Balancing the right amount of substance with a design that is pleasing to the eye is tough to do.  Too little substance can make a candidate seem unqualified, while too much information jeopardizes how much the reader will retain.  This flyer for Massachusetts State Representative, Kim Ferguson is a good example of how to handle that delicate balance.

The front of this card has a very simple design that includes all the basic information you want to resonate with the voter.  The font size is large enough to make the information easy to read in a matter of seconds, while the ample border space makes the visual experience inviting to the reader. 

Being a full-color flyer, it is interesting that Ferguson decided to use a black-and-white picture of herself instead of a color one (1).  Unconventional as this may be, the lack of color in the picture forces the reader's eye to gravitate to the only splash of color on the front of the flyer - her name.  So this may have been done intentionally for this very purpose.

Another critique of this flyer is that the 3 campaign points blends into the contact information (2), making it look like one block of text with 5 lines.  Creating more space between the two sections and/or inserting a divider line would give both sections just enough separate distinction.

Looking at the back of the flyer, you will find a very clean layout that complements the front of the flyer quite nicely.  There are three distinct sections: Logo, body, and photo - it does not get much simpler than that!

The body itself is broken into 3 sections, all with  distinct headings (3).  This is where the balancing act is navigated perfectly.  Most people will read the headings while bypassing the actual body.  Having the right amount of text will validate the heading for those people who choose not to read the body, while providing just enough substance for those readers who want to dig a little deeper.

How many times have you heard the cliché of politicians kissing babies?  The reason why this is so prominent is because early on politicians figured out that kids sell, and when you throw puppies on top of it, you have a winning duo that no voter can deny. 

In another unconventional move, Ferguson did not include herself in the picture on the back, but instead used a great photo of her son holding his puppy on the waterfront (4).  No matter how you look at it, the best political pictures always include puppies, kids, or both - so always make sure to include pictures like these when determining a flyer's layout.

The Good

1. Simple layout
2. Meaningful paragraph titles
3. Kids & Puppies!

The Bad

1. B&W Candidate Photo
2. Bullet points and contact information blends together
3. N/A

Overall Rating: A

One thing I always look for in leaflet design is if it stands out from the countless other junk I receive on a daily basis.  I look forward to things that break me out of my normal behavioral patterns to stop and take notice of something.  Coming home a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having this political advertisement grab my attention and make me say, "wow, I have to use this idea someday!".

This one-sided flyer for US Senate candidate Ed Markey in Massachusetts was published by an outside organization called the League of Conservation Voters who issued this in support of Markey's stance on environmental issues.  Since it is one-sided, there has to be a delicate balance of candidate promotion and substance which this layout did well.  The logo and portrait prominently stands out leaving the reader with no mistake about who this flyer is in support of.  Also the font size of the body may be a little small, but it effectively uses quotes from various news sources to validate their endorsement.

Another thing I like is that the environmental message of the flyer is not only conveyed in the text, but it is also incorporated in the design (2).  I love the clean blue skies behind the image of Markey, while the green silhouette of Massachusetts continues to emphasize their belief that Markey is the "green" candidate.  I also like how this point is further punctuated by the subtitle recycle logo (3), which not only expresses that this flyer is printed on recycled paper, but ties the whole environmental focus together.

The only thing I would nit-pick is that at a quick glance this flyer looks like just another political piece pushed out by the Markey campaign instead of a flyer with an environmental slant.  The subtle imagery is just that, and this flyer would benefit if it included something more overt to emphasize the  focus of the flyer.  One solution may be shortening the slogan (4) and increasing the size of a more refined message instead of the two distinct statements that are currently used. 

However, it should be noted that sometimes organizations try to disguise the focus of the flyer to make it look as if it came from the campaign itself.  This is primarily done when a group wants to support a candidate by getting another marketing piece distributed to the voter, without overtly pushing their specific issue.  This strategy may have been the case with this flyer.

So by now you are probably wondering  what about this design grabbed my attention and had me talking about it for days.  The reason why this flyer is one-sided is that it is a giant post-it note!  Along the backside of the flyer there is sticky adhesive (1), which allows supporters to stick this flyer on doors and mailboxes.  It is illegal for anyone other than postal workers to put anything in a person's mailbox, but the law does not regulate what people can stick on the mailbox.  When I walked up to the house and saw this flyer on the side of the mailbox, it immediately grabbed my attention and broke me out of what I normally expect see as I enter the house - a great sign of effective marketing!

The Good

1. Innovative idea to make the flyer jump out
2. Design of the flyer subtly backs up the message
3. Quotes from the press validates intent of the flyer

The Bad

1. Body of text could be easier to read
2. Environmental message could be more overt (although this might have been done intentionally)
3. N/A

Overall Rating: A