Presidential Logo Design 2016
The White House won’t be won on logo design alone. But if it were, would the current line-up look any different?
Logo design might not be foremost on voters’ minds as they head to voting booths these next 9 months, but design industry insiders know these ever-present marks at stump speeches, rallies and fundraisers are intended to inspire election day results.
In the first of this two-part blog series, Go Media asked three top graphic designers to cast their ballots for the best – and worst – in presidential logo design.
- Antonio Garcia, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Good Night TV, amgarcia.com
- Christina Sharp, Designer and Co-Founder of Cinder Design Co., cinderdesign.co
- Wilson Revehl, Co-Founder, Vice President and CTO, Go Media, gomedia.com
Which logos stand out in a good way, and why?
Sharp: Clinton. It’s completely different from the other logos. When it’s seen as a system, it’s smart and memorable. It stands out on Twitter, which is very important and it’s extremely versatile. It can work with images and colors and still retain its shape and identity.
Garcia: Kasich. Square. All-caps. Swiss. Sans-serif typeface with a modified “K.” A nice surprise from a Midwestern Republican and former investment banker?
Revehl: The very minimal Jeb! is succinct. The typeface modern and approachable, the exclamation fun. Using just Jeb! was a clever logo design strategy. It served to distance his name from baggage associated with his family, while also suggesting the name, “Jeb” was unique enough to elicit recognition on its own.
Which do you think do a disservice to the candidate, and why?
Garcia: More than the logo designs themselves, I think the greatest disservice comes form the ones with slogans. Jinogoist fails like Trump‘s and Rubio‘s. The meaningless pronoun in Christie‘s. Carson’s awkward string of verbs. A good candidate slogan should be chant-able in one’s audience, like, “YES WE CAN!” or, “SI SE PUEDE!”
Revehl: The Ben Carson/Carson America mix feels disjointed and bland. Not a lot of personality emerging from those. It may be due to my background in printing, but the Ted Cruz logo design mark looks to me almost identical to Soy Inks used by printers everywhere. It’s a cross between that and Tinder, a popular singles hook-up app.
Sharp: Trump – His identity is aggressive and intimidating. There’s nothing memorable about it. Christie – It’s too simple. Nothing about the typography stands out. Carson – The first version didn’t do anything for the candidate, and although the second version was better, it still doesn’t stand out against the other candidates. The dark black background does a disservice, and the colors seem scattered and schizophrenic. Rubio – America is a big country! The idea to shrink it down doesn’t seem very thought-out. Cruz – The logo is confusing and I don’t fully understand what it represents. Is it a tear drop? A burning flag? I get the “igniting” emotion the logo is trying to evoke, but there had to have been a better way to show it. Also, the cropping of the star is awkward.
What are your brief thoughts on the typography of each design?
- Sharp: Bold, simple, memorable, versatile, functional. A custom typeface that is friendly and approachable.
- Garcia: Not much typography here. The square “H” with red arrow says so little about her and looks more like a hospital way-finding than anything else.
- Revehl: I like the H alone, but the full treatment feels off-balance. The H became monolithic once they squeezed Hillary for America through the center of it.
- Sharp: Friendly and has character. The slab serif is modern, but still winks toward tradition. My favorite part is the treatment of the ‘r.” I almost wish Sanders went with just a wordmark without the star and the “toothpaste” swashes.
- Garcia: A friendly slab serif with the expected star dotting the ‘i.’ It says, “I don’t care too much about appearances or making a grand statement. I appreciate the non-traditional blue.
- Revehl: Pleasant. The lighter blue and red give it an airy, almost whimsical tone.
- Sharp: Too sterile. The USA/dot on the “i” is forced and looks like a whale when it’s small. He’s the only candidate to go all lowercase, perhaps to bring attention to the younger generation.
- Garcia: Lowercase Avant Garde looks like a kids’ clothing line. It also reduces the entire country (completely ignoring Hawaii and Alaska) to a mere dot on the ‘i.’
- Revehl: By shrinking down a map of the contiguous United States to dot his “i,” Rubio’s logo design sends the message he’s more important the whole country. The lowercase is youthful. Don’t get me started on his slogan.
- Sharp: Traditional and conservative. The typography is clean and is definitely geared toward his supporters.
- Garcia: The internet abounds with plenty of criticism for Cruz’s star-spangled liberty flame, but it’s also a direct rip-off the American Soybean Association’s official Soy Ink Seal.
- Revehl: Typeface alone, it’s fairly fashion-forward. 2016 above Cruz and down to the right of the flaming water feels asymmetrical, almost a superscript/subscript depending on which piece you’re observing.
- Sharp: Aggressive and unoriginal.
- Garcia: Heavy-extended Gothic does not say, “America” or, “Great” to me. It says obtuse and boorish. The blood red on dark navy is nearly impossible to see.
- Revehl: Very heavy, high-impact typeface, I think it is the same one used by HUMMER. The letter-spacing further exaggerates the size. It feels militaristic, reminiscent of World War propaganda. Almost authoritarian.
- Sharp: It was a smart choice for Jeb Bush not to use his last name in the logo design, but the exclamation point seems forced and unnecessary.
- Garcia: Jeb’s exclamation point makes no sense and its scale is ridiculous.
- Revehl: I have to give props for a playful and inviting mark. I can tell they were trying to balance the “J”, but need to knock points off for the exclamation point. It feels disproportionate.
- Sharp: The phrase itself, “Carson America,” doesn’t make sense, and I don’t understand the decision to alter the “A.” His second identity was a huge improvement, much cleaner and more modern.
- Garcia: There was way too much going on in the original logo: gradient metallic, the “A” with the stars and strips and mini eagle in the counter… The alternate/ newer version is much better (and maybe the best typography of the lot) but the slogan is a total distraction. Moving from thin to medium to bold, the verbs sounds themselves like a health food promise.
- Revehl: I’ll focus solely on the big bumper sticker-looking logo design. Although they used the same font throughout, the weight and letter-spacing shifts feel unintentionally esoteric. The color sequence contributes almost nothing to message delivery.
- Sharp: Clean and simple, but so simple that it’s boring.
- Garcia: Twentieth-Century Extra Bold. Just like him.
- Revehl: Unremarkable.
- Sharp: The typography feels dated and generic.
- Garcia: Tightly-kerned, all-caps, Swiss sans serif. Clean and balanced.
- Revehl: It’s a boring business use of something like Helvetica and the mark of his logo design adds nothing. It might as well say, “Kasich Transportation” or “Kasich Paper.”
To read the rest of these top designers’ insightful take on the presidential logo design, check out Part 2 of this blog series.
Contact the Cleveland logo design experts at Go Media by calling 216.939.0000 or contact us online.