Michael Sessions, Main Street Manager and Gwen Dusa, project manager from the Main Street Promotions Committee was the sub-committee that worked on a billboard for US23 at Exit 5. They worked with Pete Baker (a freelance artist from Ann Arbor who donated his time and talent). I was hoping the proposed design would have gone through the Michigan Main Street Design Committee but instead, it was presented straight to the DDA and approved. The old billboard was overly feminine with no correlation to who we are. The new proposed one is an improvement; I have to ask though, is this really the best we can do?
The above design is simple with striking colors. A nod is given to the nostalgic past with quaint scrollwork, a modern grunge type aging and a graceful, script font. Our Village name is further highlighted by a catchy quip.
Gwen’s Measurement of Success: Increase of Facebook ‘likes’ by 10 percent in first month, and increased mention by patrons of business. The measurement of success statement is at the bottom of every work plan a project manager develops. The proposed design (top picture) is masculine, the font is very industrial (I like the pattern detail on the font, although I’m thinking it will look like rivets from the road), the colors are grey with a muddy, brick-red accent, making the billboard look bland, that in turn makes us look bland. I’m aware of the old school, black and white photograph style they were trying to go for, but the look wasn’t exactly pulled off.
I’d expect marketing to the feminine population would be a really important market too, one not to be ignored.
I was told the decision to partner with the Hathaway House and the Dinner Train was a cost-effective one. Taxpayers have been supporting all the costs up to this point and are paying a third of the costs going forward. The billboard’s supposed to be promoting Blissfield as a whole, and I wonder why just two business were approached for this investment. I feel it’s more right and fair to keep the billboard generic, mostly because advertising for everyone (whether they paid or not its too much information) would result in a messy convoluted message that couldn’t possibly carry out its goal.
Yes design, like art is subjective and it is difficult to extrapolate the same level of appeal from every audience. That shouldn’t stop us from reaching for the basic objective a billboard is supposed to do, which is to get attention. There’s no question the design they came up with would appeal more to men than women. However, there’s no danger of us overselling ourselves. Nice and safe…and mainstream – nothing about it is catchy, different, unique or beautiful. I would prefer our billboard communicate any one of those aforementioned descriptions…even using just one of those words would be good.
Should we be selling black and white industrial or should we sell quaint and lively?
To answer that put your tourist shoes on and also ask yourself what would piqué your interest. How about selling what sells best?
This design could even be 3D, it references the antique market with the added playfulness of including the sun bouncing off and illuminating the antique mirror’s bold and happy color. No matter what the weather is, the sun is always shining on Blissfield.
The creative use of color is the first tool to grab someone’s attention. Decide if any of these designs would jump out at dusk, early dawn or on dreary days at 70 miles per hour. Would they disappear into the background? Nobody will read your message unless you get their attention first.
The billboard bellow is aged with a bold and vibrant color palette. The graphic starkness and minimalist design gives “old and worn” an artsy modern twist – sure to demand notice.
Are there tweaks I’d make with my own designs? Sure. Would I be open to suggestion and popular opinion? You bet I would. For instance, this version has absolutely no aging on “Bliss”, making this part pop more by keeping it pristine.
Check out toxel.com for some Clever and Creative Billboards; my personal favorite is Heineken.
One of the issues we haven’t tackled is branding, we should have already chosen a select few colors that we can associate with our brand (who we are). We definitely need continuity. Promotions have a huge design element, it makes sense to utilize the Design Committee. The committee sports three artists, an architect and an outspoken creative type that has some design experience.
Even if we’re going for the traditional historic look, I want it to be known – they had color back then…just not in early photography, and that only lasted until they figured out how to watercolor it in.