No matter what industry you are in, chances are you have at one point or another considered going to a tradeshow. Perhaps nothing is more emblematic of a trade show than the thought of a booth display. This ten foot by ten foot space – or twenty by twenty if your company is willing to shell out the big bucks – is your little castle on the floor of the convention. Your sales team are the masters of this hundred square foot space, and making it look appealing to a passerby is their chief goal for the next few days.
A big part of this is the backdrop. There are a number of different types of backdrops to choose from, but one of the most well known and most useful is the step and repeat vinyl banner. These are several feet tall, either sitting against a wall or freestanding against which individuals can take pictures and pose. They often are printed with a tiny logo for the company repeating in some kind of pattern across their face. Of course, trade shows aren’t the only use for these banners. They can also be used at reception events, product demos, grand openings, and any other sort of get together where photography is to be expected.
As with anything in business, the answer is… it depends. A quality step and repeat banner can be had for as little as $75.10, depending on size. These will typically be made of vinyl or similar material and are great for indoor use. Ever since digital printing went mainstream, companies have been able to manufacture these banners, drastically cutting the time and labor that had to go into the process of painting a large banner. Now, businesses are able to add an air of clean professionalism to any event they want simply by bringing a few convenient banners to show off.
Still, there are downsides to vinyl banners. There are a number of different manufacturing techniques to finish the banner. Often this involves the use of so called plasticizer. These are added to materials to make them easier to use – softer, less brittle, stretchier – and to keep them from breaking (source). While these are great while they last, they often start to come out of the step and repeat banner after a few years. For this reason, vinyl banners will start to show wear and tear after a few years of use. Still, for only $100, three years of use is a great deal for a custom banner to represent your company with.
If you are willing to invest a little more money in your initial purchase, you can get step and repeat banners made out of a more durable material like fabric for two to three times the price of a vinyl banner. These banners take more time and labor to produce, but you are paying for a product that will last longer and look nicer in the long run. The finishing process for vinyl banners means that they can often appear as though they have bleed or blurred up close. This is due to the thin plastic sheets that often adorn their outside, protecting them from damage.
Most fabric banners are created with a process called dye sublimation. This process involves taking a water based dye and turning it into a gas. This gas is then bonded with the fabric and polymers in the banner in order to create an image that will never wash out since it is bonded into the material itself (source). So, while you will pay a few hundred to a few thousand dollars more and wait a little while longer for fabric step and repeat banners, you will get a product that lasts longer and looks more professional.
Of course, not every step and repeat will be made the same size. The price of the banner you select is heavily dependent on the size thereof. Depending on the event you are purchasing for, you may want to get a larger banner. Since these banners are primarily used for decoration and as a space to take photos in front of, think of the number of people you will need to squeeze into any given photo. If you are having a large event with more than six people, you ought to consider an 20x8 or even an 40x8 banner. A 20x8 banner is able to comfortably fit about ten people in front of it for pictures, and an 40x8 can do twice this. This kind of size is ideal for product launches and releases or major grand opening where you will want to fit your entire team in front of the banner for a photo opportunity.
Of course, bigger isn’t ALWAYS better. Sometimes, a more modestly sized backdrop is the better choice. In the industry, a small step and repeat is considered anything under ten feet wide. Common small sizes then include 8x6 and 6x6. These are perfect for when size is a limiting factor – think tradeshows where you have to pay for every square foot and indoor events where space comes at a premium.
The most common backdrop sizes measure in the middle, somewhere between the small banners and the large banners we have discussed. These common sizes in the industry would include 8x8', 8x12', and 8x15'. All of these can be had at a reasonable price and shipped to your business somewhat quickly. They don’t come with the logistical issues of larger banners but still provide that wow factor that might be missing from a smaller banner.
Once again, there is no single ‘right’ banner size for any event. You must determine with your team what is best for your specific situation. However, these are the sizes that have become standard in the industry. They are what you will often see if you go to an event and have earned their place there for a reason.
Something to keep in mind when shopping for step and repeat banners is the terminology used in the industry. Some websites you encounter might speak about backdrops. These are in fact the exact same things as step and repeats, since this is the primary purpose of a step and repeat banner. Regardless of what you call it, a custom step and repeat backdrop or a step and repeat banner is going to be an affordable investment for your business that looks sharp and professional for years to come. The most important part of any signage you buy for your business is the ability to customize it and make it fit to exactly the purpose you need.
We’ve discussed above the countless uses for custom step and repeat backdrops, but how should you customize it? There are as many options as there are uses. The most common choice is to place your logo or brand name on the banner. As their name suggests, custom step and repeats involve the same image repeating hundreds of times across the surface of the banner. Since they will be the backdrop for many photos, it makes sense why so many choose to have their logos here.
However, there are other choices as well. If you are doing a product launch you might choose to have an image of the product repeating across your custom backdrop banner. When the banner shows up in photos and on social media this will help viewers to understand what the event was about.
Of course, the image on the banner is not the only design consideration you have. You also must consider color. The custom step and repeat backdrop needs to be colored in a way that fits both the image on it and the event that it is being used for. Consulting with a graphic designer is not a bad idea for this decision. Just make sure you don’t choose colors that conflict with each other!
A custom backdrop banner is an investment in your business’ marketing that you can’t afford not to make. They are a tangible statement about your brand and your company that you can take with you to any tradeshow or conference you go to, showing the industry that you’re present and accounted for.
As stated above, one of the best reasons to purchase a step a custom step and repeat backdrop is the free brand recognition that it will provide you at events. Since these banners are so customizable, you can create it in a way that is instantly recognizable, using your brand’s color palette, logo, and specific fonts in order to make sure every eye that glances your way knows who you are. We will discuss this more below in our design tips
As you can imagine, a custom backdrop banner is a magnet for lenses. The cameras can’t stay away! For this reason, having the most impressive banner at the event means that you will get plenty of attention on social media. This provides a great opportunity for your social team to interact and follow up with those that were at the event and expressed the most interest in your brand. Nothing qualifies a lead quite like them sharing an image of your custom backdrop banner on social media to all their followers, many of whom are likely to be in the industry themselves.
Trade shows are a make or break time for any business. You’ve spend thousands of dollars flying your team out to the location, a few more thousand putting them up in a nice hotel and buying tickets. You cannot afford for the tradeshow not to go your way. And every other company there is going to be thinking the same thing.
You need to have the flashiest booth that draws in all the passerby. Attendees are going to be making a split second decision on whether or not to stop in and talk with your team, and that decision is by and large informed by visuals – how does your booth look? For this reason, you need an impressive step and repeat backdrop that will draw them in and give your team a chance to make a lasting impression.
It should be clear that a step and repeat backdrop offers your company quite a bit of ROI. The good news is that they are not that expensive compared to all the value they bring. This is a good investment that your company can make in order to guarantee a greater ROI on every tradeshow and event that you attend.
There is a lot that goes into designing a custom step and repeat backdrop. This custom backdrop banner will be that which conveys your brand to thousands of trade show attendees, reception audiences, and anyone else that happens to see it for years to come. It is worth putting the time in to make sure it is designed to convey exactly the message you want it to.
Most businesses opt to put their logo on the banner as the image that repeats. If your logo is pixelated and lower quality when enlarged, it ought to be kept to a small size. Remember that while you are looking at the banner on a computer screen, in real life it will be much larger and these kinds of things will show. Vector graphics are often the best option for reducing pixelation. A graphic designer can be your best friend for this sort of thing!
Thinking back to any kind of arts or design classes you might have had, remember contrast. Another consideration will be the colors of the event you are having. Since banners are often reused by companies, it would be wise to choose a background color that is neutral and won’t offend. If you are ordering specifically for an event, decide what goes best with those themed colors to make sure that it really pops.
Legibility is always key when selecting a font. Remember that the sizes you are seeing are smaller than they will actually be when the banner is manufactured. Most brands will have a font they have selected as their standard. If this is the case for your company go with a variant of this that works with the color scheme and overall feel of the event you are attending. Otherwise, choose a general font that will be useable in all kinds of different situations.