02 September 2009

Campaign College: Sign Design 101

There is a difference between political communications and advertising.

Here’s a simple, graphic example. 

sign2 One of the signs in these pictures was designed from the start to convey essential information simply, succinctly and at long distances.

It uses bright colours and a font that is easy to read, even at a distance.

It was not designed by an ad agency.

A by-product of the design is that it is also visible – and legible – when travelling at the speeds one normally encounters in city driving.

The other two weren’t.


The pictures were taken at the intersection of Westerland Road and the parkway, from the corner opposite the signs and without any zoom.

sign1 The sign legible in this shot was also plainly legible to the unaided eye at twice and three times this distance.



Anonymous said...

If it were a contest of signs maybe Lono would have a better chance this time. Oh wait isn't that the signs he used last time too and also for a provincial election? Signage is a total waste of money and look horrible around the city. Another question why isn't Lono using his Liberal Blood red instead of Tory Blue? Trying to deceive the public. He's really just a Liberal in Tory Colors right?


Edward G. Hollett said...

Thanks BB for that insight.

Nice to see our provincial tax dollars at work so early in the morning.

I am sure no one realised that the Tory colour was yellow, but thanks for pointing that out. Your employers will surely be impressed by your wit.

Anonymous said...

lono should have put eye spots in the O's and a slogan "i see the light".

Anonymous said...

I like the Lono signs myself. Nice and bright along with not a lot of information overload.
I couldn't care less whether he was Liberal or a Tory myself. In the province here, it seems you are either one or the other doesn't it? It's no different than the Toronto/Montreal rivalry in hockey!...lol

Either way, Lono is a thinker and he's been talking about the issues since Andy Wells told him he didn't know a thing about them ages ago. remember Lono's tape on failing infrastructure and the need for new investment there?....I'm sure the people of Allendale Road the other day fully agree with him in the light of the massive flood from broken water piping...
You go Lono!You got my vote!

Edward G. Hollett said...

Well, 0852, that sort of limited approach (it isn't thinking) is really confined to the members of the Fan Club, aka, the Cult of Personality cirling around the derriere of the current Leader and Embodiment of the Heart and Soul of the Nation.

Even Tories get nauseated at their relentless and completely mindless arse-licking. They also tend to be the Anony-turds who clog up comments spaces on the Internet.

To get back to the point, though, there are plenty of good campaign signs out there.

Oddly enough - and it is really odd given the talent at the agency involved - the worst ones have turned out to be the ones a couple of candidates got an agency to do. They might make great print ads or posters, but they make lousy signs.

I am not sure if Ellsworth is one of those or if he used a different agency for his different signs over time but over all his suck as well. There are problems with the colour, font size, content etc but then again he tends to run a campaign that is heavy on the spending and short on the content. (See, for example his 2005 Ward 4 run).

Shannie's, Lee's in Ward One and a few others are decent enough. Large, legible. O'Leary's signs have some strong positives. Guy Murphy's look like they were done in a jiffy. Davis' signs are a jumble, some of which are decent enough but the majority of which detract from his campaign by looking unpolished.

O'Leary could use a website though, rather than just posting a clickable jpeg of her campaign sign. The Internet is a cheap way to campaign and for someone who is apparently concerned about the cost of campaigns, she hasn't made use of the effective and free stuff out there.

Speaking of that, though, Coombs has a site that looks good but is devoid of content. His Twitter is out of date, the youtube was empty a day or so ago, his vids are amateurish and all his photos are stilted, posed shots. No shots of Keith with people who didn't have to be there. It all conveys a very poor impression.

Anonymous said...

The slogans are cracking me up. What is up with Docs "proven" slogan. Well if you can actually read it as you drive by it can mean a few things. Proven to never make up his mind (see Memorial Stadium fiasco on that one). He was like John Kerry. He was for it, then he was against it but he was against it before he was for it. I lost track of his positions on that one.

Proven to love cruise ships and the associated junkets. Proven leadership.. Doc..cmon bye..I will take Ellsworth, but I wish there was another legitimate alternative.

Coombs "Looking forward ...." The only thing I am looking forward to is the time that Coombs is retired from St. John's City Council.

There is a bunch of them that need to go in there especially in the At Large category. Here's hoping some of these signs work and we have a little turnover at city hall.

Anonymous said...

Hollett's right on the Lono signs. This guy reminds me of the nerdy kid who always had to play right field because he was the last one picked for the game. Tragically, he may never get a shot at council, House of Assembly, etc because he simply doesn't have that superficial, cool, Norm from Cheers aura. Regardless of political stripe, he's a damn shot smarter than anyone i've seen run locally.
The mayors race...just like before, we have nothing to chose from. Neither of them matchup "on the stick"...seems as though english is a second language when a microphone is stuck in their yap. Ellsworth, unfortunately will win because he'll flood the market with that cult of personality PR that works for the Tories.The people he hired to get him elected are short on ideas but loaded up on cash.DOK looks respectable in his posters but that idea of putting your candidate ,in a casual pose, dressed down and speaking to us on "our" level has been used as much as calling your city "great"

Anonymous said...

Check out the picture of the Andrew Harvey sign at Signal Blog. Wow is all I can say.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Good post Ed.

Simon has the best signs in the race and folks should not count him out.

This is his second municipal campaign and he ran in the last provincial election. He has name recognition and is by far brings more to this election than the majority of candidates for the various positions.

I wish he had set his sights a little higher.

Of course when it comes to laying out a lawn sign it helps to have a four letter last name. I often wonder what the heck I would do with Whittle on a lawn site!

When you consider the density of signs, the plethora of blue and red, Simon's bold signs stand out.

Signs are expensive and the size affect the cost of printing. I think Simon's 18 x 24 signs are a great size for his message. That said some signs can be effective on 9 x 24 inch signs.

Of course signs don't vote. Signs in public spaces are just for presence but in Simon's case I think his signs are the most effective for traffic and visibility.

In closing, Simons has done his signs right. They are sturdy, the right size, they stand out and people will remember LONO when they are filling out their at large ballot.

Anonymous said...

No Lono!

Edward G. Hollett said...

As I said earlier, Peter, there are a number of candidates out there with good signs.

Doc, Keith and Ron are three that have signs which - generally speaking - are hideous.

Signs are just one element of a campaign as you well know and while he can take advantage of having a short last name, other candidates can do something to emphasise their particular qualities that would set them apart.

The Iron Rule is to distinguish oneself and most candidates seem reluctant to do that.

Why is as much a mystery as why the same people run for office in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Lono wins the colouring contest. grade three class is dismissed

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

So hows Simon's health
CBC St. John’s
Sunday, October 7, 2007
St. John's Liberal hospitalized with blood clot
Simon Lono, the party's candidate in St. John's North district, was admitted to the Health Sciences Centre on Saturday night after presenting with chest pains.
Lono's campaign said in a statement that he is now resting comfortably, and will remain in hospital for several days.
Lono is staying in Tuesday's election race, and "looks forward to voting day and the opportunity to represent the people of St. John's North," the statement said.

Edward G. Hollett said...

I am sure he'll be happy to know you are looking out for him, 2213.

Why don't you just e-mail him through his website and ask.


Then you might have to reveal your identity.

Well, genuine concern for his well being wouldn't deter you from doing that would it?

Then again, like someone who shall remain nameless, you could just be the kind of turd who would show up at the hospital and pretend to be family just so you could get into his room.

It's hard to tell from your comment whether you are genuine or just another one of the local fucktards.

Anonymous said...

My, my, my. Your language is sooooooooooooo enthralling.

babe in boyland said...

ok, "02 September, 2009 22:13". that was just a sly unnecessary attempt to discredit a candidate by vague impications of poor health or - worse - mockery. i work in healthcare and to bring up any candidate's medical history when it is not at all relevant to the campaign is just wrong.

if you had ever had a real health emergency - and that's what a blood clot in the thorax (chest area) is - you wouldn't be so quick to bring it up like its nothing. this candidate has a family, kids (he's proud of them and talks about them in his bio). i bet they had a nasty scare when this blood clot you talked about so casually happened.

are you trying to scare this guy away from running by scaring his kids about him getting sick during the campaign? shame on you!

Edward G. Hollett said...

Good points babe, but the juvenile nature that some peop,e bring to the world just isn't worth much more than scorn.

Thankfully the medium that lets such idiocy fester also gives us colourful words to describe them.

Peter L. Whittle said...

I have to agree, I sensed no sincerity in referring to a very tough period for Simon's health. Obviously he recovered and is out campaigning.

Ed is right, a fucktard comment!

Edward G. Hollett said...

Nice to see you finally came out of the closet today, Peter after trying to shill for Ellsworth without disclosing you were working the campaign.

Funny too how your work schedule just happened to put you at city hall at the same time as yet another of Ron's media events.

It amazes me how some people feel the need to invent these rather transparent stories.

So what exactly is your role in the campaign?

Anonymous said...

That comment is almost as bad as saying Doc was conducting a push poll.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment has validity, the person asked a direct question. Made a media reference of a previous campaign news story (not 2 years ago) and directly asked a news worthy question. A great news story, for Lono to state “I’m in perfect health TA DA
Had a scare in 2007 but with a healthy lifestyle and proper doctors care I have been given a clean bill of health.
The reality is and no matter how personally sensitive the matter, when elected we tote the bill for our elected councilors. We have a right to know they won’t end up on sick leave or some kind of medical disability. Would you bet on a horse with a bum leg? Would you hire somebody in ill health? Would you!!!!!!?
Swear down somebody for asking a question, yes it seems, so swear at me too.
Sure Ron Ellsworth wants to cut retirement benefits.
Think how Andy Wells feels, he had heart surgery too and now his pension may be effected.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Well, 2323, right off the bat, people have the right to know who you are and what your interest is in all this. We have already had one example of someone shilling for a candidate but refusing to disclose their connection.

You could be someone with more than a passing interest in the campaign. Your may have other reasons for raising the issue other than a simple assertion of "rights".

So if you want to talk about rights, let's start with that one.

Now you mention "swear down me for asking the same question."

We could also call you people who make anonymous smears cowards, but that's getting way off topic. Besides, their cowardice, their obvious lack of integrity is pretty obvious.

Maybe you are the same person. Again, that's party of the sleazy world of the anonymous smear. From where I stand, from the way you write, you look like the same person.

As for your broader contention, let's look at some far more relevent things.

Beyond that, your point isn't correct. Health isn't an issue from a "hiring" standpoint.

But here are issues:

Truthfullness: the public has a right to know who you are when especially when you make comments as you just did.

Turthfulness: we should have an opportunity to review or candidates to disclose any instances of telling bald-faced lies.

It's interesting by the way you mention Ellsworth when no one else here did.

Backers: In municipal campaigns the election finance laws are so loose the public has no idea who is financing who. This gets to be a big concern when candidates get big endorsements from big local moneybags. The public has an unmitigated right to knwo that money isn't going to have an undue influence on subsequent decisions.

This is especially true in the big jobs.

There are lots of things the public has a right to know long before any issues of health and family, there anonymous 2323.

Interesting you and your friend - assuming you are not the same person, of course ;-) - didn't raise those.

Makes you wonder what the purpose was of making the comment in the first place, as well as the purpose of hiding your identity in doing so.

Evidently you have some problem with people knowing who you are: and that should be enough for them to suspicious of you and your motives.

Anonymous said...

i mentioned Andy wells too

Edward G. Hollett said...

Bully for you, if it really is you and not some other anony-twit pretending to be you.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis