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12 May, 2014

10 Thoughts on the Art of Posters

In the digital age, it might seem old fashioned to be even talking about posters, but given how attention spans now are as short as 5 seconds per view, perhaps reminding ourselves about some of the merits of using posters to communicate is not such a bad idea. Think about the Snapchat app. Pictures disappear after about 10 seconds, just like walking by a poster.

1. Ask yourself; does it work as a poster first?

I believe posters are the simplest, smartest cleanest form of communication on the planet (when executed right), but sometimes the most difficult to crack. That’s why it is still arguably one of the best places to start when conceptualizing a communications campaign.

2. You’ve got 5 seconds of my time!

You need to able to “get” the idea of a poster within 5 seconds, while passing. So it has to be short, sharp, arresting and engaging within that time frame.

3. Bent headline/straight visual or bent visual/straight headline works best

Never both — the bent part is the attention grabber.

4. Typography is critical

Keep it simple, clever and readable. Stick to a minimum of font styles and a clean san serif.

5. The whole idea should be communicated in the headline and visual

A poster stands or falls on the strength of the idea/sentiment.

6. Save the more “technical” stuff for the website/microsite

Just give me a link.

7. The headline should be readable at least 10 feet

8. The visual should be visible from at least 10 feet

9. There’s enough visual pollution to deal with on a daily basis

If you’re going to create a poster, make it aesthetically pleasing within the context of its environment.

10. Posters are the same/similar dimensions as a smartphone screen
(Whichever way you look at it.) So, why not apply these old school communication techniques when designing for mobile, banner ads, etc.? Keep it simple, clever and clean!

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