Billboards - To Do or Don't?December 12, 2011


In most advertising billboards are a secondary medium, not a primary one. It should support other parts of an advertising campaign. There can be exceptions such as retail operations like gas stations & restaurants could use it as a primary vehicle to get people to “Act Now!” If you’re selling a product or service or if your goal is to developing a brand image, then you will need to have a plan that goes beyond the billboard.

These strategies have been compiled to your advantage, so that you may minimize the likelihood of a failing marketing tactic or an inefficient billboard
advertising strategy. This list of do’s and don’ts are available to assist you in achieving the pinnacle of effectiveness in your marketing.

Billboards Do’s

  • Less is more when using outdoor advertising.

  • Mnemonics Only – Keep their hands on the steering wheel! It’s a bad idea to ask a driver to take their hands off the wheel to write down  phone number or web address. Unless you have great phone number that spells a simple phrase, don’t even think about using one.

  • Likewise, the same caution should be given to using URLs, and they must be simple and remarkable.

  • Deliver your message not only in words; but also with pictures.

  • Your brand name should be highly visible at a long distance.

  • Use strong, primary colors. with complementary contrasting colors

  • Unique or catchy phrases. Have one clear message

  • Select easy to read font that can be read from a distance.

  • The background should complement the message

  • Leave some open space

  • Be original. Use your own image and firm identity

  • Check into the competition. Know what you’re up against and be better

  • Seek advice if you’re unsure.Billboard Don’ts

  • Don't dilute the message with other phrases (if you think of more than one, save it for the next billboard campaign

  • Don't use more than 7 words, you only have seven seconds! Billboards are viewed quickly. There isn’t the time to read a complex message. Have a few extra words? In smaller type or a secondary position to give location information or a call to action

  • Likewise secondary text should be presented away from the main message in a clearly visible manner.

  • Don’t have more than 3 elements/images

  • Don’t limit yourself to the size of the billboard. Extensions/Run offs greatly add to design.

  • Don't overcrowd

  • Don't use metaphors or hint at it, don't make the consumer have to "think" about it.

  • Don't stacked words or phrases.

  • Don’t fill in every corner.

  • Don't have more than 3 fonts/sizes

  • Don’t be a copycat. Be Original, or what you offer really is NO DIFFERENT

  • Don’t waste your money on a bad location. Different sizes, placements on the
    opposite side of the road (called cross reads), tall buildings and trees can
    significantly impact each of your placements.  Taking the time and doing a drive-by will
    prove worth it.


Having a written plan for a billboard campaign as part of your marketing plan is the first step. Take the time and outline who, what, where, when, why. Billboards are very expensive, but also very effective, take your time and plan your success. Answering these questions first will make following these do's and don'ts simple!