By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Outdoor graphics are essential tools for many businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for printed graphics that could withstand various weather elements became evident. Many businesses that never considered the need for an outdoor display found them necessary to let consumers know they were open and ready for business—albeit with restrictions.
A variety of graphics are commonly found in outdoor settings, including street banners, banner stands, tents and awnings, portable counters, and other unique options.
For the street banner category, Roger Lepley, president, Consort Display Group, continues to see steady demand for utility pole type graphics, but the requests for better quality hardware and stronger, longer life banners has increased.
Lepley says the vertical format pole banner use extends beyond the typical street to now include more college, hospital, festival, and park sites, especially with richer textiles that provide longevity in areas such as parks, bike paths, and other more permanent wayfinding uses.
Many businesses are looking at attention-generating outdoor displays to create a certain aesthetic that complements its brand.
Consort started in 1983 as Kalamazoo Banner Works (KBW), primarily as an innovative outdoor display designer and manufacturer. According to Lepley, KBW was the first vertical format street banner company to market nationally and create specially designed utility pole hardware to display street banners and reduce wind force on the poles—BannerFlex. The company added many products through the years and eventually changed the corporate name to Consort Display Group.
To meet the demand for street banners, Consort’s KBW Division innovates with outdoor banner hardware and banner substrates. “In early 2020, we dismantled our entire street banner screenprinting department and changed to specially designed digital printing machinery that prints bright, durable digital images onto Sunbrella marine acrylic textiles. In addition, we switched our white vinyl digital printing to all 22 oz blockout media for increased durability,” he shares.
Consort also manufactures an outdoor banner stand product known as Messenger Ground Mount Stand (GMS). “This stand is meant to be anchored to concrete or other structural paving, as a permanent display for textile and vinyl banners, either single or double sided,” explains Lepley. It was originally created as a durable feature at bank drive throughs, but has found its way into park and retail-type settings. The stand accommodates both 48- and 72-inch long banners and can be specified for 16- to 24-inch wide banners. It also features a tension system to keep the banners tight but flexible in prevailing breezes.
For a unique, attention-getting solution, Consort’s Dori Pole Pennant System provides “color, flutter, and gentle elegance with tall fiberglass poles and long, flowing pennants,” shares Lepley. “For both portable and permanent display, Dori Pole tells folks that something is going on and it may be cool.”
The Dori Pole Pennant System was originally invented by a landscape architect as an accent to outdoor gathering spaces and has been featured in venues like the Olympics, and Nascar. More recently, Lepley says the advent of digital printing allows custom designs for any use from commercial to residential. The pole itself, which telescopes to various heights, is extremely durable pultruded fiberglass meant to withstand typical breezes while the pennant twirls on a swivel according to wind direction.
“An interesting aspect of Dori Pole that was discovered a few years ago is that the pennants’ shadows tend to deter birds from wanting to be underneath them. So, we’re seeing uses at venues such as waterfronts and golf courses where the poles not only create a colorful atmosphere but also deter nuisance birds from doing what they do,” adds Lepley.
Orbus Exhibit & Display Group offers a robust catalog of displays, including many outdoor options. Natalie Whited, VP of marketing, Orbus, says curbside signs are exceptionally popular due to COVID-19 for those offering curbside pick up, delivery, or a new product or service. Tents and personal protection equipment demands are also trending.
Paula Goodelman, VP of sales, Testrite Visual Products, sees a strong demand for outdoor displays. While Testrite primarily focuses on indoor signage, Goodelman points out that certain signage built for indoors is suitable for outdoor use based on a customer’s discretion. The company recently engineered a new Outdoor A-Frame. Often placed outside of brick and mortar stores, the new outdoor A-Frame was designed as a shorter unit for a lower center of gravity, which helps for outdoor use. It also uses sturdier weighted crossbars, steel weights in each leg, and angled feet that all help withstand the outdoor elements. Testrite’s new A-Frame is the company’s primary outdoor stand. The LF328—with weighted cover, and the Mightee Mounts series with short graphics can be adaptable for the outdoors. “Hopefully this goes without saying, but everything should be brought inside during significant storms,” adds Goodelman.
Tiger Presentations provides a full line of portable counters that are customized with vinyl graphics. The company carries stock for immediate shipment.
Mike Morrison, national sales director, WS Display, says the company provides a range of offerings, which are inclusive of flags of many styles, A-frame displays, weighted banner stands, umbrellas, and spring loaded stands. In the area of flags, flag material along with mesh for air flow are best for hardware specifically. “Mesh in general is always a good go-to for outdoor use because of its ability to allow wind shear to move through without causing failure to the hardware,” he comments.
Outdoor display graphics typically represent a stable and growing market, ideal for events like races and fairs. However, as the occasion for such celebrations waned in 2020, everyday life was encouraged to take place outside, leading to increased demand for these solutions.
Jan21, Digital Output