Aria Kyan
Aria Kyan August 11, 2020 • 10 min read
Aria Kyan is a content writer and editor at Square Signs. She likes to integrate her experience in journalism, urban sustainability and art for novel solutions to problems big and small. When she’s not hanging out with Woody the office parrot, she loves to cook, travel, dance and rock climb.

Protests signs are the voice of the masses - a political tool mightier than any sword. Exceptional ones make it to the pages of history books. But how do they stand out in a sea of cardboard? And how can you make your own? In section one we’ll present 17 ideas and in section two we’ll go over 2 methods like using foam board signs to help you craft them.

Let’s take a look at what makes protest signs compelling.

Protest Sign Ideas: Most Effective Protest Signs

Public demonstrations have changed the course of history on many occasions. They relay the reason and offer the resolution to the biggest challenges we face as a society. Knowing how to create a protest sign relies on the ideas they convey more than how well you can draw them. The best protest signs start with the best protest ideas.

Idea 1: Protest With Art

Protest sign idea displaying a wall art

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“Good art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.”

― Cesar A Cruz

Protest art conveys a universal message through imagery, without relying on language. It’s able to represent the heart of justice and injustice simultaneously. If it’s up to the artist to make the revolution irresistible then protest art is the artist’s masterpiece.

Idea 2. Join in With Business Demonstration Decals

business demonstration protest sign idea on window

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“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”

― Leonardo da Vinci

Not all protest poster ideas are created equally. In fact, they don’t have to be posters at all. It’s important for businesses to make their stand, too. Even more so during rallies that target silence and financial inequity. Wall murals and window decals are simple tools that can make a building stand in solidarity with public demonstrators. They make a loud proclamation on large surface areas.

Idea 3. Adorn Protest Accessories

rally sign idea on car window

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“Wearing a protest T-shirt is the easiest form of protesting.”

― Steven Magee

In addition to cardboard signs, accessories such as car decals, hats, pins, patches, shirts and bandanas have long been used by protesters to capture attention and express their views. During the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks became a canvas for political statements. Accessories also make for good keepsakes.

Idea 4. Evoke Empathy

protest  yard sign idea for ending war

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“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.”

– John Steinbeck

Protest signs that help people understand one another are the key to unity. Consequently, unity is the key to a successful protest. Signs that can place people in one another’s shoes, even for a brief moment, can change lives. Start by using a yard sign to reach out to your neighbors.

Idea 5. Use Profound Activism Quotes

protest poster idea on a red banner

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Profound quotes have a profound effect on people and if they can fit on a protest sign, they will have the same effect en masse. Choose your favorite ones from historical figures or dig deep within your own soul and see what stirs. The personal is always the closest we can get to the universal.

Idea 6. Get Funny

My Arms Are Tired protest sign idea for inspiration

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“My spine is a column of fists which must mean I am a riot.” 

― Donny Jackson

Funny protest signs may seem inappropriate for a political demonstration but they don’t have to be. Protests are often filled with feelings of anger, frustration, grief and injustice. The right kind of humor will lift the burden without making light of the message.

Idea 7. Be Provocative

protest sign idea for rear window

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Let me assure you that my intent is not to offend or merely be provocative. I'm simply worried.”

― Sam Harris

Strong reactions are warranted if public demonstrations are called for. They’re also a great way to get press coverage and reach a wider audience. Controversy stirs the pot and gets people to question norms, which is exactly what’s needed when norms become oppressive.

Idea 8. Unite People

inspiring protest poster idea with  black background

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“The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.” 

― Wael Ghonim

The issues we face can seem overwhelming at times. What can we, as individuals do about them if anything at all? Signs inspire people in order to drive progress. Remind people that they each have the power to change the world. Together, that power is unrivaled by even the greatest foe.

Idea 9. Empower and Inspire Action

Big protest sign idea with an inspiring protest phrase

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“A single whisper can be quite a disturbance when the rest of the audience is silent.” 

― Anthony Marra, The Tsar of Love and Techno

There are some signs that just make your jaw drop. They make you question life or really come to feel a message on a deep level. The best of them can even lead to revelations and empower us to overcome the greatest challenges.

Idea 10. Rebel With Originality

rebellion quote protest sign unique idea on foamboard

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“Originality is the best form of rebellion.” 

― Mike Sasso

Originality can be effective in content as well as presentation. Don’t let your demonstration poster ideas get lost in a sea of cliches and repetition. Relaying the same message en masse can raise the volume on certain demands. However, it’s originality that will get the opposition to engage. Besides, it’s easy to achieve in a sea of duplicates.

Idea 11. Get Spotted With Big/Flashy Signs

huge protest poster idea on a white banner

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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” 

― Buckminster Fuller

Let’s face it - getting your message across in a crowd is hard work. There is no place more appropriate for big and flashy than a public demonstration. If your sign can be spotted from a helicopter, consider yourself a winner. Large vinyl banners are a surefire way to get attention.

Idea 12. Represent Iconic Imagery

motivational protest sign idea with iconic imagery

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“New concepts should be introduced by the power of imagery.” 

― Douglas Coop

Signs with images on them are far and few. They stand out and given the right graphic, they can even become iconic representations for entire movements. If you’re not much of an artist, just print an image and paste it onto a sturdy PVC sign. Otherwise, get your paints out and have some fun while you’re at it.

Idea 13. Rhyme Your Message

rebellion sign idea for an effective protest

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“I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.” 

― Henry David Thoreau

Slogans are a major tool in public demonstrations. Using them on posters is a no-brainer. Double up their impact by choosing a slogan that rhymes. Wam. Bam... You know the rest.

Idea 14. Preserve Liberty With Patriotism

freedom quote on a protest sign

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“Freedom cannot be bestowed. It must be achieved” 

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Freedom is the heart of American patriotism. If that foundation is shaken, it will be difficult if not impossible to make any other message count. Nurture the roots and the branches will flourish. Remember what America is truly about and display it proudly.

Idea 15. Rally the Crowd With Your Message

Protest banner idea with a quote from Bob Marley

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“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.” 

― Bob Marley

It’s time to rally the troops! Is the protest feeling disconnected? Are people’s eyes beginning to glaze over? Is the pep in their step turning sluggish? Lift up your best rally sign and raise your voice! Rally cries are the pulse of any good protest. A lively protest depends on a short, powerful message. Learn how to make a rally sign that rhymes or uses call and response phrases.

Idea 16. Band Together Around a Banner

white protest banner idea for unity

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“Fury spends itself pretty quickly when there's no fury facing it.” 

― John Lewis

In the next section, we’ll cover how to make a large protest banner. This is a highly advantageous medium for protests. It’s the one strategy that’s bound to make the headline news. Choose an idea from the best protest signs up top and make history now!

Idea 17. Get Press With Professional Prints

Simple protest sign idea in blue color

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“You can't protest what you don't see coming.” 

― Christina Dalcher

How big of an impact a public demonstration has is based largely on media coverage. The press is known to go for ideas, signs and slogans that are controversial. They’re also suckers for visuals. Customize your professional sign using our sign design tool and use the above strategies to get noticed. Get your 15 minutes of fame. They could lead to 15 years of justice.

How to Make a Protest Sign

The art of making a political sign is underrated. Cardboard signs are the most common sight out in the streets for practical reasons but they are highly unattractive and get easily damaged and drowned out. Let’s learn how to make signs for a protest that will stand out from the crowd and make the biggest impact.

How to DIY Your Protest Poster

The most important features of how to create a protest sign are the message and materials you go with. You can also add visual elements if you want to attract more attention.

1. Message

Your message is the key to determining how to make a protest poster. We’ve gone over different angles for how to convey it and hope that you’ve resonated with one or two of them. Decide which of the aforementioned ideas and quotes speak to you. Feel free to browse through our designer protest sign templates for images and inspiration.

2. Materials

Choosing the right materials for your sign can literally prevent a flop. PVC is a material that can hold up under any weather condition. Another medium that’s ideal for public demonstration is the foamboard sign. Either one will beat cardboard anyday. Not only are they more durable, they also stick out much better than flimsy posters. Opt for a sturdy medium to make the rounds and stand firm in your truth.

3. Visuals

DIY protest sign idea with the earth drawing

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You don’t have to know how to draw a protest sign in order to make it artistic. All you need is stencils and thick markers. You can also print large images onto separate pieces of paper then glue them to your poster board. Don’t forget to use contrasting colors to add bold borders around your text and images for a striking effect.

How to Make Your Protest Poster With Square Signs

Making professional protest signs and banners has never been easier. Our intuitive design tool has powerful features that you can use to create the most effective protest signs around. We also offer a wide range of materials you can print them on. Don’t hesitate to explore and find the option that suits your needs.

1. Design

We have added a new category of ready-made templates specifically for protests and demonstrations. You can select any of our templates, select a medium for printing them onto, choose a size and order with the click of a button. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

2. Customization

Screenshot showing how to make a protest sign with online design tool

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Furthermore, our sign design tool can be utilized for making original posters, decals and large protest banners. Upload an original quote or image you would like to get printed. Use texts and combine one of thousands of our design elements to add extra embellishments or draw them from scratch. Select a hardy material such as gator board signs that will last for as long as needed. Add the sign to your cart and have it shipped the next day!


At the end of the day, any sign is better than no sign. Whether it’s funny, original or neither, your presence is what matters most. If you have a message, just say it. Who knows, you might change the world with it! If you’d like more inspiration, check out our sign design tool and convey your message the right way with the help of our protest poster templates.