As Election Day draws near each year, political signs and banners start to spring up everywhere, from roadside lawns to supermarket windows. Sometimes, these signs do their job well. They’re easy to remember and have an impact. As often as not, though, campaigns waste valuable resources by posting political signs that are hard to read, hard to remember or otherwise miss their mark. In this article we will discuss how you can avoid this fate by designing political signs with their purpose and your image in mind.
Purposes of Political Signs
Before designing your signs, you need to know what purposes political signs serve. Signs only serve three individual purposes in a campaign: raising name identification, getting out the vote, and scaring your opponent.
The most important of these purposes is raising name ID. Strategic sign placement, coupled with the repetition of seeing your sign over and over again, can significantly raise consciousness of your campaign in the minds of the voters. Another great use of signs is to aid in your get out the vote efforts. Posting your signs in areas where your candidate enjoys high levels of support will serve to reinforce your candidate and his or her message in the minds of your voters as they go to the polls on Election Day. Finally, a well orchestrated sign campaign can scare your opponent and his or her campaign by making them think (or letting them know) that you enjoy high levels of support as demonstrated by the number of signs bearing your name that keep popping up all over the district.
What to Put on Your Sign
The number one mistake campaigns make in designing signs is trying to cram too much information onto the front of their signs. The only information you need to put on your signs is the name of the candidate, along with the office he or she is running for. That’s it. Of course, you can put a small phrase like “Vote for…” or “Re-Elect…” in front of the candidate’s name, but you do not need to put any other information on the sign. Voters walking or driving by your sign simply don’t have time to remember anything else.
How Big Should They Be?
Your campaign can and should use different size signs where appropriate. Make sure the signs aren’t too small, though, or they will not be able to be read by voters driving by. Standard signs are usually around 18” X 24”, but may be a little bigger or smaller depending on your vendor. Most campaigns like to use larger signs as well that can be used on the sides of busy highways and large lawns. These signs usually range from 4’ x 8’ to 8’ X 8’ or larger.
What Material Should You Use?
There are a variety of materials that can be used in constructing political signs. The main factors to take into consideration are the length of time the signs will be up and the expected weather conditions they will be exposed to. Corrugated plastic signs are the most durable, but also the most expensive. Weather-coated poster board signs hold up moderately well and are generally much cheaper than corrugated plastic. Standard poster-board signs won’t hold up well in foul weather, and don’t last as long. These should only be used when the signs will be up for no more than a few days, such as get out the vote signs. Even then, if it rains, the signs will rapidly deteriorate.
The colors you choose for your signs must make them easy to read. They must contrast and be easy on the eye. Standard color combinations include red/white, blue/white, blue, red and white, yellow/black, green/white, and black/white. If at all possible, the colors you use for your signs should be the same color scheme you use on all of your other materials, including brochures, palm cards, etc.
Before deciding on a color scheme and design, take the 3 second / 30 feet test. Have an associate take the sign and walk thirty feet away from you. Have him or her hold the sign up at you for three seconds. If you can’t clearly read the information on the sign in that time, then you need to redesign your sign to make it clearer.