Presidential Campaign Graphic Identities

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the logos and graphic identities of the two Presidential campaigns. The NY Times has even done a great info graphic showing exactly why the Bush campaign’s logo and bumper stickers are superior to the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

This issue was one that I fought for very hard at the Clark campaign. When I arrived in Little Rock shortly after Clark announced I was met with complete chaos and confusion. No one knew what was going on with the campaign identity, whether there was a final logo or who I needed to talk to to get graphics so I could redesign the web site. I saw an opening and asked my friend Aaron Draplin to whip up a few logos (Logo thumbnails: Set 1, Set 2), which I then narrowed down to one and started shopping it around the campaign headquarters for feedback. No one really cared so I started slipping the logo file to the local sign printer we’d hired and told him to not accept design files from anyone else. By default I had become the campaign’s Art Director and in charge of the corporate identity.

That was when someone higher up in the food chain at the Clark HQ decided that they weren’t going to let some punk kid be in charge of this because they had a friend in L.A. who ran a marketing firm and wanted to slip them a fat paycheck for building an identity. Despite the fact I had provided a professional campaign identity practically overnight — for free. I felt that the best way to deal with this power play was to ignore it and continued to order letterhead, business cards, yard sign and banners with the logo that I felt was more professional and more worthy of a national Presidential campaign. The last thing Donnie Fowler said to me the night he quit as our campaign director was, “Cam, good luck with that logo fight.”

Let’s take a look at the original logo:

The Original Clark Logo

Not bad, but certainly pretty boring and unimaginative. There’s no way this logo scales well to the size needed for business cards, bumper stickers and buttons. The “President 2004” text would get completely lost and the “” text would be unreadable. The font is too fine and the red line and yellow stars just add confusion. The four stars are symbolic of Wesley Clark’s 4-Star General status and a good addition, which was carried through to the identity I created for the Clark campaign’s web site and political propaganda materials.

Here is the final logo, both on white and on blue:

The Official Clark Logo on White

The Official Clark Logo on Blue

Note that the logo by itself does not have the web site URL and that the original logo said “New American Patriotism” instead of “For President” at the bottom of the logo. This came about because there were numerous reports from our Advance team and canvassers that when they talked to people often the response was “Clark who?”. Lots of Americans do not pay attention to the primary campaigns and mistook Clark as being a local candidate, which led us to modifying the campaign identity to clarify that Clark indeed was running “For President.”

One of the things I noticed about the Bush vs. Kerry bumper stickers in the NY Times graphic was that the Bush bumper sticker kept to the 9″x3″ size, which the printing industry uses as a standard. It is much cheaper to mass-produce bumper stickers when you use a standard size than when you go with a modified size, like the Kerry sample which appears to have been modified to include the “A Stronger America” campaign slogan. I’m not sure why the designer decided to do this rather than retool the entire identity to fit both “Edwards” and “A Stronger America” into the standard 9×3 space. The end result is that it looks clunky and unprofessional.

Look at how I treated the Clark04 logo for both our bumper stickers and buttons. Instead of cluttering up the space with an extra campaign slogan, I decided to reinforce the Clark04 mark and put down the URL. There were also versions of these bumper stickers produces that did not have the URL but instead said “For President”.

The Official Clark Logo on Blue

As the campaign progressed, the major affinity groups all wanted versions of the bumper stickers and buttons for their groups. I modified the original bumper sticker and came up with a good solution that not only indicated the affinity group, but also has a .com and the “For President” clarification.

The Official Clark Logo on Blue

And some button treatments:

Clar04 Buttons

Women For Clark Buttons

All Patriot, No Act

Handling the graphic identity of a national presidential campaign is a lot of work, and it’s something I was never hired to do at Clark. My official job was the blog strategist where I conceived and developed the Clark Community Network, a revolutionary idea that focused on the concept of participatory democracy and engaging the supporters/activists. But because I was the only person there who had a background as a graphic designer and understood the print process I was a natural choice within the confusion of a new campaign to handle these tasks.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at October 13, 2004 02:49 PM

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