Roadside billboards have been around for over a century. And in the car-loving USA, billboard advertising is still an important—and efficient—way to reach millions of motorists. But if you are going to invest your hard-earned money in a massive, high rise advertisement, you want to make sure it’ll be a success. How do you ensure your billboard is both eye-catching and effective?
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1. Get your story straight
If your billboard is on the side of a highway on which people will be (literally) speeding, then a design without a story simply won’t be memorable. To find your story, think about the one thing you want people to take away from your ad. Do you want them to remember your web address? To be able to recognize your brand the next time they’re in the supermarket? Or do you want people to pull off at the next exit for some fried chicken? Use your key message to find the story.
2. Keep it short and sweet and safe!
The average driver will only have about 5 to 10 seconds to view your billboard design, read any text, and comprehend the message. In those 5 to 10 seconds, the driver could also be glancing from the billboard, to the road, and back to the billboard again depending on the severity of traffic. That’s even less viewing time on your ad! So one of the most important rules to follow will be keeping your message short. Very short! Shoot for a maximum of 7 words or less.
3. Be loud
A larger-than-life-sized layout is no time to be meek! Make sure any text in your design is printed in clean, bold font to ensure the best readability. Also, the larger the font, the more time a driver has to read and understand your message at a distance. So go big!
4. Be colourful
Use bright colors or a bold image in your design to effortlessly attract eyes to your billboard. Contrasting colors within the design will also create an even bigger impact that will help improve the retention of your message. But in order for your image to be effective you’ll want to keep your background simple to ensure the foreground isn’t fighting for attention. And stick to one large image or photo. That one dynamic image will create much more visual impact than a handful of images that only take up a quarter of the layout each.
5. Check your map
If you find you’re still in need of a fun story for your billboard, consider the location where your design will be displayed and use that environment for a clever message: Poke a jab at techies in California’s Bay Area, use local slang to read wit-ty to a hungry market, or appeal to “hungover” motorists leaving Las Vegas (and if they’re heading East that’s another opportunity to be damn funny as they make their way towards the Colorado River).