Good Sign Bad Sign 101

12698606_10208392262748713_1893959247632542857_oIt might be too late for candidates running for office this cycle, but here are some basic dos-n-don’t when it comes to campaign sign design.


  1. Left/Right Justified-Campaign signs are for increasing a candidate’s name ID, so the bigger your name on the sign the better. Your name should start at the far left border of the material (generally coroplast) and run to the far righthand side of the sign with very narrow margins.
  2. 2/3rd Name Coverage-Candidate’s name should cover more than half the sign. It’s your name that is on the ballot, nothing else so make sure that nothing on your sign distracts from or clutters up your name.
  3. Appropriate Use of Scale-Just because signs can be purchased in standard sizes doesn’t mean that you have to buy them that way, especially if you have an unusually long or short name. Some candidates might be better off with 4x4s if they have a short name and some candidates have names made for 2x8s. More often than not, names on 4x8s are no bigger than they would be on a 2×8 at twice the price. Additionally, 2x8s and 4x4s are twice as easy to put up as 4x8s.
  4. Sharp Color Contrast– I’m not suggesting you go generic and use black and white, but consider how your colors stand out when used together. When in doubt, it might be best to use black or white as your second color. It will stand out and cut costs, saving money for all the other necessities on the campaign… like pizza.
  5. Bold Type Style– Just because it looks good on letterhead, doesn’t mean it looks good at 50 mph or from 100 yards. Use BOLD TYPE without serifs and generally use ALL CAPS IF POSSIBLE.


  1. Websites– This ain’t the 90’s. Voters are smart enough to find your website without giving them the WWW. Don’t insult them by filling up half your sign with your web address.
  2. Shading and Outlining– Using shading to give your logo an embossed look or outlining letters with black or white to create more contrast between like colors might look good on your laptop, but will be difficult to read from a distance or at any speed. Avoid getting fancy. Most designers will want to create a sign suitable for framing. If you want something suitable for framing, win first.
  3. Pictures– If Kelly Schulz doesn’t put a picture on her sign, why would you??? The point is, your picture only diminishes the size of your name, it suggests a certain vanity at a time you want to be humble and is likely to attract pranksters in a way that might get your sign the kind of attention you do NOT want. The surest way to to keep from having a giant penis drawn on your face, is to not have your face on your sign. Nuff said.
  4. DIY– It never fails that the candidate wants to get down in the weeds and micromanage the campaign and the signage, but it’s just not your job. The candidate’s job is to shake hands, knock doors, kiss babies and ask for money, PERIOD. Winning candidates learn to delegate things like sign and logo design to people who know what they are doing and not sweat the details. If you are a candidate for office this November, you shouldn’t even be reading this!
  5. Don’t Use Cursive– GSBS assumed this was not necessary, but apparently we were wrong. See: Johnny O… Johnny NO!




Published by

DE Murphy

Former state legislator, Party Chair, 2008 Delegation Chair, Convention Delegate in 2000, 2008, 2016 and 2020. Current political and public policy advocate on Capitol Hill and part-time equal opportunity sign critic.

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