Lost in the middle of the political show that is the Republican Primary campaign are countless local politicians gearing up for the 2016 election. They don’t have the opportunity to speak to millions of people on national TV in order to get their views across. Instead, they have an audience of locals whom they have to convince that an ‘X’ next to their name can make a tangible difference in their district. And there’s one thing that significantly helps make that impression during political campaigns: graphic design.
The Traditional Way: Direct Mail
Traditionally, direct mail has been a popular tool among politicians. Don’t believe some sources who insist that the medium is dead; plenty of statistics and studies point to the fact that it’s as effective as ever. For example, 56 percent of all consumers think direct mail is the most trustworthy marketing tool—and we don’t have to tell you that trust is absolutely crucial during a political campaign.
The same study responsible for the statistic above also found that direct-mail pieces tend to have a longer shelf life than any digital alternatives. With elections still over a year away, a digital message will be lost and forgotten long before your voters interact with you again. Chances are that a direct-mail piece lives longer.
How should politicians take advantage of the effectiveness of direct mail? One possibility is EDDM. Standing for Every Day Direct Mail, it’s a system designed by the U.S. Postal Service that seems like it was made for local political campaigns. Instead of purchasing mailing lists, you can select your pieces to go to every household in a specific neighborhood or zip code, for as little as 18.3 cents a piece.
Of course, the low price of EDDM means you have to comply to some size restrictions. Here’s the catch: in your direct-mail strategy, whether you use EDDM or some of its alternatives, a consistent graphic identity is absolutely crucial. Your letterhead should be consistent with your envelopes, as well as with a postcard that you may send later on. When potential voters find your direct-mail piece in their mailbox, they should know immediately where it came from and what it represents. That’s why effective graphic design is crucial to any type of direct-mail campaign.
Graphics That Engage The Voters
Of course, no political campaign, local or otherwise, is possible without grassroots support. You likely have a loyal supporter base, whether it’s from a past term in office or simply consists of the people who know you. And there are some great ways to engage those supporters to help you spread the word about your campaign and ideas! Here are just some of the items that can help enable that voter support:
- Buttons and pins
- Bumper stickers
- Yard signs
- Vinyl banners
- Tote bags
- Car magnets
Most local politicians, even the most engaged ones, fight against a lack of local knowledge about their campaigns. Grassroots support, enabled and enhanced by the above materials, can go a long way toward turning that lack of knowledge into a larger pool of potential voters.
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What does that have to do with graphic design? The answer is graphic identity. More likely than not, many of your voters will notice your name for the first time, or be reminded of it, through yard signs, car magnets, and similar methodologies.
Wouldn’t you want that first impression to be a good one? And just as importantly, wouldn’t you want your audience to immediately make that connection back to the direct-mail piece they received a few weeks ago that detailed your policies and ideas for their neighborhood? Graphic design can make the difference between an eyesore and a valuable campaign tool.
So you’ve spread the word about your campaign via direct mail and grassroots support. That’s a great start. But any politician knows that without actually holding local events, you won’t get into office. These events are where you meet and engage with your voters, who finally get to know the person behind the materials they’ve been seeing for some time now. And again, professional graphic design can help make your event a success.
It starts with the event invitations, but doesn’t end there. Event tickets are just as important, and you may even want to think about providing note pads to your audience so they can keep up with all of your ideas for success. Have you thought about branding those note pads and event tickets with your now-established graphic identity?
Finally, let’s not forget about the one medium that has changed political campaigning dramatically in the last few years, both on a local and a national scale.
Before Barack Obama began campaigning for his first term, voters thought of Facebook as a neat way to stay in touch with friends. But after President Obama used the network to the point where media experts compared it to the first televised campaign in 1960, social media became a political force.
Today, social media is a crucial tool to spread the word about your campaign and engage your loyal supporters. It can help all of the above tools, from direct mail and supporting grassroots efforts, to increasing event attendance and “buzz.” But it can only do so when managed effectively, which requires taking advantage of its visual nature.
The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true. The human brain processes pictures 60,000 times faster than text, making it crucial that your social media efforts (and really, all of your campaign efforts) are supported by engaging visuals. And visuals, whether they’re on Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn, or YouTube, are only possible through effective graphic design.
You can’t have one without the other: graphic design and politics. Are you ready to take your campaign to the next level by creating a consistent visual identity?
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