem is dot gain. This is actually a necessary phenomenon in UV ink screen printing. However, with digital banners it can have the negative effect of giving the graphics a darker appearance than intended. Many premium fabric manufacturers use a microtexture design on the surface of the banner to keep dot gain consistent. In addition to eliminating the darkening issue, this microtexture design improves resolution by 10% compared with smooth-surface banners.
Understanding the Advantages of Made in the USA
With tight advertising budgets in both the public and private sectors, it may be tempting to select a print shop which offers imported fabrics at a lower cost. However, advertising can have a strong correlation to the public's perception of a product or service and cutting financial corners can be a risky decision. Imported banner materials may result in undesirable issues like head-strikes, tracking problems or poor inkjet compatibility, all of which reflect poorly on your business or organization.
Domestically designed and manufactured fabric offers greater reliability, durability and quality, all crucial aspects of a crisp and effective banner advertising campaign. Around a decade and a half ago, fabric companies in Asia began to replicate the most popular banner material from the United States. During this time, the most common method of banner printing was UV ink screen. Despite the fact that the industry standard has moved on to the higher-resolution process of digital inkjet printing, these foreign companies continue to sell “screen grade” fabrics as digital grade.
Another advantage of products made in the United States is that many foreign countries have more lax manufacturing standards. This can lead to unexpected issues during the printing process, many of which your print shop may not be able to fix. Additionally, when the material is made here in the United States, it will be delivered more quickly and does not face potential international shipping challenges.
Figuring Out What Type of Banner You Need
It’s important to know the basics of banner media and understand the importance of sourcing from a print shop that stocks banner fabric made in the United States; the third tip when selecting a print shop for your holiday banner campaign is to understand what type of banner you will need. When you plan ahead, you will not feel pressure to follow the recommendation of the print shop if you are not completely comfortable with it.
There are a lot of choices to be made, from selecting between digital grade or screen grade material, choosing vinyl or fabric material, identifying whether or not your advertising needs call for single or double-sided fabric, and whether or not to purchase curl-free banner material. When you enter a print shop with a specific plan of action for your holiday banner printing needs, you take the guesswork out of the process.
Most banner printer shops will be able to offer you recommendations. However, if you already are feeling apprehension about the level of trust you can give to a local print shop’s advice, it’s a smart idea to plan in advance and understand what you need and why.
Make sure your banners and signs leave a great first impression. Download our free guide, Best Practices for Maintaining Seasonal Banners and Signs.