Various political campaign buttons from 1988

This image embodies a lot of the ideas we'll be talking about.

If it were up to me, I'd probably put penguins or elephants on my button designs. Not for any particular reason. I just happen to like them, and I'd rather stand out and go down in flames than do the tried-and-true and wade around in obscurity.

However, for the purpose of this article, I've curated some of the more traditional methods for creating compelling campaign button designs. Use them wisely, Jedi.

1. The Country's Colors

You don't see a lot of button designs without red, white and blue these days (in the U.S., anyway). Hmm… Where have we seen those colors before? Oh yes, the flag.

So yes, your country's colors can be motivating. There may be some cases where it's not as applicable (municipal elections?), but people tend to be pretty loyal to their country's colors.

2. The Country's Flag

It might seem pretty obvious, but it's quite common for campaigners to use the flag in their button designs. It's a symbol of pride and honor and unity (or so they would have us believe).

I don't imagine voters need to be reminded that you're from the same county they are. Still, if they're anything like Homer Simpson, they probably could use the reminder.

3. Elements Of The Country's Flag

If you don't want to outright use the flag in your design, just take elements from it and incorporate it into your design. It almost seems sacrilegious, but I've seen a lot of designs like that.

Maybe take the colors or the stars or the stripes and use them to make your own design. Fashion those elements into circles to better fit the button medium.

4. Stars

You ever notice how the American flag has stars in it? No? Wow, I don't think you even qualify as an American.

Anyway, you use stars not because you are a star, but because it's a symbol of patriotism. Or some such. I'm mostly just talking out of my butt. Oh right, they represent the various States.

5. Stripes

You ever notice how the American flag has stripes on it?

Well, you can twist and contort them in any manner you like (it represents wind, dude), but it's definitely a motivating design element.

6. Checkmarks

A checkmark represents a vote, get it? It's clever.

Well, not really. It's pretty obvious. Still, it could be pretty manipulating motivating for voters to see that. It's like saying, "Yeah dude, you're going to vote for me". It's bold and cocky confident.

A tiled checkmark background could be pretty cheesy. I wouldn't do that. But some might.

7. Eagles

Have you ever seen those designs where there's an eagle with the American flag in the background? Yeah, it's super inspiring.

Actually, I'm reminded of Gowan's "Moonlight Desires" video. It's pretty funny because it features an owl, Gowan's mullet, and a piano atop a pyramid (I only hear keyboard in this song; no piano), and… That's pretty much it. What could be more American than an owl, a mullet and a grand piano on a pyramid, right? What? Gowan is Canadian? Good god.

Well, anyway, an eagle is another common element found in campaign button designs.

8. Regionally Relevant Colors Or Elements

So you might be getting involved on a municipal or state level instead of the federal level. Maybe the red, white and blue color scheme is a little too all-encompassing. Maybe you're a rebel and you want to try something different.

Consider using regionally relevant colors or elements. If your town is known for popsicles, maybe go with that. If your city has lots of alligators, that could be just the thing. I am kind of facetious, but you never know.

9. Outline Of The Country

Your country is the only one in the world that matters, right? So show that you're proud of it by using the outline of the American map as your backdrop.

This is another common item found in campaign button designs, so it must be effective.

10. Outline Of The State

I'm not sure exactly what's motivating about putting the outline or shape of your state in a design, but I've seen it a lot, so it must be effective. No, I get it. It's about a sense of belonging. When people see that they're from the same part of the world you are, they will probably be a little more partial towards you.

It's like E.T. He didn't hate Earth, but he wanted to go back to his home planet so he could be around his own kind.

11. The Word 'Vote'

If you're running a campaign, it's so you can get more votes, right? Or are you just doing this for the heck of it?

I think I've touched on the power of asking people for what you want directly. It's not always the most ideal means of getting more voters on your side, but sometimes it's quite effective. So put the word 'vote' or the words 'vote for' on your buttons (next to your name or picture) and see what happens.

12. Your Smiling Face

I'm not actually sure how motivating your face is going to be, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't see a lot of buttons with people's faces on them. Naturally, if you're going to use a picture of yourself, you probably shouldn't be trying to contort your face into all sorts of funny shapes. Use a professional photographer, and smile genuinely (whatever that means).

What else would you put on your button designs? Let us know in the comments section so we'll have more ideas to talk about next time.

Image: Special Collections at Wofford College