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Battle of the Candidate Brands

Publish Date: 08/01/2016

As the vehicle for your first impression of a brand, a logo is arguably one of the most important aspects of visual communication. It has to simultaneously be memorable, timeless, practical, and simple in order to be deemed effective. Done right, a logo quickly and easily conveys the meaning, feeling, and intent behind the idea it represents. At BowStern, we are frequently tasked with creating effective and meaningful brand identities. Using our expertise in this area, we wanted to take an objective look at the 2016 Presidential Candidate logos to see how they stacked up.

Regardless of design prowess, everyone seems to have an opinion on Hillary’s 2016 campaign logo. Love it or hate it, you have to admit it’s an extremely memorable mark. In fact, it’s been etched into the back of our brains from the moment we laid eyes on it. With its square sans-serif H, and bold contrasting arrow pointing to the right, it definitely wins points for being memorable. Trump’s logo, however, is less than noteworthy. No joke, we had to google it to write this article about it – it’s THAT forgettable. Trump’s use of sans-serif fonts is perhaps a nice contrast to his personal brand, but the decision to go with a text-based logo over one that includes an icon leaves viewers with nothing to hold on to. That being said, his logo is clean and concise.

In terms of practicality, Hillary’s logo’s square shape lends it to many uses. In today’s screen-focused world, a logo like hers will easily adapt across social media platforms while staying readable. Its strong shape also allows it to be easily adapted to different colors, backgrounds, and images without losing its brand recognition. Trump’s logo, however, is too rectangular to freely move through the square shapes social media avatars usually demand. It’s simply too wide to be read at those dimensions. Trump, like other candidates, has frequently opted to use his face in lieu of illegibly sized logos on social media, and that works for us. The use of a head shot for profile pictures firmly situates that candidate in the minds of the public. But there’s something to be said about Hillary’s “H” logo representing the campaign over the candidate, harkening back to Obama’s widely lauded “O” logo.

In a poll, 55% of Americans said they don’t like the Hillary logo. But when stacked up against the Trump logo, its clear message and easy recognition simply can’t be ignored. As a campaign mark, it is layered in meaning - from breaking barriers, to moving forward, and even to leaning more toward a moderate and unified America (it’s pointing to the right, after all). When looking at Trump’s logo, it’s hard to see a distinction that makes a brand memorable. There is no icon, no mark. While the typography is palatable and inoffensive, the logo itself is simply too generic. The border and stars that usually appear with the logo add only a vague patriotism and a gentle nod towards traditionalism. While these notions are in line with Trump’s call to “Make America great again,” they are too subtle to be remembered. In its safe approach, it loses the layer of meaning that allows it to burn itself into the collective memory.

From a viewer’s perspective, Hillary’s logo is easily recognizable and maintains its message whether it’s ten pixels high or taking up an entire billboard. From a design standpoint, Hillary’s logo is winning out over Trump’s unadorned logo because it manages to build a story that makes its mark in your mind, which in turn allows Hillary’s team to use her brand as more than a logo but as a movement.

*Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did not approve of this message.

**This post does not serve as a BowStern endorsement for either candidate but rather an objective analysis of campaign logos from a purely graphic and marketing viewpoint.

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