The ubiquitous yard sign. The election explained by a creative director.

I’m sure you’ve never been influenced by a political yard sign. Never. I mean, there’s nothing to them but Clinton/Kaine or Trump/Pence. I suppose some of them may say “I’m with her” or “MAGA.” But there’s no real message there right? Just names.

But according to what we know in the advertising and sales world, simple signs like these help drive identity and identity is one of the biggest drivers to brand support and usage. People do or don’t want to be the kinda hard working guy who drives Ford pickup truck. Or an outdoorsy type who wears Patagonia.

Ever see those stickers on the back of cars that say Oakley? Or maybe Yetti? Or have the name of some fancy vacation spot spelled out like it’s an airport code or a European license plate? These people are saying I’m part of a group who enjoys these things. Upon seeing these signs most people subconsciously either think they want nothing to do with the group (think Calvin peeing) or they think they’d like know more.

Additionally, people feel safer making choices that others already have. This is why so many brands chase “early adopters” to help gain acceptance in the market. A yard sign signals to others that it’s safe to jump on board.

Yard signs and bumper stickers have the added benefit of creating a sort of pledge. A person who puts a Hillary Clinton yard sign up in their yard is extremely likely to pull the lever for her no matter what will be reported about her email server in the next 60 days. As well, a Trump yard sign owner isn’t going to be convinced that the Donald is undercover member of the KKK. They’ve invested their identity in the matter and no amount of cognitive dissonance is going to make them yank that yard sign.

In advertising, a brand that receives this type of fealty is referred to a cult brand. Brands like Apple and Harley Davidson are prime examples. Ever try and convince a Harley owner that a japanese bike is cheaper, more efficient and better for the environment? Or that an Apple owner that a Mac is overpriced and underpowered compared to a PC? Logic has nothing to do with it. And I say that as someone who hasn’t owned a PC since college.

Most people make decisions about the products they buy based more on how the choices make them feel about themselves than any real logic. After all, if pulling a lever Donald makes you feel like a racist, that’s way more powerful than logically believing you might help the middle class receive a tax break.

Posted on: August 29, 2016, by :