How to design a feather flag

Feather flags have become the mainstay of outdoor advertising at trade shows and events that it can sometimes be difficult to make your branding stand out amongst the crowd. Visitors coming into a showground are often overwhelmed by the vast array of flags and advertising, and you have to be sure that your’s get noticed.

Some exhibitors will choose the tallest, the highest, with their flags strapped to the top of their stand or marquee, so their branding can be seen from afar. Others may choose something more modest, sited at eye level to attract passing traffic. Both options, can work well for you, but only if all the design elements, the text, layout and colours, work in unison, projecting your branding to best effect.  Get just one of these elements wrong and nobody will know who your are, or understand what you are trying to tell them.  Remember –  the message you convey, the combination of logos, text, colours  speaks volumes about who you are. ! If you are not able to design the flag yourself, check Google Local/ Yell.com  for details of a graphic designers in your area.  Skynasoars also offer a Design Service.  Our design team have created hundreds flags over the years, and we have printed thousands more from artworks provided by customers and agencies.  Some have been outstanding, almost works of art.

Stage 1 : Purpose

Before you even put pen to paper, click on a mouse or even draw a line, stop and think ! What do you want you flag to achieve, what is the projected outcome ? For people to  :-

  • Make an immediate decision to visit you shop, or trade stand, to buy or get more information
  • Remember your name, location and return later
  • Find you at a crowded event or down a narrow street or shopping parade
  • Locate a meeting point

In essence your flags are no different to a printed ad, or flyer, a Google or Facebook adwords. You want to attract someone’s attention and for them to take action.  All the thought, creativity and testing, you might put into your ad, is also required in the design of your feather flag.

Here are some ways you might want to use your feather flags :-

a) To Promote a brand

For many situations just the company logo, the specific product name or logo, is sufficient. Brand recognition is an important for all types of business,  since it conveys your status and place in the market. Recognising your brand,  – seeing it over and over again customers  become more familiar with you and what you do, winning their trust. This approach works well where your brand or product is already known and your flags are displayed at an event where there is a common theme –  such as major sports, music events and festivals where they are displayed in volume.

b) Convey a message

At a busy event, where so many different types of business displaying, your name or brand might not be so well known and in addition to your logo you may want to add a strap line, to emphasise what you do, your vision or why you are different

c) Provide Directions

More and more of these flags are being used both at events, and by shops in off- street  retail arcades, to provide directions. Again the message has to be clear, the name of your shop, what you do, and where you are.

d) Create meeting point

Amongst Skynasoars customers are a  large number of cycling, running and athletics clubs, who not only buy their flags to promote their club, but to provide a meeting point at a event,  or to establish the start and finish of the race

e) Promote a product, special offer or event

Feather Flags have now taken over from the standard “A” Frames to promote specific products of offers. Flags with the text “Sale now on” or “Clearance Sale” are now used so widely used that pre-printed versions are sold as stock items by many suppliers. Other examples we have  been asked to supply had the strap lines  “Model Train Exhibition Here Today” and  “Village Choir now singing – join us Today” –  and placed outside  the venue both to attract passers by, and as direction sign.

Stage 2 : Content

Once you have decided the purpose you want to achieve, and the message you want to convey the next, more difficult step, is how to combine the various elements, logos, text, images and colours

a) Text

Text, either as part of your logo, your company name or message is a pre requisite for these flags. However, the rule is to keep any additional  text to a minimum and certainly no more than seven words. Unless you regard it essential to your message, avoid telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, but do include your website URL. Choose fonts according to your business activity –  formal, ornate, script, chunky.

Text1

  • For those working with children, or make goods for children – use fun, chunky fonts in multi colours

Text3

  • Builders, engineers, estate agents – choose bold, solid heavy formal fonts, in black or dark colours suggesting, strength and reliability.

Text2

  • Creative businesses such as crafts, photography, hairdressing, personal services – use script/stylised  fonts

Text4

  • Solicitors, Estate agents, Accountants – choose classic fonts in a single colour

Text6

  • Sports athletics, running, cycling, skydiving – use a combination of simple script fonts and  the more classic.

Use graphic effects to make the text stand out – black/ white key lines, background strokes, offset background text, shadows, colour gradients or distortions.

Effects2

 

 

b) Colours

Your design will consist of a combination of colours – the background, logo, image and text colours. Choose eye catching colours relevant to you activity or message. If you have a specific brand logo, choose colours to compliment and contrast. We would also suggest strong blacks, primary colours, blues and reds if your audience is mainly male ; pastel and complimentary shades, cyans, pinks, mid greens if your audience is mainly female. This is not being particularly sexist, we just know what works ! If you are not familiar with colour matching, then download a colour wheel image. (lots of sites offer these). Choose contrasting complimentary colours from opposite sides of the wheel; create blends with analogous colours or stark contrasts with tetratic/quadratic colours. Test and retest everything you do ! clours

 

 

We all respond to colours in different ways. Orange would be regarded as a ‘warm’ colour whereas ‘blue’ is regarded as cold. Also be aware of the emotional meaning of colours. There is a good reason for Facebook “F” logo being blue, and Macdonald’s  “U” to be yellow.

They are not just the the favourite colours of the CEO’s, or chosen at random: they have emotional interpretations for which the brand would wish to exploit and utilise. Much research has indicated that colours, are able to generate specific emotions, and empathy towards a brand. Such emotions are of course marginally different to each person, and different cultures, but should be considered when selecting colours used in your logos, and in the design of your flags.

 

black Strength, Power, Professional
blue Honesty, Judicial. Medical
Yellow Optimistic, Youthful
Red Exciting, Youthful, Bold, Energetic
purple Imaginative, Wise
green Natural, Organic
warmorange Friendly, Cheerful, Confident
Grey Balance, Calm
Pink Feminine, Romance,

 

c) Graphic ImagesGraphcis

Well chosen graphic image, or relevant photo has the ability to make your design come alive, but an inappropriate or pixelated image can also destroy it, so take care !If you do not have, or can create the photos or image yourself, there are a wide variety of image libraries from which you can buy them – Istockphoto,Bigstockphoto, Shutterstock, for example. But do be aware, to achieve an acceptable finish you need to buy a high quality, either vector or the largest raster 300 dpi image available. Be prepared to pay up to £70 for the image you really want. There are also software packages such as Perfect Photo Suite which allow you to enhance and enlarge a medium quality JPG/ PSD image, into something quite stunning, without increased pixelation.

d) Layout

This is the most difficult aspect of design where you can either succeed and create something eye catching, or fail dismally and nobody takes a second look. The are no specific rules, but here some basic does and dont’s

  • Logos: Position them at the top : They may be repeated further down the flag.
  • Text; If the logo does not include the company name it should be set sideways, reading from the bottom to the top. Vertically aligned text can work, but not always.
  • Strapline ; This would normally be placed parallel to the main line of text and in a smaller size and different font
  • Photos : Use wisely, with one powerful eye-catching image. Avoid full flood background images.
  • Website URL : Usually placed horizontal at the bottom of the flags

flags2

 

Stage 3 : The printing process 

Digital printing is a four colour CMYK process, using 4, 6, or sometimes 8 printing heads, which each travel across the fabric, a number of times to create the final colour.Ensure that all your images, text and backgrounds are converted to CMYK Mode. Colours set up as RGB, or PAN and mixed with CMYK, although having the same colour formula, will not necessarily be the same colour when printed.

Most printing machine software will recognise the standard pantones, and convert correctly to CMYK, but will may not recognise the custom Pantones used in your in house colour management system. Your design should be all CMYK , or all pantone; try not to mix them.

The GAMUT – the range of colours which most machines can print is compressed, and much narrower than on your camera or monitor.  Unlike Apple devices, Windows computers are also packaged with a range of different  graphic cards. Consequently, colours you see your monitor when creating the design, may not look the same as when printed.  The narrower Gamut of the printer may also cause your fine, multiple colour blends, you see on screen  to sometimes print as a blobs  and  your rich bottle green, may not be so dark as you hoped.

One other feature of textile printing is how the same colour mix appears on different substrates –  vinyl banners, pull-up banners, and T-Shirts for example.  When using  flag textiles, the ink is formulated to permeate to the rear, and is consequently less saturated, not as rich as the other materials.  The colour is not “wrong” as many people might claim.

Above all, be creative; be prepared to spend the time, using all your skills and design tools, to produce a something which will stand out from the rest.

About skynasoars

Jim Rowlands ; MD Skynasoars Ltd. Offering creative branding for outdoor events -corportate entertainments and festivals, in the form of feather banners, tear drop flags, pop up signs and windsocks. Based in Scunthorpe UK
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