Creating a decent political flyer is not a difficult task to undertake. There are millions of examples out there and print shops usually have stock templates that candidates can customize. This flyer for Jim Dixon who ran in a special election for Massachusetts State Representative, decided to start from scratch while using a graphic designer who probably just started their freshman year of high school.
In contrast to my last pFume review, this flyer is extremely difficult to discern which side is the front and which side is the back (2). I assume that the image pictured on the left is the front since it has basic messaging along with election dates, however, the image on the right includes a candidate portrait and logo sandwiching the majority of the flyer's text.
This problem is further accentuated by the call to action at the top of the flyer (1). This is something that should grab people's attention, but instead it is printed using the same font, size, and italics used for the election dates directly underneath. This blends everything together and makes the flyer look as if it is missing a header. There is a certain flow to an advertising brochure that people expect, and it can get confusing when the reader does not even know where to begin.
There is an interesting back story that goes along with the candidate portrait (3). I met Jim at a convention right at the start of his race. After a lengthy conversation about how to kick-off his campaign, I made it a point to emphasize that the first thing he has to do is to get professional photos done. Months later I ran into Jim again and he handed me this card. I looked at it, then looked at him, and all he could tell me is that people really liked the picture of his dog. I shook my head in disgust.
Bullet points are a great tool to organize the information presented on a political push card. Listed on the back of this flyer, there is a group of bullet points immediately followed by another group of bullet points (4). Even though the second group is bold and centered, there is very little distinction between the two separate sections.
White space is always something that is respected in flyer design and this card has plenty of it. Regardless, there is no order to the information within the whitespace resulting in a visually unappealing and confusing experience. This is one of the few cases where poor layout decisions eliminates the advantage of sufficient white space.
1. Ample white space
2. Nice picture of him with his dog
1. Not a clear distinction between the front and the back of the flyer
2. Terrible candidate portrait
3. Poor layout
Overall Rating: F
Interesting Side Note: I recently visited Jim Dixon's Facebook page and noticed that he finally took my advice and got professional portraits done. When compared to his original photos, it is quite easy to see how important it is to rely on professional photographers to do what they do best.
Looking at this flyer from Massachusetts State Representative Alan Silvia only three words come to mind: Too Much Information.
On this push card Silvia gives us the long answer of who he is, what he plans to do, and includes his entire professional resume (1). To accomplish this feat he used a small font size that is usually reserved for the fine print of legal documents. If that was not bad enough, he filled the remaining free space with two unique personalized quotes!
One of the most important aspects of any public servant is accessibility to the public. In order to do this, people have to know how to get in touch with the person representing them. Instead of making this information easy to read, Silvia chose to make it so small that it almost unreadable (2). Even the website url, arguably the most important contact information of a political campaign, is so difficult to read that you practically need a magnifying glass to find it.
Slogans are used by political campaigns to ingrain one specific thought about the candidate in the voter's mind. The slogan has to be consistent and used throughout the campaign for this to work.
In what I believe is Silvia's slogan (this card makes it difficult to know for sure) there is no consistency. On the front of the card it reads, "...Experienced, Dedicated, Leadership, A Voice for You, Not just a Few", while the back of the card reads, "Experienced, Dedicated, and Compassionate Leadership..." (3). There is nothing worse in marketing than getting your own slogan wrong. Silvia should have kept the slogan, "A Voice for You, Not just a Few", enlarged it, and punctuated this on both the front and back of the flyer.
While we are on the subject of these two different slogans, I need to mention the incorrect usage of ellipses, or better known as "...". In one slogan Silvia starts with an ellipsis, while the second slogan ends with an ellipsis. I get confused looking at both of these because I cannot find a single good reason why these ellipses are even being used at all.
As crowded as this card is, there are still opportunities to make this flyer appealing to the eye by creating white space. However, Silvia eliminated these opportunities by ramming graphics of stars in them (4). When designing a flyer remember that creating space will always make it easier for the reader to consume the message.
In his next election, Silvia should find a new graphic designer since this flyer proves the one he used for this one knows nothing about design.
1. Nice headshot
2. Name clear on both the front and back of the flyer
3. Election date listed
1. Too much information
2. Inconsistent campaign slogan
3. Incorrect usage of ellipses
Overall Rating: F
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.
1. Simple layout
2. Meaningful paragraph titles
3. Kids & Puppies!
1. B&W Candidate Photo
2. Bullet points and contact information blends together
Overall Rating: A
Most 4x9 flyers use a vertical view on both sides, but this flyer by Jim Stanton from Massachusetts utilizes a horizontal layout. Many graphic designers advise to stay away from this approach because it can create an awkward experience for the reader, but I believe that the horizontal view can be effective if done correctly.
At a quick glance three things stand out: the logo (name), website, and a photo. These three things are exactly what needs to be absorbed by the voter. Keeping the front simple is always the best policy.
The Stanton family photo (1) is a great picture and I have always advised candidates to include pictures of children even if they do not have any. However, group photos like this can make it tough for the reader to identify with the candidate. Facial recognition is vital to a campaign, so reducing the candidate's head size to a few centimeters makes it difficult to distinguish the candidate at a glance. Moving this picture to the back of the flyer and replacing it with a candidate portrait might be a better way to go.
I have always regarded push cards as portals to get more information, and to effectively do this you have to emphasize where to go. Jim listed his logo and website (2) on both the front and back of the flyer making it easy for an interested reader to grab more information on him.
One glaring concern on the back of this flyer is the amount of text (3). This section talks about his mother's line of work, his father's legacy in law, his wife's involvement in his church, where his kids go to school, the residence of his siblings, as well as other trivial tidbits. Understandably this was done to tie the candidate to his district, but when real estate is so important, this information should have been listed on the website instead. By doing this, it would leave space for easy-to-read messaging that does not intimidate the voter.
I love QR codes (4). I love them so much that it is worth repeating - I love QR codes. These versatile portals to the web can send the person scanning it to any website, so it is refreshing to see Stanton on the forefront of this technology. Look out for QR codes being used more frequently in political marketing.
However, almost everyone that uses QR codes underutilize their potential. I am not ashamed to admit that I have made the same mistake Stanton made on his QR code - directing people to the campaign website.
As our society becomes more social, we connect with things that are tailored directly to us. Driving people to a campaign website is like searching for a lost treasure chest and finding a lonely note saying "great job!" inside. Instead, QR codes should give people a more rewarding experience like a Youtube video of the candidate thanking them for their interest in the campaign. A more personalized experience can bond the voter to the candidate and ultimately earn their vote.
1. Clean front
2. Repeating Logo and Website
3. QR Code
1. Needless information in the body
2. Picture Placement (not picture selection)
3. Landing site of the QR code
Overall Rating: C