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Top 5 design tips for creating an outdoor banner

Outdoor banners are one of the best ways to get your message out to an outdoor audience.

If designed properly, they are one of the most effective advertising marketing tools out there. If they’re not designed properly, then they will make much less of an impact than originally intended. Considering how you have around two seconds to catch someone’s attention, it’s important to make sure your design is easy to read and digest. Nobody is going to take the time to stand there and read line after line of small text or try to decipher fonts that are too small. Here are five key design tips you should keep in mind when designing your own outdoor vinyl banner. Each one of these tips will ensure that your custom printed banner will have the maximum impact upon everyone who gazes upon it.

Font Size

When designing an outdoor banner, you need to take into consideration the size of the font and the distance that people will be reading it. Before you open InDesign or Photoshop, go to where you will be hanging the banner and visually estimate the average viewing distance. The general rule of thumb is ten inches of letter height for every 100 feet of visibility. If you’re going to be hanging the banner by grommets, be sure to find four anchor points you can securely tie the rope to. This design formula will also help you intelligently select the right banner size as well.


The old adage K.I.S.S. (“keep it simple, silly”) applies when designing a banner. When people are at an outdoor event, they’re focused on getting to their destination. As such they’re not going to stop in the middle of a crowd to make sense of a very complicated outdoor banner. Beautiful designs are great – if they are simplistic in nature. Someone should be able to glance at your banner and in less than one second understand what it’s about.

Color and Contrast

Color Wheel AlphaGraphicsColor and contrast should also be taken into consideration when designing a custom fabric banner. Bright colors that contrast work well in attracting attention.  Search online for a “color wheel.” You can use it to select colors that are opposite of each other and have the highest contrast. Don’t select colors that are right next to each other as they tend to create a more soothing feeling – which runs counter to the intended purpose of the banner.

Maintain the Focal Point

The focal point in a design is where the eye is naturally drawn to when someone looks at a banner. It helps people focus on the necessary part of the design. Isolating focal points with white space will help make them visible against colorful backgrounds. By keeping the design balanced and separating the different elements with moderating spacing, the banner will be much easier to read and digest by anyone who glances at it. If you’re going to be hanging a large outdoor banner, the focal point is even more critical because it won’t have as big of an impact from far away.

Call to Action (CTA)

The CTA is one of the most important elements of banner design. You could have a visually stunning banner, but if there is no CTA then the banner won’t be as effective. Be sure to display the CTA prominently and in as few as words possible. A call to action doesn’t have to be complicated. It can simply direct people to come into your store or booth. If you add a simple URL such as a pURL you can get people to visit your website where you can give them more information or ask them to submit theirs.

Outdoor Banner Design in Raleigh

When it comes to designing outdoor or retractable banners, it’s important to keep the above five design principles in mind. If you find yourself drawing a blank or would like some expert help and advice from a banner printing company, contact one of our design professionals at AlphaGraphics. To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh can help you with your vinyl banner printing project, you may email us, request a quote or call us at (919) 832-2828.

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