Adding custom graphics to your organization's canopy is one of the best ways to increase your visibility; it can drive sales, attract support for your cause, or simply help you stand out in a crowd. Given the dramatic impact it can have, you might think that creating a personalized shelter is complicated and stressful process, but that simply isn't the case. Once you understand the steps involved, you'll discover that designing a customized canopy can actually be very easy, straightforward, and - believe it or not - affordable.
It stands to reason that you'd have a lot of choices when buying a customized item. The goal is, after all, to provide you with a product perfectly tailored to your needs. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with all of the available options is the best way to ensure you get a personalized tent you'll be satisfied with.
Three types of tents are commonly available with custom graphics. The first, and probably the most popular, is the pop up or instant canopy. Designed to be as convenient as possible, this kind of shelter features a unique accordion frame that can be set up in matter of minutes without any tools. Pop up tents are also extremely light for their size and compact when collapsed, making them extremely portable. Plus, because of their numerous anchoring options, they can be used in almost any location, including indoors and at the beach.
Instant canopies are not, however, suitable for long-term use. If you need a structure you can leave standing for more than a day, a stronger shelter, such as a pole tent, is going to be a much better choice. Pole tents are supported by center and perimeter poles and rely on the tension created with stakes to keep their tops from collapsing. This kind of construction allows them to be very tough, yet still relatively lightweight and simple to set up. It also makes it possible for them to have a much larger size range than pop ups - you'll find models as small as 10' x 10' as well as monstrous 100' x 310' ones - and provide very economical weather protection. When it comes to covering a large area, pole tents are actually more cost-effective than any other type of party shelter.
Unfortunately, they do have some limitations. Because tension is the only thing keeping their tops secure, pole tents require a lot of stakes and clearance; they can't be installed next to existing structures or indoors. Their center poles can also interfere with visibility and make certain kinds of layouts impossible. Creating a floor plan that incorporates large objects like a stage or dance floor, for example, can be very challenging when using a pole canopy.
So challenging, in fact, that it led tent manufactures to develop another semi-permanent shelter option. Frame tents are specifically designed to eliminate the problems associated with pole-based canopies. They use rigid metal structures rather than the tension from stakes to support their tops so they don't require intrusive center poles. Nor do they need much clearance; it's possible to install them right next to buildings as well as indoors.
All of that flexibility does, however, come with a few drawbacks. Frame tents are significantly more expensive than other varieties of party canopy. They're also much heavier and more difficult to assemble. You'll have to decide if the logistical advantages of a frame tent are worth the decreased portability and extra cost.
Overall, finding the right tent is about determining the balance of economy, convenience, and durability that are most comfortable for you. If you'd like to learn a bit more about the different types of outdoor shelters and their features, check out our Pop Up Canopy Buying Guide and Party Tent Buying Guide.
There are two ways you can buy a customized canopy. You can opt to buy an entire shelter, complete with frame, customized top, and accessories, or you can choose to purchase a personalized top without any other components. The latter is a good option if you want to customize an existing canopy or you simply need a replacement top. It is important to keep in mind, though, that it's not possible to buy stand-alone tops for all shelters. If, for example, you already own a pole or frame tent, you'll probably need to buy an entirely new tent in order to get a top with custom graphics.
Current technologies make it possible for you to customize every part of your tent's fabric. Below is a list of the places you'll typically be able to add your own images to:
Screen printing is the most common method of transferring images to canopy fabric. The process involves blocking out parts of a piece of woven mesh, either by coating it with an impermeable substance or applying a stencil, and using a squeegee to push ink through the open areas onto the selected fabric. The process is then repeated with different screens for each color to be used. This technique creates durable, vivid images and is ideal for situations requiring multiple applications of the same graphic; because the set up for each design only needs to be completed once regardless of how many printings need to be done, the larger your order is, the lower the price will be per piece.
For jobs with large dimensions rather than large volumes, however, digital dye sublimation printing is often the method of choice. Because it utilizes what is essentially a giant, modified version of the computer printer you have at home, this modern technique can create much bigger images than traditional screen printing. It also offers extremely high resolution, typically in the 1,440 DPI range, and can show great detail without appearing grainy. You can also use dye sublimation printing to easily produce full-color images since each color doesn't require its own individual set up.
The simple answer is that you can't. Because every situation is unique, there's no quick way to determine which type of printing will be ideal for you. Once you contact a eCanopy.com for a quote (more on that in the next section), our expert will be able to explain your options and advise you as to which method will get you the best results.
Because of all the technical details involved, many people are intimidated by the process of creating a customized product. The truth is, however, that there are really only two things you'll need to do in order to get a custom canopy and neither is difficult - even if your relationship with computers isn't always the most cordial.
There's nothing complicated about requesting a quote and rendering from eCanopy.com. As long as you've already decided what type of portable shelter you would like and selected the images you want to use, the entire process will only take a few minutes. All you'll need to do is fill out an online form with basic information about your preferences, submit your graphics, and indicate the layout you want. At this stage your images can be in JPG format so you don't even need to worry about using any specialized software. The only thing you really need to be concerned with here is providing as much information as possible; the more clearly you express what you want, the more likely you are to wind up with a rendering that you approve of.
But, you say, what if all I want is a quote? Do I still need to fill out a form and send in graphics? The answer is yes. While it is true that all of the basic information about your needs can be collected over the phone, it would be impossible for even the most experienced custom graphics expert to provide an accurate quote without being able to see your images and how you would like them to be arranged. By putting in a little bit of extra effort up front, you ensure you'll get the best possible results. You're also saving time because you would ultimately need to submit graphics anyway if you decided you wanted a rendering.
Once you have spoken to our friendly graphics team and have agreed upon a design and price, you'll need to prepare your images for use in production. Though it might seem like a small detail, it's very important that you provide files in the appropriate formats. Images that aren't in the right format take longer to process and can lead to production problems.
The format your images need to be in depends on the printing method being used to create your canopy top. If your top is going to be customized with traditional screen printing, then you can usually submit you graphics files in EPS vector or AI (Adobe Illustrator) format. If your top requires digital dye sublimation printing, however, all image files must be in a high-resolution TIF format.
Regardless of whether you're interested in getting a customized tent for a business convention or your next family reunion, your budget plays an important role in determining what kind of graphics package you can buy. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it really isn't possible to get an accurate idea of how much your particular custom graphics is going to cost without consulting a retailer. Generally speaking, you can expect to spend anywhere from $400 to $2,000, not including the cost of the canopy and any accessories you choose to purchase. The range is so large because the size and number of colors required for each graphic affect the production costs just as much as the total number of images you want to add.
Getting a customized tent or canopy isn't the only way to attract customer attention. There are quite a few products that can be personalized with your organization's branding or message. Below are some other options you may want to consider.
A customized table cover will allow you to easily transform a practical event furnishing into an advertising tool. Typically, you'll only be able to add graphics to the part of the cover intended to be the front, but you might be able to include additional images so it's best to ask. And, because eCanopy.com offers these as part of our custom graphics packages, ordering one is extremely simple if you're already getting a canopy.
A custom banner is an easy way to display your company's name and logo or a specific message. They can be constructed to fit your exact specifications and can feature graphics on one or both sides depending on your needs. You'll also find that you'll have just as many, if not more, fabric and ink choices than you do when creating a custom canopy. Plus, we even allow you to choose how your banner will be finished. Your new advertising tool can feature ropes at all four corners, built-in grommets, custom-sized pockets for poles, webbing for extra support, or a simple hem.
If you're looking for a convenient way to attract customers from a distance, customized flags can be a good alternative. They stand fairly high above the ground - most are somewhere between nine to seventeen feet tall - and naturally catch wind, making them automatic attention-grabbers. Like banners, they can feature graphics on one or both sides and are suitable for displaying images as well as text.
In terms of sizes, custom flags are more limited than banners; you'll have to stick with the dimensions a manufacturer offers, but you will have a choice of shape. Flags are usually available in rectangular, tear drop, and curved, blade-like designs. You'll also often be able to choose your anchoring system.
Custom awnings can help existing customers find your office or retail location and attract the attention of new clients. They usually come in the same range of sizes and styles as standard ones so you can find models that will fit windows and doors. Similarly, you're not likely to have a problem getting a customized awning capable of accommodating low eaves and overhangs.
The style and dimensions of the awning you choose will determine exactly what your options are when it comes to graphic placement, but you'll typically be able to add your images to the sides of the peak as well as any valances.
A canopy head band is essentially a strip of fabric that can be customized with your design and slipped over the top of your canopy. It sits right over the valance, making it appear as though it is part of your canopy's original top. This kind of product is particularly ideal for anyone looking for a way to add custom graphics to an existing canopy or a less expensive alternative to buying an entire custom top. You should keep in mind, however, that head bands are only available in certain sizes so it may not be possible to find one for your shelter.
Buying a tent with custom graphics is a major investment. It takes time, energy, and, of course, money. But the impact owning one can have on your organization's visibility and sales can make the expenditure well worth it. So if you think your business might benefit from a personalized shelter, don't let fear stop you from making a purchase. Just remember, the entire point of the custom shelter is to give you complete control; you'll be involved in every step from conception to execution. Our main goal at eCanopy.com is to ensure that you get the tent you want at a price you're happy with.