Poster design ideas: how to design an engaging poster

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

When it comes to being seen, a poster just might be the most effective piece of paper you’ll find in your marketing toolkit. High impact and cost effective, when designed well, a visually striking poster can drive interest to your business and spread the word about your event, sale or services.

So, what makes a good poster? Follow our tips below for the best poster design ideas and how to make an impact with yours.

What makes a good poster?

Aside from a standout design (we’ll get to that soon), the best creative poster designs all consider their intended audience and purpose. So first, you’ll need to figure out the purpose of your poster, where it will be seen and by who.

Defining your poster’s purpose

The big question you should ask yourself before starting your design is, what kind of poster are you creating? Successful posters have one purpose at a time and a clear call to action. Trying to combine lots of different messages could confuse your audience and make your poster ineffective.

Here are the most popular poster examples and types with a breakdown of the essential info you should include on each.

Advertisement posters

Advertisement posters promote your business, products or services and they’re perfect for attracting potential customers and increasing general brand awareness. They usually contain eye-catching graphics, slogans and key information about your business or product being promoted.

How to design an advertisement poster & what to include:
  • Keep your brand identity in mind – This is a great place to include your logo and brand colours so customers can see the consistency and credibility of your marketing.
  • Stay on message – When promoting your business, it can be tempting to cover everything. Stick to a tried and tested tagline or slogan or focus on one or two aspects of your business that you’d like to promote.
  • Contact information – Depending on the type of business you have, including contact details like your website, socials, phone number or address, is a great way to direct traffic (physical or online)

Event posters

Whether you’re hosting a fundraiser, grand opening, pop-up or open-mic night, a poster is great for grabbing attention and conveying the details of your event.

How to design an event poster & what to include:
  • Go bold with colour, imagery or typography – Socialising, building connections, great food – events are fun! Create excitement with striking visuals that give a hint of what’s to come.
  • Don’t forget the details – We’re talking the date, time, location. If space allows, admission fees or ticket information and a quick description of the event is also a good idea.
  • Encourage people to get social – Use your print marketing to build buzz about your event online. Add a QR code to your event’s website so people can check out more details or link to your social and encourage people to rsvp online or share their snaps. 

Promotion and sale posters

These posters are all about spreading the word about special deals, discounts and offers your business is running. It could be as simple as a percentage off your products or a buy-one, get-one free offer; whatever your promotion is, it’s important it stands out and is clear to anyone who reads it.

How to design a sale poster & what to include:
  • Make the offer your hero – Your discount is king when it comes to a sale poster. Ensure the typography is big, bold and easy to see.
  • Don’t forget the T&Cs – Exclusions and restrictions aren’t the most exciting content for a poster, but might need to be included for compliance and to set expectations about the sale. Misleading information can really put off customers and make them lose trust in your brand.
  • Keep your design simple – Like we said, it’s all about the offer when it comes to these posters. Avoid using too much imagery or text – you won’t want to detract from the main message.

Informational posters

These are the kinds of posters you might see inside a business premises. For example, they might highlight a menu, a list of services you offer or be a way to direct traffic within a brick-and-mortar store. Whatever message you’re trying to convey, make sure it’s clear and striking.

How to design an informational poster & what to include:
  • Highlight the essentials only – While it can be tempting to fill these posters with lots of words, keeping your message simple and legible is key. Stick to the basic points your customers need to know.
  • A picture paints a thousand words – If your information is hard to relay in small amounts of text, an instructional image can really help.
  • Use your layout wisely – When you have lots of information to convey, experiment with a non-traditional layout; columns, speech bubbles, graphs etc.

Location, location, location

Directional and informational posters should always be placed in an area with enough space and attention – You don’t want competing messaging when trying to relay important news to customers. If your poster is taking up space on a busy wall and competing with other messages (like a community notice board), visual impact is everything – standing out with typography or bold, contrasting colours is a great way to get noticed.

Promoting an event? Placing your poster outside your venue is a great idea for attracting the attention of locals passing by. The same logic can be applied to restaurants, cafes and brick-and-mortar retailers – a poster with your special offers is great for drawing customers inside.

Considering your location goes hand in hand with considering your audience. It goes without saying, that making sure your poster is positioned in a place where your target audience will see it is essential. For example, if you’re promoting your personal training services, asking health food stores or other complementary businesses to display your poster will ensure your brand is seen by likeminded customers.

How to layout a poster

Now you have all the magic ingredients, it’s time to put it together – this is where layout comes in to play. Viewers may only glance at your poster for a few seconds, so how you arrange the messages and graphics on your poster will contribute to how it’s read, understood and remembered.  

The most common poster layout ideas are:

  • Grid or collage – This is where you collate a variety of images and text within your poster. This layout is great if you need to feature multiple images or products – just be careful that all of the elements in your grid are cohesive and aren’t competing.
  • Hierarchy – In this layout, the most important information is placed at the top of the poster, with the less important information below. This layout works well for posters with a clear call-to-action like a sale or promotion.
  • Focal point – Instead of a top-down approach, a focal point layout will feature your most prominent piece of content in the centre of your poster. This less-traditional approach is great for creating visual interest.

How to design a poster: a quick guide

Start with your message

As we’ve established, the best creative posters are all about grabbing attention and quickly conveying a message, so making sure whatever is written on your poster is clear and concise is essential. If your messaging is unclear or too lengthy, people may lose interest, become confused or forget the poster’s purpose.

You should also make sure your poster has a clear call to action, like “visit our store today” or “check out our website for more information.” This way, customers will know what to do with the information they’ve learned from your poster and begin to engage with your business.

Create eye-catching visuals

Posters are a visual medium so a striking design is a must. You can do this by experimenting with colour choices – bold and contrasting colours are great for standing out and a monochromatic palette works great for simple, clean designs. Avoiding clutter and choosing high quality images will also create an impact. VistaPrint has great templates to get you started or you might consider hiring a professional to design your poster or photograph your products. You should also consider your typography and font choices. Choosing an easy-to-read font will make sure your message is understood; even from a distance. And you can use your font sizes, weights and colours to create an interesting visual hierarchy where your most important message is read first (more on that below).

Connect your design to your brand identity

Consider incorporating your brand colours, fonts and logo where relevant. Your poster doesn’t need to be a carbon copy of your business card or other marketing materials, but it also shouldn’t feel out of step or like it belongs to another business.

Choose the right material  

The right paper stock can make all the difference to your design. Glossy paper stocks work well with highly saturated colours or designs with photography, whereas a matte stock will give you a glare-free finish that makes text pop. If your poster is going to be on show outdoors, a weatherproof stock that can withstand the elements is essential. Creating a sign for long-term use in your store? A laminated option is super durable and made to last.