How to Design Perfect Billboard Advertisements

By: Selena McIntyre

One powerful ad can make you a fortune, but ten horrible advertisements can cost you thousands (possibly millions) of dollars. This is why it is extremely important to pay attention to every detail of your ads.

Please remember that each type of media is different, so it is not a good idea to use a newspaper advertisement on a billboard. After all you wouldn’t wear your pajamas to church or a fancy dinner would you?

There are several different aspects of billboard advertisements. This article will tell you several designing tips to help you create a perfect billboard ad.

Billboard Copy:

On average, a billboard is only viewed for 7 seconds! This is why it is very important to state your message as quick as possible. A good rule is to use about 8 to 10 words in your entire ad! Your message must be very short so it can be easily read by the people driving 60 to 75 miles per hour by your sign. This is why it is very important to only include the most important information on a billboard.

Your billboard ad should include:

  • The name of your business
  • Contact Information: Telephone number, Web-Site Address, and or Physical Address
  • A brief amount of directional information that can lead people from the billboard to your business.

You may also include:

  • A brief description of your company
  • A slogan – Try to make your slogan easy to understand, and be sure that it relates to your product. (Learn more about slogans)
  • Benefits of your product: What does your product have that your competitor’s similar product does not have? How is your product better than your competitor? The answers to these questions are your most important benefits.

* Remember to use as few words as possible. Dwelling on one particular area will bore potential customers. A simple, catchy, easy to read ad will be remembered for a long time.

Copy Styles:

Size is also very important. Your copy must be big and clear in order to be read easily. Most people make their name bigger and bolder than everything else so it will stand out. A good general rule for the copy sizes is make your name at least 3 feet tall, and the rest of the copy at least 2 feet tall.

Use a font that is very clear, and easy to read. If you have to look at a word(s) for longer than 3 seconds, it is not clear enough. Thick letter styles are also more effective than thin, fancy fonts. Be creative with your fonts, but make sure they can be read easily and quickly.

Billboard Graphics

Of course you can choose common graphics, like a photograph of your building, or if you sell cars, put a picture of your best seller on your billboard. These advertisements will work, but unique, creative billboards will get the most attention. Use a graphic that will make people turn around and take a second look at your ad. An excellent example of this is Chick-Fil-A’s billboard that has a 3-d cow standing on a billboard painting “Eat More Chickin.”

No matter what type of graphics you decide to put on your billboard, be sure they are big enough to be seen easily from the road at extremely fast speeds. The higher the speed limit is, the bigger your graphics need to be. If your object is very complex or detailed, it needs to be big, but if it is something that can be easily recognized like fruit, it doesn’t have to be as big.

Colors:

There are no correct or incorrect colors to use on billboards. Yellow and red are great colors for important information because they are attention getters. However, black and yellow ads get the most results.

One color rule is to contrast the background and the copy. For example, if your background is dark, use light copy and vice versa. Don’t put red copy on an orange background because these colors are too similar you will never see or be able to read the text.

Another good idea is to alternate your colors. An example of this is to have a dark background with one line of yellow text, the next line in white text, and then yellow text, and so on.

Be creative with colors. Don’t be afraid to blend your background or add an occasional outline or drop shadow. You must be careful don’t used too many colors, outlines, etc. because this will make your advertisement harder to read. Visual clutter is one of the most common design mistakes. Chaotic looking billboards will cause people to look away.

Also try to use colors that appeal to your target audience.

Simplicity:

By now you should have all the information you need and more. You’ll need to present the entire ad as simply and clutter-free as possible.

Simplifying things may mean that you have to prioritize things and only keep the most important items. This will not be an easy task, but it is definitely the most important one.

Last Minute Tips:

Now that you know how to design a money making ad, don’t forget to tell your potential customer how to contact you and, or your business.

Don’t try to make your ad appeal to everyone. Design your layout so it will appeal to your target market. Your ad response rate will be greater this way.

Proof-read Ask someone else to look at your ad. Find out if any part of your advertisement is unclear or confusing to them. You can also ask them what information they see at a quick glance. Listen to their first comments very carefully. After all, billboards aren’t allowed enough time for much more than a first impression.

(c) Copyright 2002


Selena McIntyre has been a Creative Designer for BPS Outdoor Media since 1999. She has a Marketing Degree and several years of customer service experience. Selena has studied art most of her life and continues to do so now. She designs most of BPS’s billboards and has written several articles about the outdoor advertising industry. To see some of her work please visit http://www.bpsoutdoor.com/blog/ . Questions or comments? She’ll be glad to hear from you at nfo@bpsoutdoor.com