How to create a free banner: golden rules, tips and ideas

How to create a banner ad?

Creating a free and at the same time effective banner nowadays is possible thanks to several sites that offer this opportunity in a few simple steps. However, it should be pointed out that attractive graphics for a banner ad are particularly important: after all, we only have a few seconds to make the user be attracted and intrigued by our ad and click on it.

By following a few rules and tips you can create effective and click-catching banners!

The word banner literally means flag in English. A banner is in fact a form of advertising consisting of a striped image. These images are often very elongated and can be tall and narrow or wide and low. Banner sizes vary and I will show you them later.

We can say that banners represent the typical display advertising format and belong to the big world of Google Ads. They are created with the aim of bringing traffic to the website but also to increase brand awareness.

There are, in particular, two types of banner advertising:

  1. Static banners: consisting of a fixed graphic image, they are more basic but have the advantage of being less intrusive.
  2. Animated banners: they can contain animations and sounds. More specifically, they can be made using gif or jpeg images, videos, or Flash animations. They are more engaging but can disrupt navigation.

Compared to a text-only ad, banner ads offer a visual stimulus to the user and, if well-designed, induce the user to click on them. Their ease of implementation makes them suitable for an online advertising strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Would you like to learn more about display advertising?

create a banner online

The first online banner in history

The very first banner made on the web dates back to 27 October 1994, now 25 years ago. It bore the slogan ‘Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will.

very first banner

AT&T, a large US telephone company, paid $60,000 for its banner to appear on the first real magazine on the Net. It recorded a CTR (Click Through Rate) of 44%, a staggering figure considering that the current CTR is well below the 1% threshold.

How to create a free banner

The size aspect must also be considered when creating a banner. There are numerous formats but, more precisely, display advertising delivery standards are set by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and vary over time.

There are standard formats (e.g. strip, box, half page, skyscraper) and rich media, which contain sound, video, animation, flash, etc. that provide a richer user experience. Rich media include: expanding banners, in-stream video ads, interstitials ads, and many others.

Online banner advertisements can then be placed and distributed on various channels:

SOCIAL: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Youtube



Granted that it is advisable that the banner graphics do not exceed 150 KB when we are about to create a banner it is good to know which are the fundamental graphic and textual elements that will constitute it:

  • LOGO: serves to increase brand awareness. It must be visible and recognizable without being too large. It should be placed at the top of the banner.
  • VALUE OFFER: it contains the offer we make to users. The more relevant its content, the greater the chances of generating interest. It may contain phrases such as “20% discount on the entire catalog”, “Offer reserved for the first 50 subscribers”, etc…
  • CALL TO ACTION: the most popular is the “button” with which we invite the user to perform the desired action. It can contain phrases such as “Discover now”, “Take advantage now”, “Go to the shop”, etc…

Download the Free Mini Guide and start making banners from social media platforms successfully

guide on social media marketing

The golden rules for creating an effective banner

Creating an impactful banner that draws attention without annoying navigation, therefore, requires effort. As a consequence, if you want to ensure that your ad gets noticed among a thousand others, you have to take care of several aspects.

Customizing your banner to the best of your ability is important to stand out from the crowd. There are no magic formulas but these tips will help you:

  • Focus on the message and communicate directly;
  • be consistent in your ad: the tone of voice should reflect your brand identity;
  • Insert a call to action in the banner ad. Make the focus on the CTA;
  • if your company has a logo, include it. You will be more recognizable, thus promoting brand awareness;
  • insert deadlines, limited places, and countdowns. Use this persuasive sales technique to instill a sense of urgency;
  • images and colors must be well-balanced;
  • choose easily readable fonts;
  • whenever possible insert photos of human faces: they draw more attention;
  • uses different banner formats: in fact, some sites do not host certain ad formats, better to vary the formats and broaden the possibilities.

Sites to create an online banner for free

Several solutions are available on the net for creating a banner online for free. Here is a selection of them:


This site offers you two possibilities: create a single banner or an entire set with the banner generator tool. It has a drag & drop editor that is very easy to use. Drag and drop text, images, buttons, and other graphic elements.

banner generator tool

screenshot from

What’s more, you don’t need to know any programming: you can create complex animations in html5 intuitively, as you have 32 predefined animations at your disposal.

On Bannersnack you will find over 4000 ready-made or customizable social media layouts. The banners are then compatible with all major advertising networks and you can store them in the cloud or export them in html5, jpg, png, gif, or mp4 format. Your gallery is also constantly updated with new templates.

My Banner Maker

Another great free solution is My Banner Maker. In order to create a banner, you must be registered. The site has an intuitive interface.

On the first screen, you have a choice of the most popular, social, advertising banner, game, and custom format (where you type in the height and pixel width of the banner you want to make). When you select one of these, below you see all the available formats and choose the one that suits you best.

After this step you have three options: use a predefined template, photos from the site library, or upload your own image.

You then have two options: “edit in express editor”, which is simpler but limited in that you can only edit text, or “edit in design studio”. The latter has a more structured editor in which you can make numerous changes.

In the design studio, you can insert additional images, distribute them on several layers, and insert text, filters, shapes, and stickers. Once your customized banner is ready, you can save it and download it as a png file.


Canva is a free Internet site that allows you to create graphic designs of various kinds. On this site, you can create banners easily thanks to its easy-to-use editor.

create banners using canva

You can choose between layout, color, font, and images. You find all predefined template formats for each online platform. You can choose from thousands of templates and over two million photos to customize your banner. You can also insert your company logo.

With Canva you can create as many banners as you want and download them to other platforms with just a few clicks.


Creating a banner with Gimp is only recommended if you are proficient with image-processing software, as Gimp is a good alternative to expensive Photoshop.

Gimp is a free and open-source software to be installed on your computer that allows you to create static and animated banners with endless different combinations and creativity.

If, on the other hand, you want to try an application provided by Google to create eye-catching banner ads, find out what Google Web Designer is.

Trends and ideas for creating your banner

Below you will find a list of trends and graphic design ideas on how to create your banner. In a world overcrowded with messages and ultra-competitive, it is important to keep up with the changes. Sensing the new trends that will engage people the most will contribute to the success of your company.

banner ideas

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, you have to be aware of everything around you. Inspiration is everywhere around us and, remember, don’t underestimate the power of images in marketing!

Isometric design

The isometric design has evolved from the flat design style that has existed for many years. The technique consists of drawing 3D objects in two dimensions. This style is widely used to create illustrations, which currently account for a large percentage of website images.

Illustrations can offer positive experiences by telling a story. People are now saturated with archive photos.


Motion graphics are constantly evolving. Animations not only allow designers to explore movement but also provide brands with a complex means of asserting their personalities. Here are some ideas on how to realize animations:

  • Moving typography: an example is banner ads in which the text expands, bounces, or dances. This technique is great for attracting the attention of online users, it adds power to the message making it more convincing and effective.
  • 3D animations: 3D animation graphics provide an amazing user experience and add value to a brand’s reputation.
  • Seamless transitions: each frame transforms into the next, creating a fluid visual flow.
  • Evolved 3D: 3D will always be more like the real world than drawing. Characters come alive, abstract shapes attract our imagination.

Although animated banners are more effective than static ones, you must ensure that the user’s attention is not entirely captured by the animation to the detriment of the content of the message you want to communicate: therefore use short, max. 15 seconds, and simple animations. Possibly make sure that the invitation is clear in the last frame.

The illustration style of retro advertisements

In today’s context of a digitized world, retro graphic design has the potential to touch people’s more emotional and nostalgic side. It is a style that reflects the illustrations of the 1950s and 1960s when colors were less saturated.


Collage is the technique of putting together pieces of images from different sources. Collage combines textures, colors, backgrounds, characters, and objects that apparently have nothing in common. From the mixture of these images, comes the message within.


Color plays a very important role as it will or will not help to capture the user’s attention. Keep in mind, however, that colors evoke feelings and are capable of arousing emotions.

colors for banners

The color red for example attracts and encapsulates a sense of “urgency”. It could be used to communicate a deadline or a new product coming soon. Before choosing colors for your banner, think about your objective and what it could arouse in your potential customers.

Blue is a reassuring color, conveying confidence and security: it is very often used for logos. Green? It has many positive connotations that refer to concepts such as well-being, hope, health, and wealth besides the most obvious one which is the environment.

Creating a banner with images inspired by nature is sure to attract the more sensitive side of people who will empathize with your brand. Green and brown are the most suitable colors for an organic product because they evoke the idea of environment, nature, and ecology, just as pastel colors, especially pink, are more suitable for a cosmetics line.

You can also opt for contrast: for example a dark background with brightly colored text on top. Experiment with the color palette to find the perfect combination for the message you want to send to your target audience!

Creating a YouTube banner

If you have decided to use YouTube to promote your company, products, or services then at some point you will need to create a YouTube banner, i.e. the cover of your channel.

This free banner is a very useful tool for increasing views and fans of your channel, but it is also a means of communicating something important to your audience. In a way, it is a kind of business card and this valuable space at your disposal should be used to the best advantage.

youtube banner

In particular, you could:

  • Insert a slogan that allows the user to understand what your channel is about;
  • advertise one of your products or services;
  • include links to the website, blog, and social channels where you are most present;
  • promote an info product by bringing traffic to the site’s landing page;
  • communicate when and how often your videos will be released.

Of the sites mentioned above, Canva and BannerSnack are excellent free online tools for creating a YouTube banner from predefined templates.

The recommended size for the YouTube banner is 2560 x 1440 pixels and the process is simple and intuitive.


We have seen how creating a free banner is possible even if you have no graphic design skills. There are many things to pay attention to, it is necessary to take care of every single aspect in order not to waste money or even worse risk damaging the brand image.

Consistency is a fundamental aspect: it must be sought in the creation of the banner, which must reflect the identity of the brand, but it must also be pursued when we choose the sites on which our banners will be displayed.

If we sell fishing gear and equipment we are not going to promote our products on a site that sells housewares! Now all that remains for you to do is to try your hand at creating your banner, experimenting with formats, graphics, colors, and text, and then see which type performs best.

If, on the other hand, you feel you don’t know where to put your hands or have little time to devote to creating effective and graphically appealing banners, you can request a free consultation from our experts!

Get a Free Consultation. Let our experts create captivating banners for you, hassle-free!



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