In the world of physical signage, billboards are the queens of all visual displays, but they are closely followed by pole banners. These signs go by different names; you may know them as street pole banners, light pole banners, or blvd banners. One of their earlier names, avenue banners, denotes the origin of this kind of signs, which were first installed along Chicago's Michigan Avenue during the early 1980s.

Street pole banners were invented by a former United States Marine who spent a few months perfecting their design. The first versions of pole banners did not fare well in the Windy City because the gusts coming from Lake Michigan would blow them away. By the time the organizing committee for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics resolved to dress up the city with pole banners, a weatherproof design had already been adopted, and this was when light pole banners came of age. It did not take long for municipalities across the U.S. and Europe to start using custom pole banners to promote special events, and American car dealerships quickly followed suit.

In just a few decades, pole banners have become ubiquitous forms of signage. We see them during the holiday shopping season or during festivals, but they have also moved indoors for promotional purposes. They are excellent alternatives to hanging storefront shingles, and they have proven to be versatile because they can be changed rather easily. These banners are no longer confined to street poles or utility posts; modern custom pole banners feature their own hardware kits that include everything needed to install them for situations in which you cannot get a municipal permit to use street poles.

With all the above in mind, here are a few things you should know in order to choose the right pole banner for your business or event:

Standard Widths

Through trial and error, the company that invented pole banners in Chicago figured out that going over 36 inches in terms of width was a mistake, so this is the maximum width available these days; you really do not want an arm protruding more than this measurement because such a large banner can become a wing on a windy day.

Widths start at 18 inches, which make the banners look similar to a feather flag; you can also choose 24 and 30 inches for greater visibility. Many of our clients prefer the 24-inch option, but quite a few will get one banner in this width along with a larger one for special promotions or announcements. Permanent pole banners tend to measure 18 and 24 inches. If you need to make important announcements such as discounts greater than 20% or the opening of a new location, you will want to make use of the 30 and 36-inch banners.

Height and Aspect Ratio

Pole banners can accommodate various shapes, but you can never go wrong with rectangles. As for the height, it is pretty much up to you. Car dealerships will often hang very tall and long pole banners that can be seen from several blocks away. Whatever height you choose, it is more important to consider the aspect ratio of the sign itself. The most popular ratios are 2:1 and 3:1; the former is elegant and easy on the eyes while the latter is more suitable for longer shapes such as people and smartphones. A fashion boutique that wants to display a dress, for example, would benefit more from a 3:1 ratio, and the same can be said about a yoga studio depicting a fitness model. The 2:1 ratio is ideal for logos and human faces, so this would be a good fit for a dental clinic.

Choosing the Right Materials for Your Pole Banners

Early pole banners were made with cotton canvas, but this is not a durable material for outdoor use. Polyester and vinyl are much more adequate, and 18oz vinyl has become an industry standard. At Lush Banners, we offer heavy duty vinyl with 20-ounce weighted material as a longer-lasting option. If you intend to hang pole banner signs in extreme weather conditions, you may want to choose 20-ounce vinyl with fade-proof properties; this would be ideal for regions such as South Florida, where summers feature a mixture of sunny days with afternoon rainstorms. Indoor banners and signs that you do not intend to display for years can be printed on 9-ounce premium outdoor fabric, which tends to be more affordable.

Single or Double-Sided Pole Banners?

The rule of thumb in this regard is that you can never go wrong with double-sided banners. Many of our clients opt to print two variations of the same message on each side; for example, a shoe store can display a men's model on one side and a women's model on the opposite side, but only if you are guaranteed foot traffic going in both directions. Going back to pole banners used by car dealerships: If you are only guaranteed visibility from one side of the road, it would not make sense to print on both sides since your intention is to guide drivers into the lot, preferably making an easy right-hand turn. If your intent is branding and general signage, a 2:1 pole banner with the exact print on both sides is recommended.

Custom Design Options for Pole Banners

We have thus far reviewed standard options and features of pole banners, but the reality of these signs is that everything is customizable. From the size to the printing and from the mounting hardware to the shape, Lush Banners can help you create the right solution for your business or event. If you top and bottom pole pockets on a long platform, we can adjust it for you. If you are getting a permit from the city and need to adhere to compliance, you can send us photos and the instructions you were given. If you do not have access to a graphic design specialist, the members of our art department will be more than happy to work with you. Contact us today to get a quote on your pole banner project.