The Top 3 Principles of Political Design

When you’re running for office, you have to make lots of design decisions for lots of different items.  Campaigns need tons of printed materials, from yard signs and buttons to brochures and billboards.  While political design has lots of things in common with standard business advertising design, it also has its own peculiar best practices.

Here are the three top principles to keep in mind when doing your campaign’s political design work:

1.    Break through the Clutter

I hate to say it, but most people don’t care about your campaign like you do.  Most people get your direct mail and throw it out, see your billboards and TV ads and immediately forget about them, and switch the channels on the radio whenever a political ad comes on.

In order to get your message seen, you need to design your political communications pieces for maximum impact, and make it easy to remember your name and the office for which you are running.  To do this, make sure your name, office, and campaign message are printed loud and large on your materials, and make sure that your brochures, palm cards, etc. are easy to read… with lots of headlines, pictures, and whitespace.

For more information on breaking through the clutter, check out Political Direct Mail That Sizzles!

2.  Be Consistent

Over the course of your campaign, people will start to know what your campaign’s political design looks like… they’ll recognize your color scheme, logo, and font.  In larger campaigns that spend a lot of money on communications pieces, the voters will actually know who a direct mail piece is from without ever reading it.  They might pick it up, see that it is green with a blue logo, and know it is from Jim Smith for Congress.

In order to have that kind of recognition with the voters, you need to make sure that your political design is consistent… use the same colors, fonts, messaging, and logo on all of your printed material, and tie that design in with your website, TV ads, and everything your campaign does.  Consistency makes your campaign, and your candidate, more memorable to the voters.  (For more information on consistency, check out Creating a Winning Political Image).

3.  Think Outside the Box, but Don’t Go Nuts.

Most political campaigns are boring, staid affairs, and most campaign design work is just as boring.  One great way to get notices is to step outside the box and get creative with your political design.  Try different colors, use an innovative website, try a new communications medium (Walk pieces are great… but have you tried door hangers?  Brochures work well, but have you tried newspaper sized campaign communications using real newsprint?)

Doing something different with your political design can get you noticed, but don’t get too crazy.  People need to trust their political leaders, and they tend to shy away from any candidate that seems too far from the mainstream.  So, while using yellow and black as your campaign colors instead of red, white, and blue might be a good “outside the box” move, using hot pink would probably be a mistake (but you never know!)  Similarly, having a campaign brochure for a mayoral campaign that unfolds into a map of the town would be neat… but having a brochure that is redeemable for two free drinks that the local pub would probably turn people off (and may run afoul of campaign finance laws).

Great political design is possible for even the smallest of campaigns.  It just takes patience, a little creativity, and a close watch on consistency and style.


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