The new rules of political design


If there are any emerging design trends among the initial 2020 campaign logos, it’s the use of words over symbols, and the embrace of color outside of the traditional red, white, and blue. Gone are the patriotic single-letter presidential logos popularized over the past decade.

Julián Castro, for example, kicked off his campaign in his home city of San Antonio with a logo that emphasized the accent in his first name, rising like an airline tail mark and literally breaking outside of the box. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose past Senate campaigns used blues and teals, opted to frame her 2020 logo in pink, a color typically associated in politics with activism, from the gay rights movement to pussyhats. Spiritual author Marrianne Williamson also used pink.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of two millennial veteran candidates in the race, has a rising sun inside her name log, while the other, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used a logo with a star that recalls John McCain’s 2008 military-inspired logo.

In a crowded race without a definitive early frontrunner, 2020 logos so far seem directed at building name ID, their color schemes optimized to stand out against other campaign signs on the sides of roads in Des Moines or Manchester. They also look like a response to changing political design trends.

Most of today’s presidential branding has more in common with logos from 2018 candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beto O’Rourke, and Stacey Abrams than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. During the midterms, Democratic candidates used a rainbow’s worth of color, and many candidates chose name logos as opposed to letters or symbols. Interestingly, the only two candidates to use single-letter logos were the earliest to announce, former Rep. John Delaney and nonprofit founder Andrew Yang, who use D and Y logos, respectively. Both announced their campaigns in 2017, before the midterms.

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