Get Creative

Get Creative
Get Creative
Basic guidelines and specifications for designing Out-of-Home.

Great creative is a key component of a successful advertising campaign.

While placement, location and timing are all important, a great creative can often be the difference maker.

Simplicity is the fundamental guideline for creating good out-of-home design. The most effective out-of-home designs capture the essence of a message with lucid expression. For this reason, good out-of-home design can lead to better advertising executions in other media.

Guidelines & Specifications for designing Out-of-Home

Quick Tips for Good Out-of-Home Design


Product Identification
Make sure you can read the advertiser's name.


Short Copy
No more than 10 words total, and 5 words in the headline.


Short Words 
Use short words for faster comprehension.


Large and Legible Type 
Words are viewed from distances of 400-800 feet. Any text that is integral to the design should be as large as possible. (See chart and notes below)


Increase Line Thickness 
At 600 feet, thin lines optically disappear.


Forget "The Whitespace" Rule 
This rule does not apply to Outdoor. Unlike Print, the actual viewing size is too small. It's like having a 1"x3" newspaper ad with a lot of white space.


Bold Colors 
Dare to be bold! Being subtle at 600 feet doesn't work.


High Contrast 
High contrast means better visibility.


Simplify Everything 
Focus on one key idea or message.


View From 15 Feet 
View your creative from 15 feet. This simulates viewing from the road.
Does it read well? Make sure your art is legible before it hits the streets.


View For 5 Seconds 
View your creative for 5 seconds. This simulates driving past the billboard.
Can you read the entire message in 5 seconds, if not your drivers will miss your message too.

Colour Frequency & Vibration for Traditional Outdoor (Reflective not Digital)

Like sound waves, light rays have varying wave lengths or frequencies. Some pigments absorb light while others reflect it. Reflected frequencies are perceived as color. Complementary colors, such as red and green, are not legible together because they have similar values that cause the wave lengths to vibrate. Any combination of similar color value (even without vibration), will produce low visibility. Yellow and black are dissimilar in both hue and value providing the strongest contrast for out-of-home design. White complements colors with light values.


Strong contrast in hue and value is essential for creating good out-of-home design. Hue is the identity of color while value measures a color's lightness or darkness. Contrasting colors are best when viewing out-of-home designs from far distances.

The 14 color combinations above represent the best use of color contrast for readability on traditional or reflective content. Example one is the most legible color combination while example 14 is the least legible.

Note: Digital LED units and other back light displays have some subtle differences in contrasts. A chart is not yet available but an example of the difference is that most bright/light colors work well on a black background.


Advances in production technology are allowing advertisers to use increasingly complex imagery in their creative application. However, the requirements for effective outdoor advertising have remained the same — imagery must be bold, clear and easy to understand.

Strong images against simple backgrounds create high-impact visuals. The Image on the left is a good example.

Legibility of Typefaces


Sufficient kerning between letters assures the legibility test from far distances. Tight kerning reduces legibility causing adjacent letters to attach together visually. Without proper kerning "clear morning" could be interpreted as "dear moming."


A single horizontal line of text allows rapid assimilation of a message without interruption. Multiple text lines increase the time needed to discern a message.


If more than one text line is necessary, use adequate leading between lines. When a line of text rides on the line below the interplay of descenders and ascenders it will make a message difficult to read.

Crowding letters into a restricted space will reduce legibility.


Severely contrasting letter strokes will lose definition when viewed from far distances.


Thin typefaces will become invisible from far distances.


Bulky typefaces lose distinction between letters.


Script typefaces are difficult to read at any distance.


Text that needs to be included for legal reasons, viewed in photographs, or by someone standing closer with the intent of reading the disclaimer can be substantially smaller. Printed vinyls for billboards and large format media can have text as small as 4"-6".