People actually collect this stuff? Wow...

In case you hadn't noticed, most mainstream political campaign buttons are pretty similar in design. They feature names, headshots, the year of the campaign, the country's colors, maybe a slogan. The same old lies. I mean promises. These are all items you could use in your own designs, of course.

Perhaps what has changed is that designs have gotten cooler and sleeker. Can you believe that there was a time when designers were forced to create graphics without Photoshop? Can you believe that there was time when they didn't even have computers? How in the world did they ever get their work done?

Thankfully, we live in much more efficient times. Button designs can be smooth and shiny and anti-aliased and drop-shadowed and stroked and blurred and texturized and all that nonsense. Designs can be massaged to the point of pure awesomeness. Just be grateful for the 'undo' button. Can you imagine the messes designers would create without it? It would be hilarious.

So, where were we? Oh yes, button designs. Here are a few tips you can take or leave.

Consider Your Campaign Message

Before you go adding random design elements to your buttons, you should probably go back to the basics and remember what your campaign is about. Why are you having a campaign, what do you stand for, all that stuff.

Otherwise you're subject to the horrors of design by committee, and do you know what that would get you? I'll tell you what that will get you. A button with a multicolored smiley face (so as to avoid discrimination) that says, "We want everybody to be happy so our political stance is neutral". I'm sure that won't go over like diarrhea on an airplane.

Pretty much every design element should have a purpose. Due to size limitations, it's not like you can display a lot of stuff on a button without confusing people anyway.

Include Your Website Address

Surprise! We're not in the Jurassic age anymore.

Whether you're running for senate or for city council, you should probably have a website where people can gather more information about you and what you intend to "change". So, if you want, you can build awareness for your campaign by incorporating your web address on your buttons.

And by 'web address' I don't mean:

You need your own domain name, man! Come on, hosting and domains don't even cost that much these days. Get with it.

And by 'website' I don't mean a page with nested frames, a bright magenta background, lime green text, hundreds of animated GIFs, and links to your friends on GeoCities. God, you've got a lot of catching up to do. Just put the mouse down and let someone else do it.

Incorporate Regional References

I've seen some politicians use regional references in their designs. Of course, it's not really unusual to see the shape of specific States in the backdrop. It always evokes a sense of pride and loyalty. I don't think the state flower gets used that often though, so if you wanted to be really silly and weird, you could try that.

But let's say you're running for the city. What would you use then?

Well, have you ever been to a rock concert? No? God, you're hopeless.

What do rock stars shout after they play a couple of songs at their show? "Hello (city name here)!" or "Hello (auditorium name here)!" Why? People eat that stuff up, man. They are loyal to their hometown, unless they live in a real garbage hole.

So consider what's unique about your city or town. Maybe include a well-known quote (especially if there was a famous person that was born in the area), or an animal that is often seen in the region. That's not cheesy at all.

Parody Legacy Designs

You've probably noticed how politicians often take jabs at each other. Sometimes it's in good fun, and other times it's for the purpose of cutting the other guy down to size. More often than not, the latter. Man, sometimes I love politics.

So anyway, you might consider looking into the local archives to see if you can find any designs from the past that you could mimic, emulate, or parody. You'll probably have to tread this territory with some care, though. If it's not genuinely funny, it's probably not worth doing. If you make fun of something people love, it could be more trouble than it's worth.

On the other hand, if the design is familiar to many people (and they associate good feelings with it), it could help your cause. You never know.

Parody Opponents

Like I was saying in the last point, being a politician is awesome because you can make fun of your opponents. So, if you feel confident about your political stance and you want to lampoon the "other guy", you could maybe have a caricature drawn up and use it in your design. Or maybe if he's trying to pass abortion laws, you could make a design where he has a crying baby on his head.

Sorry, that was a terrible idea. This is why I'm not in charge of political campaigns.

But I think you see my point. Waffles are awesome. No, that wasn't it.

Politicians pull the anti-advertisement or anti-slogan shtick all the time. Maybe there's a way you could use that in your design.

Is there anything else you would add? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cover image by L. Allen Brewer

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