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Why Do Most Billboards Suck?

While driving on a short stretch of Highway 16 in Wisconsin from Onalaska to La Crosse and on the return trip, you can count upwards of 80 billboards. The average person would be hard pressed to remember any of them. It’s not because they don’t see them, but rather almost all of them are horribly designed.

In today’s marketing landscape, where people are listening to fewer commercials on the radio and fast-forwarding through commercials on TV or streaming their favorite shows, billboards have the opportunity to been seen by thousands of people on a daily basis. The key is create one that stands out from the rest, is memorable, and most importantly, gets people to act.
Below you will find 4 reasons why most billboards suck and how you can make sure yours doesn’t.

1) Too Many Words
I repeat…too many words! If the people writing copy for the billboard cannot express the message in 5 to 7 words, they need to try harder. Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 words to get a powerful message across. Drivers need to keep their eyes on the road and don’t have time to read 10, 15, or 20 words (yes, they exist). Plus, if there is that much copy, what are the chances they are going to remember the offer or message? No very good. Keep it simple!

2) Bad Design
What makes up a badly designed billboard? Too many words for one. Colors that don’t pop are another reason. You want to use bold colors that contrast. And don’t forget about fonts and imagery. Thin, frilly fonts are a poor choice. Choose an easy-to-read, thick font with good spacing because if they can’t read it while driving down the highway at 55 mph what’s the point? For images, pick a high resolution picture or image that turns people’s heads and / or represents your product well.

3) It’s Boring
Too many words. Bad design. Poor use of color. Ugly fonts. Bland images. Forgettable. These are the elements that make up a boring billboard. Don’t be boring. Be amazing and grab people’s attention. If the design team you are working with doesn’t know how to make a billboard that is amazing and attention-grabbing, look for a person or company that knows how to bring your billboards and brand to life. After all, the space is not cheap and you need to get the most bang for your buck as possible.

4) No Real World Testing
Our team at The BLU Group mocks-up our billboards using pictures of the actual boards they will be placed on whenever possible. The reason we do this is so we can see how the design on the computer translates to the real world application. Are there trees in the background? Buildings? Blue skies? All of these factors play a role in determining whether or not a billboard will be effective or not. It’s one small extra step that you will be glad that you did. There’s nothing worse than seeing your billboard up for the first time and saying “Darn it, I wish we would have done this now that I see it in place.”

Need some help or new ideas designing a billboard for your business? We would be happy to serve you. Call us at 608-519-3070 or send us an e-mail at