8 Lawn Sign Design Elements by Ben Donahower

By at September 21, 2011 | 2:56 pm | Print

8 Lawn Sign Design Elements by Ben Donahower

Designing a political yard signs is simple.  There are two important components: the candidate name and the office sought.  The purpose of campaign lawn sign design is to display those pieces of information as clearly as possible.

Yard sign design elements

Following the best practices of these eight election lawn sign design elements, will make the process of designing your political yard signs easy.  Using the best practices for these yard sign design elements will also make your lawn signs more effective than your opponent’s in the field.

8 Yard Sign Design Elements

    • Campaign lawn sign ad copy: The fewer the words the better.  Candidate name and office sought are the only pieces of information necessary.  Using the fewest words possible makes the candidate name and office sought easier to read.  While pedestrians may take the time to read a sign that incorporates a candidate’s website, logo, or other information it’s nearly impossible for a driver to do so.  There is debate whether candidates with common surnames should include their first name.  Personally, I wouldn’t use the candidate’s first name unless, in the off chance, that you share a last name with your opponent.
    • Font on campaign lawn signs: The bigger the better.  If you judiciously chose the words on the yard sign, the candidate name and office sought can be printed large and with a bold font.  These font principles make lawn signs easy for voters driving by to see.
    • Border on campaign lawn signs: Borders on campaign signs are nearly universal, but using a border around the font is less so.  Using a border around yard sign copy is great for two reasons: it will help the words to pop from the yard sign and it may reduce costs as many printers will charge more if there is a bleed between two colors on yard signs.
    • Shape of campaign lawn signs: The less traditional the better.  Using a unique sign shape, however, is hard to find unless you are buying corrugated plastic, or Coroplast, yard signs.  If you decide that Coroplast is the best type of sign for your campaign, then experiment with different shapes to stand out from other signs and get noticed.
    • Size of campaign lawn signs: The bigger the better.  The bigger the yard sign the easier it is to read.  Also, a sign that is much bigger than an ordinary political yard sign will stand out from the myriad of other lawn signs that are traditional sizes.
    • Color of campaign lawn signs: The more contrast the better.  The more contrast from the green grass or color of homes in the neighborhood the more likely your yard sign will be noticed.  Orange and black contrast with each other most.  Unfortunately, Halloween already has a lock on this color scheme.  Instead opt for yellow and black or orange and blue.
  • Material of campaign lawn signs: Yard signs comes in corrugated plastic, paperboard, or plastic poly bag.  There’s a lot too choosing the right kind of yard signs, but some basic pointers are to use corrugated plastic if you would like a unique shape, paperboard is the traditional choice, and poly bag is durable.
  • Frame for campaign lawn signs: Corrugated plastic must use an H frame design, poly bag lawn signs use an I frame, and paperboard or cardboard signs can use either an I frame or wooden stake frame. Frame sizes vary to fit the campaign lawn sign.

Yard signs can be a do-it-yourself project if you follow a few simple guidelines.  Badly designed signs, however, won’t have any impact on the election because voters won’t be able to see what campaign the sign is representing.  A badly designed lawn sign is like having no sign at all.  Bad designs are mostly the result of attempting to use yard signs for a purpose that they weren’t designed for.  Some of the most common are:

  • Branding: Unless you can incorporate the campaign logo or web address cleanly within and without detracting from the candidate name or office don’t add this information.
  • Messaging: Space is at a premium on lawn signs.  There simply isn’t room for a campaign slogan, issues important to the campaign, why the candidate is running, or what the candidate will do once in office.
  • Contact Information: There also isn’t room for campaign contact information.  Today’s campaigns are smart to create a conversation about their candidacy, use social media tools, and otherwise leverage grassroots supporters and ideas, but yard signs aren’t suited for this.

To see this idea in practice, or not, there’s a row of yard signs at a polling in North Carolina in 2004:

Candidate yard sign case study:  Fletcher

  • Words on campaign lawn signs: If you can’t read the bottom portion of the yard sign from this picture you weren’t able to read it along the road during campaign season.  What office is this candidate running for?
  • Font on campaign lawn signs: Fletcher could have used a bigger font particularly if he omitted his first name and words at the bottom of the sign.
  • Border on campaign lawn signs: Like the vast majority of yard signs, there is a border around the edge.
  • Shape of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Size of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Color of campaign lawn signs: Unlike many of the other yard signs in this picture, Fletcher’s color scheme pops by using bright and contrasting colors.
  • Material of campaign lawn signs: Paperboard.
  • Frame for campaign lawn signs: Standard I frame.

Candidate yard sign case study:  Bailey

  • Words on campaign lawn signs: Aside from the use of the candidate’s first name, the lawn sign is simple and easy to read.
  • Font on campaign lawn signs: The candidate could have doubled the size of the candidate’s surname by omitting the first name.
  • Border on campaign lawn signs: Border around the ‘K’ and color change make it stand out, but why does it matter if the candidate’s first initial is easy to read?
  • Shape of campaign lawn signs: There is a unique shape to this sign by adding ‘Re-Elect’ to the corner helping the sign stand out.
  • Size of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Color of campaign lawn signs: Candidates are often attracted to red, white, and blue.  Unfortunately, since many candidates use patriotic colors it’s hard to differentiate your campaign’s yard sign from all of the other red, white and blue signs.  More than half of the yard signs in this picture are red, white or blue; imagine how these blend in with one another when driving by.  Also, as the election nears, voters have trained themselves to tune out political messages and these standard colors won’t get a second look.
  • Material of campaign lawn signs: Paperboard.
  • Frame for campaign lawn signs: Standard I frame.

Candidate yard sign case study:  Stroud

  • Words on campaign lawn signs: Just a few tweaks: remove the first name and “for.”
  • Font on campaign lawn signs: The font size of the candidate name and of the office is a balancing act.  Depending upon the candidate’s name recognition and the race, this candidate may need to add some emphasis to the office sought.
  • Border on campaign lawn signs: Not applicable around the white lettering.
  • Shape of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Size of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Color of campaign lawn signs: This candidate should differentiate herself from the sea of yard signs by using unorthodox colors.
  • Material of campaign lawn signs: Paperboard.
  • Frame for campaign lawn signs: Standard I frame.

Candidate yard sign case study:  Miner

  • Words on campaign lawn signs: Removing “David” could double the size of his surname.  Depending upon the election and local convention, state House candidates can also remove “state” since the candidates for the federal equivalent often use “Congress.”
  • Font on campaign lawn signs: Thin fonts with detail like this one are hard to read from the road.  Miner should have used larger, easier to read print.
  • Border on campaign lawn signs: Not applicable around the white lettering.
  • Shape of campaign lawn signs: Standard.
  • Size of campaign lawn signs: Smaller than standard.  If the candidate paired down the copy on the sign, using a smaller sign wouldn’t be a detriment and could even help to increase it’s visibility among other cookie-cutter signs.
  • Color of campaign lawn signs: Green signs often indicate a candidate’s pro-environment stance on issues.  This is an interesting and perhaps effective tactic of incorporating message without detracting from the purpose of signs.  The caution with green in particular is that it blends in with yards and hedges.
  • Material of campaign lawn signs: Paperboard.
  • Frame for campaign lawn signs: Wooden stake.

Conclusion

The two key concepts to consider when designing yard signs are to differentiate your campaign bandit signs from the host of other standard red, white and blue that are being distributed and to make the candidate name and office sought as clear as possible.  Use the eight elements of yard sign design to think about how your campaign’s ideal lawn sign will look.  This is a great tool to get your design organized to ensure that you are ordering a well-thought-out yard sign.

Ben Donahower is the founder of Campaign Trail Yard Signs, which cuts through the campaign yard sign confusion. What do lawn signs do well? When are they more trouble than they are worth? Just honest answers, so that you order useful political yard signs in the quantity your campaign needs. Ben is an authority on marketing for political organizations and has worked on campaigns from borough council to President

Follow Ben on Twitter  @iapprovethismsg

Management & Strategy

Related Posts

Comments are closed.