Jul 29




With No Standard Definition?
by Mark Zettler

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“Is it time for some real hard thinking about standardizing certain aspects of the balloon business to aid all concerned – the customer, manufacturer, distributor and reseller?”

Problem Solver – What’s in a Name?
(By Mark Zettler; reprinted from Issue 6, 1998 of Balloons And Parties Today magazine http://www.balloonsandparties.com/ProblemSolver_199806.shtml )


For me, it all started with a “tree.” The phone rang and on the other end of the line was a party planner asking if we make “balloon trees.” Now my first instinct was to reply, “palm or maple,” but not wanting to sound like a wise-guy, I opted for, “how many balloons would you like in your tree?” Whatever their answer was, it was blurred by my imagination running wild with the thought of balloons stuck in some tall woody plant with people climbing branches to release them from their tangled imprisonment. What else would happen to balloons in a tree?


As the years have past, new names have come across my desk and over my phone lines. There are puff balls – or are they clouds or perhaps clusters? There are cascades – but they could be corkscrews. Everyone makes packed arches – but are they triples, quads, quints, or just spirals? A double arch could be a zipper or butterfly arch. A balloon column sounds nice, but isn’t that a tree to some? Do we use a cylinder or a tank, a nozzle or a regulator? Hmmm…

Are 16″ balloons ‘jumbo’ sized? Doesn’t that leave out 30″ or 36″ balloons, or larger? And whatever happened to the “paddle” balloon?


Other industries have come to standardize many of the items they sell. Is it time for our industry to follow? Do we need to differentiate our products like sub-compacts and sedans, or queen and king size beds?


Maybe that “tree” is the process of standardization taking place already. With regards only to the “tree,” I kind of hope not! However, much in the industry is standardized to a degree. There are 5″, 9″, 11″ balloons and so on. 18″ Mylar balloons are a standard size, or are they? How about those 20″ or 21″ stars. You probably pay more for them and just as sure you probably don’t charge more for them. Of course, there are those 10″ and 12″ latex balloons to add to the mix.

What about tank sizes? Surely to a compressed gas company there is some important difference between a 106, 107 or 110 size cylinder. A 285 versus a 292 cylinder must also carry some mystical reasoning as to why they are both offered. But in the end does such a small bit of compressed gas (helium or nitrogen) come to mean that much?

Now we come to packaging balloon products. A gross pack seemed to be (in the US) a fairly comfortable standard to rely on for many years. Then came 72 packs, 36 packs and even 12 packs which all made some sense as they were divisions of the original gross pack of 144. Hold on – here come what may be the more sensible 100 count and 50 count bags. Do we now need to rely on both types of counting for years to come? Possibly and probably.

How about Mylar (or is it metallized or foil?) balloons with their single packs, 5 count, 10 count, etc.?


Now a number of the items I have listed above are standardized to a degree. However, much of the standardizing may be from within the one company that is manufacturing or distributing the particular product. I don’t want to sound like a rant on paper here, but is it time for some real hard thinking about standardizing certain aspects of the balloon business to aid all concerned – the customer, manufacturer, distributor and reseller?


So next time a customer asks if you make “balloon trees,” don’t hesitate to reply “palm or maple,” and watch what happens.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Mark Zettler, Publisher
BALLOONS & Parties Magazine

The BALLOONstitute, Producer


Read more from Mark Zettler on Making It With Balloons Network:
— Shooting The Messenger   http://miwb.net/blog/?p=1460


Copyright 2011 – Mark Zettler  & Rouse Technologies for “Making It With Balloons Network”

1 comment

1 ping

  1. Sean O'Kelly

    Good comments … as usual.
    It’s a little alarming to realise that your story is as relevant today as it was back in 1998. It appears that the only thing that can truly be standardised is a your 13 year old story about how UNstandardised our industry terminology is.
    Measures are a difficult things to standardise around the world and would take the coopperation of many organisations and businesses to make it happen.
    Perhaps, for now, we just have to be content with Palms and Maples being consistant unless of course they are changed to fit the colour scheme.


  1. SHOOTING THE MESSENGER | Making It With Balloons - Network

    […] MORE FROM MARK Read more from Mark Zettler on Making It With Balloons Network: — What is In A Name?   http://miwb.net/blog/?p=2065 […]

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