Image source: Dribbble
Poster design is one of the few relatively cheap marketing materials that sees the light of day in a noticeable and elegant manner. At times, it can either be frequently printed even in ‘low’ offset quality, providing companies with a large reach for their marketing efforts, or it can be significantly dolled up with creative graphics, paper texture, and thickness to capture audience attention.
While printing any regular poster design for a marketing campaign might have worked for companies in the past, it has now become more ideal to add more effort into it. After all, to stand out in today’s competitive business landscape, it is not only important that companies implement effective marketing strategies. Brands also have to know how to leverage these strategies, and one of those ways is through unique and attractive designs.
The poster design process is separated into 3 different stages. This includes:
- Before you start designing
- Designing your poster
- Evaluating and printing
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at each of the steps of the poster design process as well as some useful tips and tricks on how to create the best one. As posters are often used for various occasions, this article can definitely be of great help to anyone. If you are a designer, an entrepreneur, or even a student looking to design posters for educational or personal purposes, be sure to read on!
1) Before you start designing
As preparation, it’s worth going through a few steps in order to identify your goal when it comes to your posters. If you want a powerful poster design to come into fruition, check them out immediately.
What is your brand personality?
The first question to ask yourself is what type of identity your brand has as this will help define the visual style you are about to execute within the design. Brand personality is a concept which refers to each brand’s human-like characteristics, and there are five universal sets of traits that companies often choose to apply to their own brand. This includes:
- Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, and sometimes even pretentious
- Excitement: carefree, spirited, and youthful
- Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoorsy, and athletic
- Sincerity: kindness, thoughtfulness, and an orientation toward family values
- Competence: successful, accomplished and influential, highlighted by leadership
Some companies with a longer history in the market may develop more complex, mixed personalities. However, whether you choose the more sophisticated or the more youthful brand, remember to base your poster design style on this characteristic.
Who is your ideal customer?
Knowing the personality of your brand is simply not enough to deliver an engaging poster design. You also need to be conscious of those who stands on the other side of the barricade – your target customers. The recipients being exposed to your brand’s messages, they are the ones who now set the rules for the game.
Whether or not your poster campaign will lead to the results you desire will depend on how attracted your consumers feel towards its design. Hence, it is crucial that you aim to capture their attention within a split second so that they will actually take the time to read over its content. Do your homework by identifying who your ideal customers are as this will save you from a lot of hassle later on in the process.
What is your brand message?
The main concept for your poster design will all boil down to one question – what is that your brand is trying to promote? What do you want to say to your audience? What is your ultimate goal with this poster campaign?
You obviously know exactly what you want to communicate to your customers. You have it on the back of your head but are you ready to express it to your loyal customers? Before you make your poster, ask yourself what is the brand message you want to transmit and try to keep this in mind throughout the entire process! Most importantly, make sure that this message is clear to your customers through your graphics as well as written content.
What are your metrics for success?
In order to design a useful and efficient poster, there are many exemplary metrics for success in which you could take into consideration. These metrics will define whether or not you managed to reach your objective and have your audience engage with your brand on a higher level. For example, if you start noticing a growing customer base, it’s a sure sign that you are on the right track!
Keep in mind that happy customers tend to refer others to the same company. They also increasingly become dependent on you because they prefer to have one loyal service point that they count on instead of many. Hence, a great idea would be to offer a referral incentive which will pay off by helping you attract new customers. It’s also a way to gauge your current customers’ satisfaction. Keep all your customers’ information in one place and find a way to track where they all come from.
Other potential metrics for success include:
- Sales indicators – keeping track of these numbers can provide valuable insight
- Your satisfaction – yes, this is equally important!
- The break-even point – in other words, the number you need to get to in a given period of time in order for the company to cover its own costs and sustain itself
- Net income ratio/profit
Apart from the metrics mentioned, there are many more that you can consider. What you have to do is try to create and define the metrics for success that would be the best fit your brand in order to decide whether or not your poster designs have helped you reach your business goals!
What is your budget?
This factor is way easier talked about than done. What you have to take into consideration is the number of posters to print, the quality, the available locations to put up these posters (sometimes it needs to be rented i.e. paid for), and many others. It can pretty complex because all these costs need to be calculated for and included altogether. So, think your budget over before taking up a poster design project, and try to adjust your choices accordingly.
2) Designing your poster
Finally onto the second step! Now that you’ve figured out everything that needs to be considered beforehand, it is now time to actually design the poster. Whether or not you actually have a graphic design background, we are here to help. So, let’s work out this design process together in a simple and easy manner.
Follow the KISS (keep it simple, silly!)
First thing’s first, you should never lose your sight of the KISS rule, which stands for keep it simple, silly! Together with getting acquainted with the basics of graphic design, you may start to develop many imaginative poster ideas. Despite your creativity going through the roof, this is the point where you actually have to try not to express yourself with an excessive amount of visuals. This may in turn cause a visual headache towards your audiences, and that is never ideal with any type of design.
If you have too many ideas in your pocket, try to narrow them down to the most important ones. Only keep the elements that add value to your design and eliminate those that don’t. Focus on a few main elements instead of too many. Afterall, quality will always be over quantity.
Dare to be different
Image source: Dribbble
Yes, you’ve heard it all before. Be original, be creative. This is one of the points that many design guides often bring up and you’re probably already tired of hearing it. When you are designing your poster, remember what it is that is special about your company and its products and services. Why are you different and why should customers choose you over all the other brands?
Communicate this to your audience creatively. Don’t add something to your design just because you want to seem more trendy. While that may help, it would be a better choice to only include something if it strengthens the communicative power of your design and if it highly represents who you are as a brand.
So, if there is something unique about your brand that you would like to illustrate, do not hesitate to show that off within your poster design. Although it may seem harder than ever to try to stand out in such competitive industries today, everything is always worth a try. By adding these little unique elements, whether that is a creative font, symbol, color gradient, or texture to your design, this can definitely come to your advantage!
We are not saying that your poster design should include all the colors there are in a rainbow as that would obviously be too much. However, we’re also not saying that you should only stick to a black and white color scheme. Everything that must be said about color regarding poster design is that, at the end of the day, the colors you choose to include should be consistent with the rest of your brand’s visuals such as your logo, packaging, or web design.
As colors are important for evoking specific emotions and feelings in customers, the color scheme used should symbolize your brand’s main ideas, personality, and values. This way, your customers will be able to recognize it and resonate with it on a deeper level. For example, if you want to promote love, passion, and ambition, red is a great color choice. Yet, if you want to promote wisdom, loyalty, and trust, blue would be a good fit.
Image Source: Dribbble
The typeface and its color, if well-chosen, can result in an excellent poster design. Typefaces are considered to be a huge part of any design as humans have a particular tendency to direct their eyes towards writing. This is why our first emotional reaction responds to color, while our second, cognitive reaction instantly starts to read.
It’s an open secret that the way typography is designed can similarly evoke a certain feeling from audiences the same way color does, and the key to a great design of the poster lies in the ambiance they create. Therefore, choose your typography accordingly to the way you want your audience to perceive your brand. If you want to go for the playful personality, try going for the more decorative fonts. However, if you want to appear classy, smart or elegant, you can go for serif, sans serif or script fonts.
Make sure all eyes are on your call-to-action
When designing a poster, one thing that you’ll also need to be aware of is how your audience’s mind works. At the end of the day, the purpose of a poster campaign is to have it lead to sales or conversion of some type. So, do not forget to drive your customers to your call-of-action, which is the most significant point of your poster!
Placing your call-to-action in a space on your poster where audiences passing by will not be able to see it will completely defeat the purpose of your campaign. Therefore, your call-to-action signal, which most likely would be written in text, must not be placed randomly within your design. You can bring attention to it by adding visuals that pop or using an attention-grabbing font. You may even consider increasing the size of it so that it’s one of the very first things that people notice.
Do not be afraid to ask friends, random strangers, or do whatever else is needed to determine the best way of attracting their attention towards your call-to-action. All in all, your call-to-action will only do its work if the design is arranged in a way that encourages bypassers to look at it!
3) Evaluating and printing
The poster is ready, so what do we have left? The very last phase of the process, which all comes down to design evaluation and printing! Careful decisions made before your poster comes to life will assure you that the great effort put in your graphic design will actually be positively received by others. Hence why evaluation is such a necessary part of the poster design.
Before you start printing thousands of copies of posters with errors in them, you need to make sure that everything is accurate and in place. Otherwise, it would be quite a fail, and a waste of money! Make sure that your poster design looks the way it was planned and that they are completely ready to go. After everything is approved, it is now time to select the right printer and materials.
Choose the right printer
If you are creating your posters at home, options will certainly be restricted. However, if you are a company reaching out for professional advice and printing services, they are probably countless. One thing that should concern you when printing posters is the quality of the printer.
Is it destined to print posters or are posters just one of their additional options? Are you aware of the sizes that can be printed with this special printer? Is it a digital printer? What types of material can you select? However, what’s most important will be the budget. Look up all the available printing options and choose the most appropriate one for your poster project.
How to pick your print material
Picking the perfect printing material will be another challenging task that you’ll have to face at this stage of the process. Which material is the best for promotional posters? Currently, there are various options. The list of materials include, but are not limited to, paper, canvas, or PVC. Keep in mind that the decision you make here will be a significant part of the finished design as you want to give it the best touch and feel to it.
Among the many options, printing on PVC will be the far more sophisticated option when compared to printing on paper or card, canvas or paper. PVC is generally considered to be more of a luxury choice. It’s a very durable option and is available in a range of sizes that you can select from. PVC is strong but also flexible. The only thing that you have to be aware of is the price. Nonetheless, if you do have the budget, you should definitely go for it if this is what you think would make your poster look best!
A fancy, modern option for promotional posters is provided by canvas material. This option is relatively more expensive than paper but can be quite economic as well. As you can probably guess, the canvas is less resistant and durable than PVC. So, whereas PVC can keep its form and elegance when used outdoors, canvas won’t be so tolerant. However, canvas material is fairly lightweight and easy to transport which makes it work so much better in regards to humidity than ordinary paper.
Paper or card are often chosen for printed products. You will get a thick and glossy card for printing large posters, and this option will be the cheapest of them all. If you were to select paper as a material, you will be provided with a wide range of printing options.
Achieving a contemporary appearance will come easily, so you’ll be able to keep your striking design on paper with no technical barriers. Paper and card posters are also very lightweight (unfortunately, at the same time, easy to damage), so only indoor use is recommended for this. On top of that, paper, in contrast to canvas, allows you to keep a sharp, clearly defined design.
Overall, there will be plenty of factors to consider when creating your promotional poster. The materials are one of them, and they are far from being the least important so be sure to select wisely!
We understand poster design may not be the easiest task for someone who has minimal to no experience with graphic design. At DesignBro, we have a team of professional designers who will be able to help you or your company out on it. Contact us here to find out how you can get a custom, high-quality poster designed!
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.