Billboards can’t be switched off, are hard to ignore and despite having been around for over a hundred years, are still one of the best ways of getting a brand/product into the consciousness of a region.


A billboard campaign might represent a greater commitment than a Facebook ad, but that very commitment speaks to the audience too. The medium is (still) the message. Billboards cost more in terms of initial outlay and time, but tell the audience that the brand behind thinks big, isn’t going anywhere and wants to reach an area.


People will see your billboard, and with smart placement the right people will see it, but will the key message be delivered and remembered? Billboards offer great potential but need to be designed carefully to deliver on that potential.


Here is what you need to do.


Keep it simple. Depending on location, the audience might be passing pretty quickly, so assume you’ll get five seconds of attention. Within that five seconds you’ll need to have attracted their attention positively and delivered your message. Keeping it simple means several things:


  • Clarity of message – almost always focusing on one key communication. The clearer that message, the better it will be delivered. One message, one call to action. Resist the urge to fill that space with information!
  • Short, easy to comprehend copy.
  • Large, easy to read fonts.
  • High contrast colours with a simple background making the principal communication easy to digest and remember.
  • Minimum of images, writ large. (Again, use the space to deliver a big message, rather than lots of little messages).


Know the target audience. Yes, lots of people will potentially pass your billboard, but it isn’t supposed to be talking to everyone. Define your audience and it won’t only help your media planner with the placement of the ad but help the designer communicate directly to them.


Test the billboard. And test it under fairly realistic conditions. Don’t stare at it for twenty minutes, show it to people for a few seconds and ask them for feedback. Is the message easy to read? Did it make sense? Do they know what they need to do next?


Unless you live in the deep countryside, these ads are a part of our visual landscape. They can help deliver a brand/product to a region and offer a combination of coverage, frequency and impact that few other formats can match. For further advice (or to ensure your next campaign is as effective as it can be), get in touch with our media planning and design team.


By Oliver Brown