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Never Underestimate The Value of Name Recognition

Winning Campaigns Staff Writer

Since positive name recognition is absolutely crucial in politics, the way your graphic "signature" is designed, rendered and packaged can make or break the image you are trying to convey to the voting public.

The right visual image and its emotional impact are so important to the success of all other product and service advertising messages, it's astounding that so many high-powered political consultants tend to downplay the impact. Perhaps that's why so many state and national campaigns have safe, predictable red, white and blue logos featuring the obligatory flags, stars and check marks.


In small-budget local campaigns, original attention-grabbing and memorable campaign graphics can make your name stand out in a crowded field. As campaign consultant John Witherspoon put it, "A well-designed, well-produced logo is far more than just fluff. It can significantly increase name awareness, which translates to more market penetration per dollar."  


It's a cliché, but it's also dogma in a political campaign: "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression."


As important as that first impression is, it is essential that the impression remain constant and consistent: "Repetition is the mother of learning."


Rule #1


Every campaign impression and message should build on and reinforce the first one and the last one that voters see or hear before they make up their minds and vote.


Don't take your campaign logo lightly. Since it is, without exaggeration, the visual cornerstone of your media campaign, selecting the right logo is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make.


Whatever logo you start with, you stick with, unless it's a dud. In that case, dump it right away and start over. Good, bad or indifferent, you'll probably be married to that logo for the life of your political campaign, and perhaps for the life of your entire political career.


Before you design your logo and signature, call your local elections office and find out exactly how your name will appear on the ballot. Be absolutely sure that your name on the ballot and your name on your campaign graphics is spelled out and arranged in the same way.     


Every campaign impression and message should build on and reinforce the first one and last one that voters see or hear before they make up their minds and vote. And always remember, the most important time the voters will see your name in print is in the voting booth.   


RULE #2:


Your name, slogan and campaign theme must successfully compete for attention with literally thousands of advertising messages that bombard voters every waking hour of every single day. Do everything you can to make your campaign message cut through the clutter.


Like building a home, the first step in building a logo is to start with a strong foundation. Using a bold typeface gives your logo a solid base.           


Jorge Alvarez, always uses clean, bold typefaces for his political sign designs because they give him more options. When you start with a bold font, you can do more with tight kerning (reducing the spacing between letters) and condensing ("squeezing" letters and blocks of text, accordion style, to make them appear taller and thinner) to fit the type within the frame to its maximum advantage. Light type faces rendered in this fashion can sometimes make words look like a forest of toothpicks.


You can, of course, visually squeeze any typography beyond recognition and readership. To ensure that your campaign logo is readable at a distance, print it in color on an 81/2" x 11" sheet of paper, then take it outdoors and view it from 60' to 100' away. If it stands this readership test, then it will work fine in print.


RULE #3:


Before producing any campaign material, Make sure you obtain a copy of the state and local regulations about disclaimer requirements in political advertisements.


Many places requite that all print and electronic advertisements, including signs, must identify the content as a political advertisement, as well as the group paying for the political advertisement.


Make sure the wording, to the letter, is exactly what the current regulations require. Don't rely on other candidates' materials to be legitimate


With your opponents and the media scrutinizing your every move during the campaign, illegal signs and literature won't last a day on the street. And it costs a lot of time, effort and money to go back and retrofit signs and literature with stickers. it's also embarrassing, and sends a message about the candidate's lack of attention to detail )or worse, his or her disregard for the law).


Rule #4:


Proof your copy, and proof it again and again, before you produce any printed campaign materials.


Again, this sounds a little too obvious, but here's another sorry story about not proofing. Several years ago, a printing company received finished artwork for a big order of multi-color 4' x 8' signs from a candidate's advertising agency. The artwork was approved, with the candidate's signature directly on the art board. Unfortunately for the candidate, the word "Commissioner" was spelled "Comissioner".


Nobody in the production department caught it or challenged it. The signs hit the streets with the horrible mistake on it for the world to see. Even the local daily newspaper ran a picture of one of the signs and poked fun at the candidate's education level. And guess who paid big bucks to get the signs reprinted? The candidate.

Jim Burrows
Winning Campaigns Staff Writer
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