Guide to Political SignageNOVEMBER 8, 2019| SpeedPro Cleveland West
GUIDE TO POLITICAL SIGNAGE
OCTOBER 30, 2019| SpeedPro Cleveland West
If you’re running a campaign and gearing up your political advertising strategy, quality election signage is a must-have. Political campaign signage can spread awareness about your candidate, encourage people to vote and help to convince voters to support your candidate, among other uses.
To have an effective campaign signage strategy, you’ll need to know the types of signs you should include in your advertising efforts, when you should order signage, tips for appealing campaign signage design and the various laws that govern campaign signage.
WHAT SIGNAGE SHOULD A CAMPAIGN USE?
When you’re trying to find the right kind of political campaign signs, there are a variety of options to choose from. The signs described below will serve different purposes, and you should be aware of the best ways you can use them to your advantage.
1. YARD SIGNS
You’ll find plenty of this type of signage around your town whenever local or national elections are taking place. Yard signs are typically cheap to make and distribute, allowing campaigns to spread their message and try to gain votes from their constituents.
For local elections, yard signs can be even more useful. Say, for instance, a friend of yours supports a local candidate and places a sign in their yard. You may not be plugged into local politics, but you trust your friend’s judgment. At the ballot box, you may be more inclined to check the box for the candidate they put a sign up for. As a result, yard signs can give a boost to local elections, as they can influence less knowledgeable voters.
2. DECALS FOR CARS
Another great location for signage is on vehicles. Decals are one of the best forms of signage supporters can add to their cars to advertise their endorsement of a candidate. These stickers can be as straightforward as the name of the candidate with their signature colors used in the background.
If you want to take it a step further, decals can be more complex, coming with more specialized designs and campaign slogans. Whatever you choose, the sticker should quickly signal support for a candidate.
These graphics are common because they are portable advertisements for candidates and allow supporters to broadcast their political identity to others. Due to their inexpensive cost and popularity among supporters, campaigns will often give them out for free or when a supporter donates.
To make sure these decals maintain their visual appeal, the manufacturer should be making the decals out of vinyl to protect them against damage. Think of all the dust and debris your car kicks up or runs into every day you drive. Presentation is everything, so you don’t want the decals you offer to fade quickly or suffer other harm. You want to present a clean, professional image of your candidate.
3. VEHICLE WRAPS
To go to the next level of advertising with a car, you can use a vehicle wrap that covers the body of a vehicle. In terms of ROI, vehicle wraps are a wise investment, as they offer the lowest cost per impression.
Vehicle wraps will stand out on the road, as they are eye-catching enough to grab the attention of anyone driving by. The best wraps for a candidate should incorporate dramatic messages and visually appealing, on-brand imagery. Another factor that makes these ads ideal is that the messaging on them has longevity, as they will be displaying a message every time they drive their car.
4. EVENT GRAPHICS
If you’re planning on throwing events or attending conferences, event graphics can be an excellent way to brand the event space and promote your candidate. As your campaign kicks up and you’re throwing rallies, coordinating fundraising parties or attending a political conference, you’ll want to make an impression on non-supporters and supporters alike.
The following are some of the best event graphics you can include at an event.
- Tabletoppers and table coverings: If you’re having a fundraising event or have a booth at a conference, table coverings and table-toppers are excellent choices to decorate tables with. If you need to brand your booth at a conference, a table covering can make sure you stand out in the crowd and be another form of signage for your candidate.
- Murals: When you need an attractive background, murals are an ideal choice for political campaigns. If your candidate needs to deliver a press conference or shoot video in front of it, a mural depicting your slogan, campaign colors and impactful imagery can be a branding opportunity and reflect positively on your candidate’s image.
- Directional or wayfinding signage: Along with providing visually appealing signage, you’ll also want to provide functional signage at events. If you’re throwing an event at a larger venue, wayfinding signage is crucial. It gives people directions to the main event, bathrooms, parking and other primary locations. You want voters’ focus to be on your candidate’s message, and not on how to find what they’re looking for.
- Banners: If you’re throwing a rally or putting together a fundraising event, vinyl banners can set the mood immediately. With options ranging from large vinyl banners that can hang over the entrance of a building to boulevard banners that can adorn a sidewalk that leads up to the event, this kind of signage can communicate the appeal of your candidate immediately. Vinyl banners will spread awareness about your candidate and get supporters excited to come to an event.
WHEN SHOULD YOU ORDER SIGNAGE?
Timing is crucial for political campaigns, as you don’t want to announce your run too early or too late. The same goes for your signage.
You should aim to have signage up somewhere between four to eight weeks before the date of the election. This rule is especially essential for local elections, as you want to have enough time to generate sufficient name recognition about your candidate. Though you want to generate attention, you should also ensure you don’t put signs up too early, as voters can get so used to seeing them that they begin to stop noticing them entirely.
To make sure you can get your signage up in that time frame, you should begin the ordering process at least two months before you plan to put them up. Giving yourself and the manufacturer plenty of time to design and produce the signs will prevent any logistical issues that could arise.
No matter when you decide to order, you will not want to wait until the last minute. You’ll be banking on everything going perfectly on both your end and the manufacturer’s, and you will also be assuming a quality printing company will be available to take your order. Additionally, it doesn’t give you much room for error on your end, such as if you find a flaw in your sign’s design and need to make a change.
DESIGN TIPS FOR POLITICAL SIGNAGE
Even if you follow all the advice about when to order your signs and put them up, it won’t matter if you don’t have attractive political sign designs. The effectiveness of your message will directly relate to the visual appeal of your signage.
To make sure you get noticed for the right reasons, consider implementing the following tips for effective campaign signage design.
1. HAVE A STRATEGY FOR YOUR SIGNAGE
Your signage should have clear goals it’s trying to meet. Yard signs might have one goal while a large format sign like a billboard will probably have another. As such, the signage should not be identical. While name recognition is a priority, your goals should be more in-depth than that. Examine your needs for your campaign, then try to tackle them with your signs.
2. STICK TO A BUDGET
While it’s tempting to go over budget buying all of the signage you could ever want, you’ll want to avoid getting into any financial difficulties or be unable to pay for other important marketing efforts in the future because you overspent on your signs. For yard signs, you should only spend around 2% of a $100,000 budget. As your campaign “war chest” grows, the percentage you spend on the signs should decrease.
3. USE EASY-TO-READ TYPE AND FONTS
When you’re designing your sign, you should keep in mind people are often going to be passing them while they’re driving. Ensure the text is large enough for drivers to see clearly and in a font that is easy to read. If you’re in doubt about the readability of your font and have a more straightforward option, you should take it, as you want the most people to see and understand your message.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE
When it comes to designing and placing your signage, take political sign sizes into account. While a candidate’s name might fit well and be readable on a yard sign, save a longer message for a larger sign.
5. DELIVER CRITICAL INFORMATION
While it’s a given that you should include your candidate’s name on your sign, make sure you also include the office they are running. Additionally, if the candidate is an incumbent, it’s smart to include information about how long they’ve been in office. Less informed voters may be unaware of who was serving in office, but may not have any complaints, giving the candidate instant credibility in their eyes.
6. USE SIGNAGE TO MOTIVATE VOTERS
Getting voters aware that your candidate is up for election is one thing, but getting them to the polls is another issue altogether. Only 56% of eligible American voters exercised their right in the 2016 election. Some of your signage should be targeting voters who are likely to agree with your candidate, but who may not have a history of voting. Inspiring others who have previously been apathetic to the process can swing elections in your candidate’s favor.
7. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Your design does not have to be overly complex. Remember, voters are probably only going to be seeing your signs for a few seconds as they drive by. While the sign should be visually appealing, it’s more important the message is clear to viewers. A straightforward, clean design can deliver key information to voters in a way they can process quickly and that sticks in their minds.
8. KNOW LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Inexperienced campaign managers often overlook the law and assume they can put their signs up anywhere they want to. Besides the threat of having signs removed and thrown away, a campaign can put themselves in danger of fines or lawsuits. These election sign rules and regulations will vary by state to state, and even from town to town, so you’ll want to do your research before placing your signs.
SIGN PLACEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS/RULES
Since campaign signage rules will be different from state to state, don’t take the following information as an exhaustive list of regulations concerning placement of signs. Instead, guidelines like these tend to pop up, so you should be aware of them. After you review these rules, you should also read up on any of your local regulations to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Below are some of the most common rules you’ll find throughout the United States.
- Don’t use blinking lights on signage.
- Don’t make your signs look like they’re giving directions.
- Don’t construct signage to appear like traffic signs.
- Don’t put signs up if they look damaged or in need of repair.
- Don’t place signs in a public right of way or outside a polling location, as there are often laws preventing this.
- Don’t place a political sign within 660 feet of a federal highway’s right of way.
- Don’t place signs on utility poles, as regulations generally prohibit this practice.
- Do include a disclaimer line that attributes who is paying for the ad. Following this rule is especially relevant for federal elections, as federal law requires campaigns to print these disclaimers clearly on the signs. Most state and local laws will also require them, but there will be some variance.
- Do check state law and local homeowner’s associations (HOAs), as some states allow HOAs to prevent political signage in their neighborhood. Other states may make it so HOAs can’t ban signage, but can place restrictions on the size, time and quantity of signs allowed.
In addition to these guidelines, make sure you follow your local and state guidelines to ensure you’re in full compliance.