Need to get attention with signage for your event or small business? Take inspiration from the bold, simple, and eye-catching designs of WPA posters from WWII.
The Posters of the WPA: Simple & Effective Signage Ideas:
It’s amazing how these WPA posters, like the government propaganda posters of the same era, can convey a strong message with only a few words and a single image.
A number of them will even ask the viewer a question to hook them. “Are YOU helping?” Maybe you can do the same to potential customers. (Who wants a TACO?!)
Whether you are printing a banner for a trade show, advertising a grand opening, or printing a poster to advertise an art show, I think you can take inspiration from the poster designs of the WPA:
About Works Progress (WPA) Administration Posters:
From 1936 until 1943 the WPA commissioned about 2000 different posters to publicize events, community activities, and health & education programs in 17 states. This government program to support the arts created a massive amount of bold, creative, and effective signage which can still inspire our own marketing efforts today.
Tip: Printing Effective Signage & Posters: Keep It Simple, Like the WPA:
“Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good, And can’t sustain like one half could” – Gravity, John Mayer
So, you probably have a lot to say to potential customers, and you want to make sure you include it all when printing a sign, poster, or banner? Actually, you’re better off keeping it simple. Don’t waste your time creating wordy signage like these poster design fails:
Poster design FAILS!
Think fewer words and images. If you’re banner looks like a page ripped from an encyclopedia, (What’s that? Ok, I’m old!) people will walk right by it and it will get lost in all the noise and visual stimulation that surrounds us on every street.
Effective but Cheap Banners & Sign Printing
Another tip and bit of inspiration: these WPA posters, like most of the propaganda of the era including Russian Constructivist posters, were done with few resources and technology on a tight budget. If you don’t have the services of a professional designer, or skill as an illustrator, you can still appreciate the effectiveness and simplicity of these designs, and rethink your own signage layout to better command attention.
So, don’t think that you have to break the bank, especially with new printing processes, to get effective custom signage for yourself or your small business. Of course, we recommend Vistaprint, but you can find brilliant cheap printing from several other online printing companies like Shutterfly.
Ideas & inspiration for creating a memorable business card: Let’s face the facts here: if your business card is bland, it could “accidentally” end up in your potential employer’s garbage bin on top of their leftover lasagna. And we all know that the lasagna wasn’t appetizing if there are still leftovers from last week.
You want your business card to stand out; even if it only has the dimensions of a standard printed card that is 3.5 X 2 inches. Allow every word, blank space, color, shape, and font to add meaning to your overall personal brand.
Your business cards should be professional and represent the quality of your work. So, don’t get caught with a business card that appears to be designed by your three-year-old niece who speaks English as a second language. That’s one way to diminish your credibility in 0.2 seconds.
Here are some ideas & inspiration for designing and printing your business cards online:
Small Fonts Won’t Work on Business Cards; Be Bold!
Don’t make your business card recipients find the nearest magnifying class just to read the font. Select easy-to-read fonts. Vistaprint has templates that have preselected font types and sizes so you can preview your entire design as a proof online before ordering. Just be sure the type is clearly legible, even if tacked to a bulletin board.
If you have Photoshop skills, or are a designer or photographer, consider making the entire design yourself and upload it. (why use a template if you are supposed to be creative for a living?)
Remember to export it at high-resolution, and know whether to export it at CMYK or RGB, depending on the printing service. Getting the color mode wrong might cause colors to shift unexpectedly.
Don’t Forget to Use the BACK of Your Business Card
Let’s say your business card is your personal real estate. How are you increasing your value by utilizing your space? Don’t leave the back of the business card blank; make sure that your business card makes a compelling statement no matter which side of the card viewers are looking at.
Idea: When designing business cards online, consider adding a powerful quote that ignites curiosity. Translate your cards to another language if you do business in other locations. Include a call to action. Vistaprint has folded card options that give you the space you need to increase your value in the marketplace.
Avoid Cheap-Looking, Flimsy, or “Free” Business Cards
We are always on the search for the cheapest products on the market, but the last word you want to be associated with in business is “cheap.” In fact, every day hundreds of people search for “free business cards” on Google. I have to wonder who is buying them, and for what purpose?
Trying to save money by printing your cards on inexpensive flimsy business card paper stocks may be costing you more money than you think–and diminishing the quality of your brand.
Your business cards reflect you: cheap-looking business cards cheapen your professional image, and some free business cards even have the company’s logo on the back; yikes!
The very weight of your business card paper has an impact on the way you’re perceived. If you want to leave a positive impression on potential clients, choose a solid and professional template on top-quality paper stock to show that your business is well-grounded and prepared for success.
If you want to save money, choose “premium” business cards from printing services like Vistaprint, then use a coupon. Besides, by the time you pay for shipping on the free business cards, you’re not even saving that much money. There’s a big difference between being frugal and cheap; save the free business cards for dropping into fish-bowls to win free lunches!
Tip: Include Your LinkedIn Vanity URL on Your Business Cards
Have you claimed your vanity URL name on LinkedIn? If you haven’t, your LinkedIn URL probably looks like a foreign language; a sequence of letters and numbers that have no meaning to others.
Create a unique LinkedIn URL that can be added to your business card. Just edit your LinkedIn profile and claim your URL within seconds. Most customized URLs will look like this, “www.linkedin.com/in/firstnamelastname.” Your LinkedIn profile says more about you than a five-minute interaction that you may have with strangers.
And, if people are intrigued by your business card, they will want to find other ways to connect with you. (Hmmm… Not sure about using a QR code on business cards? Maybe consider printing one on the back.)
Idea: Design Your Business Cards w/ a Vertical Orientation
A horizontal layout is conventional, and might ultimately be the best design option, but consider a vertical layout. It’s different, modern, and will get more attention. Remember, the goal here is to stand out from the competition!
Consider Adding a Professional Photo to Your Business Cards
A pleasant photo immediately catches the eye, and makes your business more personal. If you have taken professional business photos that capture the essence of your brand, add it to your business card. You’ll never have to worry about the business card users forgetting who you are five years down the line.
Adding a photo to your business cards can also help establish trust, which is key in business areas like Law and Real Estate. When you order your business cards from a professional site, all you have to do is pick a design template, upload your photo, and you’re ready to go!
Make Your Business Card Design Appeal to the Eyes, & get honest feedback before printing
Don’t have a professional photo or just don’t want to include it on your business cards? Don’t worry. You have other options. Your company logo may not be the captivating visual that will turn eyes your way, but you can appeal to others with pictures of your products or things you love. Vistaprint gives you the option to upload your favorite pictures to customize onto your card.
Also, get a second and third opinion on your potential design ideas. Designs that look good to you may not go over well with others, so look for honest feedback!
Go With a Top Discount Printing Service, Like Vistaprint
There are popular sites, such as VistaPrint.com, that allow you to create high quality business cards in less than 15 minutes. Vistaprint’s diverse selection of business card templates by industry will make yours stand out in a wallet full of other cards.
If you’re designing business cards online, Vistaprint has various paper styles such as metallic finish, extra thick paper stock, raised print UV, and spot glass UV, and offers free samples for you to see and feel in-person. If you want your business cards to be the main subject of conversations at a networking event, order professional business cards using these tips that will make your business card memorable:
Consider Pinterest for Business Card Design Examples & Inspiration
Sometimes the best thing to do is just look at what business card designs are out there, and see what looks good. Because everyone has different needs and design ideas, try just scrolling through a ton of designs on Pinterest. You can often even narrow your search results by industry:
Advertising and design ideas from Russian Constructivism: There are 101 ideas for why you might be printing flyers or posters: advertising a new restaurant, a clothing sale, a concert, or maybe a coupon for an oil change?
Regardless of the reason you are printing flyers, the objective is the same: get attention & convey your message.
Ideas for Flyer or Poster Design: Go Bold or Go Home!
So how do you get your message across on a busy street when 100 other businesses and brands are competing for the same people’s attention? Be bold and clear; and consider taking inspiration from Russian Constructivism.
Soon after WWI a bold & abstract design style came out of Russia called “Constructivism.” It had the simple objective of getting people’s attention, and with minimal resources or technology, it soon became an effective style for both advertising and propaganda.
Constructivist design was constructed from visual elements like lines and planes in a precise, simple order. Often it looked like they used an exact-o knife (not Photoshop) as their main design tool.
Really, it was as if the message itself was cooked down to the basics, with all of the non-essential parts melting away.
Constructivist designers knew that people were used to seeing messages in the same way: from left to right, straight across the page; so why not rethink this basic unwritten rule?
Factor in that in early 20th Century Russia the illiteracy rate was high; so advertisers knew that relying on paragraphs of words to convey their message wasn’t an option. They needed simple imagery to reinforce whatever was being said so the message was still received, even by those who couldn’t read.
Flyer and Poster Design Ideas: Less Is More
“Men of few words are the best men.” – William Shakespeare
In all of our effort to convey a message, we have the tendency to over-complicate things. Whether we are teaching a lesson to a child, or advertising a restaurant, less is usually more. The essence of our message often gets lost in the excessive number of words and imagery that we use to deliver it.
So, try reducing your message to it’s most simple form.
Sample: 2 Flyers / Posters for Bicycle Safety, Only 1 is Effective!
Ok, so this isn’t an “apples to apples” comparison, but you get the point. Give a quick look at both of these safety flyers. Ten minutes from now you might not be able to name even one of the ten rules of “bicycle safety,” but I guarantee you will remember the “stay off the sidewalk” message.
Check out these flyers for the same movie. Both of these flyers succeed in being simple and bold, but the one that adds a “Constructivist” twist seems to really grab and hold my attention.
Printing Flyers or Posters: Can You Simplify Your Message?
Sure, you might not have a professional graphic designer or a big budget, but you still want to get noticed. Before printing your flyers, answer these questions:
Does your flyer command attention and deliver your message instantly?
Are all of the words you’re using really necessary, or could you cut them in half?
Is your layout too predictable, with all of the copy running in rows from left to right?
What if you rotated some of the words or design elements?
If someone couldn’t read, would they know what your flyer is advertising?
Sample Constructivist Designs: Ideas for Flyers & Posters
Check out some of these simple, eye-catching, bold examples of Constructivist advertising, and try envisioning your own message distilled to simple, bold fonts, copy, and imagery:
Flyers: Whether you’re printing something the size of a postage stamp or a poster, the goal is the same: get your message across. Flyers can do just that, so consider making them a part of your marketing strategy!