What Are Campaign Buttons?

Campaign buttons are a common way to show support for a political candidate or cause. They come in various sizes and styles, but the classic round pin-back button is the most famous.

A campaign button can be broken down into five parts, as pictured below:

Split view of a white vinyl custom button with each layer numbered

  1. Protective plastic casings
  2. Printed design
  3. White vinyl
  4. Metal plate
  5. Pin-backing

Campaign buttons have been used since the early 1800s as a popular form of political expression during election season. They feature photos or slogans to promote candidates or causes that voters may be interested in supporting.

The simplicity of campaign buttons makes them an ideal choice for those who want to make their voice heard without having to say much at all.

Whether it’s showing your support for your favourite presidential candidate or simply displaying a message about an important issue you care about, making campaign buttons is an effective way to get your point across quickly and easily.

History of Campaign Buttons

Campaign buttons have been a popular way of expressing political opinion since the early 1800s and have even been used during George Washington's inauguration.

The first known photo on a pin dates back to none other than Abraham Lincoln in 1860. But it wasn't until almost 40 years later, that we saw the first mass-produced campaign buttons during McKinley vs Bryan in 1896. The safety-pin-type buttons we are so familiar with first appeared in 1916.

As button-making technology has evolved, printed buttons became much more affordable and widespread.

However, their design remained largely the same. These small pieces of art feature pictures, slogans, and other imagery designed to promote candidates or causes that voters may be interested in supporting. They are usually produced by a campaign team and handed out freely to members and supporters.

Designing a Campaign Button

While the design of a campaign button can be predictable, you are still free to get creative, especially when you design your own custom campaign buttons.

Before you get started, think about your button's purpose. This is likely to generate visibility and showcase your most essential argument or slogan.

To facilitate this, the best designs will be simple with bold colours and clear messaging. Avoid overly detailed elements or intricate fonts and embrace white space and clear-cut lines. Free online tools like Canva or Graphic are the perfect way to get started.

Do not forget to consider the size of the button as this will dictate how much space you have available. Button sizes are usually standardised, meaning you can choose from sizes between 1 inch and 2.25 inches.

Uses for Campaign Buttons

Campaign buttons are mostly used to show support for a particular candidate during an election. However, you do not have to be a presidential candidate to use campaign buttons. Instead, you can use them to promote different types of campaigns or causes.

After all, there is a reason why they have become integral to political races: They are an effective way of making a statement without having to speak out loud. By displaying campaign buttons on jackets, hats, backpacks, and more, people can quickly and easily express their opinions.

Campaign buttons can also be used as collector’s items or souvenirs - more on that below.

Collecting Campaign Buttons

Campaign buttons make great collector’s items; many people enjoy collecting them for various reasons. Some people collect specific buttons for certain elections or candidates, while others collect them as souvenirs of past events. Check out this amazing campaign button collection by the Harvard Kennedy School.

When collecting campaign buttons, it is important to consider the condition of the button and its rarity. Due to their age and unique designs, many vintage buttons are highly sought after. Collectors should also be aware that some buttons may contain offensive or outdated images or messages, so it is important to research them before purchasing.

The Future of Campaign Buttons

As technology advances, so too does the way we use campaign buttons. Digital buttons are becoming increasingly popular in online spaces and social media channels. They offer an easy way to brand your profile with a particular point of view or political inclination and can be easily shared online to quickly spread a message to a wide audience.

While digital buttons may become more common in the future, the classic round pin-back buttons will continue to hold a special place in political campaigns. They are an iconic symbol of democracy and make it easy for people to express their opinions. You might find more designs merging the online and offline world via scannable QR codes that take you to campaign websites or petitions.

Campaign buttons are a timeless and effective way to express political opinion or support a cause. Whether it’s for an election, activism, personal expression, or collecting purposes - campaign buttons offer something special that digital mediums can't match.

With the right design and message you can create powerful marketing materials that will be remembered long after the election season has passed. So what are you waiting for? Get creative and start making your own custom campaign button today!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.