Most billboards are poorly designed because client companies do one of two things. They cram as much information in as will fit—to get their money’s worth. Or they recycle their current print ad irrespective of format. They think they’re saving money. They think wrong. They are tossing it right out their company car window.
Sure, billboards are expensive, yet you must always design for the medium and the environment. Most are seen by drivers, giving you a split second to communicate your product, message and brand. If people look much longer, they crash. Clearly most choose instead to ignore your ad and avoid physical injury.
Keeping your message short and simple, yet compelling and memorable, is difficult. That’s why most billboards stink.
Without covering a well thought out ad campaign and strong design, here are the three things that make an effective billboard:
– Use one image or hook to intrigue the reader (driver)
– Limit copy to one or two lines, and one message
– Play up your brand identity and company name
Find one that is eye-catching yet appropriate to the message. If it’s a consumer product that is visually interesting – like POM’s bottle – terrific. If you’re a law or accounting firm, tie your message to something relevant and/or current. If you can’t find a great image, design an arresting text-only billboard.
One of our favorites was an E*trade billboard with two lines of text presented in their corporate colors. We saw it 10 years ago and still remember its seven words:
A penny saved…
Is not a lot
One or two lines, one message.
Be brief. Clever, but not cute. No puzzles that rely on “Oh, now I get it” moments. That may work in print, yet here your reader is speeding by, watching the road. Present one message. Don’t list features and benefits. A driver can’t even write down your phone number, so omit that too.
Place your company logo or brand identity in an open, uncluttered area, a logical spot for the eye to go after reading your short message. Or place your logo first, and LARGE, followed by a message telling the reader exactly what you do.
Remember, you may do 10 things well, but your billboard can present only one of them. Be humbled that driver heading for work remembers one thing about your company or product. One message received and your billboard is worth every cent. Ten messages ignored… are worth zero.
Got a favorite billboard? Or one you drive past that leaves you cold? Tell us.
Gary Epis & Amy Bond
Bad Billboard Haters
Our website: www.bondepus.com