Campaign signs offer a candidate’s brand

First-time Toronto-Danforth council candidate Dave Andre has chosen a distinctive colour for his election signs – black.

“I did have some sense of what the incumbent’s colours would be, so I wanted to … contrast,” Andre said. “Black wasn’t a colour that was used often from a political perspective, so it just seemed to really stand out.”

For weeks ahead of the municipal election, a rainbow of campaign signs has lined the streets, boulevards and intersections of Toronto.

According to the city’s website, there are many rules as to where the signs can go and how long they can be left up. But when it comes to what can go on the signs, candidates can get creative.

Tony Cleave is a veteran creative director and current professor of interdisciplinary design at Centennial College. He said sign creation is about cultivating a brand.

“Each candidate is a brand and as a brand they stand for something. They have a brand position and personality,” Cleave said. “So in a sign they are trying to distill that brand position down to colour, typography and content.”

Tom Allison works as John Tory’s campaign manager. He said their decision about sign colours came early on.

“We wanted to choose colours that would not remind voters of one of the four main Canadian political parties,” Allison said. “We debated a number of different colours and landed on dark blue and bright green. “

With no political parties at the municipal level to dictate colour schemes, municipal campaign signs can touch all of the colours on the visual spectrum.

“(Candidates) are just screaming for attention, so they’re trying to have the most bold, audacious type and colour combinations to create impact and awareness,” Cleave said.

Some candidates choose to put their picture on their sign. For Dave Andre, there simply wasn’t enough room.

“My name is the part people need to connect with when they cast their vote, so I wanted to make sure it was as big as possible,” Andre said. The name and the colour scheme seemed to work for him. “It’s a time to stand out from the crowd. It’s a time to get some bold new change and ideas and bold new leadership.”