How To Design The Perfect Billboard


Billboard Design Tip #1

Keep it Simple

You are proud of your business and your products – rightly so!   However, this is not the time nor the place to tell a passing motorist everything about your company.   Billboards are often read by motorists traveling at speeds of 55 mph or more.   The average read time is 5-10 seconds under ideal circumstances.   To be effective, keep it simple.

In billboard advertising, less really is more.   Make the most of your 5 second window by limiting your design to three main components:

Billboard Design Tip #2

Keep it Short

Keep your copy length to 8 words or less.   Keep your words short for faster comprehension.   Longer messages are too much of a distraction for a safe driver.   As a result, your advertising will simply be ignored.   Keep it brief and memorable .

Billboard Design Tip #3

Keep it Big

With billboards, big is beautiful.   Large text allows your customer to see your message from a greater distance.   While it may seem huge at first, text sizes up to 3’ tall and larger are common.   Text sizes smaller than 12” are often unreadable.

Billboard Design Tip #4

Keep it Bold

This is not the time to be subtle.   Pastel colors that make for a beautiful magazine advertisement rarely work to create a beautiful billboard advertisement.

Make a statement and make it bold.   Bold, high contrast colors will catch and hold the driver’s eye.

Here are some color combinations that will make your message readable for longer distances.

Billboard Contrasting Color Chart

Clouds and sky often frame the billboard against the horizon.   Try to avoid white, sky blue and grey on the outer edges of your ad copy.

Billboard Design Tip #5

Keep it Clean

Fancy font styles aren't just hard to read, they may actually be invisible at long distances.   The thin, flowing lines of script fonts don’t make for good billboard ad copy.   Even if you feel that this limits your creativity, use thick, heavy fonts to maximize readability.

ALL CAPS may be tempting as well, but studies clearly show that they are less legible - use them sparingly.

Billboard Design Tip #6

Keep it Focused

Your creative juices are flowing and there is so much you want to include.  Simply put – don’t do it.  Drivers will study your work for 5 seconds, not 5 minutes.

You have a huge canvas to work with, so make a huge statement.  Make one point and make it with impact.

Keep graphics clean and simple and relevant to the ad content.  A picture is worth a 1000 words, so choose your graphics wisely.

Know your audience and tailor your message to that audience and that audience alone.  Make a connection with your readers that will encourage them to respond to what they see.

If your business caters to evening customers, look for a billboard with lights so your customers see you when it counts.

Billboard Design Tip #7

Keep it Memorable

Once you have finished your design, show it to someone that is not familiar with the design for 5 seconds to simulate driving past the billboard.   Can they read and understand the entire message?   Can they quickly find and identify your business name and location?   This is the time to find the mistakes and correct them.

Billboard Design Tip #8

Keep it Exciting

Get your reader’s attention and keep it exciting.  Billboards are an excellent medium to try out new and even crazy ideas.  The most creative billboards catch readers by surprise.  Obey the design rules set out above, but break all the rest.  Remember – no one will ever remember dull or boring.

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