Saturday, February 1, 2014

Color In Politics - Social Media, Yard and Road Signs

Have you ever wondered just how much of an impact color can have on the effectiveness of social media ads, and yard and road signs? Color choices on the clothing candidates wear to various campaign events can also set critical first impression feelings about the candidate in the minds of voters.

The reality is quite simple: color and its psychological impact matters in politics. It’s not a coincidence that Americans fall back on colors even to describe the leanings of political districts as either red or blue. But, first and foremost, there are two critical components for every piece of campaign literature, especially social media ads, and yard and road signs: the candidate name and the office sought. The purpose of campaign literature and ad design is to lock those two component pieces of information as clearly as possible in the minds of voters.

Color choices can help associate a psychological feeling about a candidates name in the minds of voters. That said, it’s best to give priority to choosing colors that contrast and are therefore more easily seen a momentary glance by passerby's: People scrolling through their social media feeds and  drivers passing by campaign yard or road sign. The more contrast the better, including more contrast from opponent ads and road signs, the landscape, and the color of homes in the neighborhood the more likely your yard sign will be noticed. Voters will scroll past social media ads and drive past yard and road signs in the blink of an eye, and often won’t take much time to read the actual wording on the ad or sign, but it’s singularly important for the candidate’s name register in the mind of passerby in that single blink of an eye.

What’s more, in most cases, you won’t even have much space for copy on social media ads or on yard and road signs! But with a strategic use of color, you can ensure that your social
media ads, yard and road signs, and other campaign literature not only capture your audience’s attention, but also convey a message about your campaign without needing a single word. That’s the psychological impact of color—for ads, yard and road  signs, and elsewhere in your political campaign.

Advertisers across all industries have long studied and utilized the potential impact of color on audiences, so it should be no surprise that politicians are following suit.

According to marketing and psychology research, each color evokes a different emotion in the audience’s mind, from feelings of excitement and power when they see the color red, to optimism when they see the color yellow. And because political elections often make appeals to emotional sensibilities, it’s time to consider color as an important choice in your election campaign, as well.

On a national level, this conscious emphasis on color has been happening for a while now. You only have to turn on a primary-election debate to see a plethora of blue suits seeking to evoke trustworthiness, with red accent colors woven in generously, and evoking power. Digital-media professor Kristen Palana discusses the importance of color in positioning candidates more in this article.

These trends translate directly to local political campaigns, as well. While local candidates may not think as much about their choice of tie as their national equivalents, you should absolutely consider color when designing attention-grabbing campaign materials, to subtly remind their audience of what they stand for.

Most likely, many of the candidates in your district will decide to go with a red, white, and blue color palette. Not only do those colors communicate patriotism, they also seek to evoke the same emotions that national candidates do: power and trust.

Of course, going with the exact same color palette as your competitors will do little to raise attention for your political campaign amongst the noise of countless other similar-looking yard signs. This leaves you with two choices:

Especially in conservative districts, you may simply not be able to afford going beyond the red, white, and blue spectrum. Put simply, patriotism matters in all elections, and the undoubted psychological connotations of red (passion and power) and blue (trustworthiness and competence) mean that most of your less color-savvy competitors will trust these colors to do the job.

But even if you stay within this spectrum, you have opportunities to stand out. Consider emphasizing an original arrangement of these colors, such as white on a blue or red background. Without changing the actual colors, you can still ensure that your signs will receive more attention than your competitors’ more traditional layouts.

For example, black is among one of the most attention-grabbing colors for yard signs, because they are typically brightly colored. A yard sign that utilizes black can make passersby look twice.

At the same time, few politicians actually use black, fearing negative connotations that don’t actually exist. In fact, black conveys authority and is among the favorite colors of both males and females, making it a good and original choice for your campaign, when used in moderation. No one wants to see an all-black sign, but it can be used to great effect when paired with other colors.

Orange is another option you might want to pursue as a color choice. Like black, it is not widely-used among politicians, yet it conveys optimism, clarity, and warmth—perfect for a candidate who is not yet personally known among local constituents.

Orange works best as a background for yard signs; using it as text means running the risk of blending in with the bright colors of the outdoors and decreasing visibility. And beware: you do not want to use orange before and during Halloween. Otherwise, you risk being subconsciously sorted away as a seasonal candidate who will matter little once the spooky season is over.

Here are what colors convey psychologically in marketing and political graphics and copy:
  • Black conveys power and authority. It's also easy to see from the road so it's a good choice in any district.
  • White is a fine background color, but it's associations with concepts like purity and sterility aren't especially meaningful to voters.
  • Red means power, think "power tie," and also has strong connections with love. As such, if you aren't going to drown in a sea of other red, white, and blue signs, red is a good choice.
  • Blue is a cooling and calming color. Hopefully, voters aren't that angry with you that you need this effect.
  • Green is a symbol of the natural world. Candidates who want to connect themselves with environmental issues are smart to choose this color.
  • Yellow is a bright and cheery color that when paired with a dark and contrasting color, works well in most districts.
  • Purple conveys wisdom but also royalty. Grassroots campaigns beware.
  • Brown, like green, is an earthen color that makes people think about the environment.
  • Orange conveys excitement, warmth, and outside of psychology, it's an attention getting color that works well on many signs.
Beyond color choice, here are a few best practice considerations for yard and road sign design:
  • Campaign yard and road sign 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.
  • Colors and cost of yard and road signs: Each color added to yard and road signs increases the per piece cost of signs. One color candidate name of office copy printed on a white sign stock costs the least to buy. One good way to stand out from your opponent’s signs is to simply have more signs posted in more locations than your opponent. Keeping your per piece sign cost low allows post more signs on more locations.
  • 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.
  • Font on campaign yard and road 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 yard and road 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 yard and road 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 yard and road 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.
  • Material of campaign yard and road 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 yard and road 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment