I was being a typical Seattle scenester and grabbing a fancy coffee. While waiting in line, a guy put a small handbill for an upcoming show by the espresso machine. I thought this was awesome. Get a lot of eyeballs from people waiting in line for a venue that’s nearby.
However, I realized I couldn’t make out anything on the flier without really scrutinizing it. Check it out.
Why would someone put scribbles on a very small flier? The goal is to get people out to a show, and you only have a split second to catch some one’s attention. Also, a side goal of fliers and handbills is to have people recognize the name of your band. I know I’ve gone to shows just because I keep seeing a band’s name mentioned around town so many times.
So I looked for a better example, but, instead, got this:
Much more legible than the last one, but they used black on black background for the lettering with only a slight red/pink outline. My guess is they had a larger, full-color version, and just made it smaller and in black and white. So, you have to strain your eyes a bit to see the names of the bands.
Sorry, I was hoping to find a good example of a flier, but these were the only two I saw. However, I do have a few tips.
Readability over art
Make a flier and a handbill. If it’s a handbill, turn down the lights and hold it at arm’s distance. Read it for only a couple of seconds. Now, did you see the information or did you see the weird turtle creature you drew?
If it’s a flier, stand 10 to 20 feet away. Can you read any of it? Now walk past it really quickly and only glance casually at it. What stuck out?
Even though you are creating a work of art and trying to make the flier awesome looking, if people can’t read it in an instant or from a distance, it’s a failure. I’m not saying the artwork shouldn’t be there, but people need to be able to see all the info at a glance. The artwork is an additional enticement to read.
Where, When, Who, and How Much
Keep the date and location easily readable. Then, make sure the most popular band that will bring the most people is listed prominently. (And definitely make sure your band is very legible.)
And definitely make sure to list the time if it’s before 10pm. Call out if it’s all-ages. List the price, so people can actually afford your show. They’ll get pissed if they expected a $5 show, and they get charged $15.
Make it an event. (“CD Release Party!” “Freshly Toilet Trained!”) Also, list the genre of music for the night. If no one knows the bands, they might come out if they like the genre of music. I’ve gone out to shows just because it said “Metal Night”, and I hand nothing better to do.
Make handbills pocket sized
This one’s simple. If you’re handing out fliers, make sure it can fit in a pocket. If it can’t fit in a pocket, it’ll fit in a trash can.
People read left to right (in the US at least)
Before getting super artistic on that flier or handbill, remember people read from left to right. So, when you want information to get into someone’s brain quickly, make sure it’s presented in a left-to-right format. Otherwise, it will confuse the brain, and people won’t register what the flier is intended for.
What do you think?
Do you have any better suggestions? What’s your experience with handbills and fliers? Do you think I’m full of shit? Leave a comment.