Posters are simple enough. Nice visual, snappy message, done. In a way, that’s all there is to it. But there is a little bit more to consider on top of this minimalistic formula. Namely: who is it that’s looking at your poster?

But this “who” isn’t referring to the individual passerby. As in, “who is this person and what do they want?”. It’s more concerned with the context in which that person is interacting with your poster. As in, “who is this person and what are they doing right now?”.

So, “what are they doing right now?” is really the big question. Obviously, with any type of marketing you need to think about your audience, but special considerations must be made when it comes to the poster. This is because posters, by their very nature, are only usually seen in passing, and sometimes from all the way across the street.

The rule is: design your posters to be glimpsed, not studied

A poster must always cater to passing glances. This means minimal text and simplistic, striking imagery. In essence, the message of your poster needs to be clear enough that someone walking past won’t need to stop in order to comprehend it. After all, it’s very difficult to stop people in the street (if you need any proof of this, just spend half an hour watching a charity fundraiser trying to flag people down on your local high street). You can see this principal at work in most movie posters. There’s no synopsis. No lengthy advertising copy. Usually it’s just an image, the title, and a tag line.

Here’s an example of a really simple idea that could work well as a poster. Let’s say you’re selling a sofa for £100. Your poster could look like this: white background; price (headline/offer) at the top of the poster; image of sofa in the centre; company logo and call-to-action (in a big bold font) at the bottom. It’s to the point, and it very effectively gets across the message (the message being “look how cheap this sofa is”).

For some grade A poster-based inspiration, take another look at the posters in the feature image (above) by the legendary designer Saul Bass. 

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