This blog post was sponsored by BuildASign.com

If you attend dog sport events or adoption fairs as a team, rescue, organization, or pet product company, it’s a great idea to have a sign for your booth. Signs are typically made of a printed vinyl material, so you can add text, logos, or even photos to them. They can be hung from grommets using rope or bungee cords, and some companies offer slots along the edge so you can run PVC pipe or posts through them to hoist the banner above a canopy. Having a banner is an inexpensive way to advertise your group, draw people over to give you a donation, or support your dog sport team! So how do you go about creating a banner or sign to advertise your organization or group? What information should you include on the sign? This post details the things you need to consider before and while designing a sign for your next tournament or event.

Decide where you will display the banner to determine the best size

The first thing to consider is the banner’s size. Do you plan to hang the sign from the rails of your canopy, hoist it above the canopy using PVC pipe, or attach it to a table? Do you want your sign to be able to do both? This detail will determine the size your banner needs to be. For example, a typical canopy is 10 feet wide and many tables are 6 or 8 feet wide. Think about whether you want your sign to go across the entire canopy, or only part way. You also need to think about whether you want to hang the sign at the back of the canopy, or at the front where people walk in. Consider the height carefully, because if you hang the banner from the canopy roof, you need to think about clearance for people who might need to walk under it into your tent! The width of your table will factor into the maximum width of your sign.

The weight of the sign may be a concern as well. If you are hanging the banner from a table, you need to think about whether you will use bungee cords, or weights, to secure the sign. If you are using weights or a light string, the weight of the banner itself could be a concern. If so, choose a slightly smaller size.

Designing your banner

Now that you have your dimensions, it’s time to design the sign itself! You can start from a pre-made template and adjust the existing design, design the banner yourself entirely using an online tool such as the one that is built into BuildASign when you click “Start from Scratch”, or even hire a service or freelance designer to create your banner artwork for you.

You can also use desktop software to design the banner, and upload your design to be printed onto vinyl. Some free and inexpensive image editors include PicMonkey, Picasa, and Acorn. Some quality professional design tools include Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Make sure to refer to the design requirements for the size and type of banner you are creating, or use a template that may be available from the website you are ordering from. These requirements are often linked to on the website you are using to create the banner or covered in a FAQ section. This will help you set your design document’s size and resolution settings. You will also want to leave some room along the edges of the banner for grommets or pole slots. Most companies will contact you if there are problems with the design you upload.

The following links include free design elements for fonts and icons that you may want to use on your banner. These can be used commercially as well, but make sure you read the licensing and attribution requirements before using them in your work. FontAwesome: Icons to use on your sign, and FontSquirrel: Nice fonts that are free for commercial use. Also do a search for “design freebies” for other design elements to use on your sign (but do make sure to read the fine print about how the artwork can be used.)

Information and design elements to include

A banner should contain only the most important information about your group, cause, or product. Many people will only glance at your sign, so it needs to be simple and attention grabbing. Large text and simple graphics are effective, but you should focus on what will draw people to your booth. Do not try to fit everything from this list onto your sign! Select the most important pieces of information that represent your organization or company, the pieces of information that will draw visitors to your table!

  • Name of your group: The name of your group should be the most prominent element of your sign. This could also be a URL if a website is a primary component of your operation (such as a web-based business or advocacy group). This might be the only information you need to include on your sign! A simple text-based sign with highly contrasting color choices can be very effective.
  • Logo or image If you have a logo or image that is part of your “branding”, it is a good idea to add it to your sign. If your logo might not print well at the size of your sign, you could also use what’s called a “brand marker”, which is a simplified version or part of the logo that still represents your brand or group.
  • Tagline, activity, or products For example, if you have dogs for adoption you may want to note “ADOPT TODAY” on your banner. Or if you are serving a cause or a dog sport team, you might have a tagline to add such as “Running since 2001.” If you sell products, you may want to add “Dog collars * T-shirts * Decals” to your sign so visitors know what to expect.
  • Credit cards and/or donations accepted: If you selling a product or taking donations using credit cards (for example, using a Square reader), consider adding credit card images to your banner to advertise the ones that you accept. You can find icons to use online that are free for commercial use. If you are accepting donations, you may wish to also note this on your sign.
  • Website URL If you have a website you would like people to go to, consider adding the URL if it is short and easy to remember. Otherwise, make sure you have the URL printed on business cards that you can hand to people who visit your table.

This blog post was sponsored by BuildASign.com

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.