6 Design Tips For An Effective Billboard

Billboards are a great addition to advertising campaigns for big brands and small businesses alike. They're especially important to local businesses that want to bring in traffic off the highways and interstates, as consumers may not find their stores and restaurants otherwise. But how do you create a sign that conveys your message in such a short amount of time? Follow these tips for a winning design.

Keep the copy short.

The last thing drivers need is long-winded billboard copy. Long messages may pose a driving hazard by distracting drivers who try to read them. Ideally, your message should be kept to a handful of words. Six is the industry average, since most drivers only have about six seconds read the sign.

If you're having trouble keeping your copy short, remember that you should focus on a single idea. Don't try to include several different marketing messages, products or services—at least not in the text. Make every word count by starting with a verb to create a short call to action. If you can't say something about your product or service in six seconds or less, other signage (such as flyers and posters) may be more appropriate than a billboard.

Use high contrast.

The text should be easily readable no matter if it's on a plain background or if it's part of the picture. In order to do this, you need to use colors with high contrast—preferably black and white, since those are the easiest to read. Other colors can be incorporated, too, though. Bright pink, yellow and aqua are all easily readable against white or black backgrounds. And if your background is a picture of people, nature or a product, you can always overlay a white shape over the image to create a good contrast area for the text.

Avoid Fancy Fonts

Script fonts have their place, but that place is not on your billboard. Thin, wispy letters will be difficult to read from a distance. Your font choice should be simple and bold for easy readability. Your advertiser will have a variety of available sans serif fonts to choose from. The letters should be spaced well, so avoid condensed fonts. Finally, avoid using all capital letters. The brain better processes words that use standard sentence case, only using capital letters when appropriate.

Say It with Images

If you feel your message is being stifled by the low word count, remember that you can say a lot with images. Using a great image can help you get your message across in even less time, and if they're humorous, they'll tend to stick in people's minds longer.

Ditch Detailed Contact Information

There's no need to include your brand's website address or phone number in your billboard design. Drivers won't have a pen and paper handy to write the information down, anyway, so maximize your space by making your short message large and readable. Directions, however, can be useful as long as their simple. Something like, "Take the next exit" or "Exit 21" is more appropriate than a full street address.

View Your Billboard at Various Distances

No, you don't actually need the billboard to be up first. Many sign companies have software that can show you what your prototype looks like at various distances and speeds. Use this information to perfect your image for maximum exposure.

Using these tips, you'll have a design that's easy to read and easy to remember. The more billboards you have, the better, especially if your goal is to drive traffic to your business establishment. More billboards offer more reminders to consumers that they need to pay you a visit.

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