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Politics by Design: The Art of Political Logos
Excerpt: "Whether it’s the Superbowl, World Cup or World Series, sports fans never have to wonder who’s who on the field. Not with their team’s colors and carefully crafted logo plastered all over the stadium.
But the big game isn’t the only place where logos are visually dominant. In politics, campaign logos are one of the most recognizable visuals of an election bid, second only to photographs of the candidate.
'Ultimately, a logo’s job is to build remembrance,' designer Sky Hartman told CNN in 2015. 'If you can design a concept that sticks in people’s minds, you’ve been successful.'
Political logos, though, have only really emerged as major visual campaign tools in recent decades.
Most candidates nowadays typically tap the skills of high-end design firms, hoping the branding magic that have helped make MasterCard and McDonald’s instantly recognizable will rub off on them as well. The result is usually a red-white-and-blue version of a candidate’s name — or more likely one of their initials — that tries to establish a recognizable brand by packing the essence of their candidacy in a succinct visual statement.
Logo design 101Because a logo is a single image with just a few design elements, every artistic choice counts. Mark Winn, a Bay Area painter and designer, starts his logo design process with a written list of characteristics that he’s trying to capture. He then begins experimenting with multiple versions of a single image.
Like Winn’s personal logos, most political logos draw from a menu of colors, typefaces and graphic flourishes to convey something distinctive about a candidate or campaign message. With such a small canvas to work with, the slightest adjustment can pack a visual punch or even define the conversation.
In his 2016 presidential bid, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) used a logo that was praised for its italic slant, meant to evoke action and momentum (although not enough to win him the nomination). In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s logo took his last name, which sounded foreign to many Americans, and transformed it into a symbol reminiscent of a rising sun, a symbol intended to convey a message of hope and change."