What Your Printer Knows About Campaign Sign Colors That You Don’t

Choosing the color or colors on your political campaign sign will make a big difference in whether the sign makes an impact with voters or not, but it’s also important to choose a color that your printer will appreciate too! The two most common color coding systems that you will encounter on the campaign trail are the Pantone Color Matching System (PMS) or 4 color process, which mixes combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) to create other colors.

Especially if you are doing a larger run and omitting expensive and unnecessary options like a image of the candidate, CMYK is the most common of the two. Pantone colors are very specific and they are used to maintain consistency over a broad range of mediums and print jobs, so they are ideal if color matching is essential. Process color, on the other hand, is the most economical option for large runs of most political printing including direct mail and yard signs.

Truth be told your campaign sign printer will be able to handle whatever color matching issue you have, but at a price. It’s best to choose from this palette of colors, so that you know what exact colors that you have on your yard sign. There are hundreds of colors to choose from and this list includes both the PMS number and the CMYK values for you to share with your graphic designer and sign printer.

pantone color chart
Color Chart courtesy of Wikipedia

For a full list of available Pantone colors and RGB Hex values for process colors, there are a number of resources available online including this one. If you find a PMS color or a 4 color process color and need to convert it to one or other to give you graphic designer or printer guidance, there are a number of free color conversion tools available.

Political Lawn Sign Order Amount Tip

Poly bag yard sign for large orders
If your predecessor was popular use a similar sign

In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she finds three bowls of porrage. One of them was too hot, the other was too cold, whille the last one was just right. The morale of the story is moderation. Campaign lawn signs, however, are much different.

Instead of looking for find middle ground, political campaigns should made a decision to order plenty of campaign signs or order a small amount of signs to meet the demand from volunteers and at polling places.

Why? Because repitition, repitition is the key to engraining your message into the minds of targeted voters. If you decide on a moderate amount of yard signs, you won’t be able to penetrate the voters. You might think that ordering a small number of signs is even worse but that is only the case if it wasn’t a strategy decision.

Political campaigns should make the strategic decision to order enough signs to be noticed over and over again or decide not to order very many so as to put resources into another aspect of the campaign.

Does repitition really work in political campaigns? Think about it in a different context. Can you recall any symbols associated with Wal Mart? Do you know Nike’s slogan? What’s the name of the clown associated with McDonald’s?

You know the answers to these questions because you have seen it time and time again. Political campaigns can use this same power, the power of repitition, to earn votes and win elections.

Yard Signs on a Budget

Save Money Vacation

Every campaign has limited resources and it’s the campaigns that use their volunteer and financial resources wisely that win. Campaigns that are looking to stretch their political lawn sign dollar can take a few common sense steps that will save them thousands of dollars on signs.

Pick the Right Size and Type

One of the decisions that you will make that affect price is choosing the right size and type of yard sign. If you have a shorter last name, pick a smaller yard sign. Depending upon the size of your order, choose the most economical substrate: fold over signs, plastic bag signs, or corrugated plastic.

The least expensive option for small campaigns is corrugated plastic while medium sized campaigns will find that the fold over or cardboard yard signs are going to be the cheapest. For the largest orders, bag signs are often your best bet.

One Color Printing

The second important factor is whether to use one or more colors on the campaign lawn sign. The savings can really add up by limiting the number of colors that you are using on a sign. To give you an idea, a recent quote ballooned from $2,000 to $2,800 going from one color to two. Differences like this are not uncommon.

One or Two Sided Printing

Another way to reduce costs is to limit the printed surface to one side. Usually, you’re best option is to print on both sides since your cost per printed side will be less. But there are times where printers will offer great deals on one sided printing or in the case that the budget just doesn’t allow you can print one side. Campaign should keep in mind, however, that the sign will be less effective than if it had printing on both sides.

Simples Changes Save Big

To make a long story short, two simple changes will save political campaigns a lot of money when ordering signs: pick the right type of sign and choose one color printing. These are changes that won’t affect the impact of your signs and will significantly reduce the budget for political signs.

How to save money on campaign sign wires

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Campaign Trail Yard Signs Podcast Notes

Don’t order more or less signs than what you need so that you don’t have to reorder signs. See how many campaign yard signs does your campaign need.

Contact your political party or former candidates to find campaign sign wires. Depending upon how long the signs have been stored or how many times they have been used, the sign wires might be unusable. For the most part, however, you can bend the signs back into shape and clean them off so that you can get the signs back in working order.

Don’t use sign wires at all. Depending upon what kind of sign that you chose, you can go to Lowes, Home Depot, or an independent lumber yard to get packs of wooden stakes that are often less expensive than the wires. There are some downsides to this method though.

* If you are using corrugated plastic sign, you will need two signs to be able to see the message on either side. Using a wooden stake is best if you have one sided Coroplast signs.
* Plastic bag signs are going to be more difficult because they aren’t sturdy. You can put some cardboard in them to make it a little more sturdy but for the most part, this is going to be tough.
* Cardboard signs do work with wooden stakes just be sure to carefully putting it on well.

Are You Making This Yard Sign Design Mistake?

You might have noticed that most yard signs have a white border around the yard sign design.  Well, Wikipedia has the answer:

Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. The bleed is the part on the side of your document that gives the printer that small amount of space to move around paper and design inconsistencies.

Bleeds in the USA generally are 1/8 of an inch from where the cut is to be made. Bleeds in the UK and Europe generally are 2 to 5mm from where the cut is to be made. This can vary from print company to print company. Some printers ask for specific sizes; most of these companies place the specific demands on their website.

There are certain print jobs where it’s okay to have a full bleed, where the design extends to the edge of the graphic, but for many print jobs it’s important to remember to leave an 1/8th of inch that printers need for cutting. No need to make this yard sign design mistake!

Campaign Sign Shapes

Campaign sign color options on color wheel
Color wheel

Are you interested in doing something creative with your yard sign that will make your campaign’s election sign stand out from the crowd?

Using a unique shape is one way to do it.

There are a few important things to consider first.  The fundamental one is that you can only achieve unique shapes with corrugated plastic signs.  Be sure to determine whether corrugated plastic or some other type of sign like cardboard and plastic bag signs is the best substrate for your campaign.

If corrugated plastic isn’t the best option for the campaign, nor is having a uniquely shaped sign.  The other thing to keep in mind is that they are going to cost you more.  Frankly, for the most part, being limited to coroplast and absorbing the extra cost isn’t worth the benefit, but if the corrugated plastic is the right choice for your campaign and you have the financial resources for the extra cost, go for it!

It’s best to choose something meaningful.  While changing to a triangle or another basic geometric shape will make you stand out, you might as well use the shape to convey a message.  Perhaps it’s to help voters understand what you’re running for such as by using an apple for school board director or a gavel for judge.

Another way to communicate information through sign shape is to choose the shape of the state or district that you’re running in.

Campaign Yard Sign Substrate – Corrugated Plastic

Corrugated plastic is created by bonding two flat polymer sheets with plastic flutes in between. It looks like corrugated cardboard and comes in a variety of colors. The tubes make the material rigid but also lightweight. Corrugated plastic is often referred to by brand names particularly Coroplast but also IntePro, Correx, Twinplast, Corriflute, or Corflute. It is also known as corriboard or twinfall plastic.

The most important qualities of the substrate as campaign lawn signs include rigidity, easily cleanable, and print quality characteristics that allow for anything a simple single color to a digital image. While the rigidity maintains the shape of the yard sign much better than a poly bag sign, it also makes the lawn sign more susceptible to the wind. These lawn signs can blow away in the wind in the most extreme cases. The rigidity of these yard signs allows campaigns to use them to other purposes such as rally signs or for visibility.

The smooth plastic surface and the rigidity lend themselves to easy cleaning. If a yard sign has been on a lawn for a long time, the sign will accumulate dust and dirt. Corrugated plastic signs can be wiped clean with a wet towel. This sign substrate will also withstand chemical cleaners if needed.

The greatest benefit to choosing this substrate is the ability to shape it however the campaign would like their sign to look. With a fold over sign or poly bag sign, your limited to a standard rectangular shape, but with corrugated plastic there are a variety of options. Some candidates have shaped their coroplast signs like their state or district while others have used shapes that help identify who they are what they are running for such as a sheriff’s badge or an apple indicating the candidate was a teacher.

Printing on corrugated plastic has its challenges. Coroplast is sensitive to the type of ink and its application to cure properly. It is important to use a printer that has experienced with corrugated plastic because applying too much ink or ink that is too thick will not adhere properly to the yard sign.

Other popular substrates for lawn signs are poly bag and polycoated paperboard, also called fold over signs. Take some time to consider all three types of lawn signs before deciding on which is best for your campaign. Coroplast is often a great choice for a campaign lawn sign.

Campaign Yard Sign Substrate – Polycoated Cardboard

Polycoated cardboard is also known by a number of other names including polyboard, paperboard, cardboard, coated and fold over yard. Cardboard yard signs are the traditional political campaign sign. Cardboard is coated with polyethylene to make this sign. It is great choice for campaigns looking to order in between 250 and 2,500 signs.

The Cost of cardboard campaign signs

For small and large orders, the most cost-effective option is corrugated plastic and bag bag respectively. In quantities between 250 and 500 signs, polyboard signs are at their least expensive compared to the poly bag or corrugated plastic lawn signs.

In the last ten years, however, many small and medium sized campaigns have moved towards corrugated plastic or Coroplast. Prices, however, are always changing so be sure to check what is the most cost-effective type after determining the amount of lawn signs the campaign needs.

Just like the other types of political signs, the most expensive part of the fold over political sign is often the wire. Metal wires frames are best suited for all campaign lawn signs but cardboard signs can be staked into the ground with an inexpensive wooden stake unlike other sign substrates.

In addition to screen printed polyboard signs being an economical choice with small and medium-sized runs, another advantage is the turnaround time. These type is often the quickest to get printed and shipped to the campaign office. In campaigns where every minute counts and you needed the campaign lawn signs yesterday, paperboard signs can get there fast.

Polyboard materials and assembly

Not all fold over signs are made the same. 24 point stock of paperboard is the standard but you will find some printers sell thinner, 18 point stock. Likewise, different printers use different thicknesses of polymer to protect the campaign sign from the elements.

The biggest concern with paperboard is waterproofing. The thicker the plastic coat on the paperboard and the more evenly and skillfully it is applied the more resistant it will be to water damage. If the printer takes the appropriate measures, cardboard yard signs will last but they won’t last as long as the other types of political yard signs.

To assemble the polycoated cardboard substrate, fold it in half exposing printing on both sides. The printer will score the sign in the middle to make folding a snap. While assembly is more involved with paperboard yard signs than with corrugated plastic and poly bag lawn signs, it’s only a matter folding the sign over the wire frame, which should be about 2/3rds the width of the sign itself and stapling the sides to each other.

Conclusion

For many state and local campaigns, coated cardboard is going to be the most cost-effective option and will get the job done.

Printing Coroplast Signs

Ever wonder what printing corrugated plastic yard signs looks like?  Take a look at this brief video on a print shop floor:

The process to print on corrugated plastic is call screen printing.  You can see some of this in the video but there is a stencil with woven mesh over it.  The printer puts the corrugated plastic in the machine, the stencil sets on the substrate, and a roller forces ink through the mesh onto the sign.