Large format artwork is essential to any successful association event. Large format refers to anything the attendee does not carry around in their hands, like banners, posters, signs, floor decals, digital screens, or more. Large format graphics can truly set the tone and feel of your event, but there are a few things to consider when deciding on how to use them.
Size of your graphics is essential. Obviously if your signage is too small delegates can miss them. Having signage that’s too large, on the other hand, can also be an issue. I remember walking through a fairly large convention centre trying to find the event entrance. I asked someone at information and they said, “Right by the entrance under the giant banner.” I went back and looked and there was a 10-foot tall arch with the event logo on it. The problem was the top of the arch was too high and not in your normal sightline. A smaller arch would have been much easier to spot.
The 4-Second Rule
4 seconds is the average time one spends on a first glance at a large format graphic, so it’s important to focus only on the core message. This can be hard, as more than likely you have a lot of information to present. Rather than trying to capture too many details in large format graphics, present the information in brochures, booklets, etc. If it can’t be read in 4 seconds, then large format isn’t the way to handle this.
Location, Location, Location
When doing site visits before the event, think about where signage and other graphics will go. This can maximize the effectiveness of your signage and reduce the overall number of signs used.
Know your Environment
Know where your graphics will be placed, and how the viewer will experience what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you have a sign with the floor plan, you might want it near the entrance of your event, however you don’t want people looking at the sign blocking the flow of people into your event.
Wall banners, easel-mounted signs, wall and floor decals, stand-up banners, and digital options such as podiums with interactive tablets, monitors, and projections are all options you can use in your event. Talk with your printing company; there are innovations in display products all the time. Don’t get stuck in a rut of always doing the same thing for event signage and promotion.
Advantages of Digital
Nearly Infinitely Adjustable
With print work you usually need 3-5 days for production time, as well as any shipping time that may be needed. With digital work, often all you need to do is hand a USB stick to the audio-visual team a day before or the day of your event. Warning, you should test all your graphics ahead of time as problems can occur. Also, making constant changes at the last minute can be frustrating for your audio-visual team.
More than Just Static Images
There’s more to life than static images. Videos, animations, live Twitter feeds other interactive technologies can be more interesting to look at. Audio and video technologies are constantly changing, so talk to your audio-visual team about how to include the latest technologies in your event.
Don’t be Scared of PowerPoint
When someone says PowerPoint, do you think of slides filled with text that flies in one bullet point at a time? If so, you’re not the only one. There is a stigma surrounding PowerPoint, but it can be a powerful tool. You can create PowerPoint presentations to be any size you need, import graphics and images from other programs, and easily adjust slide order and timing as needed.
Notes on Artwork
The whole point of large format graphics is to be seen from a distance, so there are design considerations to keep in mind. Please see my blog How Bad Design Can Hurt Your Event for details on any technical terms.
- Build at Half Size: If all of your raster images are 300dpi, you can usually build your files at half size. For example, a 90” x 36” banner can be built at 45” x 18” to keep the file size down. Talk with your supplier on file building specifics.
- Vector: If you can, build everything you can as vector graphics. Vector files are infinitely scalable.
- Image Resolution: Even if you are given an image or ad to use for a digital banner, that doesn’t mean it will work for a large printed banner. Check with your graphic designer or print shop to make sure the graphics you receive will work for the intended purpose.
- Know your Resolution: Communicate with your audio-visual company about the resolution needed to create your artwork. You would be surprised to learn that screens 20 feet across will use a lower resolution than your 13-inch laptop screen.
- Test, Test, Test: As I’ve said many times in this article, talk with your audio-visual team and your production companies to make sure everything works prior to the event. You don’t want to find out last minute that your artwork doesn’t work with their system!