Having been in the design world for twenty years, I have been actively involved in nine political campaign seasons. They are a special kind of design client. The trauma I have seen. The tales that have caused skin to crawl. And, miracle of miracles, we always get the job accomplished, and the candidate is pleased. Let me share with you a few stories of wonder, from local, to state, to national candidates, each campaigning to represent North Dakota:
- The national candidate who had a major metropolitan advertising agency work on their designs. An agency from the East Coast or the West Coast just doesn’t know North Dakota, like a North Dakota designer does. Of course that’s a photo of North Dakota… um, no, those are the Badlands in South Dakota. Of course I can flip that photo of the Peace Gardens, no one will notice… um, why is the Peace Tower on the US side of the border?
- If you hire an agency to design for you, please do not disappear after the first proof without a word, and show up a week later with something a friend just so happened to design. The designer is there to work WITH you for your best interests. They are not afraid of tweaks and changes and multiple proofs. They do want to get it right for you. Work WITH them.
- Do realize that your friend’s cousin’s son who just graduated from a design program probably does not realize the deadline-driven world of print production. Nor probably they do not understand that all the design skills they learned do not need to be applied to your 6×4 postcard. Think black drop shadow behind white text, on a midnight blue background.
- Understand that your agency, or your friend’s cousin’s daughter, may not fully understand the needs of print production. Sure, it may look grand on your computer screen, and on your website, but that often does not translate for press production. It can be as simple as suddenly discovering that the blue web link you see on screen does not appear as a blue web link on a black imprint on your letterhead in print production. No amount of design wizardry will allow the recipient of said latter to click on the link on the sheet of paper to access your web site.
- Does your designer friend of a friend understand the need for a simple one-color, or two-color logo? Does your new logo translate effectively without flaw from a web icon to a roadside billboard? Do they realize that a sentence-long motto or campaign statement does not work well into a logo?
- Carefully work on your identity and brand, and stick with it. A candidate had an efficient logo for the state convention. They came to us asking for a new, improved logo. We delivered, they were pleased. Campaign gets up and running and successful. They let us know that they have been advised to go with a national agency. First off, the agency is going to create a new logo. The new logo? Changed the font, and the color of the logo I created. The first “print ready” job the agency sent was an RGB, 150dpi file with no bleed, and pixelated text. It took several emails before they sent us the press ready file, of which I had to manipulate and finalized for print production.
- The campaign manager who called our sales rep on a Sunday, demanding he get people in to produce a mailing to go out on Monday. Fine, we will send you the info Monday morning, but it must be mailed on Monday. We did not receive the info until Monday afternoon. I worked up the proof immediately and sent it out for approval. Did not get final approval on said proof until a week later.
- Yes, we understand that the 114th Annual Fourth of July Parade this coming Thursday sneaked up on you. Apparently it is not well known, because three other campaigns before you did not know about it, and they too also want 10,000 palm cards and business cards ready by Wednesday.