What Can Logos Tell Us About A Candidate?
What fascinates us most about candidates in the political process is how the more they grow and expand into their campaigns and become more comfortable in their own electoral skin, the more they learn to express themselves even in the smallest details of their actions. One need only look at Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois and luck of the draw convention speaker, to see not just how the presidency morphed around his ideals, but how he morphed around the presidency. Although he arguably never quite returned to the sweeping ideals and political platitudes set forth on that 2004 Boston stage, the characteristics of that same man are still present in the president we saw him become. A man of vision, a man of idealism, and a man who, more than anyone, uses his hands to gesticulate so carefully the emotions and hierarchies of our world. We saw it in 2004, we saw it in 2016, and we’ve seen it every year since. As the person grows, so do even the tiniest figments of mannerisms that define them.
But what does a candidate do when they can’t be everywhere at once? How do they contend with maximized impact amidst minimized presence? The answer, especially in an increasingly digital world, is logos. Logos allow a candidate’s omniscience to be pervasive, unavoidable, and memorable. Applying the ideas of microexpressions and grassroots dominance, let’s see what each candidate’s particular logo can tell us not just about their campaign, but about themselves.
Joe Biden: Like many criticisms of his campaign, Biden’s logo is centered, unengaging, and reminiscent of a different time. Having very little to say in the way of artistic expression, the Biden logo instead relies on homage,
both to the Obama campaign through its use of the stripes reminiscent of Obama’s “O”, and in its blocky, inoffensive design, implying a one-time presence of normality and balance in our lifestyle that he argues we seek to return to. This idea is of course in stark contradiction with his slogan “Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead”, demonstrating not just a design idiosyncrasy, but perhaps an ideological one. As innocuous and mild as the candidate itself, Biden’s logo seems to have very little to offer the field.
Amy Klobuchar: Amy Klobuchar’s logo looks like one used by your mom to run for school board, and to some extent, that’s exactly the point. Where Biden’s logo is incidentally inoffensive, Amy Klobuchar’s is intentionally so. Presenting a calming presence with cool and inoffensive colors, as well as making use of the candidate’s disarming and
midwestern first name, the Minnesotan Senator’s logo posits a senator working for all parts of the country and using her grassroots background to do it. From a design perspective, the use of fonts is also noteworthy. The use of a blockier, more characterized font for the name is indicative of the Klobuchar’s more self-aware, humorous personality, and the blue, block style of America shows a capacity for balancing this lighthearted core with an ability to not take one’s eyes off the prize.
Pete Buttigieg: Pete Buttigieg’s logo is a lot like the candidate’s arguments about himself. Different, distinguished, contemporary, while also well-mannered and sophisticated. Like Klobuchar, the use of the first name is meant to disarm, to create reliability. Pete, he’s just like us! And in this case, it works quite well, like Amy, the name is simple enough to be familiar while also not being familiar enough to be too simple. It represents the idea that even though we all know some person or another named Pete, this is the one who we should pay attention to. The use of color is also engaging. The candidate has been the only one to release a design toolkit, demonstrating their level of digital cognizance, and has not been afraid to shy away from more unique color schemes to draw attention away from the pack and towards the idea that the candidate is much the same; unabashed, different, unafraid. There’s something to be said for the cynicism of such choices and the emotional manipulation at play under the employment of such tactics, but at the end of the day, the logo is just fun to look at.
Joe Sestak: There’s absolutely no reason anyone should pick apart the Jenga tower of failures in the logo for Joe Sestak’s 2020 campaign, seeing as he effectively doesn’t have one, but nonetheless, it’s the nature of grotesque things that they cannot be avoided. Looking more like an ad for a radio program during the 1960’s broadcast boom than one for someone seeking to hold elected office, Sestak’s logo is practically indistinguishable from a title card that would show before any number of TV shows watched by characters on the show. In this respect, and maybe at a different time, the near universality of this logo’s application to a retro setting is perhaps worth discussing. Not in this one though. Its ugly, garish font, poor coloring, and insistence on showing a detailed globe of North and South America combine for a piece of graphic design that might come across as fascistic more than anything were it actually competent. It’s a relic of an older time, a fact it so clearly does not understand that it would be worth getting angry over if anything about Joe Sestak’s campaign invoked the desire to do anything at all.