Six Make it or Break it Rules for Billboard Advertising

November 26, 2012

Billboard advertising is fun and effective – as long as you follow these six essential rules.

Say It in Six Words or Less

When it comes to billboard advertising, six words is the industry standard. Messages on billboards need to be as concise as possible, and anything longer than six words may start to be too much for drivers to take in as they quickly pass by. It can be very tough to come up with a clever, effective message that short, but it’s necessary for the success of your billboard campaign. The fewer words, the better, so shoot for less than six.

Concentrate on Branding

A billboard is most effective as a branding tool, and it’s much less effective when used as a tool to encourage direct response. Do not worry about adding your business’s phone number and web address to the billboard, because it won’t get much of a response. A billboard is an opportunity to show and build your brand. Unless the phone number or web address is the actual tagline of the billboard, it’s better to leave it off to avoid cluttering up the sign.

Don’t Be Too Distracting

Your billboard should catch the eye of passing drivers; it shouldn’t be so boring that it gets overlooked or isn’t noticed. It also, however, should not be so attention-grabbing that drivers become distracted. If it’s incredibly loud, shocking, demands a lot of attention, or tends to promote gawking, it might be too much as a billboard, and you should tone it down a bit.

Don’t Be Too Confusing

When people drive by billboards, they only have a few seconds to check it out and take in the message. This is why it’s so important to have a message that’s short but also very clear. It’s not a good idea to get so clever that people need to figure the message out. It should be obvious. An unclear, subtle message isn’t going to have effect you’re looking to achieve. The message on your billboard should be simple enough that everyone can get it with just one glance.

The More Billboards, the Better

In a high-traffic area, one billboard can reach thousands and thousands of people. If you can reach that many people with one billboard, consider how many you can reach with two, three, or more billboards. If you really want to build your brand, you should have several billboards to deliver your message. A widespread billboard campaign will make an impression. People who see several of your billboards are going to feel the impact of the message even more strongly.

Show Something Cool

Billboards that are done in 3D, have odd shapes, or use animation are always more memorable than traditional, flat billboards. A billboard is a visual medium, so get creative, and do something that will really stand out and look cool. And remember, doing something 3D isn’t in itself too distracting; it’s perfect. Just be sure to remember that as a whole your billboard should be clear.

M.P. Brown is a sign light maintenance specialist and billboard designer. He works for Icon ID.

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