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To Be, or Not To Be… Snarky

Presidential logo review

When I initially thought about reviewing the logos of the people that wish to become our future President I thought “OK, this is going to be fun.” It’s a very specific “business area” and it has an audience that is literally… everyone of voting age in this country (who are legal citizens of course). And with our current electoral process being reminiscent of a reality TV show at times it seemed only fitting to deliver a blunt review of these newly developed brands.

As I began to write, I realized that it was going be a more complex process then I initially thought. A simple academic dialogue about the pros and cons sounded a little dry, and missed the all too tempting opportunity to poke a little fun at the political arena. And then there was the risk of appearing too disaproving of one Party or the other. We as the voting public can be a little defensive of our favorite cantidate or Party.

So, with that in mind I will do my best to properly balance the degree of snarkyness and refrain from any obvious Party affiliation. Oh, and for the record we’re using alphabetical order for fairness.

Jeb Bush

Using the same philosophy as Hillary, Carly, Bernie and Rand, Governor Bush chose to use his first name, actually his initials (JEB). He probably had no other choice in order to deliver the concept that he is “his own man.” As a logo, it’s simple and although the exclamation point has gotten some heat I think it is a valid way to inject a degree of excitement (and contradict the recent “low energy” comments) without using an inspirational graphic or icon. And with only three letters it easily allows the addition of the punctuation. It’s clean, casual and a little playful. The font choice, which is a big decision on something this simple, is dated looking but that may have been intended to turn up the “friendly” quality of it. The logo lacks an inspirational impression as some of the others have but it’s not bad.

Ben Carson

Over all it effectively connects the name Carson with America although, if you use the squint test on the letter “A,” graphic it’s not as legible as it could be. I question the weak, soft spoken tan color for the the most important part of this logo, his name. The word “HEAL” almost disappears. The only way to pull out an icon for marketing use here would be use the “A” but this doesn’t relate to Carson in any way. It’s just kind of backwards. It does a better job of promoting America than on promoting Carson.

Lincoln Chafee

As of this writing Governor Chaffee is no longer a candidate but what the heck. This logo has a strong and distinctive shape that would have served him well. On the sides it has the obligatory stars but “wait, there’s more.” We also have stars at the top too. Ya just can’t have too many stars. I’m thinking “ideas” weren’t his strong suit since the tag line looks more like a footnote.

Chris Christie

It’s interesting to look at these logos and relate them to the personalities of each candidate. I personally think Governor Christie’s lack of any iconic graphic limits future marketing potential and is missing any sense of optimism. And if nothing else, every candidate is trying to tell the public how THEY will make things better. “Telling It Like It Is” is clearly a rarety in the political arena but honestly, I’d like to see more doing and less telling. Although it’s a very clean and nice typographic solution, it’s also… well, forgettable.

Hillary Clinton

Whether you think fondly on the previous Clinton administration or not, the choice to reference Hillary Clinton by her first name is an effective and almost mandatory decision here to position her as, well, not Bill. I like the courage to reduce the logo to a simple “H” with a forward moving arrow. It’s both brave and shows an understanding of how a simple mark can be a strong marketing device. But what I don’t like is that it’s very stiff, sterile and lacks emotion, energy and a feeling of excitement…, which would have been very easy to add here. Curently… Hospital, this way?

Ted Cruz

I’m going to sound like I’m describing wine here. It has good balance and no bad aftertaste. By lightening the value of the name the eye clearly goes to the inspirational graphic first and then quickly to his name. The flag/flame/drop graphic is a nicely designed mark that can (and I’m sure will) be used to brand many aspects of his campaign. I would like to find something to throw a barb at here but it’s nicely done. I’ve also seen his campaign cleverly use “TrusTed” in the campaign.

Mark Everson

I actually like the attempt at drawing on typography of the past here. There is wholesomeness to borrowing from graphic styles of yesteryear. It subliminally delivers a quality of quaintness and trust. You see a lot of food packaging that also uses this design tactic. The downside here is the wide target audience. The youth won’t have the romantic connection to past design styles and it may look like old thinking or lack of new ideas. But it’s a different logo style and commands attention a result.

Carly Fiorina

The choice to use only a first name here is also an interesting one. Sometimes this is an attempt to avoid a reference to questionable public memories or avoid public connotations of a last name. In this case I see it as an attempt at a casual and friendly connection. Typographically, it’s clean, bold and elegant and the choice of white type on a blue background helps it’s strength but it looks like many political logos. It also misses the opportunity to reinforce her difference when it simply says “for President” rather than some more meaningful tagline.

Lindsey Graham

Also out of the race but sorry, major problems here. Meaningless, amateur and contradicting shapes draw attention to the 16 rather than the name. They also prevent any subliminal message of a positive future direction for the country. Making the word “President” in red on a blue field makes it almost unreadable and the meaningless choice of italic type… really?

Mike Huckabee

There is a story being illustrated here. Starting with the tagline “From Hope to Higher Ground” it delivers a visual of America (as the striped field) with the stars representing the “hope” rising up… to the heavens? The focus and visual hierarchy starts with the name. The choice of a black background, avoiding the common patriotic color is marginally aggressive. Overall it’s fairly successful. Not brilliant, not ground breaking but successful.

Bobby Jindal

The J icon is somewhat successful although I can think of many ways to make it a much stronger and work as a more motivational icon. On the political shelf of products the wide horizontal arrangement of this logo makes the type so small it simply “fades into the background.” You just walk right by it. I’m not one to think that our electoral process is simply “he who yells the loudest wins” but whispering, especially with a political logo is the wrong move.

John Kasich

Simple, graphic, nautical. It creates a relationship between Governor Kasich and America with the simple K and flag icon. When you have a name that isn’t well known to the public (in business or campaigns) you have to throw it out front without getting too tricky. All things considered I’d give it a B -. I think the seed of the idea in the icon has a lot more potential than it shows here.

Martin O’Malley

Although, like his campaign, it seems straightforward, I feel similarly about this as I do about the Lindsey Graham logo. Italic text was initially used to draw attention to text within a paragraph. In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s companies used italic type to deliver the impression of speed and dynamics. 40 years later it just looks like a cliché, a dated and failed attempt to add excitement when no better design ideas were proposed. And I really don’t understand what the break in the lower left border is intended to deliver. I’m think’n O’Malley Car batteries.

Rand Paul

Italics, again… ugh! But I do see the logical attempt here to design a negative space between the “A” and the “N” that creates the torch handle. A torch is not an uncommon symbol for freedom and knowledge so the visual message works. The “first name only” approach also works here. Rand is an uncommon name and once again it separates him from his father. His philosophy about government could justify a tag line that implies his thinking. However, it kind of looks like a tire company logo to me. “Rand Tires, keeping you on the road.”

Rick Perry

I like the contained shape here. It makes (or rather, made) a good logo for stickers, a strong shape for signs, etc. But the “P” and star graphic looks like a sports team logo… the Podunkville Flying Stars. I always get frustrated when someone tries to put various graphic elements together when the result is that both of then become less legible. The core idea of a “P” and a star together in a circle is not a bad general idea but the execution could be much stronger.

Marco Rubio

The name “Marco Rubio” poetically rolls off the tongue like “abracadabra.” It’s just fun to say. But what is that on top of the letter “I?” A whale? A blimp? A cheesesteak? When the focus and concept of a logo is so small that it’s hard to understand, especially when the logo is used small, it’s a very basic mistake. I’m not saying that the US map should be larger, it’s simply that with this many letters the dot of the “i” being a map is a flawed idea.

Bernie Sanders

Swooshes were very popular in the ’80s and ’90s. You still see many logos with the swoosh. The funny thing to me is that it says nothing about a company, what they do or anything other than “Something moves.” The Bernie Sanders logo uses the first name approach in this case to be more friendly and approachable. The swoosh does have a little more graphic purpose here than other “swoosh logo” examples. The type is in a pleasant, bold serif font. I even think the over all composition is pleasing (if not authoratative). But in some ways it just makes me think of an ’80s TV sitcom that opens with a cute song while showing different short clips of Bernie in his daily life as an accountant in a small town.

Rick Santorum

Where do I start? In an attempt to come out of the blocks without criticism here the eagle is a valid symbol. It gives the message of soaring, freedom and of course America. But please, please, please don’t have your 5-year-old kid draw it. It could have had the honor and strength it deserves but it just looks like a piece of bad clip art. Actually, clip art is often better than this. I’d like to see… no, I just can’t say anything more about this one other than I had an illustration professor in college by the name of Stanislaw Zagorski. We’d cringe when he looked at our work and uttered the words in his thick Polish accent “You probably do over.”

Donald Trump

Why do anything different for a Presidential campaign when you can use exactly the same branding as all your other business endeavors? Well, there are a few reasons but for a cohesive business brand there is power in a consistency. I say this to clients often. Although, as a voter, I’m not sure I want to feel like the country is just another business venture. We all have different skills that we excel at. Self-marketing is clearly Mr. Trump’s.

Scott Walker

As political logos go, I like this one. It takes some liberties with the typography but it still reads pretty well. This is partially because the name “Walker” is a common one. Because of public familiarity, well known words (or names) can be altered a little more and still be legible. It’s not too tricky, too conceptual, or too design-y, it just simply works.

Jim Webb

This logo is bold but suffers from the same issues as the Christie logo. It lacks a sense of innovation. It’s just… kind of boring. I don’t know why there is so much focus on “16.” A lighter font for that would allow the name to have more dominance. The one attempt at a focal point, the star, is so overwhelmed by everything else, making the star look like an afterthought. I won’t say ugly, but as a marketer it leaves me little to use to reinforce his brand, and little feeling of optimism and progress.

I hope I didn’t step on too many toes with this article. A logo can say a lot, sometimes positive if designed well, sometimes negative if not. And clearly, I am writing without knowing any of the back story behind the evolution of each logo. But the next few months will certainly be interesting as the marketing and Jerry Springer style debates of our candidates continues to unfold.

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