Choosing Colors for Political Campaign Printing

This overview of what goes into choosing colors for print designs is geared towards choosing political campaign colors. Believe it or not, it’s a specialized field in and of itself.

Political parties have long been associated with specific colors. This is largely due to the fact that politics became popular long before literacy did in the history of human cultural development. Because the people couldn’t read and even images could get complicated, political signs, and signs in general, had to say something with color.

Today, we still use color to make politics speak, but lucky for us, most voters can read. And not only can voters read, the average person is swamped with advertising that they are asked to read and assess on a daily basis. We live in a design-conscious nation, which means that we have to make color selection a priority.

A Bit of History

The first thing a campaign manager or designer has to be conscious of when choosing colors is the history of political color affiliations. Some colors are must-haves. Other colors are well worth avoiding.

Traditionally, the color red has been affiliated with left-wing politics, and blue has been the favorite color of the right wing. However, in the U.S. today, the tables are turning, with blue becoming the democratic standard, and red signifying for republicans. At this point, the line is still fairly blurry, so we tend to see a lot of red, white, and blue campaign signs. Very patriotic – not exactly distinctive.

But at least the old red, white, and blue are safe. Other colors carry with them automatic political associations that are only positive if your campaign intends the association.

Color Coded

Here are some examples of colors that come with ingrained political associations:

White: Psychologically, white automatically evokes notions of purity. Politically, white tends to be associated with pacifism. A predominantly white campaign sign can have this effect.

Orange: In the past, orange has been identified as one of the colors of royalty, and has since evolved in politics to represent religious political interests.

Green: The name says it all – the color green means green politics. All over the world, it is the calling card color of the Green Party and means strong left wing politics and concern for environmental issues.

Black: Black tends to go back and forth in politics between association with fascism and anarchism. The color can be used to great effect in small amounts to provide shading and detail on print designs, but is traditionally the color choice of extreme politics that fall outside the realm of democracy.

Shady Scheming is a Must

Even if your campaign chooses to go with the standard red and blue, there are still several factors to take into account. Red and blue come in an almost infinite variety of shades. Reds can range from pinks and mauves to deep burgundies and maroons. Blues can go from powder and periwinkle to midnight and navy. The same is true for all other colors.

Shades are created by adding varying degrees of black to a color, just as tints are created by adding white. CMYK printing, then, can create a huge variety of different shades of the colors you choose by using the white of the printing paper and the black, or K, ink. More and more electoral candidates are choosing to use shading to add variety and depth to their printed campaign designs.

You can learn more about color schemes and shading here.

Make Practical, Real-World Choices

The pressure is on for campaign managers to build up a candidate’s web presence. In fact, the web has become such a focus that you may choose your campaign colors with online visibility in mind. However, make sure your colors suit your printed campaign signs, as well. Not only do you want to avoid blending into the background, it’s important to choose colors that support each other online and in print.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Colors that blend into the landscape. Don’t use green for yard signs. Don’t use a light blue or grey for billboards. If you’re planning a large outdoor print sign campaign, it may be wise to avoid nature-esque colors entirely.
  • Colors that blend into each other. Blending may be fine for interior décor, but on election campaign signs, your message needs to stand out. Avoid pastels, exclusively dark colors, and colors next door to each other on the color wheel.
  • Colors that will be invisible at night. For example, the color red is very bright in daylight, but at night, it fades away to an almost grey color. During winter months in particular, a sign that is invisible at night can be a partially wasted investment.

When it comes time to select election campaign colors, the temptation may be to pick favorites or stick with classics, but there’s no reason not to get creative, as long as you understand what the implications and impact of those color choices will be.