The Ultimate Guide To Creating The Perfect Protest Sign To F**k The System

Writer and chief finder of gifs at The Vocal


Approx 4 minute reading time

Grab some cardboard. Get your markers. Oh and don’t forget to pack your burning desire to overthrow the fascist alt-right uprising.

If there was ever a time to nail the art of protesting, it would be now. Everyone knows the most important part of a protest (apart from turning up of course), is the sign you’re holding proud above your head.

Protest signs can be funny, reflective, cheeky, brutal or even poetic. And although they’re often seen as just a bit of fun, they can be critical in shaping how the public reacts to the protest and the issues the protest is trying to tackle. Without a doubt, it’s these signs that will be slapped on social media and snapped up by hungry media organisations. The better the protest signs, the more publicity the protest gets and the more engaged the public will be become in the issue at hand.

But how does one create a truly great protest sign? With just a few words to get your message across, how does one linguistically create the ultimate statement? There’s no better example than the massively successful (and incredibly viral) Women’s March after Donald Trump’s election.

Let’s start with some basic tricks.

Flip the script

A classic technique you can whip out is mirroring – where you take someone’s words or actions and turn it against them. The pussy-grabbing, wall-building Trump has had plenty of things to say over the last year – both on Twitter and in real life. So take one of his famous phrases and slam him with it. 

Protester at a Trump rally

Tapping into meme culture

For your protest sign to flourish, the internet needs to approve. And what does the internet love more than anything? Memes. Creating a sign that taps into meme culture is a guaranteed winner, especially as people love seeing memes escape the confines of the internet and make it in the real world.


If you can’t think of anything especially creative, then your best bet is a rhyme. It’s relatively easy and immediately becomes perfect fodder for a roaring chant. Luckily for those in America, a lot of unsavoury things rhyme with Trump. Like lump. Or dump, clump, frump, slump, rump.

Exasperated self-reflection

A new trend I’m a huge fan of is the self-reflective protest sign, where people express their opinion through commenting on their own attendance. In some cases, just commenting on the fact that you made a sign in the first place is enough to get your message across.

Pump the pop culture

If in doubt, rummage around for your favourite book, movie or song and turn it into a big old middle-finger to the establishment. The more well-known the better. Think Harry Potter or Mean Girls, not Grease 2.

Doggos & kids

They’re cute and due to their lack of political awareness, are perfect to mindlessly parrot your own ideological agenda. Perfect.

Tell it like it is

Because protest signs are so well crafted, sometimes the best thing to do is just tell it like it is – even if it doesn’t form a full sentence.

Get personal

Look, it’s a cheap shot. But while Trump continues to dictate what women can do with their bodies, I think we’re allowed to decide the size of his hands (and asshole).

But some people don’t need any hints to be hilarious

Thank you to everyone who took to the streets. We are a film written by women, produced by women, directed by women, and starring a woman. We will not be ignored. #womensmarch

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As the world contends with a seismic cultural and political shift around the world, getting outside and protesting remains the most powerful way to get your voice heard. A brilliant protest sign is a critical part of that formula. But with so much to protest against, perhaps we should just look to this guy who seems to have the right idea.