George Washington wore the first political button at his inauguration in New York in 1789. Printed brass buttons were handed out to his supporters, promoting his presidential campaign. The modern day button dates back to 1896 when the Whitehead and Hoag Company patented the campaign button. This political campaign button was made up of four pieces sandwiched together a printed image with a slogan or photo of the 1896 candidates for President. With the mid-term elections coming in November of this year many politicians are already gearing up their campaigns, including designing and printing their political campaign buttons.
If you are looking to create a political campaign button for yourself this year here are four things to keep in mind:
1. You have less space than you think.
You might be going with a 4 button, but that doesnt mean you have 4 inches to design your campaign button in. Any part of your design that is outside the bleed line risks being cut off when the final button is printed, but you should really keep your design even tighter than that so it doesnt get pushed all the way to the edge of the button. Your final design actually is limited to 3.8056 in so plan your graphics accordingly!
2. Less is more.
Dont go too crazy with your political campaign buttons when it comes to design! Since you are working with such a small amount of space pick and choose your design elements very carefully. Obviously you want to get your name prominently featured, so that limits what other design elements you can add. Its hard to squeeze your name, your slogan, and a portrait on a single button. And very few politicians can rely just on an image, like the Obama logo from 2008, and be sure that voters know whom that logo is representing. When it comes to button design, less is more.
3. Humor doesnt always work.
While wordplay can be a great way to capture peoples attention with your political campaign buttons, remember that humor is very subjective and what you find hilarious and clever your constituents might find silly or offensive. A poorly timed joke or misunderstood pun can actually turn voters against you. Obviously you want to show people your personality and make voters like you, but your campaign button might not be the best place to do it.
4. Colors matter.
There is no combination of colors more politically minded in the US than red, white, and blue and you can bet that most political campaign buttons feature these three colors and these three alone. But if you want your button to stand out from the pack a little it might be worth ordering a small batch of buttons in a different color, like yellow or green. Since those colors arent as common for political campaign buttons they might catch peoples eyes a touch more.
If you want to see some really interesting political buttons check out this list put together by BuzzFeed. Some of these might inspire your own button, or at least give you a good idea of what not to do!