Yesterday, Mitt Romney opened up the “Romney for President Exploratory Committee” website, and released his new logo:
Before I get into exactly what is terrible about this logo (number one: everything), allow me to digress for just a bit.
Obama’s 2008 campaign brought a whole new awareness in graphic design to political campaigns. Suddenly, graphic and web design firms were getting requests from candidates for “the Obama look.” Some of the imitation went just a bit too far.
The thing is, Obama’s campaign wasn’t successful graphically only because it was pretty. It was successful because every single element fed into the populist message of hope, change, and charisma. The subtle changes throughout the campaign, including that of the primary typeface, reflected change in message. I wrote a column in The Rice Thresher after the election talking about how important type was to both of the candidates. (The image links apparently broke after the Thresher’s recent site redesign, so use your imagination [or Google] for the visual aids.)
Candidates who try to recreate that Obama thunder by directly imitating it misunderstand why Obama’s campaign was so graphically successful. Candidates are beginning to understand that graphic design is important, but they still do not understand what goes in to making great design. Obama’s campaign hired VSA Partners, a Chicago-based branding firm that has worked with major corporations such as IBM, Allstate, and GE. They understand that an identity is not just a logo, but the entire projection of an entity. For the Obama campaign, they considered several different possibilities, evaluating each one on what kind of message it would project to the voting public.
Last week when I was in Houston my friend Dan pointed out another thing that made the 2008 Obama campaign so successful graphically — nearly all of the graphic elements were freely available for download from the campaign website. What this meant was that your next-door neighbor could host a campaign party and have decorations with official Obama campaign logos, rather than a banner with “Change We Can Believe In” set in Arial. The message would not be diluted.
Although the Obama campaign brought on a new awareness in the importance of graphic design, I have a feeling that it is ultimately going to lead to more terrible political design in the next few years than it is good, especially if this new Romney logo is any indication.
Let’s start with the type, shall we? At this point, Trajan has lost any and all association to the Roman Empire it may have once had. Having appeared on every movie poster ever, regardless of genre, it barely has any connotations of its own, almost as dull and personality-less as Helvetica. In addition, the designer decided to create a ligature between the E and the Y, but did not kern the rest of the name accordingly. It’s arbitrary and unnecessary.
The mark at least looks like an R, although I’m not sure that it would identify as such without the context of the rest of the name. I’m guessing that the mark is meant to resemble some sort of banner or flag, but it’s already been pointed out that it bears more of a strong resemblance to a certain tri-toned toothpaste’s logo:
To top things off, the tip of the R crashes into the slogan. The Romney campaign gets an A for effort, but a D for execution. Or an F, since the Circus doesn’t give Ds.