Signs of Campaign

You can’t miss them – they are ubiquitous and unavoidable. I know you probably thought I was talking about people playing Pokémon Go, but I was actually referring to the campaign signs that have inundated every street and neighborhood. In Michigan, where our offices are located, the first Tuesday in August is the primary election for a variety of local, county, and state offices, such as the county sheriff, judges, clerks, commissioners, state representatives, and the like. And, in this social media day and age, you would think that yard signs would have gone the way of the dinosaur, however, Michigan is still a little old school.


These campaign yard signs look wonderfully colorful driving by at 55 miles per hour. Colorful is a great thing for flowers, but we must hold campaign yard signs to a higher standard. Driving by at 55 miles per hour, we should all learn two things from a campaign yard sign: 1) the candidate’s name, and 2) the office they are seeking.

How difficult could it possibly be to get the candidate’s name and office on a yard sign? Based on my exposure to what seems like hundreds of campaign yard signs, I can state with 99.5% certainty that every campaign yard sign clearly had the candidate’s name easily readable at 55 miles per hour. On the other hand, it was much more difficult to determine what office candidates were running for at 55 miles per hour. Every campaign yard sign probably listed the office the candidate was seeking, but in text far too small to read clearly at 55 miles per hour.  

Consider this idea for a moment – what if nonprofit organizations were running for election and they had to prepare yard signs to attract donors?  Perhaps the campaign sign for Goodwill would state “Goodwill” with “Creating Jobs” as their issue. The American Red Cross sign might say “Red Cross” with “Disaster Relief” as their issue. Both the names of the nonprofit organizations and their issues would be easily readable when driving by at 55 miles per hour.

What would the United Way campaign yard sign say? Most United Ways would have campaign yard signs with “United Way,” but the challenge would be what issue would United Ways put on their signs? Most likely, United Ways would list all of their categories, or their focused priority areas, perhaps their indicators, or even worse – all of their partner agencies. Would this be readable at 55 miles per hour? Of course not!

If United Ways are going to win an election against other nonprofits, donors must be able to clearly understand which office United Ways are seeking. This means one issue. If your United Way is issue-focused you can easily create a campaign yard sign that will be readable by donors at 55 miles per hour. But, if you are not issue-focused, then it will be impossible for a donor to clearly read your campaign yard sign compared to the others.

At Perspectives, we can help your United Way become issue-focused and create the perfect campaign yard sign to attract enough donors to win the election!