Branding Big for Big Results

Visual Theory

Large-format advertising can deliver big brand impact—but you have to know how to be effective.

Large-format advertising media, like billboards, murals, or posters, give you a large, expansive format for making a bigger impact. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), these formats influence consumers on their path to purchase, when they are 33 percent more alert, and they stimulate online activity more than any other offline medium. But it can also be a challenge to get right.

“Outdoor can be a hard, unforgiving medium. You have to be very disciplined in how you use these spaces,” says Dean Logan, CEO and founder of Raleigh, North Carolina-based branding agency, Foundation.

To ensure you get maximum impact for your brand, follow these key guidelines:

“If you’re a small business and your brand isn’t well-known, you have to look at how you can get across your message without using a lot of copy or elements,” Logan says. “You have to know your brand from a positioning standpoint. Who are we? What do we stand for? What are we trying to say? The tone and voice of your message is more important than the colors and fonts.”

  • Know your brand recognition. One of the first considerations you need to make is how recognizable your brand is, Logan says. If you’re in an environment where people know it well and it needs little explanation, then you have different options than if you’re trying to communicate to an audience that doesn’t understand your brand.
  • Look at the location. The location of the advertising will have an effect on how the medium can be used, as well. If you’re using large-format digital billboards or signage that will be viewed from a car traveling at 55 mph, your messaging will need to be very succinct with an easy-to-memorize website address or call to action. If you’re using formats like bus shelter advertising or murals where you have somewhat of a captive audience, you may be able to be more subtle and use more elements on your efforts.
  • Choose a message and stick with it. Logan says that one of the biggest mistakes people make with large-format and out-of-home advertising is trying to cram too much copy and too many elements into it. Stick with one key message or goal, and create a focused message and call to action. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, some experts believe that roughly six to seven words of copy is ideal for a typical billboard.

Finally, Logan adds, you need to be consistent. Because large-format advertising is usually best when the design elements are spare, this probably isn’t the time to go in a totally new direction with your brand’s look, unless you’re engaging in a rebranding. Keep a consistent look and feel so that people recognize your brand and you continue to build awareness among key audience members.

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