Patriotic Campaign Signs – The Best and Worst Colors for Your Sign

There is something satisfying about putting red, white, and blue on your campaign yard signs. As a candidate, patriotic campaign signs make sense because you’re a patriot and you want voters to know it. I recommend, then, taking a step back and seeing how these colors work based on the factors of a good campaign sign color choice. The most important factors to consider are:

  • Amount of contrast
  • Unique color choices
  • Branding across the campaign

The more contrast on the sign the easier it is to read your campaign yard sign. The more unique the sign the easier it is to notice the sign more generally and among the sea of other signs. Finally, the more congruent the branding the easier it is for the voter to connect your campaign sign with the other ways that you are contacting them.

So how do red, white, and blue fair on three factors: contrast, uniqueness, and branding. In some ways, not too badly. Red and blue are easy to read on a campaign sign. Depending upon the rest of the campaign’s political marketing, those colors work well with the rest of the candidate’s brand. Unfortunately, they fail terribly at uniqueness. In fact, there is so little differentiation from the rest of the ticket for all parties that it also impacts contrast in a way.

Patriotic colored signs lack contrast between signs. Therefore, red, white, and blue signs fail to meet at least two out of three of the most important color choice factors for your signs. Do you and your campaign a favor and choose campaign yard sign colors that other campaigns aren’t using.

You can view a PDF of these slides at Scribd and download it there.

Patriotic Colors on Your Campaign Sign

3 Tips for Campaign Signs in Open Seats

Running in an open seat, has its own challenges. For campaign signs, it’s important to keep in mind that all candidates will have low name recognition, so campaign yard signs and other tactics to increase candidate name identification are doubly important.

Video Notes

First, does the outgoing elected official have a good reputation? If the person leaving office is well-respected in the community, consider branding yourself similarly. If the outgoing official had, for example, used fold over signs that were brown, consider using the same type of sign and use the same color. Of course, if the elected official wasn’t popular or left disgraced, you should pay special attention to differentiate yourself from the outgoing official. You can use the power of mimicry or differentiation to your advantage not just with the candidate that you are running against but also to identify or disassociate yourself from the outgoing official.

It’s best to avoid indicating your party affiliation on a campaign lawn sign particularly in a competitive seat, but in the case of open seats that strongly favor a certain party, referring to a political party can help. One of the benefits of political parties in American politics is that they are a shortcut for voters. In general, when a voter knows a candidate’s party affiliation they make assumptions, that are usually correct, about the person’s views on issues and general approach to governing. Candidates that indicate their party affiliation on campaign signs help voters make assumptions about who you are as a candidate, which is useful when you are a member of the majority party in the district and have low name ID.

Finally, open seats are characterized by candidates with low name recognition. The principle benefit of campaign yard signs is that they increase candidate name ID, so get campaign signs out early. Candidates should increase their name identification as early and significantly as possible, so that the campaign can move onto to identifying who voters’ support in the election, persuading undecided voters, and ultimately getting your supporters out to the vote on Election Day.

Slideshow Notes

Check out the slideshow for the Cliff Notes version of these tips for campaign yard signs in open seats:

I recommend campaign yard signs that will help increase your candidate name recognition if your running in an open seat. Check out the campaign signs by clicking here.

Why campaign lawn signs still matter and how to use them

Some campaigns don’t need many sign or any at all but there are also campaigns that benefit from what campaign yard signs do well:

  • Increase candidate name recognition: Political scientist Mel Kahn has shown that yard signs do increase a voter’s ability to recognize the name of a political candidate. If the candidate grew up in the district, works in the district, and is active in the community, there will still be voters who don’t know who the candidate is but name ID is less of an issue than with some other candidates. The more well-known the candidate the fewer campaign yard signs that you will need to build it.
  • Motivate supporters and volunteers: If there is one group of voters that loves yard signs it’s your supporters and volunteers. There are campaigns that don’t order a single yard sign. These campaigns have to tell their volunteers and supporters that request political lawn signs that they are sorry but they don’t have them. This works against candidates. A couple of dollars is a small price to pay to keep supporters happy and motivated.
  • Build campaign visibility during GOTV and at polling places: Political campaigns sometimes hold “visibility” events. Usually, this means that volunteers will be waving signs at busy intersections in the lead up to the election and also outside polling places on Election Day. You can use volunteers with your yard signs or even just place them along the road or on private property as the election nears to bring attention to the campaign.

On the other hand, there are many campaigns that believe that they can order several hundred yard signs, go to a few parades, and coast to victory. This is simply not the case if your opponent is running a modern campaign. The candidate, staff, and volunteers must be connecting with voters directly. This means that you should be going door to door, phone banking, and executing well-planned direct mail campaigns to identify, persuade, and turn out voters.

Campaign lawn signs aren’t a substitute for a well-run political campaign but they are a part of one. It’s important to understand your yard sign needs so that you order just the number that you need. If you order too many you’ve wasted much needed campaign resources. If you order too few, you’ll run out before Election Day and be forced to order a small amount at high prices or go without.

The pages on this site and the blog will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of certain types of candidates, how that affects your yard signs strategy, and the pros and cons of certain types of different sizes, shapes, and substrates of signs. We provide the information you need and recommend the signs that you need to get that part of your campaign right so that you can get back to canvasses and phone banks.

Your Opponent Ordered the Same Campaign Yard Signs

My opponent has made his yard signs so they look almost exactly like mine. Same colors, same style of type. Only the name is different. Should I make an issue out of this?

This could be a benefit for you. Chances are all of these signs are going to be lost in the shuffle now. If your opponent spent more on them that you did, the net benefit is your’s.

If you’re really concerned about this, you can make or order something of a different color to stick onto the sign to differentiate it from your opponent: “vote” or “another family for” or “sportsmen for” whatever.

Corneo is right, chances are this issue won’t have too much traction in the media or otherwise. You can throw it in there if there are issues with stealing signs etc. down the road but as a stand alone, voters and the media won’t care.

Campaign Yard Signs – Where to Put Them

In more than ten years of campaigning for candidates who are running for elected office, I have seen yard signs all over the place. If there is a surface that you could possibly adhere a yard sign to or a piece of ground that you could possibly stick a campaign sign in, I have seen it. These are the most common places campaigns put signs and what the benefits or problems with those locations are.

Private Property

To make a long story short, you should focus your efforts on putting signs on private lawns and property. Putting yard signs on private property does a number of things:

* Demonstrates that there are people who are supporting candidate and want to show their public support.

* Reduces the chances that the political sign will be stolen. There are sign thieves who will go onto private property to take signs but they are fewer in number that those that will take signs from the public right of way.

* Logistically, these signs are oftentimes easier to distribute and recover since the homeowner can do much of this work for the campaign.

* Putting signs on private property avoids some of the legal issues that you may face by putting signs along the public right of way and otherwise.

Highways and Along Other Roads

The principal benefit of putting signs along highways and other busy roads is that a lot of people will see the sign. These signs, however, don’t have the same impact as those on private property since anyone, such as the candidate himself, can put them out whereas putting signs on private property demonstrates that there is support for the candidate from voters.

Also, there are often restrictions on when and where you can put campaign signs out along the public right of way in your state and in municipalites. Please check with your state’s department of transportation and local government offices before putting your signs out only to have them taken away and fines issued by state and local governments if you are violating yard sign distribution regulations.

On Poles and Trees

In most areas, it is illegal to adhere signs onto poles, trees, rocks, and other natural formations or government owned property. While it might be tempting to put signs on telephone poles particularly in areas where there is little grass, avoid this and save your campaign trouble from local and state authorities.

Their Yard Signs for a Reason

Essentially, it boils down to that yard signs or lawn signs are called that for a reason! They belong on private property where they are doing the best for the political campaign and also following the state and local regulations.

Assign a Yard Sign Director

World's Best Boss
As a field staffer, I know that one of the biggest reasons that yard signs have their detractors is because there isn’t ordinarily one person who is in charge of campaign yard signs. In fact, most campaigns leave it up to their field staff to handle campaign signs.

I recommend that the campaign identify a volunteer as the director of yard sign distribution. This way, field staff can concentrate on canvasses and phone banks and at the same time, people will be able to get the political lawn signs that they have requested faster.

Interestingly, you will find that identifying someone as the point person for yard signs won’t be too difficult! While it might take some sweet talking to convince someone to canvass chances are there is at least one person in your campaign organization that is excited about yard signs and will be eager to take on the role.

Getting Through Screens and Noise with Election Signs

Giant Political Campaign Sign
Political Campaign Polyboard Sign: Extra Large

When communicating with a voter through any method whether it’s at their door, through direct mail or otherwise, there is a basic process:

* Communicate your message to the voter

* Voter responds to message

* Repeat

Unfortunately, campaigns must deal with screens and noise while delivering their message and receiving feedback from the voter. Some examples of screens and noise are:

* Other political campaigns

* Other mail

* Family

* Work

* Other commitments

* Someone tieing up the phone line

* Barking dogs at a voter’s door

Those are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the screens and noise that campaigns encounter.

One of the ways to get through screens and noise is through personal contact. The more personal and personalized the contact the better your response will be.

You can use political yard signs to improve your social proof and create a personalized connection with a targeted voter.

Imagine if you identified a supporter, “John Smith,” who agreed to put a sign in his lawn. You continue to canvass in the neighborhood and down the street you talk to “Jane Doe.” You can point out to Jane that John down the street is supporting your campaign and use the campaign sign to ensure that his support is genuine.

This is just one way that you can use yard signs and personal contact to make a good connection with a voter.

Campaign Signs and Absentee Ballots

ballot boxes
Depending upon the state that your campaign is in, the absentee ballot process might begin months before the actual election. A coordinated and focused absentee ballot campaign can add several points to your candidate’s performance, so the campaign should consider how to use a variety of campaign tactics to engage voters that are going to vote absentee and voters that the campaign would like to vote absentee.

Just like a campaign would for the general election, engage in a number of campaign tactics:

* Canvasses to targeted voters

* Phone banks throughout the week

* Yard signs in supporters’ lawns

* Social media interaction on Facebook and Twitter

* Etc.

While all of these campaign tactics are valuable, depending upon the timeline for absentee ballots, however, consider reviewing your social media and campaign yard sign strategies. If it’s incredibly early, you might want to wait on the signs since that might involve ordering twice, which is far more expensive than ordering all the signs that you need at one time, for example.

Campaign Plan – October and Yard Signs

Political campaigns should focus on the following campaign tactics in October:

* Door to door

* Fundraising

* Remainder of mail hits

* 1st or 2nd round of ID calls

* Tracking poll

* Persuasion calls

Campaign signs should take a back seat to these activities as the election nears. In fact, it’s generally a good idea for campaigns to hold back most of the remaining signs so that there are enough for polling places and for any signs that the campaign wants to use for visibility events throughout the district during get out of the vote or GOTV.

With that said, canvassers should keep a few political lawn signs in their car to execute on requests from targeted voters that you connect with at their door. Candidates, staff, and volunteers should respond to other requests for signs politely but asking them to come into the office to pick up the signs because of the limited volunteer resources that the campaign does have are going towards canvassing and phone banks in the lead up to the election.

Campaign Signs and GOTV

Campaign Yard Sign on Private property
Yard sign on local elected official’s lawn

GOTV, or get out the vote, consists of election day and the few days directly preceding the election. For the most part, the elements of good GOTV are similar to the rest of the campaign except that it is faster paced, the universe of targets is different, and the message is different.

Get Out the Vote Targeting

GOTV focuses on getting supporters out to vote, so you want to contact them. What if, however, you don’t have enough supporters identified to win? Then, look to precincts where there is strong party performance, in the fall, or candidate performance, in a primary.

Target the likely voters in those precincts more generally. Do this through increased phone banks, canvasses, and even putting many campaign yard signs in the precinct.

GOTV Message

Instead of trying to ID or persuade voters at this point, your message is simply to come out to the polls and vote as well as provide the logistical support to do so such as with reminders and rides to the polls.

Voter Contact Pace

You should be touching base with your supporters during GOTV at least two or three times. Once by direct mail and twice by phone. Try to come up with a different script for each contact. The first call might be where the candidate is located on the ballot. The call the day before the election might revolve around the weather on election day or what you estimate turnout to look like and why that makes it important for the voter to go to the polls. These are just a few examples of the different reasons that you could find to contact a voter twice in the few days preceding the election.

Conclusion

Your campaign can use political lawn signs to help blanket a precinct during get out the vote. It is another way to increase awareness about the upcoming election in precincts where there is strong support for the party or the candidate.