Branding the Man: Presidential Campaign Logos that Changed American History
Can custom logo design have an effect on a nation’s history? In the case of presidential elections, absolutely! While no logo can singlehandedly get someone elected, it can provide a springboard to success. These campaign graphics from the last ten presidential races were used to express their candidates’ ideals and intentions.
1. Obama 2008 Logo Design
Because Barack Obama’s winning campaign slogan was ‘Yes We Can’, it is only appropriate that he have a custom logo design using the most inclusive shape: the circle. This circle is all the more appropriate as it is also the first letter of Obama’s last name. It appears that the stripes leading into the ‘O’ are a road, giving the impression that Obama wants to lead us into his vision of the future. In all, millions of people felt included in Obama’s audacious hope, enough at least to help him succeed in his bid for the Oval Office. I had written about brands exploiting Obama logo and a clever play on the Obama logo in the past.
2. Bush 2000/2004 Logo Design
The custom logo design for both campaigns featured a deep, military-style blue that represents one of the platforms of this administration: military strength and particularly the continuation of the war in Iraq. The flag appears to be unfurled on a breezy day, and it is moving toward the viewer rather than away, giving it a sense of forward movement. The font of the names is both bold and readable, making Bush-Cheney a winning campaign logo in two separate elections.
3. Clinton 1996 Logo Design
Clinton’s campaign uses the familiar red and blue of the American flag, but in the deeper tones that were popular during the nineties. The bold, news-like font gives a hard line to this well known softie while the lack of an actual logo puts the emphasis on the two names. While this custom logo design does not express much about the candidate’s beliefs, it was nonetheless very successful in inspiring the American people to overlook the scandals that were plaguing the presidency at the time.
4. Clinton 1992 Logo Design
Clinton’s first bid for president used simply the words, ‘Clinton for President’. The familiar red, white, and blue color palette was utilized, but in brighter versions with the colors on a white background. The red wave underneath the wording gives the feeling of both movement and flexibility, making people feel that this is a president who will make changes and move the country in a progressive direction.
5. Bush 1988 Logo Design
Bush was generally perceived as a smaller, quieter man throughout his tenure as vice president, so he needed a custom logo design for his campaign that would make him seem bold enough to stand on his own. The use of a bold, thick font with serifs is perfect for this purpose. The bold red lines above and below the candidates’ names add more emphasis, while the familiar patriotic color scheme appears to be the golden standard in modern presidential bids.
6. Reagan 1984 Logo Design
Reagan was trying to usher in a new era, so brighter versions of the familiar patriotic palette were used. The white background suggests a purity and innocence not normally associated with politicians, furthering Reagan’s assertion that he was different from the average politician. However, a very traditional font with serifs was used to make sure everyone understood that Reagan was essentially a traditional guy. In the end, this rather lackluster custom logo design appealed to a huge majority of the nation.
7. Reagan 1980 Logo Design
In 1980, Reagan chose to cultivate a bold, patriotic image with his custom logo design. The block sans-serif lettering stands out against the white background. The flag is sandwiched between the two candidates’ names, lending the rectangle’s traditional, business-like image to this campaign. Reagan wanted to look strong and traditional image that would contrast with his predecessor’s softer, more progressive nature. This was a bold design to go with a bold campaign, but both were successful.
8. Carter 1976 Logo Design
Jimmy Carter was trying to run as a new type of candidate, and the custom logo design for his campaign shows this. Rather than go with bold lettering in a patriotic color scheme, Carter’s campaign used green, a calming, earthy color that was a good choice for this man’s personality. Instead of a graphic, a black and white picture was used. People who voted for Carter did so because they saw him as different from the average politician, an image that his campaign logo reinforced.
9. Nixon 1972 Logo Design
Nixon did not have a single custom logo design for his campaign, but the most common stickers and pins supporting his campaign featured the words ‘Nixon Now’ in block letters with no serifs. The familiar red, white, and blue color scheme was used, as was the inclusive circular shape. In all, the impression was that this was a person who was one of us, a patriot. The word ‘now’ made people feel that their help was urgently needed, which probably drove supporters to turn out at the polls in high numbers. Nixon may not have lived up to these high expectations, but there is no doubt that his campaign was a marketing masterpiece.
10. Nixon 1968 Logo Design
This campaign was also for Richard Nixon, but it used a very different custom logo design. Instead of the urgent ‘Nixon Now’, the design features a black and white photograph of Nixon along with the words ‘Nixon’s the One’ in red capital letters. It’s possible that this use of a photograph was necessary to get Nixon’s image out in the public eye, as he had not yet been president. The red letters provide a nice contrast to the photo, and likely stood out against the primarily black and white media of the late sixties.
As you can see, there are many similarities between the successful campaign logos of the past thirty years. There is very little variation in color palettes and in the symbols used to inspire the confidence of the American people. However, these similarities make the differences between the men and their messages all the more significant.