We gain a lot in hindsight — it’s an opportunity to reflect upon a previous best effort; to understand your own self better. Michael Beirut just wrote an essay reflecting on the Hillary Clinton campaign identity. This prompted me to dig up what I sent Politico in response to their request for reactions to the candidate’s logo.
My angle at the time was about “voice”. How can a logo draw out the essence of a candidate? This seems so incredibly naive as I read it today. Trump is now our president and the GOP runs congress because of acts of coercion and lies. A successful identity is the one that helps the candidate win. What will convince someone to belief the rhetoric, the fascade of the candidate? How does a political campaign need to be any less convincing than any other piece of marketing. There is a promise made, a suggestion. It does not need to be fulfilled.
Clinton’s graphic identity was incredibly contemporary, incredibly well executed. But it did not win. Would there have been a graphic identity that would have helped Clinton win? Does design matter?
Here’s my original text:
Campaign Logo Roundup
So many candidates, so many logos, so many problems. It doesn’t matter what the candidate believes in, there is a greater need to check “the logo” off the grand list of “to-dos” when getting a candidacy started. Moreso than bad typography or a lack of finesse, the great disappointment in the presidential candidate’s logo is a lack of voice. Most of them simply “belong” to a hoohum lineage of campaign logos. It’s borderline mandatory to use red, blue and to drop a star or arrow into the candidate’s name itself.
Successful logos should bring out the personality of the person as much as his/her political ideology. So much of this happens in the typeface alone. Jeb and Bernie appropriately use their first names typeset in informal, approachable serif fonts. The bubbly exclamation point in Jeb Bush’s logo makes him seem goofy, but maybe he is. Trump’s typeface could be more Trump Toweresque. It’s a pretty uninteresting sans-serif font. It’s good to see the website add a shiny gradient. That way we understand that the candidacy follows up from the person himself.
Hillary’s logo uses political colors and a touch of the election ballot arrow. But it is too diagrammatic to offer some sense of the woman. The logo reads as this: “take this blue rectangle on the left and move it to the right of this other rectangle. Then we’ll be done.” Or as one of my female colleagues at The Design Office said, “I want to like it, and I would like to like to like her, but I don’t like either.” And although the Clinton logo is one of the least emotive and least evocative of the person or the ideology, it does give itself an opportunity to take on meaning as the race evolves.