Tag Archives: campaign signs

Looking back at 2010 Howard County campaign signs, part 3

We conclude our tour of campaign signs from the 2010 Howard County elections by looking at some of my favorites. (For more signs see part 1 and part 2.)

Frank Aquino for Board of Education (2010)

Frank Aquino for Board of Education (2010)

I like this mainly for the obvious but nice “A+” design element. The slogan is too small to read, and the domain name could be ditched in favor of increasing the size of “Board of Education”.

Gail Bates and Warren Miller for Delegate (2010)

Gail Bates and Warren Miller for Delegate (2010)

As I previously noted, red, white, and blue colors on a campaign sign are usually associated with Republicans, although for some reason Gail Bates and Warren Miller are the only local GOP candidates whose signs I can recall using them. (Eric Wargotz’s sign also used red, white, and blue, though in a very understated way.) Note the attempt to link together “Bates” and “Miller” via the design.

Ken Ulman for County Executive (2010)

Ken Ulman for County Executive (2010)

Professional, competent, albeit a bit on the bland side.

Gail Bates and Warren Miller for Delegate (2010) (large)

Gail Bates and Warren Miller for Delegate (2010) (large)

Again the colors are a cliché, but here done to really excellent effect. Note that this sign is even more effective in linking Gail Bates and Warren Miller into a single entity “BatesMiller” in the minds of voters. Also note that the small banner works better here as a single design element, as opposed to being duplicated as it was in the sign above. This is such a great sign that it’s a shame it wasn’t displayed more as a standalone sign; most if not all of the times I saw it it was paired with signs for other GOP candidates immediately above it and/or below it.

Byron Macfarlane for Register of Wills (2010)

Byron Macfarlane for Register of Wills (2010)

Understatedly elegant, soberly professional, but with a nice yellow design element to rescue it from stuffiness—a sign you’d feel good entrusting your estate to.

Bob Ballinger for Board of Education (2010)

Bob Ballinger for Board of Education (2010)

This design uses an informal typeface on a green background to nicely evoke chalk on a classroom blackboard and thus the theme of education, without being overly literal or using common clichés (e.g., apples).

Courtney Watson for County Council (2010)

Courtney Watson for County Council (2010)

Large text that conveys only the basic information needed, nice contrasting typefaces (with the top one lending an air of liveliness to the sign), a unique choice of complementary colors (including a subtle gradient on the bottom half), and good balance in the design between the top half, the bottom half, and the white border. But what really takes this design from good to great is the stand of wheat to the right: it adds visual interest, ties back to the official Howard County seal, and evokes the rural past of the country in a way calculated to appeal both to conservative older residents and more liberal newcomers concerned about environmental issues. This one got my vote for the best Howard County campaign sign of 2010.

Who will emerge the victors in the race for best Howard County campaign signs of 2014? If I have time (and remember to take pictures) I’ll be back again next year to tell you.

Looking back at 2010 Howard County campaign signs, part 2

Continue down memory lane with me as we look back at the campaign signs for Howard County local elections in 2010. (For more signs see part 1 and part 3, and note that I didn’t make a complete record of all signs.)

Frank Mirabile for US Congress (2010)

Frank Mirabile for US Congress (2010)

Based on the sign it appears that Frank Mirabile’s campaign website had (has?) a very long domain name; was frankmirabile.com taken? The stars are an interesting design element, but the middle and largest star looks somewhat chopped off.

Trent Kittleman for County Executive (2010)

Trent Kittleman for County Executive (2010)

One of several signs to use combinations of the colors in Maryland’s state flag: red, white, black, and gold. This one is unusual in attempting to use all four at once (if we count the thin white border). Note that in the actual Maryland flag the red and white elements are visually separated from the black and gold elements, and in particular there is minimal juxtaposition of red and gold.

Eric Wargotz for US Senate (2010)

Eric Wargotz for US Senate (2010)

There’s a lot to like about this sign, including the nice intrusion of the descender of the letter “g” into the middle design element. It might have been improved by ditching the slogan (who has time to read slogans at 30-40 mph?) and the domain name and bringing “US Senate” into the bottom half of the sign, leaving the middle red and blue elements plain. (P.S. Yes, I know that this wasn’t strictly speaking a “local” election.)

allan-kittleman-2010

Presumably whoever designed this sign believed that when voters saw “Kittleman” they’d think “Allan”.

Jim Fitzgerald for Sheriff (2010)

Jim Fitzgerald for Sheriff (2010)

Another example of a bold black on yellow color scheme, this time incorporating a design element to good effect. (Some Fitzgerald signs covered this star with a sticker indicating a police union endorsement.)

Jon Weinstein for Delegate (2010)

Jon Weinstein for Delegate (2010)

Here yellow serves as the text color. I’m genuinely uncertain as to whether this sign would have been better served by using white as the text color instead: I think white text would have been more readable, but many candidates were using white text on blue in 2010, to the point of it being a cliché.

Maryann Maher for Delegate (2010) (with logo)

Maryann Maher for Delegate (2010) (with logo)

I recall driving myself crazy trying to figure out what the logo in the upper right corner was supposed to represent. Other than that it’s a nice sign.

Tune in tomorrow for part 3!

Looking back at 2010 Howard County campaign signs, part 1

Now that the local Howard County political campaigns are starting to heat up, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the last local elections in 2010. Don’t worry, this won’t be a boring statistical analysis or a deep philosophical rumination. Instead I thought it would be fun to comment on the candidates’ 2010 campaign signs—or at least the ones that I saw and managed to take pictures of. (I had meant to do this post in 2010 but never got around to it. For more on this topic see part 2 and part 3.)

I’m not a professional graphic designer, so don’t expect any truly profound thoughts. However I do think I have at least a modicum of good taste and some basic understanding of what makes a good campaign sign design. With that in mind, here are some general comments before we get to the signs themselves:

  • Less is more when it comes to campaign signs. Whether campaign signs actually make a difference or not is disputed. However as this article notes, if it does nothing else a sign has to reinforce the candidate’s name in the minds of the voters, and readability is paramount in that. The only mandatory elements are the candidate’s last name and the office they’re seeking.
  • Getting colors right is important. Some color combinations are a cliché at this point, like red, white, and blue (especially popular with Republicans) or green (increasingly popular with Democrats). Other color combinations are really hard to make work. (We’ll see some examples later.)
  • Design is a lot more subtle than people realize, though I think it’s possible for people to take it overboard. (See for example this discussion of the typefaces used by the Obama and Romney campaigns.) I personally think it’s worth finding the best graphic designer you can, even if they’re somewhat more expensive. If you don’t feel confident in your own taste find a disinterested third party (like someone you know who’s “arty”) and ask them for advice.

And now without further ado, a gallery of 2010 campaign signs and my comments on them; again, remember that I didn’t manage to get pictures of everyone’s sign, so this is only a selection:

Larry Walker for Board of Education (2010)

Larry Walker for Board of Education (2010)

How much more minimal could this be? The answer is none. None more minimal. But, as noted above, it gets the job done.

Kay Hartleb for Register of Wills (2010) (with picture)

Kay Hartleb for Register of Wills (2010) (with picture)

At the other end of the spectrum, a sign with personality to burn.

Kay Hartleb for Register of Wills (2010)

Kay Hartleb for Register of Wills (2010)

Here the personality gets turned down, but the red-and-white color scheme remains.

Jason Reddish for Clerk of Court (2010)

Jason Reddish for Clerk of Court (2010)

A color scheme that (deliberately?) puns on the candidate’s name. It’s also the political equivalent of showing up at a party wearing the same dress as someone else—although to be fair there were a number of copycat design schemes in 2010, including (as we’ll see) the ubiquitous white text on dark blue background.

Margy Rappaport for Clerk of Court (2010)

Margy Rappaport for Clerk of Court (2010)

Lavender’s a color you don’t see that often in campaign signs.

David Proudfoot for Board of Education (2010)

David Proudfoot for Board of Education (2010)

Using a foot as a design element was presumably an idea that was impossible to resist. Note also that this sign refers to the “School Board”; I think all the other candidates’ signs referred to the “Board of Education”.

Brian Meshkin for Board of Education (2010)

Brian Meshkin for Board of Education (2010)

Brian Meshkin was one of several candidates listing a campaign website as an alternative to having people do a Google search for more information. I didn’t notice until looking very closely that it also includes instructions for texting him.

More 2010 campaign signs to come in part 2!