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Tips for Designing an Effective Outdoor Banner

Written by Elisha Yvonne Velasco    ●    Published on September 24, 2022


outdoor banner - pole banner

Outdoor banners are a great form of advertising. They can boost brand awareness, add visual appeal to any establishment with their vibrant colors, and instantly grab the attention of passersby, potential customers, and clients.

Are you thinking of using outdoor banners to promote your business but don’t know how to make them work for you? Let this article help you get started on how to design an effective outdoor banner.


Outdoor Banners: What You Should Do to Get Started


So this is where you begin. You’ve made a decision to use outdoor banners, but are not sure where to go or what to do first. Since ordering banners is an investment, it’s important to make sure that your marketing campaign is executed properly. Banners are not just made for display — they’re meant to communicate a message, evoke emotions, and improve your business operations.


Know Your Purpose


Before you start with your concept, it’s important to have a definite purpose on why you want to print an outdoor banner. Why do you want to create one? What do you want to communicate? What are you trying to accomplish?

Here are examples of reasons why printing a custom banner is being considered:

  • To advertise a product or service
  • To promote sales and specials
  • To boost brand awareness
  • To announce an upcoming event
  • To bring a community together for a cause
  • To change the public’s opinion of your brand

Having a clear understanding of your purpose might seem mundane, but taking time to think about your goals can steer the direction of how you can conceptualize your design.


Make Banners Stand Out


Once you’re set on your objective, the next step is to begin forming your design concept. If you find yourself stuck on the design that you plan to do, you can search for banner design ideas online to get inspiration from. Keep in mind that your banner design should always be on-brand and match your marketing strategy.


Banner Design Ideas


The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing banners. Here are some ways on how you can get creative with the design of your outdoor banners:

Use Colors That Complement Each Other


A balanced use of colors that fits your brand is more likely to grab the attention of readers who would come across your banners. You can also utilize color psychology to subtly influence people to take a specific action or affect their perception of your brand. For example, red is associated with movement, passion, and creates a sense of urgency. This is best used for call-to-action statements, sports brands, or sales.

By taking a color-specific approach in your design, you’ll be able to create an attractive design while grabbing the attention of your audience.

Include Stunning Images


Add high-quality images at the front and center so that readers can visualize what you want to communicate. Consumers usually prefer to see what a product looks like before deciding to buy it. When you include images and pictures in your design, make sure that they have the appropriate resolution in order for them not to appear blurred when printed. Images should also be relevant to what you have to offer to help identify your brand better and avoid any confusion from readers.

Add a Catchy Text


One to two lines of a catchy slogan, tagline, or promotion can make your banner memorable. If your banner is text-centric, put emphasis on important words through text hierarchy. You can also combine the use of contrasting colors to draw more attention to your message.

If you need a guide on writing the perfect copy for your outdoor banners, you can view our dedicated page for copywriting tips.

Go the Traditional Route


Choosing a more traditional approach to your design is also a good option if you want to reach out to conservative industries and establish a trustworthy brand image. There's nothing wrong with playing it safe, as long as you’re able to incorporate the necessary elements to get your message across.


Utilize Online Resources


“Okay, now that I have a banner design in mind, where do I get images to use for printing?”

If you’re not sure where to get images to use for printing and don’t have images or graphic design assets in your file, you can check the following online libraries:

Freepik is a website with over 25 million graphic resources. In addition to yard sign templates, they offer PSDs, illustrations, photos, and vectors. Its library is constantly updated, so you'll always have plenty of options for any project.

Adobe Stock offers diverse collections of high-resolution, royalty-free stock images that you can use for your creative project. All you have to do sign up for either a free or premium plan. They also have premade templates that you can edit and customize as you wish.

Template.Net offers its users free customizable templates. It has a large library of templates for social media, documents, presentations, videos, graphics, and signage, among other things. Customizing templates is simple with Template.Net. Users can add text, change fonts, upload a logo, and include contact information in their design using its online editor tool.

Canva has an easy-to-use signage maker that allows you to customize pre-made templates. You can free edit your selection and filter your search by style, theme, and color. Canva also has a large library of different elements that you can use in your design. Drag and drop stock images, illustrations, icons, and graphics into the template to get started. You can also upload and include your own logos and photos in the design if you have them. When you're finished with your design, you can save it as an image file or order it from Canva Print.

48HourPrint.com offers a wide variety of free design templates that you can use for your outdoor banners. Customize fonts, images, logos, and color palettes even without any graphic design experience! Once you’re done with your design, you can easily transfer it to your cart and proceed to checkout to order.


Free Apps and Software for Designing Outdoor Banners


Aside from using online resources, you can also choose to create your outdoor banner design using various free apps and software.

Here are some of the best free graphic design software programs for creating custom outdoor banners:

Gravit Designer

  • Available for Windows / Mac / Linux / Browser
  • Vector design app perfect for a variety of creative projects
  • Offers design templates, presentations, screen and icon designs, animation, and illustration

Inkscape
  • Available for Windows / Mac / Linux
  • Open-source vector graphics editor
  • Uses Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) as its default format
  • Similar to Corel Draw, Freehand, Xara X, and Adobe Illustrator

GIMP
  • Available for Windows / OS X / Linux
  • Offers sophisticated tools for graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, etc.
  • Features many customization options
  • Photo enhancement
  • Digital retouching
  • Premium-quality photo manipulation

Krita
  • Available for Windows / Mac / Linux
  • Free and open source painting tool
  • Provides many innovative features
  • HDR and PSD support
  • Made for illustrators, concept artists, and VFX professionals

Paint 3D
  • Available for Windows
  • Beginner friendly
  • Realistic textures
  • Straightforward graphic design

Crello
  • Web browser-based image editor
  • Produces graphics, covers, posters, posts
  • Some of its features include filters, shapes, crop, and blur

Photo Pos Pro
  • Available for Windows / Mac
  • User-friendly free graphic design software
  • Advanced image effects
  • Edit photos with poor quality
  • Attractive text effects

Pixlr
  • Mobile app available for Android and iOS users
  • Has more than 600 overlays, effects, and borders
  • Share photos directly on social media
  • Create photo collages
  • Layer multiple photos

Vectr
  • A web and desktop cross-platform tool
  • Free graphics software
  • Intuitive online editor


Factors to Consider in Designing Outdoor Banners


Banner Display Location
Where you plan to display your sign can impact your outdoor banner design. Is it outside a building or at an event location? Below are some questions that you might ask yourself when choosing a location for your banners:

Is it allowed to install my banner here?
Before putting up any sign, make sure that you’re not breaking any state laws or that that you have permission from the building owner to display your banners. You might have to secure a permit or submit a few requirements first to be allowed to install your banners.

Will my banners be seen by readers?
When finding an appropriate location to display your sign, make sure that there are no obstructions like branches, trees, posts, or other signs that can block the view of readers.

Are my banners protected from the elements?
While vinyl banner may be made of weather-resistant material, constant exposure to heat, wind, and rain can still create some type of damage to it. Remember to choose a location that can prevent your banners from fading or getting worn out over time.

Is there enough lighting for my sign?
It might be hard to read your banner if it’s in a location where sunlight hits it directly, or if there are shadows throughout the day that are obscuring the design itself.

To avoid this from happening, ensure that your banner has good lighting conditions before installing them. You can also invest in spotlights or other lighting equipment to make your banner stand out even at night.


Colors and Color Format


For your banners to pop, pick a color scheme that will not blend with the surroundings. You want your banners to be eye-catching and vibrant, not dull and muted. Also, select colors that best represent your brand so that readers can easily recognize your business even if your banners are viewed from a distance.

Since your design will be physically printed, don’t forget to convert your files to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key). That is because printing machines are programmed to read CMYK colors. With CMYK as your color mode, all colors start as white. To create an accurate color pigment, each layer of ink reduces the initial brightness through a process called subtractive mixing. If you save your file in RGB color mode, which is the color format for projects meant for the digital screen, the colors won’t come out as how you designed it. RGB color mode assumes that your canvas is a black background, so it layers its colors by adding red, green, and blue to lighten and produce the perfect pigment.


Resolution for Printing


“What is the best resolution for printing outdoor banners?”

The resolution of a printed sign depends on its size and type. Since outdoor banners fall under large format printing, it should range around 70-125 DPI (dots per inch). If you’re using small to medium-sized graphics of up to five square meters, 100-125 DPI is enough. For large-sized graphics of more than 5-50 square meters, 50-100 DPI are the best resolutions.


Read More: How to Make an Image Less Pixelated

The Right Font Size


The text in your banner should be easily readable even from afar. To know which font size is right for your banner, you first have to check the distance of where your banner will be viewed from.

The basic rule of thumb for determining the proper sign and banner font size is to make them at least one inch (72 pt.) tall for every 10 feet of viewing distance. If you’re not sure which font size is right for you, here’s 48HourPrint.com’s recommended distance and font size table to guide you on the best legibility for your banner design.

Aside from the distance, it’s also important to consider the banner size before deciding on the font size of your copy. For banners, big is always better. Big banner sizes have a higher chance of attracting attention than small ones. You can also combine big and small font sizes to emphasize key points in your message.


What is the best file format for printing?


Choosing the best file format for printing depends on the type of print project you’re working on. GIF and PNG files are ideal for simple images and graphics. Since outdoor banners are considered a large format, JPEG is the file format to choose. JPEG’s compression levels are very adjustable, which makes it applicable for any type of print project.


Why Banner Materials Matter


Let’s say you’ve done the right steps and followed every tip to make sure that your banner is eye-catching. You chose the right banner size, the appropriate font size, color, and other design elements. But what if you picked the wrong material?

With outdoor banners, the type of material matters. When you pick low-quality materials for your banner, your finished product can look unprofessional.

Before deciding on banner material, don’t forget to consider the banner setting first. Different types of elements can cause significant damage to your banner, and choosing the right material can help prevent this from happening. For example, if your banner will be displayed in a place where it’s windy, you can pick a mesh banner which allows air to easily pass through.

Not sure which banner material to choose? Check out our handy guide on the most common banner material types and their uses.


More to Look Out For


Aside from following the tips mentioned, it’s best to also be aware of the common signs and banner artwork mistakes that others do. We’ve listed down some of them below, so you can avoid making them and that your outdoor banners come out perfect and polished every time.

Common Signs and Banner Artwork Mistakes That You Need to Avoid


Typographical Errors and Misspellings
Misspellings may appear to be harmless at first, but seeing them on your sign can leave a negative impression on your brand. Having typos can also reflect that your business has poor attention to detail and lacks professionalism.

Typos and misspellings can cost you a lot of money as is because of the need to reprint — even more so if they have different insinuations. Don’t make the same mistake as some of the world’s most expensive typos. To prevent this from happening (and from spending a huge amount on damage control), make sure that your copy is checked by an editor or reviewed by two or three people.

Putting Everything on Your Sign
Some signs and banners can have way too much going on. Keep your text and design elements simple and straightforward by limiting the number of words in your sign. You can also provide opportunities for readers to reach out to your brand by including a call-to-action statement.

Confusing an Image With a Logo
A logo should be easy and simple to decipher that its shape can still be recognized even if your eyes are squinted. Logos are an organization’s official symbol. Any picture that is associated with your business (a picture of a person, place, etc.) that is used as a “logo,” is considered as a brand asset than a logo. You can invest in a professional graphic designer to create your logo, and get the opinion of other people to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with the design.

Poor Readability
Lack of proper spacing, wrong choice of contrast, fonts and font size are all major contributing factors to a sign’s legibility. A sign is no good if it can’t be read by your audience. Follow the tips we’ve mentioned on this page so you won’t have to commit this mistake.


Conclusion


The process involved in designing an effective outdoor banner is not easy. With this comprehensive guide, we hope you’ve gotten a few pointers that can help you in your marketing campaign. If you’re ready to print outdoor banners, you can have a look at 48HourPrint.com’s selection of custom banners. We offer big deals and discounts, and fast printing turnarounds.



Resources


15 Best Free Printable Banner Maker Software for Windows – https://listoffreeware.com/free-printable-banner-maker-software-windows/

The Psychology of Colors in Marketing – https://digitalsynopsis.com/advertising/psychology-of-colors-in-marketing/

The 13 Best Free Graphic Design Software for Marketers and Beginners – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-free-graphic-design-software

8 Best Free Graphic Design Software Programs – https://hiphopmakers.com/best-free-graphic-design-software

Basic CMYK Colors for Printing Banners – https://www.banners.com/resources/basic-cmyk-colors-for-printing-banners

9 Common Signage Mistakes to Avoid – https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2015/10/19/9-common-signage-mistakes-to-avoid/?sh=36d4fced63ae