Tips for a Successful Political Lawn Signs - Design Layout
by Sheila Maas, Cross & Oberlie
he blossoming of political lawn signs prior to an election is as predictable as the spring crocuses after the frost is out of the ground. There must be a reason for these "American as apple pie" phenomena. The reason is simply that lawn signs have proven themselves as an effective way for candidates or causes to promote their image or position - and Win!
Not all signs are effective, and some could just as well have spared the candidate his/her money and committee's time. Though designing an effective sign is not rocket science, failure to pay attention to some basics could fail to get your campaign "off the ground".
Nearly fifty years of screen printing has given Cross & Oberlie a wealth of experience in designing and printing political campaign signs. Presented here are a few tips to keep in mind as you embark on this process.
(1) Importantly consider The Who (your name) and The What (the office you are running for).
The Who - The length of your name must be considered. POE and VANDENLANGENBERG present different sign considerations. Suppliers of the fold-over sign can accommodate both - a PORTRAIT Layout (22"wide X 14" tall) for short names, and a LANDSCAPE Layout (28"wide X 11" tall) for long names. Both orientations present the same print area at no penalty in cost or weather ability.
If your name is common like SMITH, it may be well to include your first name JOHN or JOAN in your design to distinguish and avoid confusion with other Smiths (office holders, relatives, spouses, rogues, etc) who may or may not be running. First names need not be in the same font (letter) size or style as the surname as this may detract from the surname.
The What - The office position you intend to hold after the election is important. Make certain it shows as a recognizable position, and as it would appear on the ballot. As you are only putting signs in you district, it can be advantageous to eliminate extraneous references and specific numbers (e.g.: simply CONGRESS versus 16th UNITED STATES CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT). Use abbreviations sparingly - preferably not at all. Font size for the office should be subordinate to surname size.
For choices of effective fonts for signs, consult a screen printer's font gallery.
(2) Extras - If you are being re-elected, inclusion of RE-ELECT can be a plus as it distinguishes you as the incumbent. Words like VOTE and FOR and dates, NOV 8th, are used with caution as they are not necessary and can detract from your principal mission - presenting The Who and The What.
(3) Slogan - A slogan is great for signs placed at stop lights, but most viewers of lawn signs are zipping by at 30 plus miles per hour with little time to read what you stand for.
(4) Symbols - In this age of icons, who can not recognize the appropriateness and symbolism of a school house (SCHOOL BOARD) or a five- pointed star (SHERIFF), a balance scale (JUDGE), a donkey (DEMOCRAT), an elephant (REPUBLICAN), a statue of liberty (LIBERTARIAN) of flags or stars and stripes. These can help.
(5) Disclaimer - Last, but most important, don't forget your "Authorized and Paid for…" or whatever the exact wording and size and position is as dictated by your local and/or state election boards. It is the candidate's responsibility to find out the regulations and make this known to the printer.
Today in the "flat world" your sign printer does not need to be next door, but can be just as close as your cell phone, fax or laptop. With computer technology, successful designs are not just for the deep pocket candidates. Try on styles that suit your image - then run to Win!