DESIGN GUIDE – Follow these 10 strategies to create a memorable, impactful message:
1. Six Words or Less is Ideal.
The industry average for reading a billboard while passing bye in a vehicle is six seconds. As a rule of thumb, less is more. Keep your message to six words or less.
2. Get Noticed, But Don’t Be a Distraction.
Get noticed, but you don’t want to be responsible for major, or even minor, accidents.
3. This is Not the Place for Direct Response.
Outdoor advertising is a secondary advertising medium, which means that it’s ideal for brand-building and supporting a campaign. Don’t include a phone number or website address, as It is difficult to get people to recall a phone number or website, UNLESS it is simple and easy to remember. That is the only exception to the rule.
4. Be Smart, But Not Too Clever.
A boring billboard will be ignored. A smart billboard will grab the attention and leave a lasting impression. Complex visual metaphors are no good here.
5. The More Billboards, The Better.
Billboards are a mass market medium, but they need support. Every billboard has a rating, called Gross Ratings Points (GRP). It’s based on traffic, visibility, location, size and so on.
This rating gives you a showing score between 1 and 100. If it’s 50, it means that at least 50% of the population in the area would see one of your boards at least once a day. When planning your media campaign integrate print, television and social media to create an impactful campaign. Or add more billboards.
6. Don’t Say It, Show It.
Get creative with your billboard ideas. This is your opportunity to do something eye-catching and memorable, so go for it.
7. Avoid Repetition of Any Kind
Use every inch of the billboard space wisely. If you are using a headline that explains your visual, you’re wasting words. If your imagery is dull, or doesn’t relate to the product, you are squandering your opportunity. As so many great copywriters and art directors will tell you, concision is everything.
8. Keep It Simple, Stupid
A billboard is a quick read. Most of the time, you see it as you drive past it at 55 mph in your car, so it needs to get the message across in the most effective way. This is not the place for art directors to experiment with complex layouts, or for copywriters to wax poetic. The billboard is a punch in the face, and the simpler it is, the more powerful that punch.
9. Be Wary of Logo Size
Too big, it’s horsey and distracts from the message. Too small, it’s a clever ad for a brand no one connects with. Saying that, sometimes not showing the logo can be a powerful piece of branding in itself.
10. Do The “Arm’s Length” Test
Make sure it’s clean, concise, has contrasting colors, interesting, and impactful. But will it be seen? Will it be read, and understood? Here’s a quick test to ensure you are not wasting everyone’s time and money. Print out your billboard to the size of a business card. Now, hold it out at arm’s length. Are you still getting everything you were when it was displayed on your 27″ monitor? If not, go in and refine it. This needs to pop. And remember, you have about 5-10 seconds to get your message across. Go.