Lawn signs are one of the most visible features of an election campaign in some countries. They are small signs placed on the lawns of a candidate's supporters. Signs are also often placed on lamp posts and larger signs may stand next to busy intersections. Lawn signs are often also placed near polling places on election day, although in most jurisdictions, there are legal restrictions on campaigning within a certain distance from a voting facility.
Lawn signs are considered an important element of any local campaign. They are a cheap and effective method of making a candidate known in their district. As a rule of thumb it is said that each lawn sign in a district represents six votes. A campaign's field staff are usually responsible for coordinating a campaign's lawn signs.
In the United States, lawn signs are an effective means of campaign advertising, with each well-produced sign and wicket costing the campaign between US $3-5. In Canada, which has very different campaign finance laws that put strict limits on media advertising, winning the "sign war" is considered an essential part of a successful campaign and a significant portion of a camapign's resources are dedicated to this end.
Lawn signs generally contain the name of the candidate, their party, and the office for which they are running. Extras like slogans or the date of the election are sometimes added; these tend to distract the viewer from the main message, however. Symbols of the party are also popular. Whether a sign should have the photo of the candidate is an important concern. An attractive photo can lead voters to identify with the candidate; on the other hand, signs with photos are usually more expensive to produce, and are far more likely to be vandalized, which can have a negative effect. Most signs also have a notice stating who paid for it, but it is usually in small text that is much less noticeable. This notice is often required by campaign finance laws.
To draw the attention of passersby, lawn signs feature bold, high contrast colors and large fonts. The colors are usually those of the candidate's party. Choosing colors is important: white signs do not work well in winter, and green signs on lawns will be far less visible.
Generally, it is important not to pick the same colors as an opponent. However, there may be a value in creating confusion especially for a challenger.