Print Politics

Election Campaign Sticker Printing Falls Flat?

Sticker design should be fun.

Election campaigns have to play it safe, but boring print designs may not be the way into the White House. (Plus I talk about some cool die-cutting tips!)

I ran across a great blog post today analyzing the sticker print designs of various Presidential candidates. It's nice to see that there are some other people out there taking an interest in the print designs being created by election campaigns.

Of course, the upshot of the analysis provided by Ryan Bowman over at GOOD Magazine was that none of the candidates have particularly nice designs. Most are contrived, awkward, or fail to hit the mark entirely. Or that's what you might say, anyway, if you're someone who's interested in design. If you're not someone who thinks about design much at all, you'll probably just experience a vague, seemingly directionless chill, or conversely, a warm, glowing, warming glow when you're eyes stray to one of these sticker print designs. That, or you won't feel or think anything at all.

In this indifference lies the heart of the problem with the print designs of many election campaigns. By figuring out how to play it absolutely safe when it comes to print design – picking the right colors, the right font, and the right presentation for the design's very limited copy – campaign designers actually succeed in repulsing design lovers through blandness overload, and evoking little other than disinterest from regular, non-design obsessed types.

The failure of innovation, or conversely, the triumph of genericism in political print design is particularly unfortunate when it comes to sticker printing. After all, stickers aren't just for bumpers anymore. They're an extremely inexpensive, effective form of print advertising, and when it comes to design, advertisers should be thinking outside the box.

If the design of a sticker is already fixed, as it may be when working for an election campaign, look into die-cutting as a way to create innovation shapes. Uniquely shaped stickers attract extra attention. Die-cutting is also a great way to associate your candidate, brand, or product with a signature shape. For example, the John Edwards campaign employs a shooting star in its print designs. This would be an ideal shape for die cutting, as would Mitt Romney's eagle design, and Barack Obama's signature 'O' shape.

The key to successful die-cut stickers is to make them distinctive, without making them overly complex. Too many little bits and pieces poking out everywhere make it easy to rip stickers, and as they have to be transferred from surface to surface, it's better to create smooth, powerful shapes that will maintain their integrity.

If you want to learn more about using stickers in an advertising campaign, check out a great article on the subject here.

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