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How to design a perfect poster

A good poster design can make or break the effectiveness of your advertising campaign. Strong designs will be remembered in years to come, while a bad design can be forgotten in seconds. Here’s our tips to help your poster stand out in the profusion of promotion and publicity.

#1: Keep it simple

Over complicated, over populated and busy poster designs can turn readers off. If it’s too difficult to get the info you need from a poster most people will just give up. We’re all too busy to spend time gawping at a confusing poster when the next one along is super-easy to understand.

The Copy - Standout Headline_2

#2: Make your headline the star

Your headline should always stand out, seek attention and be easy to read quickly. After all, it is the main part of your message. Will your headline be funny? shocking? or ask a question?

#3: Brand Brand Brand

Out of Home is a great medium to hardwire your brand identity into your prospective customer’s minds. Make sure your logo, and brand ID are clearly implemented in your ad. No tiny logos in the corner or subtle references to who you are… Shout your brand!


#4: What else to say?

Don’t make your body copy too wordy (copy is what designers call text). Remember, lots of your audience will be passing your poster in a vehicle. This means that they’ll only get a small window of opportunity to read what’s on your poster. As a general rule try to keep your total word count for body copy under 10.

#5: Give it context

If you see the name of your town or city in a poster, it’ll make you pay more attention. In fact, ads are 20% more effective when they’re contextually relevant, so add in a detail that speaks directly to your audience to maximise results.

#6: Choose your fonts wisely

Make sure you choose clear, easy to read fonts and don’t use more than 2 or 3 in your design. Remember that your advert and the fonts you choose say a lot about the kind of business you are. Avoid ‘Comic Sans’ if you’re a bank, but similarly, steer clear of ‘Times New Roman’ if you’re a day care centre.

The Design - Fun font & Layout copy
The Copy - Font_2

#7: Ensure a clear theme

Is your poster fun? serious? informative? Each one of these and countless others can affect the other aspects of your design. Make sure you use suitable colours and images to convey your theme properly and that this theme is, where possible, consistent with any other advertising you do.

#8: Set up a hierarchy

Normally advertisements follow the tombstone rule. That being headline first, followed by body copy and finishing with a (CTA) call to action. Hierarchy organises and directs a reader by grouping together related elements to create a focal point of interest. Doing this well will effortlessly guide a reader through your design from beginning to end.


#9: Use a sales technique

Most sales people use acronyms to remember each step of their sales call. You can do the same thing but in your poster. Try I.D.E.A.  As part of your hierarchy first use a headline that creates Interest, use an image to generate Desire with body copy to add in some Enthusiasm, then finally ask for Action with your CTA.

#10: Let’s talk about colour

Did you know that sitting in a red room will increase your heart rate, while a blue one will decrease it? It’s amazing what influence colour can have. Of course there are a myriad to choose from, just make sure your colour choices match your chosen theme.


#11: Joe Bloggs not Joey from “Friends”

Use people in your ads. Ideally real people, not celebs or actors. In a 2017 survey 47% of people said they resonated more with ads including ordinary people. Just like contextually relevant copy, having local or “real” people can help increase the impact and memorability of your campaign.

#12: Use negative space

Nobody likes being crowded, right? Even copy and images feel the same way. Leave a good amount of space between items in your design making each individual element easy to read, appreciate or absorb. You can also use negative space to group certain elements together. Main image with headline, leave some space, body copy, leave some space, web address and phone number, you get it.


#13: Edge to edge

Use every inch of your poster. Don’t be scared to push your images all the way to the edge. Outdoor advertising is big by nature so use that to your advantage and use big images. Large images can convey lots more than large amounts of copy. Use a big image to say what you can’t fit on a poster. Don’t forget to choose images with negative space though… you need room to add some copy.

#14: Test it out

To test if your copy will work for an outdoor poster – do the distance test. Print your poster on a sheet of A4 and check if you can read it across the room. And, if you don’t feel too much like a wally, run past it and see how much of it you can read…

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