While we’re big fans of lighted business signs that draw people in, that doesn’t mean that every exterior bit of signage that’s put up has to be a perfectly-crafted sign that’s sculpted from metal and lights up all night long. While we always encourage a business to have a nice custom aluminum sign, we also think that exterior signs and banners for a business can play a big part in luring people in. Let’s take a look at how both types of custom signage can help, and which one might work better in a particular situation.  

What Do We Mean By Banners and Signs?

Exterior Banners

What are we talking about when we talk about banners and signs? In general, banners include vinyl banners that hang from lamp posts, banner flags that stick in the ground, and banners that are used on the storefront to advertise a sale or are used as a stopgap while the permanent sign is being created.

Exterior Signs

For the purposes of this article, exterior signs include any exterior sign that isn’t a banner, i.e. rigid. This includes the main exterior sign, direction signs on the property, or sidewalk signs.


Movement grabs people’s attention, so it’s a great way to get people to notice your business. When it comes to exterior banners and signs, which one excels?

Banners Sway and Flap In The Breeze

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of outdoor banners is that they move. Human eyes are naturally drawn to movement, but it’s the different movement that really grabs the attention. So while people driving by might be accustomed to the movement of the traffic and the trees, the unique movement of banners flapping in the wind can really draw their eyes. Banner flags are a recent addition to the market that causes people to turn their heads. Of course bright, contrasty colors help too!

People have been using movement forever in order to attract attention; American flags at car dealerships come to mind. So how can you make your exterior banners stand out more than others? Eye-catching design. If you have a really nice banner that has been designed to take advantage of its surroundings, you’ll be able to compete with the permanent signs of surrounding businesses. Find out how design works into our process right here.

Exterior Signs Can Move Too!

The job of “sign waver” didn’t exist in Colorado 20 years ago, but now you can’t drive around town on the weekend without seeing one. These signs not only grab people’s attention because they’re moving, but also because of the dancing hijinx of the typical sign spinner. (Fun little side note: sign spinners are an extension of a centuries-old occupation called the human billboard.)

It seems to have started with new subdivisions trying to get people to find the off-the-beaten-path homes. With a home costing more than $300,000, it made sense to get someone to stand on the street corner and use a pointed-arrow sign to lure people to take a look at houses. But soon it spread well beyond new houses and has moved on to liquor stores, fitness clubs, and store-closing sales.

Spinning signs are a great option when you want to draw attention to a special event or have a sign spinner who truly excels at their job. A boring spinner who just stands there won’t make much of an impression; one that can draw people’s eyes is going to bring attention to the product being advertised.


How long is too long to leave the signs and banners out and still have them be effective?

Be Careful With How Long You Leave Banners Out

A first, having a banner out as the primary business sign can be a good thing. If you’ve just opened a new restaurant, then a banner can let people know that the restaurant isn’t the same one that was there last week. For a short time, that banner can express newness.

But you shouldn’t leave a banner up for too long. After a while it simply makes it seem like you’re too cheap to put a permanent custom lighted sign on your business. Banners will also start to show signs of wear after a while, due to the high winds and the excessive UV radiation along Colorado’s front range.

In generally, banners are meant to be used for a shorter length of time. They’re great for shorter-term sales or to help with seasonal promotions.

Exterior Signs Hold Up

Exterior signs are often meant to hold up longer than banners, and as such are built out of tougher materials that can withstand Colorado’s weather.

Because exterior signs aren’t going to be replaced nearly as often as outdoor banners, they tend to be a bit more generic than a banner. While a banner might be advertising a month-long sale, the rigid signs usually have messages that are much more permanent. Most often it’s the primary business sign, or a directional sign to tell someone which way to head for the entrance. So while they might not be the best at advertising a promotion, they’re great at helping people find a business 24/7/365.

Which Price Is Better?

Well, it depends on how you define better! Let’s take a look at where your money is better spent.

Banners Are Cost-Effective

In most cases, banners are going to be your cheaper option, though sidewalk signs can also be a very reasonable price. Banners are a great option when you don’t want to spend much money but you want to get the customer’s attention with your new promotion. Banners can be created in a short amount of time and complement the interior signage that you have, including window displays. If you really want to make the most of your banner budget, you can come up with a banner that can accompany a variety of promotions throughout the year. Still, it’s important that you don’t leave them up for so long that they become boring to anyone driving past.

Exterior Signs Cost More, But…

…they’re going to hold up. While you might be able to get a banner for not much money, it’s not going to last nearly as long.

Exterior signs might not be as interchangeable as vinyl banners, but a good one will last for years. It’s the perfect way to deliver permanent information, information that’s not going to change very often. Sure, if the company logo changes or you have to get a new web address, these permanent signs might need to be updated or replaced. But in general they’re going to be “erect and forget.”

Which Goes Up More Quickly?

The answer to this question is pretty obvious, but there are some specific points we’d like to make about the differences between vinyl custom signs and exterior signs.

Banners Are Up In No Time

The great thing about banners is that they are quick to make and quick to put up. Have a sale coming up? You can get that banner made in no time. Want to let people know about a special event you’re having in the store? Print up a banner and draw more people in. Banners also make great options for businesses that want to open before their exterior sign is finished; a vinyl banner as your exterior sign is perfect for a soft opening.

Banners are also a great option when you want to put information up for a short period of time. For instance, if your shop has a sale during the winter holidays then you might put up a banner for a month at a time, year after year. All it takes is a few minutes to secure a banner to your storefront.

Signs Take Time

A good sign takes time, and it’s not something you want to rush. You want a light-up sign to be constructed so that it’s protected from the elements, one that’s watertight in order to cover the electrical components.

Of course, you don’t want to rush the installation either. You want the sign shop you use to have enough time to install your signage properly. This ensures that your exterior sign is properly aligned, or that your directional signs are securely planted in the ground.

Which Is More Portable?

Again, the answer to “which is more portable, an outdoor illuminated sign that’s permanently attached to a building or a roll-up banner?” is pretty obvious, but let’s take a look at a few specific points.

Banners Can Go With You

One great aspect of outdoor banners is that they can go with you. Banners are a great option when you have them specifically made for conventions, as they can draw a lot of attention on a show floor. Our sign shop can create your trade show displays and banners that are very portable and easy to set up.

It’s also a good thing that banner flags are so portable. Let’s say, for instance, that you put up banners along the road. And even though you got permission from the owner of the building to do so, one day someone from the city stops by and says that they’re too close to the road. A permanent sign would take forever to move; banners don’t take any time to move further off the road.

Exterior Signs Aren’t Going Anywhere

With the exception of sidewalk signs, exterior signs are simply not going anywhere. In fact, that’s their whole point: they should stay where they are. You’re certainly not going to rip your custom outdoor sign off the front of the building just to put it up at a trade show!

Which Delivers Better Information?

The point of a sign is to deliver information. Do exterior signs or banners do this job better?

Banners Can Give More Information

The great thing about banners is that they’re printed, meaning that they can give more information than your typical sign that’s constructed. Banners can use a large font to give the basic idea of the promotion and then have more information in a smaller font that a customer can read as they get closer. Of course, the distance you want it to be readable from will limit the amount of information you put on it.

Outdoor Signs Give The Most Important Information

What’s the most important information you can give to potential customers? The name of the business, of course! They need to be able to find you if they’re going to give you their business, which means that an outdoor lighted sign is giving them the most important information there is.

Outdoor signs aren’t there to tell your customers about sales or a special event you’re having. They’re simply there to get people in the door.

What About Photos?

Sometimes you really want a photo on your outdoor signage. This is one area where the types of outdoor signage differ significantly.

Banners Can Have Photos

One advantage that outdoor banners have is that they can have photos printed on them. Because banners are printed instead of constructed like an exterior lighted sign is, banners can have much higher resolution.

Think back to the last outdoor banner you saw for a fundraiser and there’s a really good chance that it had a picture of the person the fundraiser was for on it. Banners for a business might have a picture of the item on sale, or a service being offered; a great example of this is a hair salon having a picture of someone with the latest hairdo.

Outdoor Signs Are More Basic

In general, outdoor lighted signs aren’t going to include pictures. At most they might have the company logo, but pictures don’t tend to work well with outdoor signs (sidewalk signs excluded, because they can easily incorporate pictures like a banner can).

Try Something New

Businesses must change in order to grow, and sometimes those changes need to be tested before being fully implemented.

Outdoor Banners Can Be Your Experiment

If you’re thinking about changing your logo or using a new font for your business sign, you might want to have it printed on a banner first. All you have to do is contact us to have a banner made and we’ll get it just the size you want it. That way you’ll be able to view your new logo life-size and check on how it will look once it’s on your building.

Outdoor Signs Can Reap the Benefits

After you’ve tried out your new logo or slogan out on your banner and are sure you like it, then it might be time to switch everything over and have your permanent outdoor custom light up sign changed. While it’s being created at our sign shop, you can use the banner as your temporary store sign.

Which Is Right For You?

When you’re considering exterior signs and banners, we hope that this page has helped you decide on which one is right for you. Some people come to us knowing exactly what they want, while others rely on our expertise with exterior signage and our design services in order to get them what will help their business the most. If you’re ready to make the most of your building and how your customers’ eyes interact with it, contact us today!