How To Make Your Poster Artwork Stand Out

In a world where we are exposed to anywhere between 250 and 3000 advertisements every single day, how do you make your’s stand out, your message heard and more importantly, responded to – particularly in the competitive arena of poster advertising?

Follow the next 11 steps and apply to all of your artwork from today – it will make the difference between your brand being recognised, your message heard and your target audience responding to you:


1. What Are You Trying To Do?

Write down your objectives as simply as possible, for example:

‘I want people to come to my event and I want them to tell all their friends about it.’

Having a few clear points written down and fresh in your mind about what you need your poster to do will help prevent you from straying too far from the path.  It will also stop you from including too much information that isn’t really relevant (which is all too easy to do!!).


2 . Establish Your Key Message

If some-one was driving past your poster and only caught a quick glimpse, what 1 thing would you want them to be able to tell you from it?  Using the example from our first point,  the key message would therefore need to be the name of the event.

From here, you need to decide on your following messages, these obviously decrease in importance, but are crucial bits of information that you need the poster to convey.  Usually, you’d be looking for a maximum of 3 further messages before it starts to become too cluttered.  Again, using the above example, these messages would be:

  • Date and time of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Where you can purchase tickets from


3. Simplicity is the Key

Put too many images, or too much text on your poster design and it will start to look really messy.  More importantly, your message will go completely unheard as people just won’t bother to look at it at all, so that Graphic Designer you hired and those posters you had professionally printed, were a total waste of money….not to mention a waste of your precious time too!

But how do you include everything you need to tell your audience without overdoing it?  If you’ve got a lot to say, could you simplify things by instead saying ‘see our website for full details’?  Or perhaps consider that you may be better off creating two different posters?


4. Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

How many times have you stopped at the traffic lights and been faced with one of those bright yellow posters advertising DJ and MC…what were their names again??  And where were they playing? When? What Time?

Next time you’re stopped at traffic lights and you spot one of these posters, have a good look at it and see how long it takes you to establish where you would need to go to in order to see this performer, when they are performing and what time you need to be there, because these are the key things you would need to know from this poster if you wanted to see them.  And then think if you could have got any of that information had you not been sat at the traffic lights…  Or if you’d been three or four cars back where you can’t see the smaller text…  Or if you would have read it all if you hadn’t read this blog post, because it was so cluttered it put you off…

What I’m trying to get you to think about here, is where and how this poster will be used, so that you can make sure it is as clear as possible at the point when your target audience will see it.  In this example, it needs to be instantly clear what the event is, where it will be and what time and date.  How do you expect people to turn up if they don’t know what, when or where?


5. Check, Check and Check Again

…Then give it to some-one else to check too.  You know I’m right on this one, even if you take nothing else away from this blog post please do this!!  EVERYONE notices bad spelling and grammar, and they talk about it.  It instantly makes you look unprofessional and could cost you that sale because you’ve just lost their trust:

‘How can I trust you to get my order right when you can’t even get your spelling right?’

And I am talking as someone who once sent a poster to print saying ‘Firday’ instead of ‘Friday’!!  I had looked at this poster artwork so many times that I just did not see the obvious mistake, but embarrassingly my Manager did, which did nothing for my professional credibility at the time (luckily I can laugh about it now though!).


6. Brand Consistency

This is such an important point.  In short, for your customers to recognise your brand, the imagery, font, logo etc you use needs to be consistent across everything you do – from your company van to your uniform to your letterheads to your exhibition stand graphics to your facebook page.

If your poster has for example, a purple background when your van and business cards are green, people won’t instantly make the connection that the poster is talking about you, which could be just the difference it takes for them to stop what they’re doing and read your poster!

By ensuring consistency across everything you do, your customers will be able to instantly recognise your brand before they have read a word you have written.  More importantly, they will remember you when they need your product/service.


7. Terms & Conditions

Think about including terms and conditions on any promotion you do, this is your safety net and should anything go wrong, clearly sets out the parameters of your promotion.  For example, if you’re giving away a free t shirt with every purchase, specifying how many free t shirts you have to give away and their sizes, within your terms and conditions is usually a good idea ie.

‘Free t shirt to first 100 customers only, all size Large’

It’s also worth putting the competition details with full terms and conditions on your website so there’s always somewhere for people to refer to even after they have seen your poster.

A good starting point to writing your terms and conditions is to look at a similar type of promotion by a major national brand and thoroughly read through and understand their terms and conditions.  Being a major national brand, they will have made a big effort to get them right, so it’s worth looking at for inspiration.  You should also consider getting your terms and conditions written by or at least checked over by a professional before you use them.  It’s never worth second guessing and could end up saving you a lot of money if they spot something crucial that you didn’t.


8. Don’t Forget Your Contact Details

Firstly, consider HOW you want people to contact you for the purposes of this specific promotion.  In the interest of clarity, don’t overload your poster with landline, mobile, fax, email, address etc.  If for example you want people to telephone you, just include the main contact number they need to know, make  bold so that it looks clearer and stands out.  It could also be an idea if it works with your poster design, to put the telephone number in a different colour to help make it eye-catching.

Although your contact details aren’t going to be your key message, you don’t want to make it hard work for people to find them, they should ‘pop’ off the page making it easy to spot.


9. Get Social

If you’re on social media, tell your audience.  If you don’t tell them, don’t expect them to look for you!

By making sure you include the social media icons of the relevant platforms you’re on (for example, like us – facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+) on all your promotional materials, you are increasing your chances of people looking for you and liking/following you.  This then creates another opportunity to regularly communicate with your ever growing audience – perhaps even providing them with updates on the promotion they saw on your poster to keep them interested.

And if you don’t…Your competition will!


10. Make Sure it’s Print Ready

Make sure your design is supplied in the right format for your chosen printer, has the correct bleed, and all the order details are supplied with it (ie qty to print, delivery date etc).  Becoming familiar with the requirements of your printer will save you time and speed up the print process, meaning you get your leaflets into the hands of your potential customers quicker.


11. Get Much, Much More For Your Money

So you’ve spent time thinking about a promotion, decided what your poster needs to say, spent money on a Graphic Designer to bring your ideas to life, spent money on having your posters professionally printed and either more of your own time or more money having them distributed in the right locations.  But are you maximising your investment?

There are a few really easy ways of getting your message to reach a lot more people and in turn getting a lot more from those people:

Direct people to your website

  • This will help improve your SEO (the more people visit your site, the more popular Google thinks you are and the higher up the search results you will appear).
  • It will give you the opportunity to show potential customers more of what you do, give you the opportunity to obtain their contact details, sign up for your newsletter, read your blog, click through to your facebook /Twitter/Pinterest page to follow you, download your ebook, enter your competition – whatever your objectives are.  This is the digital equivalent of upselling!!

Use your poster artwork for your next newsletter

  •  This will help you reach more people who are already interested in what you do, that may not get to see your poster otherwise.
  • Two things to remember here though: (i) make sure your poster image size is suitable – you do not want to be emailing everyone a huge file!  You’re designer will be able to send you a low-res version if you’re unsure how to do this.  (ii) Consider who you are sending your newsletter to.  If it’s not relevant to everyone, just send it to the segment of your database who it relates to or you risk people unsubscribing.

Harness the power of social media

  • Put your poster artwork on your pages on social media
  • Keep posting and promoting it for as long as is relevant to your promotion ie if the promotion is a month long, keep promoting it throughout the month to make sure as many people as possible see it and have the chance to act on it.
  • Use your insights to check what time of day and day(s) of the week you are going to reach the most people, and schedule your post for then.
  • Encourage people to like, comment and share / retweet your posts
  • On facebook, pin it to the top of your wall so it’s the first thing visiting fans see.
  • Don’t forget to use hashtags to increase chances of people finding your post through search (3 hashtags per post at the absolute maximum).
  • Share your post in relevant groups and re-post during networking hours on Twitter relevant to your industry/promotion – remember to use their hashtag for maximum exposure.  If you’re in Torbay, like us, you could use #TorbayHour and #DevonHour.
  • Think about using different tones on different sites, Twitter for example requires a very different tone to LinkedIn.

Blog about it

  • Upload your artwork to your blog – again making sure image size is appropriate (no 6GB files please!!) – for people who follow you to see what you are up to as a company.
  • Posting regularly to your blog improves your SEO, particularly when using imagery, which is a nice benefit!

Turn your poster artwork into a Direct Mail campaign

  • It’s as simple as turning it into a postcard and sending it to your contact database!
  • Direct Mail is the most effective way of making sure the right people see your message  – they may not see your posts on social media, especially if they don’t happen to be online at the right time, but they can’t ignore what drops through their letterbox.  And the beauty of a postcard is that you don’t even have to wait for them to open an envelope before you’ve reached them with your message (plus, they’re exceptionally cost effective!!).


If you also want to make your flyer artwork stand out from the crowd, read all about how here.




Written by:

Joanne Holloway











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