Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Politics of Logos, Part 2

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director


First of all, thanks to those of you who took the time to vote and/or comment in last week’s poll. If you were here, you’ll remember that we reviewed famous logos and then asked you which politician’s bumper sticker looked best to you, based purely on design. 

This week let’s review them one by one, and now that I have your assessments, I’ll include mine.


Gingrich has a logo that’s clean, sharp, and, well, safe. It takes no chances and therefore doesn’t trigger much in the way of reaction. On the plus side, it conveys a corporate, no-nonsense approach that capitalizes on the candidate’s unique nickname (BTW have you ever heard Newt’s real first name?), which is both a blessing and a curse. Being identifiable by your first name alone is worth its marketing weight in gold, but do you really project leadership if it means a tiny lizard?

On a design note, its left wing (no pun intended) flies up too close to his name and looks unbalanced. A little space would have given it room to breathe. (Incidentally, his first name is Newton.)


Kudos to the Chicago artist who came up with the idea of taking Obama’s distinctive circular initial and turning it into a sun on the horizon, because it’s been instantly recognizable ever since it saw the light of day in 2007. Rarely has an individual been identified with just a simple logo. (Unless maybe you’re Prince, but even he had problems attempting it.) As our Social Media Director, Shannon Milholland, pointed out, the logo also pushes the website, never a bad idea.

(And I should apologize for using the hackneyed word “kudos”. I meant, of course, to say “props”.)


Although Ron Paul also has a more traditional campaign logo, this is the one that his following has adopted because it doesn’t look political, which is what his fans seem to prefer. Its sprayed-on graffiti look may ride this side of anarchy, but the lettering is cleanly and carefully stenciled, and the message behind the revolution is LOVE. For my money, this rivals Obama’s logo for creativity and originality.

On the down side, the same nonpolitical look that makes this design popular with Paul’s fans tends to disappoint those who still expect to see good old America in their bumper sticker. For them there is the other Paul logo, which is more traditional and includes an eagle.

                                                          
I was surprised how many dislike Romney’s “R” flag.  Granted, it doesn’t look like any flag I’ve ever seen, especially having a fold in the middle. But it didn’t bother me because it at least adds some originality to what would otherwise be a very corporate, traditional design. Giving it the tagline “Believe in America” was a smart addition. I do like the font and the way the “E” connects with the “Y”, suggesting stability.


Santorum’s name may be well known enough to get away with it, but from a distance this bumper sticker says “RICK SANT RUM” with something red in between. Up close you do get it, and the eagle is majestic and beautiful. The circle (of stars?) around it might have been more effective had they been bolder and not difficult to see from afar. They at least tried to do something creative with the “O”, so kudos, props and finger snaps for effort.

As you may have heard, Obama’s logo was the winner in our logo poll, garnering as much design preference as all the other candidates combined, with Gingrich and Santorum tied for second. Thank you all for being fair and objective, and for using your artistic eye in this little exercise, versus other criteria.

The whole point, again, was to demonstrate how influenced we are by design alone. Whether it’s our book cover, website or business card, it pays to persuade with a good look. If you’ll make the extra effort to project an effective image, you may find more readers making you their write-in candidate.

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