Effective billboard design is no easy feat when you have just seconds to capture someone’s attention. Aside from clearly conveying your brand’s messaging, your billboard ads must be interesting and memorable. Below you’ll find more than 20 billboard ideas for inspiration, including what sets the best billboard designs apart and makes them effective.
Did you know?
A Nielsen study found that 71% of people felt digital billboards stood out more than online ads. What’s more, digital billboard advertising won’t break the bank. Use local, regional, or national digital billboard ads to build brand awareness and bring customers to your business with Blip Billboards for as little as $10 a day.
For ideas on how to grow your brand’s presence and customer base with billboard ads, take a look at some of the best ideas for billboard advertising:
1. Send a Clear Message in Your Billboard Design
Billboard ads are large, but many are viewed by people driving by at 60 miles per hour or even faster. You have mere seconds to attract attention and convey your message. As simple as it sounds, you need to make sure that your billboard design consists of a clear message—both literally and figuratively.
The example above is both aspirational and emotional in nature. It has a big, easily readable main message that doubles as a clear call to action (CTA) followed by an easy-to-remember brand name.
2. Billboard Ideas That Show Instead of Tell
A picture is worth a thousand words, so don’t be afraid to let your billboard speak for itself with non-text elements. This billboard ad example from The Economist draws attention through the use of motion-detecting equipment that causes the lightbulb to turn on when someone walks nearby. This is a great example of a billboard ad that is unique and memorable without saying a word.
3. Speak to the Customer’s Perspective
Many small business owners are driven by a passion for their customers, creating products and services to meet their needs. Make sure your outdoor ads showcase how you put your customers’ best interests at the top of the list. The ad above appeals to this marketing strategy by indicating that patients who want to be healthier and pickier about choosing their healthcare provider should opt for this health insurance plan.
4. Add a Live Data Feed to Billboard Ads
Use real-time data to make your billboard ad design interesting and helpful to people who see it. Examples of ways to incorporate this type of billboard advertising design include animated counters, current temperatures, air quality ratings, pollen count, storm trackers, scores of local or important sporting events, or queue wait times (think urgent care centers or airport security lines).
5. Extend Design Beyond Billboard Dimensions
Don’t limit the design of your ads to the billboard dimensions themselves. Go outside the lines with elements that create a striking design. The example above shows an effective billboard ad design for Panera that extends above the billboard with animated steam. Not only is this great for drawing the eye, but it also evokes the memory of hot, delicious soup on a cold day.
When it comes to billboard ideas that not only break the scope of billboard dimensions but aesthetics as well, few compare to the giant fork-held outdoor ad for Sheffield & Sons steak (available in the Bloom grocery store in North Carolina). The steak extends beyond the traditional space of the billboard ad design, and this billboard also emits an aroma for multisensory advertising appeal.
6. Get Engagement With Interactive Billboards
Not all billboards are along the side of the highway. Outdoor advertising shows up in many places, from bus stops and subway stations to malls, airports, the sides of walls, and even street lamps.
Technology now makes it possible for people to view ads from many different types of locations and to interact with them as well. Customers can engage with your brand, making your ads more memorable to increase brand awareness and give them a reason to visit your small business website online.
7. Design a Billboard That’s Interesting & On-brand
As with any form of advertising, showing what differentiates your brand is essential. Think of fresh billboard ideas that can promote your brand without compromising your brand’s positioning. One of the best billboard examples showcasing this design tip is for the Swedish vodka brand, Absolut.
The creative ad transforms something often thought of as less-than-luxe (public transportation) into a high-end marketing message that illustrates Absolut effectively. Using juxtaposition and a short play on words, the mobile billboard makes the statement that with Absolut, you’re taking a limo, not a bus.
8. Incorporate the Natural Environment in Billboard Design
Tackle ad location strategically by not only looking at the design from the perspective of the ad space available, but how you can utilize the surrounding elements as well. This design example from Ray-Ban is not only eye-catching, but it also adds advertising space by leveraging the sun to project its ad onto the ground.
9. Design for Different Perspectives
No matter which type of billboard or outdoor ad you choose, people are going to see it from varying angles, and thus, different perspectives. This allows you to craft different stories from each vantage point. The above billboard from BBC World does a great job of showcasing different perspectives to communicate that they convey both sides of the story.
10. Add Form to Function in Billboard Ideas
The best billboard ideas feature both form and function. The example above shows how your billboard can serve a practical purpose while still conveying a strong marketing message. Offering something of use breaks through the noise of two-dimensional billboards, demonstrating that your brand isn’t just about the message but wants to be of service. For example, IBM created multifunctional billboard benches to put its marketing message to work.
11. Make Your Billboard Design Fun
Taking form and function a step further (quite literally), Toyota designed a billboard that didn’t just look like a rock wall, but was actually a functional rock climbing wall. Climbers were invited to scale the New York City building wall, drawing attention to it and creating a newsworthy billboard that captured the attention of people passing by.
12. Use Billboard Design to Illustrate Use Case
It’s not always about what you say, but what you don’t say. In some cases, billboard ad designs that are most effective are those using the power of abstraction. In this example, outdoor equipment company, Toro, deploys the art of abstraction to promote its products. It appears as though its product was used to trim what would otherwise be a difficult area to reach if it weren’t for cordless trimmers.
13. Create Appeal by Getting Artsy
Murals as an advertising medium have become increasingly popular. Not only does it brighten up a city or beautify what could otherwise be a plain building wall, but it can also bring additional exposure through user-generated content, such as when people stop to pose for an Instagram post. Ridesharing app Lyft did just that in New York with a series of murals promoting staycations that are “only a ride away.”
14. Advertise Affordably With Digital Billboards
Digital billboards are not only a modern way to generate brand awareness. They are also extremely affordable, since multiple advertisers can share digital billboards. As with other technology, digital ads can also be easily optimized to better connect with your audience. Going digital also means changing your ad creatives much more frequently keeping your ads fresh and engaging.
Blip Billboards, one of the best providers of digital billboards, offers self-serve digital billboard advertising with a minimum spend of $10 per day and no long-term contract. Your billboard ads will appear as an eight- to 10-second “blip” on a digital billboard that rotates ads. Your budget determines the number of times your “blip” appears and which times of day (peak, non-peak, or a mix), making it one of the most affordable billboard advertising options.
15. Skip the Sales Pitch
The best marketing messages don’t just tell people what they want, but make them want what they offer. This strategy also helps your billboard sound less assertive, which psychologically might help people view your brand more positively. For example, the fast food chicken chain Chick-fil-A is well known for employing humor in its outdoor ads, such as the example above saying “Don’t have a cow.”
16. Appeal to Local Demographics
A great billboard idea to keep in mind is to customize billboard ads based on location. National companies may be inclined to create one or two billboard designs throughout the country. However, your message will resonate more if you tailor local advertising ideas based on the location’s well-known demographics or characteristics.
17. Create Urgency With Your Call to Action
This outdoor digital billboard draws attention with an animated countdown and reminds local team boosters to buy tickets or tune in to the next Dodgers baseball game. Use calls to action (CTAs) with a deadline to create a sense of urgency with your billboard ads, such as a deal expiration countdown for a time-limited offer.
18. Use a Vanity Number
Don’t make people try to work to remember your number. Instead, make it easy by using a vanity phone number (e.g., 212-storage as in the example above or something like 1-800-NYPLUMBER). Even if your business already has a phone number, you can still get a vanity number that directs to your standard business line.
An easy way to get a vanity phone number is through Grasshopper. What’s cool about this service is that it has a tool that allows you to plug in your desired word and will give you a variety of options to choose from. Once you’ve found a number you like, you can purchase it directly from them.
19. Incorporate Humor
Billboard designs that incorporate humor are often the most memorable. They trigger an emotional response while sending a clear message about your brand’s products or services and the problems they solve. When designing a billboard, think beyond your business’ products and use your design by reflecting the characteristics of your ideal customer personas, as this dental implants billboard design does.
20. Select Your Billboard Location Wisely
There are always going to be elements outside of your control, but it’s worth doing your due diligence when it comes to choosing the right billboard location and design. For example, the above billboard, “Where’s daddy?” appears to be answered by the billboard that follows it, a gentlemen’s club. The environment is always something to consider with billboard ad placement.
21. Look at Your Design From All Angles
A seemingly flawless design can go down the drain rather quickly. Don’t just look at your billboard idea by itself, but consider the elements surrounding it and how they can affect its design. Like this underwear ad on a public bus, the design itself is innocent enough. However, the designers did not consider where the ad would be placed.
Best Tools & Resources for Billboard Ad Design
There are different options available for designing billboard ads. Three of the main factors to consider in choosing which tools and resources to use when designing a billboard are your budget, the billboard dimensions, and the artwork needed. These resources can help you find or create an effective billboard for your small business. Read about how these tools help you choose your next billboard design software.
VistaCreate is a new graphic design platform you can use to design billboards and other marketing materials with a low-cost subscription or even completely free. There are more than 50,000 available templates and a million images available to you in the free version, and over 70 million when you choose the paid plan. Personalize a preformatted design for free, or you create your own design from scratch.
An excellent way to get a unique and memorable billboard design is to host a billboard-design contest on 99designs. Professional and creative experts will provide different designs for you to choose from, and you’ll only pay if you decide that one of the designs is perfect for your needs.
3. Blip Billboards
One of Blip Billboards’ goals is to help small and medium businesses grow by improving their brand recognition. They offer affordable billboard ad design services for $75 and various digital billboard advertising packages. You can choose where to advertise, how often your ads should run, and if they should run during peak or non-peak times (or both) to maximize your budget for as little as $10 per day.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system used to help run small businesses separate their work from their personal communications. You can purchase a phone number for your business, including vanity phone numbers. This makes it a good tool for your billboard design as vanity numbers are far easier to remember for people seeing your ads on the go.
A low-cost option for getting an effective billboard ad design is outsourcing the work to freelance designers. Fiverr is a trusted freelance service marketplace where you can find creative experts to create the perfect visual design for your business’ advertisements.
Proven Benefits of Billboard Advertising for Small Businesses
Many small business owners question if billboards are a good investment or will produce a return sufficient to justify the expense. Although the world of advertising has diversified over the years, the numbers show that billboard ads are still an effective marketing tool for boosting local brands:
- Increased exposure: The Harris Poll found that among people who drive, 82% notice billboards locally around town.
- Conversation starter: A study on billboard advertising reported that 56% of Americans mentioned a billboard they found interesting in conversation.
- Improved brand awareness: International Outdoor found that out of all their surveyed consumers, 85% notice advertising messages on billboards.
- More engagement: A study on drivers found that 50% are highly engaged from billboards.
- A surefire call to action: A publication of survey results asserts that viewers of a digital street-level ad take action 69% of the time in relation to that ad.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What makes a billboard design stand out?
There are various ways to design billboard ads that stand out, as the above examples show. Using humor, striking visuals, unconventional ad sizes and dimensions, non-traditional placements, and interactive elements can all make your ad more noticeable and your brand more memorable.
Which is better: traditional or digital billboard ads?
Traditional and digital billboards each have their own pros and cons. For example, with a traditional billboard, you’re not sharing the board with other advertisers, thus reducing the pressure to stand out. However, this means it will cost far more. Digital billboards cost less to set up, are ideal for optimizing ads, and give advertisers the ability to display ads at specific times of day or days of the week, making them a better option for the budget-conscious or those just starting a business.
How do I find billboards that are available?
If you have your eye on a specific billboard, you can usually find its owner listed at the bottom center of the billboard itself. If you’re looking to browse available billboards, check out billboard providers such as Lamar, Clear Channel, and Blip to see billboard locations, availability, and pricing. Alternatively, you can always Google billboard advertising options in your desired location.
As simple as billboard advertising sounds, it takes skill and know-how to come up with an effective design. Ultimately, the best billboard ads are those that successfully convey messaging and spark action with their target audience. Of course, many of these aren’t created in-house, but by publicity and advertising experts and graphic design professionals.
If you’re on a tight budget and need to create your own ad creative, VistaCreate has all you need to design a billboard, including free templates to get you started. Alternatively, you can get professional design services from a Fiverr advertising or graphic design pro.