Like many Americans, I’ve been paying closer attention to politics recently. Unlike many other observers, I’m following each politician’s policy platform and the font they choose to express those beliefs. The Obama campaign changed the political design landscape in 2008 by leveraging the sophistication, clarity and accessibility of brands like Target and Apple. The consistency and the professionalism of that campaign was an order of magnitude beyond campaigns that came before. Obama’s logo expertly used design elements that brands since the late ‘90s had used to signal new thinking. Limited use of color, simple lowercase typography – sometimes with unexpected capitalizations – and simple geometric icons were reminiscent of transparent, accessible brands that looked easy as opposed to overtly marketed.
How have the campaigns of 2012 reacted to this changed design landscape? I’ve noticed the Obama team has jettisoned Perpetua and added square serifs to the sans-serif Gotham typeface. I’ve noticed a lot of campaigns copying the superficial appearance of Obama’s logo but with generally less finesse. And I was surprised that none of Mitt Romney’s more conservative competitors have embraced a return to more traditional campaign logos with strong emphasis on strong typography and flag imagery. Meanwhile, the trends march on as exemplified in Apple’s much blogged about recent return to a rainbow logo. I look forward to seeing if any of the candidates “chomp” that design trend for their campaigns (logical choice is cool kid Obama, but only time will tell).
01. The Obama 2008 campaign logo with original customized Perpetua font and after refinements to the type. The web-site and all other materials used the san-serif font Gotham.
02. Apple went from Rainbow to monochrome in 1998.
03. Brands signaled new thinking by using accessible typography, often with eccentric capitalization for a ‘twist.’ It’s also notable how many use a lowercase “i”. It was also common to use a simple monogram icon, often with a fun twist. Method gets extra credit for making an ‘m’ look like a lowercase i.
04. In 2012 Obama is using a modified Gotham with square serifs specially commissioned by the typographers Hoefler and Frere-Jones. Could this be signaling more stature and experience after four years in office?
05. Many campaign logos have followed in the Obama campaign’s footsteps. Cuomo and Romney read “uomo” and “omney” Yikes! Huntsman’s logo is minimal but in a more old-school corporate style.
06. Did Mitt’s competition miss an opportunity to signal more authenticity or conservative bona fides by sticking with more traditional imagery and type treatments?
07.On the Republican side only Ron Paul’s logo has a high level of design sophistication. Is this because of his greater appeal to young voters?
08. Does Apples use of a rainbow logo signal another twist in logo trends that brands and campaigns will have to respond to in 2016?