Hillary Clinton has officially launched her 2016 presidential campaign. Along with the announcement came a campaign video, website and logo. The logo is being used on her website and social media channels.
Rightly so, the design of the logo quickly unleashed the wrath of the Twitterverse. Let me begin by acknowledging that logo design is difficult. To be effective, logos must be simple, meaningful and memorable. And they must properly integrate the three elements of logo design: color, form and typography. Most important, a logo must visually depict the mission and values of the entity it represents. Finally, the market is oversaturated with logos, so it is increasingly challenging to design a unique logo.
A design analysis of the logo, looking at color, form and typography:
Color. It is not surprising that the logo uses red and blue. Most political communication logos use some variety of red, white and blue to denote patriotism. But the use of this particular red and blue is problematic. The two chosen hues are both bright, which causes a visual blur at their intersections and creates a purple effect. In addition, when you use two colors, it is generally effective to select one color as the dominant color, with the other color as an accent. But this red and blue are used in almost equal proportions, which creates a visual conflict. The logo would benefit from slightly different shades of red and blue and from one color used as dominant and the other color as an accent.
Form. Form refers to the shapes that are used to create a logo (or the shapes that emerge as “hidden” in a logo). The most effective use of form is generally the simplest (think Nike and Target). Yes, the forms in the Clinton logo are simple; but they are almost too simple, too childlike. The arrow in the logo is like a visual slap in the face; there is nothing left for the audience to interpret. In addition, the forms are incredibly blocky, thus visually “heavy.” The weights are all the same, which also creates visual conflict. The logo would benefit from some subtly in the forms and from some variety in the weight of the forms.
Typography. Most logos integrate some typographical elements. This is especially important in a political communication logo. The candidate’s name is the brand. In this logo, the rectangles and arrow create the “H,” which had the potential to be effective. But the space between the vertical “stems” of the H is too wide. And as previously discussed, the forms are so blocky and dominant that the “H” itself is almost overlooked. It is especially problematic in this case because without context, most audiences would have no idea what (or whom) the logo represented. The logo would benefit from a typeface with a varied weight and from the use of her entire name. The campaign has been promoted with “Ready for Hillary.” Hillary is the household name. H is not.
The Clinton logo fails on all three design elements. And it fails in the totality of its design. Moreover, the logo is not unique. It is too closely related to well known logos, such as the FedEx logo, which is far superior from a design perspective.
While the design elements of a logo are vital, what is equally vital is the meaning behind the logo. A good logo must visually depict the mission and values of the entity it represents. On first glace at the Clinton logo, the message is clear. Hillary Clinton is forward thinking. She is the future. But symbolism and unintended meanings must also be considered. And in the social media age, these interpretations will not be overlooked. A deeper investigation of the Clinton logo reveals problematic messages. Why does the arrow point to the right, the “side” designated for the conservative party? There are also hidden and mysterious arrows that are formed from the negative space at the top and bottom of the “H.” Most problematic, the forms of the Clinton logo are hauntingly emblematic of 9/11 and the airplanes striking the twin towers.
Certainly, there are those people who would dislike anything related to the Clinton campaign simply because they do not approve of the candidate. But in this case, the logo is highly problematic and deserving of critique. Without question, it is a design fail and not what we expected from a campaign that is projected to cost two billion dollars. Now we wait and see how the Clinton campaign responds.
Included below are a few choice tweets about the Clinton logo.
Logo and header image courtesy of https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton