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When it comes to copy, less is more. Outdoor advertising is usually viewed by commuters and those in transit. Readability is key, so the use of short words and short copy lines (7 words or less) is the most effective way to communicate the message. Naturally, a strong simple concept works best
Outdoor Advertising must communicate a message to an audience which is in motion and at a distance which varies continuously. Effective Outdoor Advertising design is governed by different principles to those applying to other media. Copy, illustration and colour combinations should be created specifically for Outdoor, not simply adapted from other media. Experience has shown that certain fundamentals can help to increase legibility, comprehension and impact of poster design.
Basic recognition elements
Letters take their identity from certain basic shapes and combinations of them. Legibility depends on fast identification of these shapes. Therefore, CAPITALS usually work best for display headings or captions of only three or four words in length. Because of normal reading habits, Lower-case letters are more appropriate for longer headlines or sentences.
There are so many typefaces available, it is impossible to be all-inclusive in selecting good examples. However, those illustrated here are excellent examples of the kind of typefaces which work best in Outdoor design. Sans serif faces tend to be more legible. Serif faces pose the problem of overlapping when spaced too close together.
The above guidelines are reprinted courtesy of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Inc.
Effective Outdoor advertising requires strong graphics that have high impact. Unlike magazine advertising, Outdoor does not lend itself well to subtle design, so small images may be ineffective.
As the medium is large, big bold images are the best way to take advantage of the visual area available. One large, impactful graphic is an excellent way of visually communicating the promotional message.
Outdoor advertising is visual storytelling, so strong graphics are needed to firstly grab attention, and secondly to put the idea across as quickly and clearly as possible.
Associated with this of course is correct logo placement, and similar graphical treatment should be given here. A campaign obviously needs to be effectively branded and small subtle use of the logo will not work. .
As the audience is in motion or at a distance, the Outdoor advertisement must be quickly and easily identifiable.
Effective use of colour is one of the most important considerations in the creative design of a poster. Colour can be used to convey emotions. For example, red signifies life, passion; blue gives the feeling of coolness, calm; green connotes growth, springtime, yellow says warmth, vitality. Colour also affects both the visibility and the legibility of the design.
The stronger the contrast between colours, the more power is created. The strongest colour contrasts are the complements and the opposites on the colour wheel as shown here. These opposites contain no common ingredient: green contains yellow and blue, but no red and thus green and red are complements offering power through contrast.
Colours have the following qualities: hue, value and intensity. Hue is the basic identity of a colour, such as red, orange, green etc. Value is the measure of its lightness or darkness, its position on the scale that runs from black to white. Intensity is the measure of the colour's strength and purity. In the illustration below, value is demonstrated in the top row, while intensity is shown in the bottom row.
HueValue and Distance
In addition to the ability of colour to convey emotion, colour has - including black and white values - inherent distance factors. As can be seen below, the warm hues such as red, orange and yellow seem closer to the viewer than the cool hues such as green, blue and violet. Similarly, the darker values in colour or in black and white come forward, while the lighter values recede. Strongly contrasting combinations of either value or hue seem closer. Receding colours are not as effective in Outdoor designs. Legibility is affected more by value than by hue.
• Keep it simple.
• Be brief and to the point - you only have 5 to 7 seconds to register.
• Copy & graphical images should be supportive of one another.
• Use bold colours and strong contrast between elements.
• Large Illustrations and strong simple visuals work best.
• Ensure strong product and company identification.
• Keep headlines short - seven words or less.
• Use short words.
• Use legible type and simple backgrounds. Solid colours work well.