Those in business know and understand that advertising is a fundamental element of any business to build customer awareness of the company and its products or services. An effective poster advertising campaign cannot only improve the brand awareness but ultimately can lead to an uplift in sales.
Posters are not the same as billboards, the latter quite simply attracts attention due to its sheer size. Posters generally come in sizes A4 to A0, and are designed for either wall mounting or placement within a pavement/forecourt display unit.
When undertaking the creation of a poster make sure you allow plenty of time for the thought, design and fine-tuning process, to ensure your advertising campaign is as effective as it can possibly be.
There is a simple marketing term to bear in mind when designing a poster, or in fact an advert, social media post or leaflet – AIDA.
A = Attention.
The media needs to attract the attention of the potential customer.
I = Interest.
It needs to appeal to the reader enough for them to get pass the ‘headline’ or ‘featured image’ to read the whole message.
D = Desire.
It needs to convince the customer that they want and desire the company’s product or service.
A = Action.
It will lead the customer to taking action in purchasing the product/service.
Know the Purpose: It is important that you know the purpose of the poster and the message/vital information it needs to convey to the audience.
Poster advertising is all about communicating an idea and feeling to the reader on the product, service or event it is promoting. You need to decide upon what you want the audience to feel, for example relaxed, happy, loved, excited, hungry – feelings that push the reader into the desire stage!
What call to action information needs to be contain within the poster? If for an event then location, date, time and booking information (phone line or website) will need to appear with the detail. If the poster is advertising a product then you will want to promote where it is available from (website and/or physical location).
Know and Understand Your Market: You need to understand who you are targeting your poster at, as this will dictate areas such as images/graphics used, wording, colours and ultimately where your poster will be placed.
Once you know who your target market is research phrases, graphics, trends and what others are doing to appeal to the intended audience.
The design of the poster needs to match the target markets ‘make up’ and likes, and that it links to their culture and habits (especially buying).
Location: The next step is to decide upon the location of your posters. Location is important and somewhat linked to the demographics of your target market.
They need to be placed where they will be seen by the most amount of people.
Location will influence the size of the poster alongside dictating its contents (images, amount of text, colours etc.)
Locations such as corridors often have a hefty amount of traffic, but those in the flow are often on the move so large amounts of text would not be appropriate. Whereas a bus stop tends to lean towards more text being the correct method, due to the fact readers are often static, therefore have the time to read the message.
Designing Your Poster
Many businesses choose to outsource the design work of their literature, though the guidance below still needs to be considered when working alongside designers. If you are undertaking the design in-house make sure that they have the appropriate design program for the task.
During the design process consider:
AIDA: All elements placed within a poster should lead back to this principal!
Colour: Colour can be used to attract the eye, bring about the intended mood and create energy. However it is important that colour is related to the message intended, the product/service/event and brand.
Typography: Experiment with this. Always bear in mind readability and fonts, avoid using too many. The fonts used should be clear and headings readable from a distance. General rule is to use two different types, one for the heading and another for the body text. Use fonts in lower case which are simple, and avoid italics if you can.
Images: Photos can lend credibility to your poster, however you need to make sure you have permission to use. If photos do not suit you requirement or you simply do not have the budget, creative illustrations allow you to create your own characters or drama and are specifically designed for your requirement.
Shapes allow you to create visual appeal, they are able to lead the eye around the message. They can also lend themselves into creating further shapes, and assist in building depth through laying (as do illustrations).
Do not use too many images, as they can often confuse the reader and mislead them. Make sure that your text does not cover any image elements that are key to portraying the message. Most great adverts are in fact simple!
Images also need to be an appropriate resolution to allow for clear and undamaged printing. Ideally images should be 300dpi (dots per inch).
Visual Hierarchy: Very much like a story an advertising poster has three parts, headline – body – signature, these three elements relate to the AIDA concept. Poster should be attention grabbing and quick to read.
Rank the information to be contained in order of importance, relating to the headline, body and signature. The headline is the part that should grab the reader’s attention. Usually this is placed at the top, is in the largest font but no longer than 15 words (but this depends on the poster size). This is to make sure the viewer doesn’t not get bored. You could try using a great phrase about the product/service that relates to the message – make it catchy.
The body of the poster can be longer than the headline, but still punchy enough to maintain interest and build desire. Highlight the key features/benefits of the product/service/event that will entice the reader into action.
Finally the signature is the call to action. Capture the key contact information, or where purchases can be made.
If there is little copy, go for bold and simple images, but if lots of information is to be contained within the ‘type’ should be the focus.
Balance: The composition should be balanced, this doesn’t mean centred or symmetrical. Ensure all elements (text, colour and images) flow in a logical manner that allows the reader to capture the message and prompts them into action.
Less is More: Once you have decided on the copy and visual hierarchy, review and break! Remove any unnecessary elements that do not lend to intended message, emotion and action. Some times less is more, it can draw the reader in and build their desire for more! Do not add extra images and text just for the sake of it, sometimes ‘white space’ can be a powerful tool in drawing attention to particular elements.
Spellcheck! There is nothing worse than going to print and then noticing a small typo!
Gain Feedback: Before you go to print ask others their opinion. Is it eye catching, simple, conveys the message and evokes the intended emotions? If ‘yes’ great you ready to go to print, if ‘no’ back to the drawing board!
Printing Your Poster:
Most poster advertising campaigns will require professional print, you simply cannot produce the desired quality on a standard office printer, and most do not offer above A3 size options.
Professional printers generally work in CMYK colour scheme opposed to RGB, therefore make sure during the design process the program used conveys this. By following this, making sure images are of a high quality resolution and the files are saved in the correct resolution, will ensure what is produced onscreen is accurately produced on paper.
Paper Options: Where the posters will be placed will lend this. If indoor only standard paper options will work fine, but for outdoor use it is recommended that wet strength (billboard paper), water resistant or waterproof paper is used. If the poster advertising campaign is planned for longer than three months laminating the posters or even printing onto plastic may be the best option.
Printing Options: Screen print or digital print? For many poster campaigns digital print is perfect, it offers a faster turn around and lower cost option, especially for small print quantities. The method also produces clear CMYK photographic images. Screen print should be considered where there are large print runs required for posters sized A2 and larger. It is also ideal for posters that contain bold, vibrate colours and text.
Supply and Approval: You artwork should ideally be supplied in PDF format, preferably with bleed (3mm is the norm) and crop marks. Most printers will then transfer this to their ‘template’ and send back to you for approval. Make sure that in the transfer process nothing has been lost, i.e. missing letters or images. Compare to your version.