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Costly Billboard Advertising Mistakes

By: Selena McIntyre


We all know that advertising is very expensive and very few of us can afford to lose $5000.  Below you will find a list of the most costly billboard advertising mistakes and tips to avoid making these mistakes. 


Don't use the phrase "Clean Restrooms."  Of course people want to use clean restrooms; they just expect all restrooms to be clean.  We have taken cleanliness for granted.  We don't notice items because they are clean; however, we do notice items when they are dirty.  Think about it, how many times have you heard someone say "Wow, that bathroom was so.”?


Do not use your magazine ad, newspaper ad, or any other type of ad for your billboard ads.  Hire a professional billboard artist to design your billboard layouts.  A professional can tell you what colors, fonts, and graphics work best on billboards.  This concept makes perfect sense because, you wouldn't take your children to the veterinarian if they had the flu would you?


Red words on a blue, or black background is not very visible from average driving speeds.  This color combination looks good on paper, in magazines and newspapers, but it is very hard to read on billboards.  The red words tend to blend in with the dark background of the sign making it difficult to separate the words from the background.  For billboard advertising purposes, red is considered a dark color, and should not be used with other dark colors.  


Using yellow copy on white backgrounds is another costly mistake.  The reason for this is that from a distance, the yellow and white tend to blend together and look like the same object.  Since both of these colors are light, it becomes almost impossible to tell them apart.


Blue and white sky backgrounds look great on paper.  However, when used on billboards, they tend to blend in with the real sky.  A solution to this is to use a sky background that has a sunset on it, or to add pinks and reds to the sky.  The goal is to make the billboard stand out and be separated from the real sky. (Of course this doesn't apply to signs on building.)


Any kind of fancy script is a definite "no-no" for billboards.  Fonts with thin letters are also not recommended for outdoor ads.  Billboards need to have thick, easy to read fonts in order to be read.  Remember that people only have an average of 7 seconds to read a billboard.


On a standard size billboard (10 feet to14 feet high) do not use more than 4 lines of copy on your billboard ads.  For boards between 15 feet high and 20 feet high, you can use 5 lines, but it is not recommended.  A good general rule it to only use a total of 8 to10 words on your entire billboard.

Simplicity is the most important quality for billboards.  The more simple a sign is the better response it will get.


Don’t be generic (boring.)  For example, instead of putting a photograph of your staff or building on your billboards, do something more creative.  Dare to be Different! You’ll have better results this way.


There you have it, a simple list of the most costly billboard design mistakes.  Now you can easily avoid these common billboard advertising mistakes and several others by trying this simple experiment.  First, take a printed copy of your billboard and put it up on the wall.  Then take 20 steps in one direction away from the layout.  Now turn around and immediately start walking towards the billboard layout, but be careful and watch where you step so you don't run into anyone or anything.  Do not slow down when you reach the sign, instead just turn away from the sign.


Now stop and think about the layout.  You have just viewed your billboard just like passing motorists would see it.  Do not look at the layout again and ask yourself the following questions.


How clear was the copy (words)?

Could you read everything?

Could you tell want the graphics were?

Did the layout leave any unanswered questions?

Could you tell what the advertisement was for?

Did the advertisement make sense?

Did you remember to tell consumers how to get more information?

(c) Copyright 2002



Selena McIntyre has been a Creative Designer for BPS Outdoor Media since 1999. She has a Marketing Degree and several years of customer service experience. Selena has studied art most of her life and continues to do so now. She designs most of BPS’s billboards and has written several articles about the outdoor advertising industry. To see some of her work please visit http://www.bpsoutdoor.com/blog/


This article is provided as a courtesy from www.OutdoorBillboard.com 


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