The Ultimate Guide to Trade Show Banners

Banner Stands | Exhibit Design
June 29, 2022

Banner stands are everywhere – banks, retail stores, job fairs, schools, stadiums, amusement parks, and even churches. It makes sense. Banner stands are an easy and inexpensive way to communicate branding, directions, and information with a lightweight display that assembles in minutes. Originally designed for trade shows, trade fairs, and exhibitions, banner stands remain an essential tool in the trade show toolbox. While some exhibitors use trade show banners exclusively as their display, most use them as complementary signage to their trade show backdrop and overall exhibit. 

So… when should you utilize a trade show banner? Let’s start by reviewing your banner stand options and then cover some typical design do’s and don’ts.  

Why Invest in Trade Show Banners?

There’s no reason not to invest in trade show banners (or stands). Even if it’s for simple branding. First, banner stands are generally affordable. In some cases, the price is practically disposable (sad but true). When not in use at a trade show, they’re ideal for events, lobbies, directional signage, meetings, training, and sales presentations. Storage is rarely an issue because of the compact packaging. The most significant consideration is graphics, i.e., how often will they be replaced. Replacement graphics will dictate which banner stand is the best option. 

what to put on a trade show banner

Banner Stand Design

What is a Trade Show Banner?

A trade show banner stand is a “banner” and a “stand.” Sounds simple and it is. The banner is typically a vinyl or fabric graphic that’s about 3 ft. wide by 82 inches high. Widths and heights can vary depending on the manufacturer and the banner stand style. 

The stand is a mechanical device that holds the banner fully open and in some cases in a protective cartridge when not in use. All banner stands are designed to be compact making them easy to carry and ship. However, the compactness means the stand requires some minor “tool-less” setup before use. 

Types of Trade Show Banner Stands

Let’s ignore sizes, which vary depending on the manufacturer and the cost. There are three types of trade show banner stands. 

Retractable Banner Stands: Retractable stands have a metal cartridge with rotating base plates. The graphic is stored in the cartridge via a spring mechanism and roller. To assemble, a vertical pole is attached to the cartridge and the graphic, once fully unscrolled, hooks onto the top of the pole. Pros: The graphic is protected during transit. The footprint is smaller than a Tension Stand. And generally, they are more durable. Cons: It’s heavier than a Tension Stand. Replacing the graphic may require sending the unit back to the manufacturer (but not always). Not everyone likes the aesthetics of the cartridge. 

retractable trade show banners

Full-size Retractable Banner Stand

Tension Stands:  These are metal or plastic frameworks that hold a graphic banner in the upper and lower four corners. Assembly varies. Some are individual tubes that have to be assembled. Others unfold and are adjustable. Pros: Tension stands are typically the least expensive banner stands. They are lightweight and the graphics are easy to replace. Cons:  They have the widest footprint and are easily damaged. 

Tube Stands (Adjustable and Non-Adjustable): Unlike retractable and tension stands, tube structures are more structural. And many are also adjustable in height. They are basically four or more round poles with a graphic that attaches to the top and bottom or covers the structure like a sock or pillowcase. Pros: Durable and often adjustable. Graphics are easily replaceable. Cons: Requires some assembly on site. More expensive.  

Double-sided Banner Stands: Although less common than single-sided banner stands, double-sided stands are an effective use of space. They are available in both retractable and tube versions in vinyl and fabric graphics. They can even be ordered in creative shapes like curves and arches. The pros and cons are the same as previously mentioned. 

trade show banner

Double-sided Banner Stand

What to Put on a Trade Show Banner 

It depends (of course). For example, banner stands are often used to communicate the following at trade shows:

  1. Welcome/Greeting
  2. New Products or Services
  3. Demos or Presentations
  4. Branding
  5. Contests & Promotional Giveaways
  6. Backdrop
  7. Contact Information
  8. Features and Benefits 
  9. Background/History
  10.  Directional Signage

Trade Show Banner Design 

Designing a vertical graphic for large format prints can be a challenge for many designers. Height and placement are the two keys. 

Place the logo in the top 24-36″ along with other important information. If available, always use a vertical logo. The bottom 1/3rd should be focused on design elements that draw your eye upward to the focal point. Avoid placing contact information and critical items near the floor since text and images won’t be as visible once placed in the aisle.

  • Always pay attention to the printer’s template guides. Many banner stands have adjustable options that convert to table top displays. 
  • Visually segment the graphic to help the design be digestible. For example, consider adding photos or solid bands of color to help divide the logo from contact info or bullets.
  • Make it easy for customers. Scannable QR codes, for example, allow clients to grab website and contact information on the fly.
  • Less is more. Keep bullets and copy concise and readable at a glance. This is not the place for tiny type or full paragraphs. 
  • Think about placement: When using a banner stand in a booth, consider what elements will be behind it. Does the banner stand contrast enough to be visible while still meshing with the rest of the design? Be deliberate about placement. 

Consider visual clutter and tripping hazards. Just because they’re inexpensive doesn’t mean adding 20 stands in the booth is a good idea. Keep the number of banner stands to a minimum.

trade show banner design

Trade Show Banner Costs

Cost and expectations go hand-in-hand. There are banner stands for less than $100 and more than $2000. Before choosing a banner stand, determine your goals and your budget. Often exhibitors search for banner stands on the web and soon discover thousands of designs, sizes, and price points. The “shiny object” syndrome then takes HOLD and goals and budget become secondary. 

Better yet, have a conversation with your local exhibit professional. You know, the one who already works with you on your inline and/or island exhibits. They know banner stands too. And they know which ones will match your needs, along with the warranty, replacement graphic options, and quality. They can also assist your graphic designer with best practices. 

Trade Show Banners with Exhibits Northwest

As you can see we’re passionate about trade show banners and design. When you’re ready to explore the wonderful world of custom exhibit design – reach out to our team so we can help! Our team has countless years of experience in the trade show industry and a keen eye for trade show banners that will absolutely get you noticed!

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If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form, and we’ll contact you shortly.

Schedule a Call
If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.