Posters are an amazingly effective advertising medium, one that's capable of generating maximum exposure with minimal financial outlay. That's dependent on how effective the poster in question is and design plays just as important a role as the message and the location in which it's displayed.

1. Keep poster design simple

Some of the most effective posters are the simplest ones, or so they often seem.

A good way to see promotional poster design is that there's no room for fine detail here and every aspect of your poster must be kept concise.

Lord Kitchener's 'Your country needs you' poster is widely considered to be one of the most effective promotional posters ever and there's a lot to be said for familiarising yourself with it and modelling your design efforts on its simplicity.

2. Make the flow of your posters easy to follow

Posters need to communicate a message in a matter of seconds, so the flow of their design needs to be easy to follow. This means the heading comes first, the subheading (if required) or call to action follows in a logical progression from top to bottom, and if images are used, they mustn't be allowed to impede the flow of information.

3. Use colour sparingly

Your Country Need You (PD)Opinions differ on the use of colour in promotional poster design with some advocating big, bold colours and others colours of a subtler nature. Whatever colours you choose to use, use them sparingly and avoid making your promotional posters too busy as this will definitely detract from the message you're trying to convey.

This is why patterns are noticeably absent from most poster designs, something you've likely noticed, and why a single background colour is predominantly used; moreover, using colours sparingly helps the headline and call to action to stand out and attract attention.

4. Keep messages quick to read

Think of how long it takes you to walk past a promotional poster in a tube station or pass one going up or down an escalator. The message on your promotional posters need to be quick to read and the message easily absorbed and registered.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't add your business's contact details down the bottom, but rather that the best poster messages are succinctly short and quick to read. Posters should shout out to people from afar, and as a result, they shouldn't be too text heavy since they need to communicate a message in an instant.

5. Aim for an attention grabbing headline

Big, bold colours are often used to grab the attention of passers-by, though could detract from your headline, which certainly should grab the attention of those who pass by it in six words or less in a large font.

The more attention grabbing the better, though opting for 'shock tactics' works for some businesses but not for others. Don't forget that your promotional posters are representative of your business so don't go for anything that could cast a negative shadow over your business image.

6. Ensure a powerful call to action

Promotional posters must have a powerful call to action, something that inspires the individual to contact you or seek further information. Keeping calls to action simple is essential, as is limiting points of contact, because too many points of contact have a tendency to clutter and disrupt the flow of the poster design.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – is a system that springs to mind regarding promotional poster design; nevertheless, don't sacrifice uniqueness or your message in the process of designing promotional posters that jump off walls and into the collective consciousness of passers-by.

By Mackenzie Beal

Mackenzie is a writer working on a freelance basis for a company whose vision is to be the number one print choice for businesses all over the UK. Brunel One is a leading provider of printing services in the country.

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