The Worst Colors For A Billboard – And Why

There are so many colors in the spectrum, and only a few that never work on a billboard sign. Yet some advertisers still have not figured this out (as shown in the photo above). So what are the forbidden colors for a billboard and why?

Light blue

Why would anyone think that light blue would be a good choice when you’re trying to get contrast from the sky as your only backdrop. Unless you’re trying to create an invisible billboard ad, you should never put light blue on a sign. There is absolutely no benefit to this color.


Yellow is not a terrible color – unless it’s a pale yellow. The problem is that you are trying to gain attention from a background that has a 50/50 chance of being the sun. When the sun is coming from the back of the sign, pale yellow is basically invisible to the human eye. It’s just a really lousy choice.


This color can be used as a dark background – but why? In color testing, it ranks very poorly in that capacity, with black, dark blue and red scoring higher in terms of contrast. On top of that, your eye is conditioned to seeing brown trees all around the highway, so it garners no attention at all.


Obviously, in an environment in which trees are the number one background color (with the tops of trees) not to mention farm crops and grass, there’s no reason to use green on a billboard. It gets lost immediately and does nothing better than any other color choice.

Here’s the proof to everything I just said

Think of every major restaurant, hotel and gas station brand in the U.S. Now think of their logo. How many of those contain the colors named above? None. In fact, the #1 most popular color for these professional designers is red. The top restaurant chains in the U.S. – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Chik-Fil-A – all use red in their logos.


All colors are not created equal, Stay away from those found commonly in nature and your ads will be more successful. Your advertisers will appreciate you knowing this.

Frank Rolfe started his billboard company off of his coffee table, immediately after graduating from college. Although he had no formal training on the industry, he learned as he went, and developed his own unique systems to accomplish things, such as renting advertising space. Frank was formerly the largest private owner of billboards in Dallas/Ft. Worth, as well as a major player in the Los Angeles market.