Whether you're advertising a concert, new business service or a restaurant menu special of the day, a poster is a great way to communicate a lengthy amount of information on a format larger than your standard printing paper. Moreover, when you've got a tight budget, a more economical alternative is to design a poster yourself. There's no reason to stress - with promotional posters, you have a much bigger canvas than, say, a business card, and you'll get a chance to use your right brain creative skills, too. Here are some graphic design tips on how to make a poster that's well-designed, memorable, and effective.
1) Use Eye-Catching Colors to Grab Attention
When was the last time you really took notice of a black-and-white promotional poster with standard fonts? Unless it was masterfully designed, chances are you don't remember much about it, at least not visually. Colors are a way to command attention, but first, you need to consider what you're advertising and who you're targeting. Are you offering a vacation rental or a financial service? Are you targeting a certain demographic or generation, or is this a one-size-fits-all campaign?
Next, think about background colors that represent your line of business or the type of customer you seek, and choose a color palette that aligns well with your demographic and industry. Be sure your colors complement any images you might be using on your poster, too. The last thing you want is to make a poster that turns potential clients away at the sight of poor design.
2) Organize Your Information By Importance
If you think of a newspaper is layout, you may notice your eyes are usually drawn to the most important headline of line day. It's typically bolded and larger than headlines of the less significant stories whose importance is dictated by the size and style of the font, and placement on the page. This is true for poster layout design too - you want to be sure you organize your information in order of highest to lowest priority. The most important text should be in a large font at the top, and the least critical information should be in a smaller font at the bottom. For example, if you're advertising an event, make sure you clearly state the performers or the name of the event, followed by the date and time, then cost and address.
When it comes to copy, it can be tempting to use punchy and clever slogans or one-liners to grab the attention of passersby. But unless you have a specific marketing strategy for a particular ad campaign, or you're advertising a comedy show or a service that needs more than a few words, try to keep copy to a minimum and only include the most vital information. The fact of the matter is many people will only have a few seconds to glance at your poster, and you want to make sure you get your message across quickly, effectively, and with the least amount of distractions.
3) Keep Your Design Elements Balanced
Another way to make sure people pay attention to your poster is to keep your design elements balanced. As mentioned above, your design needs to flow well in order to capture and maintain attention; if your poster looks messy and disorganized, that's the impression readers will take away. Draw an imaginary line in the center of your page, both horizontally and vertically. Are there equal amounts of design elements (text, images, etc.) on each side? Do you have too much awkward white space, or have you filled the poster with too much text in one area? Make sure you step away from your poster and look at it from a distance; having perspective will help pinpoint any mishaps.
4) Use Images With High Resolution
There's no use in using a low-quality or thumbnail-sized image on a poster; you want it to be seen, so make it big. Photos are particularly useful for real estate posters, or for cafes and diners looking to show off their latest special; a great close-up of that tasty dish will have customers craving your food, but only if the picture is impactful. Make sure your images are an acceptable quality for printing (usually 300 dpi) on large formats. There's nothing worse than seeing your poster with a pixelated, undistinguishable photo.
5) Add a QR Code
It's smart to add a QR code to your poster to cater to on-the-go people who don't have the time to view your poster. This small rectangular barcode can be quickly scanned by anyone with a camera phone, and their application will take them directly to the link you've specified, such as the website for your business or event. It's also a great way to show you're up-to-date with digital marketing and capture the attention of those who are tech-savvy.