How to Design Memorable Outdoor Advertising - dummies

How to Design Memorable Outdoor Advertising

By Gary Dahl

The number of options for your outdoor ads may seem overwhelming, but the processes for designing them are identical in most cases. Exactly what makes a great outdoor ad campaign? A dozen advertising experts will give you two dozen answers, but you do need to know two primary measuring factors for outdoor advertising:

  • Impact: The ability to grab a viewer’s attention in a matter of seconds.

  • Appeal: Persuasiveness and positive response by the viewer to the creative content.

This figure shows a sign used inside a bus terminal. The ad immediately catches viewer attention with its simple message, bold color, four-word header, and colorful product images.


Designing your ad

Here’s how to make your outdoor ad outstanding:

  • Pursue potential customers. Before you can come up with an award-winning slogan, you must know who your target audience is. Who’s most likely to buy your product or use your service?

  • Make your ad readable. If customers can’t read your outdoor ad, then what’s the point? Your design should be connected with a simple, clean text in a very readable typeface. Prioritize the keywords of your copy and keep your copy short and full of punch.

    If you’re using a graphic element — a picture, drawing, or logo — make it big and keep it simple. Don’t force your viewers to search for the message. They won’t bother.

  • Keep your ad clear. Viewers don’t want to be teased; they want to be informed. And with a billboard, they need to be informed in a split second, so don’t get too cute. Be clear, concise, and direct.

    Six words is the most favorable number for billboard readability, but keeping your message that short is often impossible. Try eight words if you must, but any more than eight could be dangerous to the health of your ad budget.

  • Make it worth remembering. Imagery is often more important than words. The use of a hard-hitting visual element can generate more memorability for the viewer. Possibly your best solution is a bold display of your slogan, package, storefront, or logo.

Above all, make your outdoor ad’s message simple and easy to recall. Use bright, eye-catching color and brief, well-written copy. You only have a few seconds to make an impact on someone who’s probably already preoccupied.

Getting help

To find help with your business’s outdoor advertising, check out the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). Your business can find help from this trade organization for the industry, which has reams of information about who, what, when, and where.

You can also call outdoor advertising companies operating in your area, accessible through another great source: SRDS Media Solutions’s Out-of-Home Advertising Source. This book can both steer you to the right outdoor company and give you a list of the company’s rates. You can find the book for sale in print or electronically on SRDS’s Web site; or you may find it at your local business library.