This cycle has seen the campaign logo burst into the spotlight with much of the presidential field on both sides getting an “F” from design experts. Finding flaws in a finished work is easy — a longstanding knock against critics. Still, there are ways to improve the current crop.
In fact, it’s not just presidential contenders who should be invested in a dynamic campaign logo. Any candidate’s image can be enhanced with a good design. Other than the candidate’s face, it’s the most replicated image for most campaigns over the course of the race.
With that in mind, a good logo should thrive in formats ranging from the most sophisticated digital 3D animation to hand-printed signs. It has to be original and familiar at the same time. It has to differentiate the candidate and resonate across demographic lines.
To help you think through the process of developing your own campaign logo, let’s explore what the process for a prospective Joe Biden presidential candidacy might look like.
One thing Biden represents is continuation. More than any other candidate he resembles the good (and the bad) of the Obama administration. He can’t hide from it and he should present himself as an evolution of it. He has extensive national experience, and was picked to be Barack Obama’s vice president for that exact reason. Biden also brings likability, and his own way of relating to people. Still, no one gets elected just for being likable. Biden has to show he’d be an improvement on the current administration.
The colors are perhaps the easiest part of building a candidate’s brand. That’s because most of the time, the scheme is already assigned. The candidate’s party has a color set, which many choose to blend with Old Glory’s scheme.
This is where things start to get interesting. The font is the voice of the candidate’s logo and helps set the tone for the campaign. It can reinforce the right attributes of the candidate so its selection is delicate. Serif of non-serif? All-caps, title case or lowercase? Light, medium or bold? Mechanical or handwritten? Fonts can become so distinctive that they can still represent a candidate or movement even years after the campaign is over.
For instance, the Solidarity movement in Poland was famous for its use of typeface. Now, online tools like wordmark.it can help campaigns settle on a font. You can type your candidate’s name on the site and it’ll display variations with all the fonts available. You can also check for all-caps, lowercase, et cetera. For Biden, we might recommend heavy, all-caps, non- serif typeface from the Gotham family. It’s the same family that was used as a secondary font on Obama’s campaign.
The Name Game
If a candidate has a national reputation, the campaign will just go by how he or she is commonly known. In Biden’s case, it makes the most sense to stick with his last name, which has become his trademark. But for a newcomer, the campaign has a dilemma: First name, last name, full name, nickname? The moniker a campaign chooses sends a message. For instance, Jeb Bush likely opted to go with Jeb! to seem forward looking and fresh.
Originality vs. Familiarity
This is another big issue when designing a candidate’s logo. In campaigns, there needs to be a balance between innovation and consistency, originality and familiarity. People want a touch of freshness combined with the solid foundation of familiar shapes and colors. Moreover, this fragile balance varies according to the zeitgeist. Is it a change year? Given the number of also-rans in the presidential field, it’s likely that 2016 won’t have the same impetus for “change” as 2008.
Long gone are the days when the logo usage on a campaign consisted basically of printed material. Now, a logo has to thrive in mediums ranging from digital to TV, print to silkscreen.
Make sure that the logo you’re developing has elements that inspire animation and movement while reinforcing your campaign’s central message.
Marcelo Kertész has worked as a creative director on seven international presidential campaigns. Bruno Hoffmann is an international political strategist and founder of HoffGroup.