Election Design

I ran in the 2017 St. Albert Municipal Election, aiming for the position of City Councillor. I didn't win, but the votes I received I attribute to my ideas, and the ways in which they were presented. Here is the design language that I set up for my campaign.

Logo

As you can see above, I ended up with a very simple, very traditional logo for my campaign. Due to being a young twenty-three at the time of the election, I wanted to draw on traditional sign design techniques. I opted not to have my picture or any colour on the logo, since I wanted the one thing that would appear on the ballot to dominate: my name. Having my name in big, bold font draws the eye directly to it. To ensure that, I added boxed it in, with the other visual elements either along the border, or outside it. Then I used a classic open-source font to emulate the brush style of old signage to create the elect. It is the same font used in my logo at the top of this page, and in my tagline in the design. Finally, I added the position I was vying for at the bottom for clarity. It might have some smaller bits to it, but I made sure that it could be read just as easily on a business card as being passed in a car at top speed.

Ultimately I feel that this logo was effective. It communicated everything I wanted it to communicate in a short amount of time, and made the reader concentrate on my name. I'm really pleased with it. It uses all open-source fonts to save on budget, and got across a classic sensibility.


Sign

I used the logo, scaled up, as the basis for my lawn-sign as well. It scaled cleanly, again drawing the eye to my name, and then if you had the time, to the extra information surrounding it.

I paid too much for these signs. I ended up with too little time before the election, and not enough money. So, I bought my signs from a printing company who I had used before, and trusted to get the job done. However, after speaking with other candidates, I realized I could have paid a quarter as much for all of my signs or less. Frankly, this is one of the biggest things that I would redo. I love the design still, but hiring the right people to get the job done takes effort and money. And if you don't have money, it takes connections, and people who believe in you. While I might be established now, not having the connections was the biggest hurdle. My signs were outnumbered hundreds to one for every single candidate. Find the right people, and you can get the job done.

Business Card

The front of the card was exactly the same as the logo, which I felt carried the brand through. The back carried the design through. I used the same font I used for the City Council portion of the logo for the inner text, and simply modified the Elect! portion to account for the greater space. The square continues here, continuing from the front. I made black-and-white versions of both the Facebook and Twitter logos, both for looks, and to reduce printing costs. The redacted section was my phone number.

While I overpaid a little for these as well, I'm much more happy with them. I think that simply having a business card changed the interaction to more of a personal one than the brochures. These were printed long before the brochures, and they were a gateway to further conversation rather than trying to force my brochure on them. I could discuss my platform and their concerns without worrying about getting to the brochure. I would say that these were the most useful tools during the election, and I am still utterly pleased with how they turned out.


Brochure Outside

Almost all of the photos in my brochure were shot on the same day in spring 2017. I had just gotten my haircut, so I figured that was the perfect time to get the brochure photos done. My sister took the photos with a Nikon D60, which I then retouched in photoshop.

This outside featured information other than my platform. I had studied many previous campaign's brochures, and came to the conclusion that having some information about me would be vital, so I included both an About Me section, as well as a small resume linking me to the community. I also wanted to have my photo on the front, and have it be a reasonably good photo. I had the sun in my eyes so I am squinting a bit, which still annoys me, but overall it turned out well. Then I made sure to use white-space on the back to concentrate on the information. The Get Involved section should, and did, include the election date, what people can do to help, and how to get money to the campaign. And then I included my contact info, again, the redacted space was my phone number. I imported the black-and-white icons for social media from the card, and used the same clean font that I used in the "City Council" part of the logo.

This went through many changes over the course of the design, but the fundamentals stayed the same. The text is black on a semi-transparent white background. The font remained the same, and the pictures did too. I like the outside, and thought that it was effective. While I probably over-paid for these yet again, I had plenty.

Brochure Inside

If there were changes to the outside, then there were even more to the inside. The first picture changed when its original was deemed inappropriate by those I showed it to. And the text changed a lot as I figured out my platform.

Originally, I tried to write my platform in the brochure first. But that simply didn't work out. I had to scale down from the finished version instead. But some of the design ideas stayed. I gave a little blurb about the topic at the top, and then some of the details underneath. I felt this was the most effective way to ensure a modicum of attention to my platform, and to spark interest. It might be text-heavy, but I still think that was the optimal solution. Everything you need to know is on the outside, and everything you might want to know is contained within. From studying the other brochures, I realized that if I was going to go text-heavy, that I needed to make sure that it was readable. A significant portion of voters in St. Albert are elderly, and have problems with smaller text. So, I made the text sixteen-point. That way it would be easy to read if you wanted.

Something about the balance of the text and the white space still isn't quite right here for me. I had to work around something that I had already designed when I went back to it, and I think it never really clicked. It is functional, but not really pretty. I would probably completely redo this from the ground up if I were to do it again. And I would try to do it in InDesign rather than Illustrator. I did not have a copy of InDesign when I worked on the brochure, so I think it could have benefited from the capabilities of a different program. The other big thing I would change with the brochure is when I got them printed. It was the middle of the first week of the election before I got these, and really, if I had printed them several weeks earlier, I could have gotten them out there sooner, and gotten more votes. I'm not sure that would have changed things significantly, but it would have improved things.

The biggest takeaway is to do more preparation. My campaign didn't fail because of my design or my writings. It failed because I didn't feel comfortable having things out there sooner. If I had gotten more volunteers earlier, and did better pricing, then I think I would have had a better chance. I'm happy with all of my design work on the campaign, but it was just too little, too late.