I came across this interesting webpage by Xerox that celebrates the power of the poster by selecting 50 of the most famous ones that "don't just illustrate history but shape it". I had fun going through them, picking my personal faves and thinking about what we can learn from them.
1. Single minded
A common issue with communication is over complicating things with too many messages. In contrast, the strongest posters are focused on a single, distinctive and memorable message. The poster below by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Conservative Party still remains one of the most iconic posters ever, more than 35 years after its creation. The poster is credited with helping secure the Conservatives win over the Labour Party in the 1979 elections.
Some posters have memorable slogans, like the one above for the Conservative Party. But many of the greatest posters work with few or no words, thanks to the sheer creative brilliance of a single image. Picking two posters from the world of politics, we have the iconic image of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara that has come to stand for revolution everywhere, and the more recent poster from Obama’s history-making presidential campaign. Interesting trivia from the Xerox webpage: Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster was designed in a day and sold on the street by the artist prior to being adopted by the Obama campaign team.
3. Create fresh consistency
Many of the posters in the Xerox hall of fame are "one-offs" that mark a moment in time. The "Got Milk?" poster campaign stands out as one that has truly stood the test of time, running for more 20 years since the first poster appeared in 1995. The same key elements of a celebrity with a milk moustache have been consistent. Freshness is created via the use of contemporary celebrities.
4. Build in functionality
The poster below from Lima, Peru caught my eye by having built in functionality: a built-in filtration systems turns moisture in the air into drinking water! This poster was created by the UTEC university of engineering and technology, as a practical response to lack of rainfall and as a way of attracting more students to the university.
In conclusion, the poster can be a powerful form of communication, especially when you have a focused message bright to life with an impactful and iconic image that you refresh over time.