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5 Critical Elements of Modern Poster Design
Dustin Hodgson | Design, Print

5 Critical Elements of Modern Poster Design

An effective, modern poster design can not only appeal to your audience, but it has the power to clearly convey your message and keep the reader’s attention as they walk by with a cell phone in hand and bluetooth headphones in their ears. 

Use these 5 elements in your design to give a dynamic snapshot of an event, product or promotion.

Read More: 15 Minimalist Poster Ideas for Impactful Messaging

Keep it Simple to Cut Through Distraction

Purple Mother's Day Brunch Poster
Purple Mother’s Day Brunch Poster – Customize It

You need to balance multiple images, headlines, text, or a call-to-action (CTA) because your poster has a limited amount of space to communicate your message. What’s more, your viewers are likely walking by the poster, which means they’re distracted, not looking for it, or seeing it from a distance. 

A clear, uncluttered composition is essential to ensure that your audience can quickly comprehend the information on the poster and understand what you’re marketing. 

Think of your poster the same way you think of a social media ad. The potential customer is highly distracted—and used to seeing ads in their newsfeed—so yours needs to be simple and clear. In this way, your best performing social media ads may be great inspiration for your poster design. If it worked in a distracted online environment, it may be just as effective in the distracted offline world.

Use Hierarchy for Quick and Easy Understanding

Live Country Concert Poster
Live Country Concert Poster – Customize It

The modern consumer wants information they can digest quickly easily. This is especially true with poster, which needs to be legible from a distance so that a passerby can understand the most important and interesting details between looking at their phone or talking to a friend. 

As Allan Peters says: “A wise man once told me that a good poster should be just as impactful at 50 feet as it is at 5 feet—and at 5 inches.”

To make this possible, you need to use a hierarchy for your text, with the most significant (and largest) text at the top. Gradually reduce the size as you move down the poster with less important details. Use the following as your guideline:  

  • Top: The headline, this should be your largest text with bold letters. Consider a distinctive font that catches the viewer’s eyes. In the template above, notice how the phrase “Live in Concert Jack Williams” jumps out at you. (Learn more about choosing fonts in our guide: 10 Different Font Types and How to Choose Yours). 
  • Middle: Use a smaller font than the headline, but make sure it’s still visible to the viewer. The middle text should outline the primary details and essential information. This could include event date and location, promotion description, or unique selling propositions.     
  • Bottom: Here’s where you put the fine print, the smallest text with information of minor importance. Think of this as the “nice to have” details. 

Remember that your content must be concise. You only have so much room on the poster and the attention span of your viewer is short. Choose every word and phrase carefully. Everything should play a specific role in conveying your main message.   

How to Make a Poster: Design and Branding 101

Play With Risky Colors to Grab Attention

Pink Pool Party Poster
Pink Pool Party Poster – Customize It

Modern consumers are used to brands taking risks. While the color palette of your poster design should match your brand guide, you can stray from your branding for the purpose of getting your target audience excited and catching their attention. 

In the template above, the bright pink contrasts with the black to make the poster stand out. What’s more, some of the most popular colors right now are neon greens, pinks and purples.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with fun new color combinations—they can completely change the look and feel of your design. Just remember that your color palette should be appropriate for what you’re marketing. If it’s a fun promotion, you might go for bold or contrasting colors to really stand out. For professional events, you might want a more muted and subdued palette.

10 Creative Poster Typography Examples to Make Your Marketing Pop

Make It Scalable for Multi-Channel Marketing

Saint Patrick's Day Weekend Poster
Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend Poster – Customize It

In our multi-channel marketing world, you need to promote in more than one place. You may be designing a poster, in addition to an online ad and direct mail campaign. If you make a poster that’s scalable to say a postcard, flyer, or even social media graphic, you can easily repurpose and reuse the design. You also ensure that when your target audience sees a poster, along with a hand-held print promotion and the online ad, they recognize your event or promotion. 

The key is making sure every element will be visible, no matter the size. This usually requires more white space, less text and clear imagery.

Use a Digital CTA to Take it Back Online

24 Hour Computer Repair Poster
24 Hour Computer Repair Poster – Customize It

The CTA is the that encourages your audience to take the desired action: book today, call to schedule an appointment, come to our store to get your discount. Though your medium is offline, you can direct customers online to complete the action. This makes the poster engaging and gets customers back into the digital space, which is familiar.

With the concert poster template, the CTA is at the bottom suggests users visit a URL to take action: buy tickets. You can have the same  effective with a QR code or even an interactive app experience, if you already have one.  

Engage your modern customers online and offline in the same experience to make your poster memorable.

Don’t Overlook Modern Poster Design

In our densely populated cities and towns, people still look up from their screens, and you want them to be intrigued by your poster when they see it. Don’t overlook these simple elements of modern poster design to ensure your messaging is effective and clear.

Poster Templates