- With each 2020 presidential candidate’s campaign announcement comes a logo and accompanying branding for their campaign, including fundraising websites, advertising, and social-media posts.
- We asked four graphic-design and branding experts to rate the logos of the 2020 presidential candidates on a scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is the worst, 5.5 is just ok, and 10 is excellent.
- Our panel of judges were not generally impressed by the logos thus far.
- Writer, designer, and podcast host Debbie Millman called Andrew Yang‘s logo “an abomination.”
- Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, and former Vice President Joe Biden got the most positive feedback out of the 16 logos that were reviewed.
With the 2020 election in full swing, presidential candidates have unveiled their (sometimes) shiny new logos.
Branding has always played a huge role in politics, but it is especially important in the digital age, when people’s first interactions with a candidate are often through their website or social-media presence. If a candidate’s logo, slogans, colours, and messaging don’t stand out in an already crowded race, it can greatly influence how far they make it and how much name recognition they gain.
In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama’s iconic “O” became the symbol his campaign ran on. This created a shift in how candidates treated their branding, which was reflected in future campaigns. In 2016, Hillary Clinton attempted to replicate this effect with an “H” that incorporated an arrow across the letter.
We saw the influence of having a unique colour pallete during the 2018 midterm elections, when freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history as the youngest woman elected to Congress. She stood out from her longtime-incumbent opponent by highlighting her heritage and youthfulness with a bright yellow and purple colour pallete for her logo and posters.
Now other candidates are attempting to replicate her success. Sen. Kamala Harris, Marianne Williamson, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are all experimenting with colour in their 2020 campaigns. But colour is only part of the battle when it comes to branding. There are many other elements, including typeface, layout, and slogan choice that can ultimately make or break a logo.
We asked four graphic-design and branding experts to rate the 2020 campaign logos on a scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is the worst, 5.5 is just ok, and 10 is excellent. Our panel of judges consisted of:
- Steven Heller: Author, coauthor, and editor of more than 100 books on design and popular culture, and the cofounder and cochair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts.
- Ellen Lupton: Curator at Cooper Hewitt and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art.
- Dan Formosa: Design consultant, writer, and cofounder of the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts.
- Debbie Millman: Writer, designer, cofounder of the Masters in BrandingProgram at the School of Visual Arts, and host of the Design Matters podcast.
The following ranking of logos is based on the average score each one received from our panel.
16. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Average score: 2/10
Heller: 2/10 – “Poor type choice.”
Lupton: 3/10 – “Whose moment? The candidate’s? The Democrats’? Who is this candidate? Who are the Democrats?”
Formosa: 3/10 – “More of a corporate logo than a personal logo, with a message ‘Our moment’ that says little.”
Millman: 0/10 – No comment given.
15. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Average score: 2.4/10
Heller: 4.5/10 – “Conventional, but using the flag in a somewhat clever fashion.”
Lupton: 3/10 – “The flag cliché is really struggling here.”
Formosa: 2/10 – “Not much to say about this red, white, and blue logo other than it looks like it’s coming from someone running for mayor of a small town. It’s not communicating anything beyond that to convince you he’s the guy you want.”
Millman: 0/10 – “An abomination.”
Read more about Yang’s campaign here.
14. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
Average score: 2.7/10
Heller: 4/10 – “Why not go OBAMA all the way and just use the D with the red, white and blue highway?”
Lupton: 4/10 – “An interstate highway heading to the future? No thanks. I’ll walk.”
Formosa: 2/10 – “For whatever positive qualities you would hope to see embodied in a presidential candidate, I can safely say that none of them are being communicated here.”
Millman: 1/10 – No comment given.
13. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Average score: 3.7/10
Heller: 6/10 – “This has simplicity and grit. The lower case type is fine, but it really does not project presidential, more like Amy for congress.”
Lupton: 5/10 – “It looks like she is running for president of her high school class.”
Formosa: 3/10 – “A green ‘Amy’ and the logo’s typeface sends a message of friendliness – but not necessarily confidence in electing her as president of the United States. Friendly and approachable are good qualities, but they aren’t everything. And ‘for America’ as a slogan? Not very catchy – I would hope all the candidates are.”
Millman: 1/10 – “The colour palette will wreak havoc on colour-blind people.”
Read more about Klobuchar’s campaign here.
12. Motivational speaker and author Marianne Williamson
Average score: 4.1/10
Heller: 6.5/10 – “I have no idea who she is. Its pretty yet does not imply ‘power’ it plays off the pussy-hat movement. Too rarified. But soothing to the eyes.”
Lupton: 6/10 – “Too girly.”
Formosa: 1/10 – “This logo, with text saying ‘Marianne 2020’ isn’t conveying a lot of confidence. Pink can be a powerful colour. It’s not very powerful here.”
Millman: 3/10 – “Not a presidential logo, but points for pink.”
Read more about Williamson’s campaign here.
11. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Average score: 4.5/10
Heller: 3/10 – “Mixed response. It is stark. Red is strong. But it says nothing. It could be a artisanal beer.”
Lupton: 9/10 – “Wonderful letter-forms – bold and warm. The typeface makes the name visually memorable.”
Formosa: 3/10 – “Especially at this stage in the election … with [so many] Democratic candidates in contention, there is not enough being expressed in this logo to attract interest or graphically reflect anything about her views or personality. And I can’t get over the fact that it looks like a logo for a power tool company.”
Millman: 3/10 – No comment given.
Read more about Gabbard’s campaign here.
7. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
Average score: 4.5/10
Heller: 6/10 – “The accent mark is a nice touch. It suggest ethnicity. Nonetheless, I’m not crazy about the Castro element being so diminutive.”
Lupton: 7/10 – “Matching up the accent on the Á with the blue 2020 creates a fresh rhythm.”
Formosa: 4/10 – “Not hitting the mark on differentiation, impact or trust. And the size difference between his large first name and tiny last name is puzzling.”
Millman: 1/10 – No comment given.
Read more about Castro’s campaign here.
8. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Average score: 4.6/10
Heller: 7.5/10 – “This is fine, but the mountains suggest his origins not the nation as a whole. It works better as a logo for candidate for governor.”
Lupton: 6/10 – “The mountain metaphor overwhelms the candidate’s name.”
Formosa: 4/10 – “The mountain symbols on a light blue background are fine if he wants to be president of Colorado, which in a sense he already is. But it doesn’t have the universal impact that it should, receiving low scores on impact and trust.”
Millman: 1/10 – No comment given.
Read more about Hickenlooper’s campaign here.
11. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Average score: 5.5/10
Heller: 6/10 – “The new logo as slightly more personality. The type “Pete” seems like custom lettering (a little awkward). But the “label” reminds me of Wrangler jeans.”
Lupton: 9/10 – “Eliminating Pete’s confounding last name is a smart move. The curvy frame is sporty and approachable, and it’s a clever separate the two 20s and unleash the symmetry.”
Formosa: 6/10 – “Pete’s new logo will look great on a football team’s sweatshirt. The darkened aged white look, rather than pure white, as well as the athletic look, seems to be an attempt to draw attention away from his age and sexual orientation – neither of which should require any drawing away. But maybe I’m being too idealistic, both could be a factor in reality.”
Millman: 1/10 – “The old one was better.”
Read more about Buttigieg’s campaign here.
7. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Average score: 5.5/10
Heller: 4.5/10 – “Old school, reminiscent of last campaign and not necessarily his own campaign.”
Lupton: 8/10 – “Bernie is a brand. He can get away with using just his first name. The wavy gravy stripes and stars are superfluous.”
Formosa: 7/10 – “Appropriate for Bernie, traditional red, white and blue with a 1970’s vibe. Difficult to rate this one, because it seems so appropriate.”
Millman: 2.5/10 – “Derivative of Obama’s in all the worst, laziest ways.”
Read more about Sander’s campaign here.
6. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Average score: 5.7/10
Heller: 3/10 – “Wish it weren’t so wishy-washy. Fails to make any statement of either change or status quo. Bland.”
Lupton: 8/10 – “Strong lettering with an American wood-type feel.”
Formosa: 8/10 – “Simply ‘WARREN’ in all caps and underlined, on a mint green background, creates an instantly noticeable departure from the typical red, white and blue. Risky perhaps for traditionalists, but that may exactly be the point intended. True to her brand, it infers independent thinking.”
Millman: 4/10 – “Kind of barren.”
Read more about Warren’s campaign here.
5. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Average score: 6.3/10
Heller: 9.5/10 – “To the point, vibrant, bold. I am mixed about the first name trope. I think BOOKER 2020 would work just as well if not better. Maybe the campaign should use both.”
Lupton: 7/10 – “Too much emphasis here on 2020. First-name-only logo feels smug.”
Formosa: 5/10 – “The logo is strong graphically, but rather generic.”
Millman: 4/10 – “As you would expect.”
Read more about Booker’s campaign here.
4. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Average score: 6.3/10
Heller: 8.5/10 – “Stark, no nonsense but lacks charm.”
Lupton: 9/10 – “Those crisp angular capitals are tall and handsome.”
Formosa: 5/10 – “Strong graphic, puts him on a first name basis, but the black background is ominous. ‘For America’ is a lost opportunity for saying something meaningful.”
Millman: 3/10 – “A missed opportunity for something more progressive.”
Read more about O’Rourke’s campaign here.
3. Former Vice President Joe Biden
Average score: 6.7/10
Heller: 9/10 – “While I’m not sure I want Biden to run, I’m happy to run with his logo, for now. It is a cleverish use of the E working well in both iterations “Biden” and “Joe.” In fact, the “Joe” is even more than clever, it plays of the Obama “O” and underscores the “working Joe” that has been the stalwart of Trump’s base.”
Lupton: 8/10 – “I’m loving the E turned into flag stripes. Memorable! The numerals in 2020 are weak. Switching the numbers to Helvetica would make this a winner.”
Formosa: 5/10 – “A very expected look, which doesn’t provide any indication that we would be in for an ongoing change from politics as usual over the last decade or two (present administration not included.) If, in light of the current division within the country, voters will be hoping this election presents an opportunity to rethink politics, it’s not stirring up a level of excitement that it could have reached.”
Millman: 5/10 – “The typography is strong and the circle device works (I especially love the 2’s in 2020) but the faux flag is just abominable.”
Read more about Biden’s campaign here.
1. California Sen. Kamala Harris
Average score: 7.1/10
Heller: 8.5/10 – “I like the typography and colour very much. This is the most refreshing of the group, but I don’t think it is a logo. It is a headline. She needs a complimentary logo.”
Lupton: 8/10 – “Great slogan. It’s brave to treat the slogan and the candidate’s name with the same scale and intensity. Colours are too Disney.”
Formosa: 5/10 – “Kudos for breaking away from the standard red, white and blue motif, but also risky based on the purple/red /yellow colours chosen.”
Millman: 7/10 – “The only decent logo here.”
Read more about Harris’ campaign here.
2. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Average score: 7.5/10
Heller: 7/10 – “It’s staring us in the face. Gilli-BRAND. She’s already a brand. But her new logo is just slight improvement. The new version does not play “Stars and Stripes Forever” or “Born in the USA.” I’d like her to show more fight. Its a calm and unoffensive. It will do for now.”
Lupton: 7/10 – “The layered text is muddled. I do like the broad, open font.”
Formosa: 7/10 – “The bold “2020” is more successful showcasing pink than Gillibrand’s previous logo displaying thin horizontal pink lines, which at glance appeared to be a more traditional red. The colour here much more effective. Style-wise it’s also a departure from the previous, somewhat military looking logo. While the all-caps typeface is strong but not unusual, the bold use of pink elicits a sense of strength and caring that’s missing in Washington.”
Millman: 9/10 – “NOW THAT’S A LOGO! Brava! My only suggestion would have been to put Gillibrand above the 2020 as that is much more important information.”
Read more about Gillibrand’s campaign here.
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