How to create a successful advertising poster?

Creating the visual of your advertising poster may seem simple at first, but it is not easy. Indeed, your poster must be clear, able to attract attention, in harmony with your graphic charter, while respecting certain regulatory and technical standards. To help you in the conception of your poster, we have concocted a guide of good practices to know before creating your advertising poster.

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Summary of the article: How to create a successful advertising poster?

  1. Think about the format of your poster and its location
  2. The basic rules for the creation of the visual of an advertising poster
  3. Legal information to be included in a billboard advertisement in France
  4. The settings to use for the printing of your advertising poster

Think about the format of your poster and its location

When designing your advertising poster, it is fundamental to be able to project and anticipate the perception that the public will have of your campaign. In this perspective, it is also necessary that you take into account the context of diffusion of your poster (which requires to have a certain knowledge of the poster network that you will use). A poster that is "aware" of its environment will be more likely to attract the attention of the public. Or who knows, maybe this projection will prevent you from making a mistake...

Emplacement d'une affiche

L'emplacement d'une affiche

To begin, you can determine the format of your poster. Here are the standard sizes of billboards and posters in France:

Formats des affiches publicitaires

>>> Learn more about billboard formats and prices


The basic rules for the creation of the visual of an advertising poster

Find a catchy slogan

The whole point of a billboard campaign is that it remains anchored in the mind of your audience and this is done as well by your visual as by your advertising message. That's why, in addition to taking care of the graphic design of your poster, you must find a catchy, punchy and short message that consumers will easily remember. (By the way, this advice applies to all advertising formats: TV, radio, press, etc.) 

Most people who see your poster will only read your advertising slogan: make sure they don't forget it.

Use the right color combinations for your display

Part of your advertising message is in the visual of your poster and in the colors you use in your composition. It is therefore essential to pay particular attention to the colors and their symbolism. Because yes, each color has a different meaning. The color of your poster will influence the perception of consumers.

So use :

  • blue on your poster to symbolize: peace, dream, escape, cold
  • green on your poster to symbolize: luck, nature, ecology, freedom, hope
  • red on your poster to symbolize: danger, prohibition, passion, love
  • yellow on your poster to symbolize: warmth, joy, wealth, light
  • white on your poster to symbolize: peace, purity, innocence, cold
  • black on your poster to symbolize: modernity, elegance, sadness, fear, austerity

Each color, each shade has a multitude of meanings, it's up to you to find the right ones and associate them well.

Because yes, it's no secret that some colors don't go together. But beyond an aesthetic question, some color combinations prevent your message from being read because of

  • a lack of clarity
  • a lack of contrast
  • the vibration that results from the superposition of colors

Choisir les couleurs de son affiche pub

NB : your poster must be readable by everyone, don't forget the color blind who can't distinguish certain colors. 

Spectre des couleurs daltonisme

Source image : Les Yeux du Daltonisme

Take care of the typography of your advertising poster

As with colors, typography can bring a different dimension to the creation of your advertising poster: if the font is well chosen, it will reinforce your message. If, on the contrary, it does not match your message, it can make it lose all its meaning. Serif, sans serif, italic... There is a multitude of fonts and combinations of typographic parameters to carry your poster campaign.

This plethora of fonts does not mean that you have carte blanche to use them all: 

  • It is recommended that you use no more than 3 different fonts.
  • Be careful not to opt for too stylized fonts that will make your poster unreadable. Your target must understand your message in a fraction of a second: the simpler your font, the more effective your poster will be.

Choix typographique affiche pub

Do not overload your poster

In the same vein, you should not overload your poster. The simpler your poster is, the clearer it will be, which will allow consumers to better remember the information you are communicating. The goal of a poster advertising campaign is to communicate quickly and effectively.

Do not forget your graphic charter

The colors and fonts you choose for your poster should compliment your marketing message, but they should also be consistent with your graphic identity if you have one. Using the graphic elements of your visual identity helps establish or reinforce your brand image with the public. By familiarizing the public with the elements of your graphic charter, it will be easier for them to recognize your brand during your other communication campaigns.

Prioritize the information on your poster

Prioritizing the content of your campaign poster is essential to the understanding of your message by the audience you are trying to reach. This classification of information is done both on the scale of typography and the spatial arrangement of the graphic elements of your poster.

It is possible to hierarchize your text by using a single font, you just have to play on the size of the characters, bold, italic, alternate lower case and upper case...

To place the different elements that make up your visual, it is important to know the path followed by our eye when it discovers an image. Indeed, our eyes tend to follow a particular path when exploring a poster or any other document: it is the Z reading. Our eyes will land consecutively on the 4 intersections of the horizontal and vertical lines that pass through the thirds of an image. These points are the strategic locations to place the most important information of your poster.

Chemin visuel

In order to allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising poster, JCDecaux has developed Optix Creative Heatmap In-situ, an AI capable of evaluating the effectiveness of a visual display in its environment. This is based on various criteria, including the composition of the image, the viewing distance and the orientation of the media. The "heatmaps" generated allow you to improve your visual so that your message reaches your target more effectively.

Optix Creative Heatmap In-situ

Have you thought about the tracking of your advertising poster?

In classic print advertising, it can be complicated to follow the performance of your campaign and study its impact. But fortunately, there are tricks to overcome this small problem. Indeed, it is possible to set up visual elements on your poster which, in addition to allowing you to follow or track the performance of your campaign, will allow you to make the public interact with your brand:

  • a QR code to send your target to a personalized landing page
  • a hashtag to launch a trend
  • or an augmented reality poster

This is what ECCO, a Danish shoe manufacturer, decided to do in 2017 in the Hong Kong subway stations.

And you will have understood, it is necessary to integrate this reflection during the design of your poster.


Legal information to be included in a billboard advertisement in France

La publicité d’affichage est un support qui n’échappe pas à l’encadrement législatif que connaissent les autres secteurs de la publicité. Ainsi, les affiches publicitaires doivent comprendre certaines mentions légales pour qu’elles puissent être diffusées. Pensez à intégrer ces informations lors de la conception de votre visuel de campagne.

Billboard advertising is a medium that does not escape the French legislative framework that applies to other advertising sectors. Thus, billboards must include certain legal mentions in order to be broadcast. Remember to integrate this information when designing your campaign visual.

The RCS registration

All visuals intended for billboard advertising must include the RCS (Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés) registration of the company or agency. The RCS must be visible: it is preferable to place it on the left side of your poster.

The health mentions

Any poster promoting processed food and/or beverage products must display one of the following 4 legal health statements:

  • "Pour votre santé, mangez au moins cinq fruits et légumes par jour." ("For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day." - free translation)
  • "Pour votre santé, pratiquez une activité physique régulière" ("For your health, practice regular physical activity" - free translation)
  • "Pour votre santé, évitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé" ("For your health, avoid eating too much fat, too much sugar, too much salt" - free translation)
  • "Pour votre santé, évitez de grignoter entre les repas" (For your health, avoid snacking between meals" - free translation)

This mention must be visible on the poster and in a horizontal position.

Mentions for the automotive sector

Billboard advertisements promoting automotive items are required to include messages that promote alternative modes of transportation to the car (active, shared or public transportation):

  • "Pour les trajets courts, privilégiez la marche ou le vélo" ("For short trips, prefer walking or cycling" - free translation)
  • "Pensez à covoiturer" ("Think about carpooling" - free translation)
  • "Au quotidien, prenez les transports en commun" ("On a daily basis, take public transport" - free translation)

This information must be identical and easily legible and clearly distinguishable from the advertising message and other mandatory information, such as the label relating to the CO2 emission class.

This label provides summary information on the environmental impact of the vehicle being advertised. This requirement applies to advertisements for M1 passenger cars. The label must be easily readable and separate from any other mandatory information.

Mentions for private higher education institutions

Private higher education institutions are required to display on their promotional posters their status and the certification they have received from the State. This mention must appear horizontally, and in a visible and legible manner. Example: "Private institution delivering RNCP level 7 certified degrees/diplomas".

Mention for the energy field

The energy field is not exempt from the obligation to display certain information on these advertising posters. All companies in the energy sector (regardless of the type of energy used) must prominently display the following educational message: "L'énergie est notre avenir, économisons-la !" ("Energy is our future, let's save it!" - free translation)

However, this obligation does not apply to energy-consuming appliances, nor to the recruitment or financial advertising of energy suppliers.

Display advertising with prices

All signs indicating the price of a product or service must clearly and prominently display the validity date of the offer (e.g., Offre valable du 1er au 30 juin - Offer valid from June 1 to 30).

>>> Learn more about the regulation of advertising displays


The settings to use for the printing of your advertising poster

The bleed of a poster

For all posters, it is mandatory that the file containing your visual to be printed includes the bleed (overflow of the visual which serves as a safety zone) as well as the cutting lines. Each control room establishes the dimensions to be used for the bleed of the posters. 

The colorimetric mode for the printing of an advertising poster

It is imperative that the files of impression of an advertising poster are converted in mode CMYK, also called quadrichromy in reference to the four colors used to print a document whatever its nature: cyan, magenta, yellow, black. 

The RGB color mode (red, green, blue) is used for any visual dedicated to the screen display (such as DOOH or display).

If you use Pantone colors, it is strongly advised to indicate the Pantone code of the colors used.

Vectorize your fonts

In order to avoid that your typographic choices go unnoticed during the printing of your poster, it is preferable to vectorize all your fonts.

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