The typography you decide to present your outdoor advertising in has a big impact on the effectiveness of your advertisement!
With several different font styles to choose from, how can you select the correct one? Be mindful of fonts that are too fancy and decorative as these are difficult to read from a long-distance. As a general rule, select a font that is legible from 1000 feet away. It is advisable to steer away from all capital letters and letters that are too far apart, or too close to each other. In this article, we will briefly discuss the font categories, the criteria for selecting fonts, and which outdoor advertising fonts are recommended for use.
Importance of selecting the correct font
With multiple channels of advertising being used in this era, selecting the correct outdoor advertising fonts is quite tedious. For this reason, you may be tempted to overlook this aspect in your billboard design and focus more on graphics and colors. Don’t make this mistake, and always keep in mind that the typography is how customers extract the information from your advertisement. Hence this element is as important as any other during the design stage.
The audience reading your outdoor advertisement is usually driving by at a speed and has time for just a quick glance to absorb the message. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your typography is legible enough in a few seconds.
What are the common Font categories?
Fonts, also known as typefaces, are grouped into five basic categories:
- Serif: Times New Roman, Didot, Baskerville, Bodoni
- Sans Serif: Myriad Pro, Helvetica, Avenir, Optima
- Script: Alex Brush, Pacifico, Great Vibes, Lobster, Allura, Windsong.
- Monospace: Courier, Courier New, Lucida Console, Menlo, Monaco, Consolas.
- Display: Spock, Gilroy, Highbinder, Dorris, Sugar Boats.
Serif fonts make each letter stand out easily and make the advertisement look appealing without much decoration. Sans serif fonts offer a more sleek modern appeal and works better for headlines because of its simplicity and readability.
Most often, serif and sans serif typefaces are used for body text and headlines, including logos, titles, subtitles, and so on. Display and Script fonts resemble handwriting and calligraphy, and are used particularly for headlines. Monospaced fonts originated from typewriters and are seen usually in the display of code, as well as body and headline copy.
Some typefaces are more legible than others when the font size is small, while other font styles read better at larger sizes. So, depending on your advertisement design, appropriate typefaces must be selected.
Criteria for selecting your font style
An outdoor advertisement is used to communicate a message to your audience. If that message cannot be read, there is no point of the advertisement. Hence readability is the most important consideration when selecting a typeface.
Is readability and legibility the same?
No, legibility determines how easily letterforms can be distinguished within a font. Readability determines how easily words stand out and can be read.
The size of the font impacts the readability and legibility of the advert. This is because a font that works well at size 18 may not be legible at size 10. Your designer needs to know which fonts look better at what sizes.
2. Font size in relation to billboard size and distance
The height of your lettering will increase visibility at distance as well as the estimated reading time.
Outdoor advertisements and billboard ads need to be legible from various distances. In this case, bigger fonts are advisable so that your message can be read with ease, even from a long-distance. It is important to make sure that the advertisement can be read easily at distances of more than 1000 feet.
To decide the size of your font, the dimensions of your billboard or outdoor advertisement will play a big role. As a general rule though, your font size should not be smaller than 18. If your billboard is a 96-sheet one, typically found on roadsides, the ideal font size would be 3 inches or more. This size should give motorists driving at 60mph about four seconds to read your advertisement, and much more time if the vehicle is idling.
Also keep in mind that large font sizes for longer distances means that viewers will have more time to view your billboard. Since big fonts require more space on the billboard design, fewer words will have to be used to make a bigger impact. Create concise, punchy messages that can grab the attention of passers-by in just a few seconds. The simple power of less is more applies here – a catchy slogan and perfect typography is sure to do the job!
3. The brand and message
Every brand has its own mood and message.
Typeface choices should be narrowed down based on brand suitability. This can be done by listing down the keywords that represent a brand. This list will help designers select a font that reflects those keywords. For example, formal and traditional brands should opt for Garamond or Caslon, while modern and cutting-edge brands should go for Roboto or Raleway.
4. Colors and Contrast
Contrast is a major component of readability. Use space and color to achieve contrast. Bold, high contrast colors do a great job at getting your message noticed. For a billboard design, soft pastel shades should be ruled out and bright, bold colors should be used instead. Highly contrasting colors create stunning and captivating looks at any time of the day. Green, black, red, yellow, and orange are contrasting colors that work well.
What fonts should you use?
With outdoor advertising and digital billboards, even if you have a captivating message, the wrong font type will fail to grab attention. Regardless of how great your love for fancy fonts is, you must leave it behind for billboard design. Your message must be readable for speedy riders as well as slow pedestrians. Thin and fancy fonts take extra effort to read when distances are long and driving speed is high. Some examples of simple, modern, and easy to read typography for billboards are Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Tahoma and Helvetica Sans Serif fonts are ideal for digital billboards.
Designers interested in trying out different typefaces for your outdoor advertisement can do so with practice projects. When the real-world projects come up, they’ll have more confidence in using their tried and tested fonts. But the above points and criteria must be kept in mind when choosing a typeface for your billboard design. The best strategy is to take each advertising campaign case by case and understand its mood, message, versatility and brand to determine which fonts would be a good fit.