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Anatomy of an Effective Promotional Banner

Large retail window sale banners

Promotional banners are everywhere, from in-store displays to high school football fields. You likely see dozens of banners every day, but do you actually see them? Banners can be an effective marketing tool to promote a business or organization. However, a poorly designed banner won’t be seen and results in a waste of time, effort, and money.

Consider the anatomy of an effective promotional banner when designing your next piece and feel confident that you will see intended results.


The number one, most important aspect to consider about your promotional banner is the message that you are trying to convey. What is the action you hope viewers will take after seeing your banner? Is there an action for people to take? Is the message banner-worthy?

Depending on where the banner lives, your message should be clear and concise. Rarely do you have the luxury of viewers stopping to read lots of text or appreciate fine details in images. So, through exciting or problem-solving statements, your message needs to grab viewers’ attention and make them want to take action.

Some ideas for effective messaging on a promotional banner:

  • Highlight a special sale or limited time offer.

  • General brand promotion with a tagline or short description of your product or service.

  • Highlight an achievement, such as an award or championship.

  • Ask a question that will resonate with your target demographic.

Layout of Visual Elements

Pole banners for pickleball tournament

When designing a promotional banner, there should be a hierarchy of visual elements in the layout. In the U.S., people view subjects from top to bottom and left to right. So, that is how your hierarchy should lay out. If the text is what will get viewers’ attention, that should be the big, loud element at the top or left side of the banner. If it is an image or other graphic element that is intended to be the attention-grabber, that should be the bold piece at the top that stands out from the rest.

Common mistakes that people make when creating their promotional banner include no hierarchy, so viewers don’t know where to look, too much information squeezed into a finite space, competing graphic elements, and text that is too small to read.

Identify the reason for the banner and make that the focal point for which everything else is designed around. Walk away from the design for a while and come back to it. Note where your eyes look first. Is that where you want other viewers to look first? If not, rework the layout.


Color is another important element of a promotional banner that can make it great, or inhibit its success. When designing your banner, consider a few factors: branding, contrasting colors, and the environment in which the banner will live.

It’s tempting to throw a bunch of bright colors into your design because you have heard that is what will get people’s attention. But if your brand is darker or more muted, a design filled with bright colors will create confusion and give the wrong impression of your brand.

Also pay attention to how colors interact with each other in the design. For any text, make sure you use complementary colors or high-contrasting colors and shades. For example, blue text on a green background will be hard to read, since they are very close on the color wheel. However, blue text on an orange or yellow background will generate a nice contrast and be easy to read.

Something that many people do not consider when designing their banner, is the environment around its installation. The environment can affect how colors appear in the design, actually changing how they appear compared to other environments. The environment can also work against your colors or be used to your advantage. For example, a white banner on a white wall will get lost. But a white banner against a dark wall or background will stand out.


Vinyl banner

The material you use for your banner should be appropriate for the end application. That means if you will be installing your banner in an outdoor setting, you should use a material that is manufactured for outdoor banners and will be able to withstand rain, wind, snow, sun, etc.

You will also want to consider the lifespan of your banner. For a temporary installation that does not need to last more than a day or two, you can get away with a less expensive paper-based substrate. However, if the banner needs to last for weeks, months, or years, you will want to use a material that is much more durable, like a vinyl.


Promotional Event Banner for organic milk

The last piece of the puzzle is placement of your banner. Where is it going to be most effective in, not only getting people to see it, but getting the right people to see it? A well-designed banner can be completely wasted if it is installed in an area where it is blocked or where it gets lost in a clutter of other stimuli.

When selecting a location for your banner, choose a place that has lots of traffic, is clearly visible from blockage or clutter, and stands out against the background. Try to place the banner at eye level, or close to eye level, as that is the area that gets the most views.

When looking to create your next banner, reach out to the experts at Omega High-Impact Print Solutions. We have been creating effective marketing materials for over 70 years, including well-designed, high-quality promotional banners for a variety of large and small businesses. Our experienced design team will work with you to create an effective banner that achieves your goals.


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