Billboards are a good way to cast out a broad net and reach potential customers. The average person spends over 290 hours a year in the car, and 71 percent tend to look at messages on billboards during that time.
However, some billboards seem to stand out more than others. There are some rules of thumb you should keep in mind when designing a billboard. Below are 9 examples of fabulous billboards and why they work so well.
1. One-Upping the Competition
When Audi created a billboard poking fun at BMW by putting the image of a beautiful call and the words “Your move, BMW” on it, BMW responded with a nearby image of one of its cars and a simple text that stated, “Checkmate.”
Not only is the response ad funny, but it also captures attention because drivers see the two billboards communicating with one another. The image of two gorgeous cars is eye catching, and the text is kept short and to the point.
2. Trying Three-Dimensional Features
One billboard that uses this technique in a simple but effective way is the Colorado State Patrol’s Billboard Collision campaign. The billboard has the text “Tailgating isn’t worth it.” The image shows a car crumpled into the back end of a semi-truck. However, what really captures the attention is the fact that the billboard itself is crumpled.
By creating a 3D look, the billboard almost seems to come to life for the viewer. It is also catches the attention of a car going by at a high rate of speed. The viewer processes the image quickly and may even think about it 10 or 20 miles down the road.
3. Thinking Outside the Box
When it comes to grabbing the attention of your target audience, it is important to think outside the box or at least on one side of things. A great example of a simple but effective adjustment to the traditional billboard can be seen on Silberman’s Fitness Center billboard. The billboard simply says “Time for Silberman’s Fitness Center” with a phone number.
But what is really effective about this ad is that it’s tilted up on end and an image of an overweight man appears on the end that is lowest. It looks like the man is causing the sign to lean like a teeter totter. It is eye-catching and unique. At the same time, it gets the message across about why one might need this fitness center.
4. Creating Smart Use of Negative Space
You likely already understand designers must include negative space in ads, but did you know you can use even that negative space in a creative way? One example of this can be seen in Koleston Naturals’ billboard. The focus is on the hair, because of an extensive line of Wella hair dyes, but what is unique about this billboard is the image of a woman changes with the time of day.
For example, at sunrise, she is a silhouette with golden glowing hair, backlit by the sunrise. During the day, the billboard changes again, showing a woman with black hair on a white background. At sunset, the hair turns the color of the sunset and the outline again becomes dark. This is a brilliant representation of what Koleston’s hair dyes can do.
5. Expanding Past the Billboard
Some of the most creative billboards use not only the space on the billboard but the property in front of the billboard. This creates a display that can get your point across.
One example is an ad by Nationwide Insurance showing life comes at you fast. Instead of just showing the text, the billboard takes things a step farther and makes it look like a giant can of paint has spilled out and across the parking lot, coating cars and everything in its path.
6. Employing Motion Detection
Of course, not all billboards are located to the side of a highway. You might find a billboard on a subway train, on a wall as you walk down the street of a major city, or in Times Square. Billboards at street level are excellent candidates for motion detection features. This makes the billboard almost interactive with the consumer.
One example can be found with the billboard for The Economist. The background is a simple solid red. White letters in the lower right state “The Economist.” What makes this sign stand out, though, is the large light bulb smack in the center of the billboard. It has a motion sensor, and when anyone walks under it, it lights up, making it look as though the person just had a brilliant idea.
7. Fulfilling a Promise
If you want to show consumers your product works, figure out a way to fulfill the promise. There is no better advertisement than sheer effectiveness.
Orphea realized this when it created its giant insect trap billboard. It took a regular billboard and added an image of a can of insect spray. Then it used transparent glue in specific areas to turn the billboard into an insect trap. It strategically placed the glue in the shape of a spray from the can. So, as the insects got stuck in the glue, it appeared as though the can was spraying bugs dead.
8. Trying an Optical Illusion
An optical illusion makes people sit up and take notice and gives them a good laugh sometimes, too. Humor is a way to gain new customers, because it shows your company is fun and you know how to laugh at yourself.
One example of this technique can be seen in Real Hip Hop’s billboard. Placed strategically behind a bench, it has a picture of a huge afro floating in the board. When anyone sits down on the right position on the bench, it looks like he or she has a huge afro. It is certain to make people do a double take or two.
Billboards have the power to capture attention or make someone laugh. The nine examples listed here should provide a bit of inspiration for your own billboard designs.