A Detailed Cross-Section of the High Flying World of Advertising Flags

Chances are that the last time you were driving in your car you were subject to some fashion of fluttering advertisement. Advertising flags, also known as banner flags, have fast become a staple in the point of purchase and visual merchandising industry. Advertising flags take on many different shapes and styles which include but are not limited to banner flags (rectangle), teardrop flags, feather flags, street pole banners and popup A-frame fabric signs. This article will seek to identify and explain the differences between the many styles of flags while highlighting their intended markets and common uses.

The most iconoclastic of all they styles is the larger than life rectangle banner. This style is simple and is designed to let the advertisement speak for itself. These flags and banners are large in size ranging from seven (7’) feet tall on the smaller side to a massive twelve (12’) feet tall. Those measurements are for the flag itself and do not take into account the stands and flagpoles that support these giant displays. The total height for one of these free standing advertising flags can reach up to and above a commanding twenty (20’) feet high. The support stands for these flags are more often than not a large water filled or sand filled base that has a main support pole in the middle with smaller stabilizing poles attaching between the base and the main support. These large flags are often times screened with one or two colors with a single tag line and a trademark or logo. One may think that with a twelve foot high canvas that lots of information could be displayed but these flags are best suited for building brand or event awareness. A banner that stands 20 feet tall can easily be seen across a parking lot or crowded area such as a fairground, outdoor concert or a city walk. A well known logo can bring instant product awareness and is equally effective when displayed backwards. Think of the Nike Swoosh logo or the words Coca-Cola. Brand saturation is so ingrained into the consumers mind that to have a large banner screened on one side with the reverse image bled through on the back is not a hindrance to the overall effectiveness of the promotional flag. For this reason this style of flag is highly effective when used by car companies, food and beverage companies and cell phone providers or manufactures.

Similar in style the feather flags and teardrop banners are large flags which utilize free-standing bases and rely on brand or logo awareness. There are three main differences between the large rectangle banners and these contoured flags. Foremost is the design shapes which make these display items standout. There are many different types and styles of flags which fall into this category and they have a myriad of names such as: feather flag, bow flag, tail feather, flutter flags and swooper flags. While each name and style of flag have their own dimensions or cuts they can be categorized by the fact that they are not squared at any corner but rather are bowed in their design and dance in the wind. The second difference between these flags and their larger counterparts is that these flags, due to their smaller size, can be mounted on several different styles of stands. There are four common bases which these flags use: a cross base (ground base), a car foot, ground spike or water base. The cross base or sometimes called a ground base, is ideal for indoor locations such as the thoroughfare at a mall. These stands are not anchored into the ground but are likely outfitted with a water bag or can be weighted down with sand bags if it is neccassary that they be used outside in light or moderate winds. The car foot is an industry specific item. These are V-shaped mounts which are designed to go underneath the tire of an automobile. While the target use for these stands are car dealerships they can also be used by food trucks, parking lots, book mobiles or used with an employee’s automobile in front of any business. The ground spike is a single stake which is engineered to be used in grass, dirt, or sand. These are most commonly used by realtors, businesses with grass or mulched landscapes or during beach events like volleyball tournaments or surf contests. Finally the water base is a plastic base which is designed to hold gallons of water or sand and provides a solid and sturdy base. In regard to overall stability the car foot is the most stable of choices because it anchored by a several thousand lb. automobile but of the other choices the water base is the most durable and stable.

The third main difference between these swooper and teardrop flags and the large rectangle counter parts is that these smaller, more portable and less expensive banners are often available with generic messages like: Grand Opening, For Sale, Open, Welcome, Sale, and Open House. The feather flag can be customized and screened with brand or company specific logos but the vast majority of these flags are produced with pre-determined messages. With that being said, there is no shortage of pre-printed signs. Nearly every industry is represented by these flags but the most predominate of the industries are they food and realty sectors. Flutter, feather, teardrop or tail flags are a low cost solution to interactive and eye catching advertising.

The popup banner is a rather specific style of advertising flag. These are fabric banners with thin wire frames which wrap around themselves to collapse. While the feather flags are often sold as generic flags these popup banners are almost exclusively sold as custom printed items. This trend of custom printing is due to the fact the popup banner is a highly specific item. These display items are most often used in outdoor sporting events. They sit low to the ground and often have a single logo printed upon them. They can most commonly be seen in use at golf tournaments though they are also popular for use at soccer tournaments or matches and beach events. The sideline popup banner often comes equipped with smaller ground spikes or tent pegs which will keep the displays attached to the ground during light to moderate winds. This style of advertising flag is popular because they are light weight and easy to transport solutions for location specific advertising.

The final group of flags which will be identified in this article are street pole banners. These are a three (3’) foot to six (6’) foot banners which are attached to lampposts, street lights or utility poles. The street pole banner is a rather new style of advertising flag first being used in 1995 by the Major League Baseball franchise The Cleveland Indians. These flags are highly effective and are used by towns and municipalities as well as retailers and shopping malls. The light pole banner is a custom style of advertising flag but is not always custom designed. Like the large advertising flag first mentioned in the article the street pole banner can be screened and in many different color and styles including one side saturation and reverse imaging. However unlike the feather flag there are hardly any 100% stock image and message street pole flags. There are many hybrid versions of these signs with stock images and places for custom text. More often than not the stock images are seasonal or holiday based. This is due to the fact that out of all of the described banners the pole banner is the most labor intensive to install and or swap out. With that in mind, it makes sense to design and sell these banners with autumn themes, beach depictions, wreathes and snowflakes and spring flowers. These flags can have somewhat more specific messages for they are designed to be seen over and over again either by repeated passing by or repeated patterns down a busy city or town center street.

No matter what or where your advertising needs are there is size or style of flag which will fill your needs. Stock messages or custom designs can both be highly effective means of promotion. So from large free standing giants which line the parking lot of a concert to a single fabric image sitting peacefully at the 9th hole your company can be showcased in a plethora of ways with advertising flags!

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