So many first time candidates think it’s necessary to hire a professional graphic designer to put together a logo for their campaign. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the more design elements you include in a logo, the more it detracts from its only true purpose, which is to emblazon your name in the back of the voter’s mind.
The political campaign logo is not supposed to say everything about a candidate in one tiny .jpg. You only need to include the most vital elements of your message – your name and the elected office for which you are running. Note, I did not include your slogan, your political affiliation, your website, or a fancy shooting star or waving flag in the corner. That’s not to say, however, that your sign has to be plain Jane boring; there are a few key elements of style that you can do some dramatic stuff with to evoke the feeling of your campaign’s spirit. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you design a political campaign logo that will both get your message across to the voter quickly and effectively, and pull you out from the crowd of yard signs on the corner.
- Color choice – unless you are running for national office, try to stay away from red/white/blue color themes. Everyone uses that color combo and you’ll just be one in the crowd that way. If you are running for state office, perhaps the colors of your state flag would work. The best choice, however, is to find a local color theme: If you’re in a college town or a small town that is strongly tied to the local high school, use the school’s colors as your campaign colors. Perhaps your city has it’s own logo/design – you can use those colors as well to tie yourself to your district emotionally. There are also colors that just naturally evoke certain feelings – red gets people fired up, blue has a calming effect, yellow makes people hungry, etc. (there are actually studies out there, I’m not making this stuff up). Do some research and decide for yourself which colors will suit your campaign the best.
- Font choice – The lettering you use for your campaign logo can say a lot about you. Choose wisely. The only aspect you must have, however, is serifs. Make sure to use a serif font because most applications of your logo will be in print, not on a computer screen, and serif font is much more readable in print.
- Word choice – This should be simple. “John Smith for State Representative” That’s all you need to say. You may want to shorten it to just your last name if it’s particularly long: “Sarbinowski for City Council.”
- How you display your name – there are a lot of factors to take into consideration here. If you have a unique last name (or sometimes even your first name) may want to use it alone or make it significantly bigger than the first – most candidates do make the first name about half the size of the last name or smaller, or omit the first name altogether.
- Border use – I’m a big fan of using a plain rectangular border around the edge of the campaign logo because it draws the eyes toward the center of the logo – where the name is. This is great on yard signs and billboards, lovely on letterhead with a thinner border, and in some applications less useful – luckily it’s easy enough to omit when necessary.
- Never change your campaign logo – Sometimes candidates design a flashy logo in their favorite colors and then decide 3-4 months later that it isn’t appropriate and they switch to something totally new and different. DON’T DO THAT! Not only is it annoying, but you have to start completely over embedding yourself in the voters’ minds through that logo.
- But don’t marry it, either – That being said, since your logo should be simple from the start, it is easy to make small changes and tweaks that may be necessary in different applications without creating a whole new logo. For example, perhaps for your website header you change your font to a sans serif that is easier to read on a computer screen. Or maybe you take out the border so that you can include your logo into the design of a palm card or billboard. Or perhaps for a newspaper advertisement you add your headshot, website URL and campaign slogan.
There you have it. See? Do you really need to pay a graphic designer to do for you what your savvy teenager could do for free in Photoshop or even Paint!