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How to Choose Design Colors for a Political Lawn Sign

by Sheila Maas

Henry Ford said you can have any color Model T as long as it is black.  Awhile back a survey by the University of Florida claimed that a yellow background with black lettering was the best color combination for a sign for attracting attention.  In the packaging industry “red” is the favored attention getting color down the supermarket aisle.  So there you have it!  The experts agree to disagree.

So what color is best for your yard sign?  Answer: Take your pick as to what suits ‘you’ best.  In addition to not picking your opponents colors, here are some other helpful suggestions as to what not to do.

Consider Color Value

Never use a low value color (light color) with a low value color.  For example, pink lettering on a white background will not show up.  All pastels (e.g. pale blue, yellow, pink, light green) will not contrast CO1against white backgrounds.  Interestingly fluorescents, though appearing very bright, will not contrast on white.  Choose a dark (high value) color (e.g. black, navy blue, burgundy, red, forest green)

Similarly never use a high value color with a high value color. For example black lettering on a navy blue background will not show.

Lettering and background must always be of contrasting value in order to be readable.

Consider Environment

First remember white is the principal base stock color – and it is free. Red (or for that matter blue, green, orange, etc.) lettering on a white background is a one color print.  So also is white lettering on a red background a one color print.  The red is printed as what is referred to in “reverse”.CO2

For Northerners, avoid white signs in winter.  To not have your sign “lost” against the white snow, use reverse printing (i.e. bright colored printed background with white letters).  Similarly green backgrounds can get lost in more lush territories and/or seasons, as yellow signs can against arid backgrounds.  For a sign to be recognized it has to be a color that is “out of place” in its environment.  Avoid khakis, gray and brown background colors for that reason. For standard ink colors consult a screen printer’s ink colorsgallery.

Two Colors vs. One Color

There has never been a one color design that can not be improved by adding a second color.  Remember white, as a base stock color, is free.  Two color printing to produce a yellow/black sign or a red/white/blue sign or a fluorescent green/navy will always stand out with greater impact. CO3

For the printer, two colors require two films, two screens, two setups, two runs and two cleanups.  This costs money.  So for a two color sign always expect to pay more per sign – but it may be worth it.

Hopefully these suggestions will aid in your color decisions for lawn signs.  For a wide range of ideas, it is helpful to consult galleries on a screen printer’s web site.  If you have questions, do not hesitate to consult directly with your screen printer – they have the expertise to help.

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