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25 Banking Billboards Reviewed: The Good, Bad & Ugly

The Financial Brand grades over two dozen bank and credit union billboards using three basic criteria: clarity of message, visual style and simplicity.

A score of 1 to 5 is assigned for each of the following three categories:

Subscribe TodayMessage Clarity – How well is the intended message conveyed? How easy is it for the reader to understand what it is they are supposed to do or remember? How much work does it take the reader to decipher the message?

Volume of Copy – Experts in the billboard industry recommend holding to around seven words of copy (or less) in billboard headlines, and no more than 14 words on the entire ad (including website URL, disclosures, etc.)

Visual Style & Design – How attractive, eye catching and visually engaging is the billboard?

First Ontario Credit Union

first_ontario_credit_union_mortgage_billboard

Intended Message: Get a mortgage here.
Message Clarity: three_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: B+
Tip: The line about “together at last” could be replaced with a call to action.

Wells Fargo

wells_fargo_account_alerts_billboard

Intended Message: Get a checking account here.
Message Clarity: three_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: B+
Tip: Consider adding a visual element that complements the concept (e.g., a mobile device), and dump the tagline. Taglines should almost never be used in billboards, as they usually detract from the primary message while adding unnecessary words. Assuming this ad ran during the holidays, it deserves some bonus credit for the turn of a popular seasonal phrase.

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

( Read More: Advertising Clinic: 6 Tips For Better Banking Billboards )

Pioneer Credit Union

pioneer_credit_union_switch_billboard

Intended Message: Switch to Pioneer.
Message Clarity: four_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A
Tip: Add URL, preferably something funny and memorable.

First Business Bank

first_business_banking_billboard

Intended Message: Get a business loan here.
Message Clarity: four_stars
Visual Style & Design: three_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A-
Tip: The billboard could make it more obvious what kind of loan(s) are the focus.

Cyprus Credit Union

cyprus_credit_union_mortgage_billboard
Intended Message:
 Get a mortgage here.
Message Clarity: three_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: B+
Tip: It’s not immediately clear what Cyprus is (a credit union) or what they offer (banking services, specifically mortgages).

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( More: Creative Showcase: Good/Bad Billboards, Qrossword, World Record )

Intrust Bank

intrust_bank_billboard

Intended Message: Trust us.
Message Clarity: two_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: C
Tip: The quasi-testimonial offered in this billboard could express a more concrete advantage. All she’s saying is that “trust is getting direction.” She isn’t definitively saying that Intrust delivers the direction she needs at the right times.

Warren FCU

warren_fcu_credit_card_billboard

Intended Message: Get a credit card here.
Message Clarity: four_stars.
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: three_stars
Overall Grade: B
Tip: It might be helpful to put the words “credit card” somewhere in the copy, perhaps right next to the two little hearts. Disclosure copy on billboards is never legible — why bother?

Chemical Bank

chemical_bank_money_billboard

chemical_bank_change_billboard

Intended Message: Bank with us because we’re local.
Message Clarity: three_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A-
Tip: The meaning/message behind the headlines could be more clear: How is Chemical Bank responsible for making “money” and “change” happen in Michigan? Do readers  Or should we just enjoy a good visual pun?

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

( More: Creative Showcase: Human Billboards, Tear Jerker, Freezing Dummy )

Insight Credit Union

insight_credit_union_auto_loan_billboard

Intended Message: Get a loan for your fuel efficient vehicle here.
Message Clarity: five_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A
Tip: Adding the URL “insightcreditunion.com” wouldn’t hurt.

Arizona Central Credit Union

arizona_central_credit_union_mortgage_billboard

Intended Message: Get a mortgage here.
Message Clarity: four_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A-
Tip: Mortgage rates are low, so perhaps include the best possible APR. However, this billboard is so simple in its execution — even the call to action and contact info are efficiently combined into one element — that making any changes might kill what makes it special.

Halifax Bank

halifax_bank_branch_hours_billboard

Intended Message: Open Saturdays.
Message Clarity: three_stars
Visual Style & Design: three_stars
Volume of Copy: two_stars
Overall Grade: C-
Tip: There are two people holding a sign… within a sign. This cramps down the amount of space available for the long, two-part headline. The headline could be simplified to “Open Saturdays.” The orange-on-white type treatment is weak. The two lines about “busy all week” and “pop into your local branch” are throwaways. Readers will be curious about the hours branches are open.

Westerra Credit Union

westerra_credit_union_billboard

Intended Message: Remember us.
Message Clarity: two_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: C+
Tip: The billboard is fetching to the eye, and it proclaims Westerra is a “credit union” loud and proud. But two key facts are tucked away at the bottom: 130 locations and 700 free ATMs. Now that’s something to brag about!

RBC

rbc_student_banking_billboard
Intended Message:
 Get a student checking account here.
Message Clarity: two_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: C+
Tip: Great concept, but the giant “Hello My Name is Sam” badge overpowers the real message — that RBC offers banking services suited to the student lifestyle. The subhead should be the main, dominant headline: “Student Banking as unique as ____ .” The fill-in-the-blank could be filled with the (somewhat smaller) nametag sticker.

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

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Cyprus Credit Union

cyprus_credit_union_auto_loan_billboard

Intended Message: Get an auto loan here.
Message Clarity: five_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A
Tip: There’s too much kerning on the 3.74% interest rate. The conditions — “as low as / OAC / new money only” — could have been rephrased “for qualified borrowers” to tone down the legalese.

Fifth Third Bank

fifth_third_home_equity_billboard

Intended Message: Get a home equity line here.
Message Clarity: four_stars
Visual Style & Design: two_stars
Volume of Copy: two_stars
Overall Grade: C-
Tip: Even if the product’s official title is the “Fifth Third Equity Flexline,” there’s no need to repeat the words “Fifth Third.” There should be a call to action strong than to just “consider it the lifeline of credit lines,” which smacks of a desperation loan from a lender of last resort.

Community West Credit Union

community_west_credit_union_checking_billboard

Intended Message: Get a checking account here.
Message Clarity: five_stars
Visual Style & Design: five_stars
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: A

Velocity Credit Union

velocity_credit_union_checking_billboard

Intended Message: Switch to Velocity.
Message Clarity: five_stars
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: A-
Tip: Eliminate the line of copy that says “Austin banks with Velocity,” and move the call to action and URL down a bit. That gives more room to explore more dynamic/creative typesetting options for the headline and its payoff.

Kiosk & Display | Digital Merchandising for Financial Institutions

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Union Bank

union_bank_business_billboard

union_bank_small_business_billboard

Intended Message: Get a business loan here.
Message Clarity: one_star
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: D-
Tip: Don’t be oblique. Be clear about what you’re selling.

Altura Credit Union

 

altura_credit_union_auto_loan_billboard

Intended Message: Refi your auto loan here.
Message Clarity: four_stars
Visual Style & Design: three_stars
Volume of Copy: three_stars
Overall Grade: B-
Tip: To hit the refinancing message harder, the billboard could say “Auto Loan Refis.” The line “starting as low as” could be typeset much smaller, and rephrased “starting at.”

Altura Credit Union

altura_credit_union_atms_billboard

Intended Message: Get a checking account here.
Message Clarity: one_star
Visual Style & Design: four_stars
Volume of Copy: two_stars
Overall Grade: D
Tip: If you don’t read the ten words of micro type, you won’t know what this billboard is about, and even then you might not be really clear about what it’s selling. If you just read the headline, it could be an insurance ad. Another example where the subhead should be used as the main headline.

California Coast Credit Union

california_coast_credit_union_checking_billboard

Intended Message: Get a checking account here.
Message Clarity: one_star
Visual Style & Design: two_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: D
Tip: This billboard presumably promotes free checking, but the headline is nothing more than a philosophical statement. The adjacent photo has a loose connection to the concept of “freedom,” but does little to support the concept or product being promoted. The headline should be more direct, so that it’s more obvious what the billboard is selling.

State Bank & Trust

state_bank_billboard

Intended Message: Bank with us because we’re different.
Message Clarity: one_star
Visual Style & Design: one_star
Volume of Copy: five_stars
Overall Grade: F
Tip: The visual support for the headline is weak — a paperclip is still a paperclip, the only thing that’s different is the color, and that difference is arguably insignificant. The tagline “Absolutely” is vague, particularly in this context.

First Exchange Bank

first_exchange_bank_savings_billboard
Intended Message:
 Get a savings account here?
Message Clarity: one_star
Visual Style & Design: two_stars
Volume of Copy: four_stars
Overall Grade: F
Tip: Start over with another concept.

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