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To Be, or Not To Be Snarky… Vol. 2

A Presidential Logo Review

3 years ago I wrote reviews of the Presidential Candidate logos for the 2016 election. At the time the Rs owned most of the logos. Today the Ds considerably outnumber the Rs for obvious reasons. Now, let’s agree that anyone running for President deserves our respect, and maybe a little pitty when we see that the process of running for President is a cross between “The Price Is Right” and standing naked on a New York street corner in the middle of winter. But all respect and pitty aside, this is about logo design only.

Generally, this election has is a large number of logos with the casual approach of just using the first name. This can make a lot of sense if you have the last name of Buttigieg or one of similar complexity. Some logos used the tried and true graphics that have almost become clichés, yet I think they still deliver more patriotism and optimism than some of the others that seem to be little more than just a name in a boring font (Yawn). A political logo is a difficult design assignment. It needs to be bold, distinct, deliver optimism as well as reinforcing a name that many people may not know, especially in this enormous cast of characters. But overall in this group, I don’t see a lot of creativity but rather quite a bit of generic boredom. This makes these more difficult to discuss because good design is easy to discuss, and bad design choices are easy to point out, but boring, or forgettable design leave little to say. I still think Obama’s logo was the best I’ve seen in some time… but then again the letter “O” or a circle is a great shape to start with.

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 random order for no particular reason. And although some of the candidates have left the race, this is no reason to let them escape this process.

Wayne Messam

Slogan – Wayne For America

Bold? Yes. Simple? Yes. But it’s a little bit of an assumption that everyone will know who this is and the “for America” looks like an afterthought. Maybe it’s a series “Wayne for America”, “Wayne for Cambodia”, “Wayne for Gummy bears.” Also, a pet peeve of designers… the letterspacing between the “Y” and the “N” is too great. The optical spacing between various letters (kerning, or letter-spacing) needs to be adjusted to make a word visually flow smoothly. A slogan should also begin to discuss a benefit, or in this case, how Wayne will improve America.

Eric Swalwell

Slogan – Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good.

Although it’s quite a low bar this year, this is a strong, solid logo. The simple stripes wrap the logo into a nice tight unit. But the tagline… well, it feels like some sort of tongue twister.

Joe Sestak

Slogan – Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good

Joe, Joe, Joe. This has to be the worst in the group. I often say people are usually too close to their own stories and make the mistake assuming that everyone knows what they know. Will all voters know that ADM means Admiral? Plus, Admiral Joe sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon. Did GI Joe get promoted? The globe implies a greater ambition than just America. And what does the eye symbol mean? Maybe in this current time simply saying “Accountability” is good enough but it is a sort of underwhelming claim. The overall design looks like something from a 1950s comic book.

Seth Moulton

Slogan – Seth Moulton for America

I think this logo does a pretty good job at delivering the name, creating dominance of the first name (for the casual, friendly “call me Seth and let’s go have a beer” quality), and it includes a graphic that implies forward movement. Putting “for America” after the name for the slogan does seem like a bit of a cop-out… and it doesn’t even discuss if America will be better or worse off. But it has a complete and thought out quality to it.

Joe Walsh

Slogan – We’re tired of the lies. We’re tired of the drama. We can’t take four more years.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 5. It’s OK, bold but “ya can’t dance to it.” Like so many of the logos for this election, It lacks emotion. It’s kind of like a scribbled magic marker sign that says “Good food.” It might be right, but it’s difficult to trust. The slogan, although way too long and wordy, certainly states his thoughts… and it does have a humorous quality to it.

Deval Patrick

Slogan – Deval for All

When in doubt, make it italic. I am old enough to remember when any company that wanted to show that they were “hip and modern” added italics to their logo. It just feels dated now. Sort of like the little graphic on a bag of chips that says “Now With Extra Crunch.” As for colors, I think he wimped out here. They are not as strong as the graphic implies and although he might make a great President (or might not) there is little in this logo that makes me want to trust this candidate.

Tom Steyer

Slogan – There’s nothing more powerful than the unified voice of the American people

Tom 2020… it has a good ring to it. It rolls off the tongue well. I personally hate how tight the test is to the border but that could be the graphic as I got it off the web. Yes, another first name approach but a solid, if not terribly engaging design. The tagline, on the other hand, needs some serious editing.

Mike Bloomberg

Slogan – A New Choice for Democrats

This is similar to the Seth Moulton logo approach (or, to be fair Seth could be similar to this logo too). But Mike, like so many of these logos, gives us little emotion, little hope, little graphic reason to feel the optimism of forward progress. But it is clean, gives us red, white and blue, makes us feel like “Mike and I are buds.” However, it’s a very limiting tagline. What about the rest of the country.

Bill Weld

Slogan – America Has A Choice

This looks like 1960 to me. The strength of 4 letters and 4 numbers works and like Tom Steyer it’s simple. But it’s kind of like a Stop sign, it has a simple meaning, and it leaves nothing to be inspired by.

Donald Trump

Slogan – Make America Great Again

Promises Made, Promises Kept

It’s difficult to not bring in one’s opinion of the existing Presidency into the review of this logo. After 3 years of (you fill in the blank here), strong opinions abound. But speaking strictly graphically I think it suffers from trying to include too much and it’s a personal thing to me when a designer uses open letter spacing on words but then stacks them so tight that the eye travels up and down to the letters that are closer together and not across to the letters that are intended to read as one word. Some design mistakes are just so “Design 101.”

Roque De La Fuente

Slogan – Together We Are Stronger

This is probably the most thought out design of the bunch. I like the FR connection. It gives Rocky an icon to use if he progresses and needs a small graphic that still reinforces his brand. The lighter weight font for his name does feel a little more like a Bed Bath and Beyond product but over all, it works.

Bill de Blasio

Slogan – Working People First

De Blasio sits right on the baseline while 2020 isn’t touching the top of the green shape and also isn’t centered top to bottom. This is one of those geeky little designer things where I can’t see a reason for it. But this one rates high on the boring meter. It gives us very little to feel anything about. Mistakes in design can be a result of making the wrong decisions. This one fails from making no decisions. It looks like very little thought was put into it. Sorry, Bill. I call it as I see it. The tagline? Hmmm. What about the retired, or kids, or those looking for work?

Michael Bennet

Slogan – Building Opportunity Together

The bottom curve does give this logo a historical charm. I think I would trust this more as an antique pharmacy, or maybe a toothpaste brand from 1940s. It just doesn’t look current or powerful, two qualities that I think are important in an American President. The tagline is effective though. In three words it talks of unity and optimism.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Slogan – Brave Wins

The only thing this logo has going for itself is the overlap and maybe a distinctive color. I know a long name like Gillibrand makes it difficult to wrap into a tight and bold package. But I always try to hint or imply some asset or some benefit when I’m designing the logo. This could use a splash of that. Adding some inspirational graphic or even the tagline would prevent this from being what I refer to as the worst description for any marketing material… “forgettable.”

Joe Biden

Slogan – Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead

Looks like Joe Biden covered both bases by developing logos that use his last and first name. I like the unity of that with the use of the “E.” Some times a designer has to look for typographic options that arise from the specific letters in a name. Not bad Joe. And the tagline is clearly part of a conversation and the answer to someone else’s claims.

Pete Butigieg

Slogan – A Fresh Start for America

This logo also has the historical feel that Michael Bennet’s has. I have to wonder how the conversations went when someone suggested using “Buttigieg” for the logo. Maybe a phonetic answer might have been an option “Boot•ej•ej for President” But once again, where is the emotional connection to… well, anything? It’s clean, adequate but doesn’t inspire. And if anything a logo should reflect the feeling and benefits of a company, or in this case a candidate. The slogan does both reflect and defend his new recognition as well as giving an elbow to the ribs of the current administration.

John Delaney

Slogan – Focus on the Future

I feel like I’ve seen this before. It has a focal point (the forward-moving graphic in the “D”). It works and doesn’t have any huge flaws other than being sort of a formula solution. The slogan isn’t bad and implies long-term thinking.

Amy Klobuchar

Slogan – Amy for America

First, a slogan is intended to deliver more than a repeat of the logo. Amy, what do you want to do with or for America? But graphically it feels more like a fictitious child’s book where our hero Amy wanders into the nation’s capital and discovers a gathering of monsters that spend all their time pulling each other’s hair and insatiably eating tax dollars… oh, wait, that part is real.

Cory Booker

Slogan – We Rise

OK, we have the colors, a first name and a year. Cory Booker does actually seem like someone who would be good to have a beer with… or a wheatgrass smoothy, but as a logo, this leaves a lot to be desired. Like so many others in this list, where is the optimism? Where is the hope? But I do like the short and concise slogan.

Elizabeth Warren

Slogan – We Will Rebuild the Middle Class. We Persist. Win With Warren

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Oh, sorry. I fell asleep for a moment. I honestly think this logo is amazingly boring, both conceptually and typographically. It also holds none of the energy and speed of delivery that Elizabeth Warren actually has. Typographically, it does little to make the word “Warren” interesting. An underline is simply not enough. I’m assuming the 3 taglines are for different uses. But they still lack a poetic quality. I think a designer really let her down here. Or she simply demanded boredom. Without having been a fly on the wall during the logo presentation it’s hard to say.

John Hickenlooper

Slogan – Come Together

I like the approach here. It can be interpreted as growth, forward movement, and stability. And unlike many of the other logos, it actually can be interpreted. With a long name like “Hickenlooper”, I suspect it wasn’t easy to make this work. I do have some issues with the weak color though. The logo would have popped more on a darker color. The slogan “Come together” works but I can’t prevent myself from adding “right now… over me” for you Beatles fans.

Beto O’Rourk

Slogan – We’re All In This Together

The choice of a structural, work-oriented font says something. The black is strong. But with a distinctive name like BETO and a last name starting with “O” a lot more could be done. He either chose not to invest in a good logo and/or didn’t see the value of it. This brings to mind the question “Should we expect our President to understand the power of design?” I would like to say yes since they are often tasked to persuade others, and design does just that. The slogan also sounds pretty pessimistic to me. “You know, things are pretty bad but just remember, we’re all in this together.”

Tulsi Gabbard

Slogan – Lead with Love

Yes, I am a type geek. I think there is a 12 step recovery program for this. But I love typography. And although I do appreciate the adjustments to the “T” and “I” that make TULSI into a more distinctive logo, it still lacks anything that even hints at progress or helping us move forward. I do give her credit for the use of red. Maybe I’ve become a little jaded from decades of elections but to me the slogan sounds a little naive.

Jay Inslee

Slogan – Our Moment

I’m thinking it’s a movie about aliens invading the earth. “Inslee. Nobody hears you scream” Seriously, it is an attempt at something different and the sphere does give an impression of being focused on global issues, although the tagline would be an appropriate place to reinforce the visual message. I can’t say I love it but it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

Marriane Willianson

Slogan – Join The Evolution

There is a ton of data on colors and what message they deliver to the public. I generally don’t pay attention to design “rules” because there are so many other design decisions that can be used to deliver all different impressions. But in this case, I have to ask, is this much pink a good presidential color? Does it project strength and confidence? In this environment, it is a distinct color so extra points for carving out some individuality. But beyond that, I see a Marianne 2020 shampoo.

Bernie Sanders

Slogan – Not Me. Us.

I honestly think this one has the somewhat comical aspect of Bernie himself. Not to say his political platform is a joke, I just get a kick out of his character. The use of swashes was so over-used in the 80s and 90s so they have a dated feel. Swashes in the 80s and 90s are what italics were in the 60s and 70s. And the star-dot in the “i” is almost a wink at us. All that said, I think the logo is surprisingly somewhat effective. As for the slogan, it says the right thing but to start with “Not Me”, well, it does kind of start out by saying “Don’t vote for me.” Maybe “Not One. All.” would have been better.

Julian Castro

Slogan – One Nation. One Destiny.

I find it funny when a designer makes an unimportant element of a logo the focal point. The accent currently does nothing for any message of hope or patriotism. It could, but it currently doesn’t. Also, with the last name like Castro, I understand why he would want to follow the first name trend. But like so many other logos it lacks emotion… and after observing our elections over the past few decades, an emotional connection (for right or wrong) is a key driver for voters. I like the slogan. It speaks of a unified nation and an inevitable future. It leaves the door open to what that future will be but the word “destiny” does have some degree of hope.

Andrew Yang

Slogan – Humanity First

Too tricky by half. I like the intent here but designers have to be careful not to let their concept decrease readability too much. It would have been pretty easy to have the “Y” read better while still keeping the ribbon. Another flaw shows when you use the squint test. A logo has to read near, far, large and small. Squinting at a design will indicate how it will look either small or at a distance. In this case, since the “2020” and the background are very similar values (light to dark) the “2020” almost disappears. Although “Humanity First” makes sense, it feels a little like he is looking at humanity through a microscope and not quite including himself in that mix. “ Oh, yeah, the other species… what’s it called? Oh yeah, Humanity. Yup, let’s make that first.”

Kamala Harris

Slogan – For The People

This is the only logo that ties the name in with the slogan on an equal basis. I give it credit for slamming that point home and making a complete thought into a logo. And with the verbal message being so strong here a secondary optimistic graphic element might be overkill. I do get annoyed when someone makes a background so bright that it almost demands more attention than the logo itself. An appropriate visual hierarchy in a logo or a layout is important for delivering the desired message well. But for the benefit of the doubt, the yellow background might not be used all the time. “For The People” has almost the same meaning as “humanity First” but it just says it in a much better way.

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