All The President’s Signs: Visual Communication for Political Campaigns

by Jayme Nelson
Political Signs
Political Campaign Signs

Photo credits: Seeking Michigan / Old Politicals

Long before your television sets were filled with an endless stream of political ads, campaign managers and politicians were using other forms of visual communications to promote their candidates and messages. Dating back all the way to 1860, Abraham Lincoln was one of the first American presidential candidates to produce campaign pins. In 1896, William McKinley was the first to mass produce metal campaign pins.

Using political campaign signs as an advertising strategy quickly expanded from pins to buttons and from buttons to flags and banners. From Dwight Eisenhower’s “I Like Ike” buttons to Lyndon B. Johnson’s “LBJ All the Way”, visual communications has always been an important piece of any political campaign. Campaigns nowadays are bigger than ever. Here’s how candidates have stepped up their visual communications game to reach as many potential voters as possible.

Yard Signs

As Election Day nears, your neighborhood is likely to be filled with political yard signs. These custom signs usually stand a couple of feet high and feature the official campaign logo or slogan. These signs are especially important in local elections, where campaigns are self-funded and TV ads may be too expensive to buy. And remember sometimes a name isn’t enough. Let the community know which office your candidate is running for as well.


A rally is a political tradition that brings out the most energy and enthusiasm of the candidates as well as their supporters. As candidates give their speech to the crowd, the atmosphere becomes more intense and spirited as banners, flags and signs wave, and the candidate delivers their most emotional lines. These political signs are important for creating a cohesive message and a sense of unity among the crowd, not unlike a sports competition, where your colors and cheers become a rallying point for every fan.

Vehicle Wraps

Presidential campaigns have become similar to rock n’ roll tours, where spectacle often trumps all, including their transportation style. Many candidates choose to drive by bus when making several stops in a specific region. These buses are often rolling political campaign signs, decked out in huge vehicle wraps that leave no doubt as to which candidate is inside. No advertising opportunity can be missed when every count counts for the win. These vehicle wraps broadcast power while also being a bold visual communication strategy.

Political signage is as much part of the election season as exit polls and Wolf Blitzer. Visual communication, even 150 years later, remains one of the best ways to spread the word about your campaign. What are your favorite buttons, slogans or signs? Let us know on Twitter by tweeting at @FASTSIGNS.


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