By Tim Downs
Great communication is one of our strongest assets inside the worship hall, but it’s often largely neglected where we need it most, at the street view. Proper, effective signage is essential for every church; to help create a cohesive identity, to inform the community of upcoming events, service times and campaigns, and to broadcast your message to your neighbors.
Here are 10 tips that will help make sure your outdoor banners & signs are successful.
Determine the purpose for your banner.
Are you promoting an upcoming event or sermon series, or maybe posting special service times? Considering the purpose of your banner is the first step to making sure your community gets the right message.
TIP 1 Branding: If your banner is intended to extend your brand by sharing your mission or values, you may want to design it with you logo and website clearly visible, effectively tying your mission to your church name and website.
TIP 2 Informing: If you’ve changed your service times, have a new pastor or have other information that may be helpful to your community eg. “flood relief here!”, you’ll want to be as clear and simple as possible without cluttering your design with too much imagery.
TIP 3 Advertising and Promotion: When you promote a program like VBS, or a new sermon series, integrate the overall look and feel of the program into your banner design, but always keep the design simple, without trying to communicate too many topics on a single banner. Try to keep the banner focused on a single event or promotion.
Follow these vital design basics to make sure your banner is clear, engaging and beautiful.
TIP 4 Color: Inside the church we have complete control over what people see, and what we want to direct their attention to, but it’s much more difficult outside. Billboards, road signs, traffic and buildings all cause distraction and make it difficult for your banner to get noticed. To help viewers focus on your banner, choose a bold, attention-grabbing color. If your banner is a branding banner, consider one of your church’s branding colors as a field behind your messaging. If you are promoting an event or program choose a color from that specific palette. Keep color fairly simple in your design, the goal is to attract the viewers eye, not to add to the confusion of a busy street.
TIP 5 Message: Keep your message simple. Driving by your church at 35 MPH, there’s not much time to read, so try to pair down your message to its most vital components. One strong line is all that is generally needed to get your point across. Keep your primary message focal in the design, and make details, like dates and your website, smaller so they won’t compete for the driver’s attention. If the main text line interests them, they will come back for the details.
TIP 6 Imagery: As with all the other design conceits, keep it simple. If you feel you need images on your banner, let it set a mood, but not be focal to your design. If you recently sent a direct mail piece to your community, use that imagery as a background (in its simplest form) to help make a visual connection from the mailer to the church who sent it. If you are promoting a movie night, personal finance series, children’s program or other specific event, use imagery that makes it clear at a glance what the topic is in an iconic way. Always use art and imagery to support, not to drive the message on outdoor banners.
TIP 7 Typography: You may be tempted to design with trendy light or delicate fonts that match your logotype or the lockup of your sermon series, but remember, you don’t have a captive audience when they are speeding to soccer practice, or listening to an audiobook on their way to work. Be bold and generally stick with sans serif fonts for outdoor typography. Choose one or two fonts that complement the campaigns you want to promote, but make sure they contrast clearly from your background and are not competing with the art of the banner.
Make sure your messaging reaches your audience.
TIP 8 Timing: As people move around their neighborhood they notice change, they also notice when things don’t change. Put up time sensitive banners well in advance and make sure you take them down soon after the date of an event. If your banner contains a message that you plan to keep up long-term, keep it relevant by redesigning it periodically with a color that keys on the seasons. A vinyl banner is the single least expensive and most effective way to reach masses of people in your community, and a fresh look with a new message periodically will show your neighbors that your church is thriving, growing and changing.
TIP 9 Cohesive Clarity: Perhaps the most important tip is to remain focused on the reason you need the banner. It should have a single visual focus, a single message and it should read quickly and clearly from a distance. All the elements of color, imagery, messaging, typography and purpose should complement one another to create a clear presentation that is easy to understand at a glance.
Your banner will only be effective if people see it.
TIP 10 Location: One of the best advantages of using a vinyl banner to share your message with the world is having the flexibility to put it where you need it most, without the cost of constructing a permanent sign. Many churches attach banners to their main street marquee but there are many other ways to install a vinyl banner in both temporary and permanent applications. Outreach offers several options for mounting banners around your church exterior. A-Frame banner stands are a great resource when you want to move your banner around and they are terrific for mobile churches that meet in schools, theaters or for offsite events. The outdoor banner display system is a semi-permanent solution you can mount in grass – the poles can be removed when you’re not using it and you can mow over the inserts.
More and more, community signage regulations are limiting where and how temporary signage can be displayed, so Outreach will soon offer a banner frame that makes it easy to attach your banners to the exterior walls or church monument.
At Outreach, we can help you design and/or print your church’s banners or you can choose from hundreds of pre-designed editable banners for any church need. And as your outdoor display needs grow, you may also find the large range of flag, and light pole banners helpful to create an invitational feeling of excitement around your services and programs.
We hope these tips help you bring more of your community to church to share God’s love.
Tim Downs is the Creative Director of Outreach Inc. and the Art Director of Outreach Magazine. With over 28 years of publishing, advertising and marketing experience, including two New York Times best selling books, Tim brings his vast knowledge of branding, design and creative leadership to Outreach.