Monday, February 25, 2008

Election '08: Logo Coverage

2008's historic election has the country pondering some very important issues, from our time frame for withdrawal from Iraq to the future of American health insurance. But maybe most interestingly from a designer's perspective, this particular election has us thinking about the our perception of candidates: how relatable are they, how progressive do they seem, how comfortable are we with them in the Oval Office? Food for thought: how much does a candidate's branding effect this perception? We might like to believe we are focused on the issues alone, but as any good designer is aware, image can be deceptively important. There have been some interesting discussions circulating the web on this very subject, so let's now take a look at the logos and wordmarks of candidates past and present to decide for ourselves!

If you were forced to choose a party on their graphics alone, I submit that the Democrats would be hands-down winners, with Obama as the clear front-runner for a candidate. His logo and wordmark are clean and graphic (I have also seen his logo printed without the gradient around the rising sun, something I could do without). Hillary's logo, on the other hand, could use some sprucing up— the waving flag and dull serif font unfortunately say nothing about her or what she promises. Is Hillary's conservative branding part of the reason she is losing the young vote? Finally, the ill-fated Edwards campaign sported the only san-serif logo in the bunch! I personally am a fan of the strong, utilitarian typeface, but find the shooting star a tad generic.

And onto the Republicans... where to start? All three use stodgy typefaces and played-out graphics. McCain's logo makes use of Optima, a wishy-washy font a former design teacher of mine challenged any designer to use successfully. However, of the three it makes the boldest, most graphic statement. Huckabee's color scheme and type treatment appear dated, and Romney's logo is slick, but almost too slick, with its serif all-caps letter treatment and Photoshopped flag. All three are, probably intentionally, more conservative to appeal to a more conservative audience.

Obama and Clinton are your Bicycles,
Is Hillary's website a PC, while Obama's is a MAC? the NYT says yes! (and what does that make McCain?)
Shepard Fairey for Obama
The Boston Globe asks: What font says "change"?

UPDATED! Leading graphic designer Michael Bierut on Obama's brand.


Sarah Martin said...

Tess, I love this post. I am waiting for a presidential hopeful to bust out a logo in orange or purple and green. I'd vote for them.

meghan b said...

Tess, I love you.

Blythe said...

Woah I had no idea that McCain had set his logo against a black background! I worked on a campaign sticker a few years ago at this design studio I was freelancing at, and I happened to have one mock-up using a black typeface. The studio head gave advice that black should never be used on campaign banners. Hhmmm - maybe it gets your attention though since it's unusual. Odd he did not use a flag too...

Um, Mitt's is SO appropriate - a dark black shadow over the flag. That's exactly what would happen to this country if he were president!