What Lessons Banner Designers Can Learn from Billboard Designers

custom banner design billboard

Billboard marketing is exactly what you think it is. It’s the large billboards you see on the sides of the highway. Banner marketing is similar to billboard marketing but differs in a few ways. Unlike billboards, custom banners vary in size and can be used virtually anywhere, indoors or out. However, the main difference between the two forms of advertising is that billboards must follow much stricter guidelines to be successful. Billboard advertisers follow these guidelines because they only have seconds to reach customers with a billboard, so they must take special measures to ensure their advertisements are easy to understand and resonate with the audience. This article we will discuss how using the guidelines that make billboard design successful can increase the effectiveness of custom banner advertising.

To start, we understand that these guidelines don’t apply to all custom banners. Some banners are meant to display a lot of information for captive audiences. These tips are for banner advertisements that might be on the side of the road, at a tradeshow, in front of a business, or any place where you have a limited amount of time to get the attention of a person.

Keep it Simple

Keep your design simple. Many billboards will use a large, simple, sans serif font because designers know that passersby will be able to read the text faster with a simpler font. Additionally, they will be able to read the message from further away with a larger font. The industry standard for billboard advertising is to use no more than six words because it was determined that drivers can only comprehend about six words in the time it takes to drive past a billboard. Another way to increase the effectiveness of large, simple fonts is to use contrasting colors so that the words are clearly visible on the billboard backdrop.

These tips for billboard design are perfect for custom banner design as well. Simple fonts, contrasting colors, and short sentences can help produce a clear, concise banner advertisement that will be effective in any setting.


It’s no secret that location is important in advertising. The more people that see your ad, the greater the sales opportunity. Billboards are often installed along busy highways, and other places that guarantee thousands of views each day. Once you have your location chosen, pay attention to how high and which direction your custom banner is facing. Unlike billboards, with banners you have flexibility as to how your signage is positioned. Get in your car and see how easy it is to actually read your banner in that location. Low hanging banners are better for slower traffic and foot traffic. For highway visibility, hang your sign higher so that drivers can recognize it sooner and have more time to read your message.

Know your Location

The fastest way to get someone to look at a billboard is to relate to them. You will often see billboards mentioning a local professional sports team or some other aspect of local culture. Relating to the audience not only garners attention, but it increases the likelihood that they will read and remember your message. This concept can easily be utilized by those using banners to advertise. Where will your banner be located? How can you relate your business to the area where your banner will be displayed?

The Message

The best billboards accomplish one simple goal—the customers remember the advertisement. This is the goal of most marketing campaigns, but achieving it through billboard advertising is especially challenging because of the limited amount of time that people will actually view the advertisement. Three common tactics marketers use to create a memorable advertisement are funny messages, provocative messages, or visually impressive/unique billboards.

In the billboard below, we see how one brand decided to use humor to promote their business. When looking at this billboard, we can easily see how they incorporated the elements mentioned previously in this blog.

Creative custom banner advertising fitness billboard design

Keep it simple: This billboard has five words and a phone number. The font is large, simple and contrasts sharply from the bland white backdrop.

Know your location: Assuming this is a local business, this billboard is speaking directly to those who live in the area.

The message: Simple and funny.

The combination of all of these elements make this billboard an effective advertisement.

Another way to be remembered is to be provocative. Provocative billboards are effective at garnering attention, but how the message is received will ultimately be the basis of how effective it is as an advertisement.

Tui Brewery is a craft brewery located in New Zealand owned by Heineken. Tui is very active with billboard marketing. Their “Yeah Right” campaign, a series of politically incorrect billboards, has fueled their popularity in New Zealand. Below are some examples of Tui billboards.

Tui Billboard custom banners

While these billboards have helped Tui gain notoriety, they have also faced plenty of backlash from other billboards for what some feel are offensive jokes. Being provocative will certainly garner attention, but this also runs the risk of offending audiences and turning them off to your brand.

A third way to garner attention is to use the physical elements of the billboard to create a unique visual. This has become a very popular trend in billboard marketing and below we can see how Coca Cola used visual appeal for their billboard.

Coca Cola billboard custom banner advertising

This current trend of design elements playing a major role in the effectiveness of a billboard means that marketers don’t need to rely on words to sell their products. They can create a visual that can be understood quickly, but resonates more with their audience. If you’re lucky, your advertisement will go viral for its creativity like the billboard pictured below for the show Dracula.

dracula billboard custom banner advertising

The designers for the Dracula billboard used fake bloody stakes as a way to cast a shadow of Dracula’s profile. Photos of this billboard were shared on various social media channels and Reddit in the weeks after it was installed. 

Whatever direction you decide to take with your design, just remember, the same principles apply for banner advertising as do for billboard advertising. Many times a billboard is just a large custom banner. Quality Sign Designer can produce both, so stop on in, email or call to discuss your custom banner advertising needs.

Important – Please click here to review our Art Requirements regarding Inappropriate Artwork.