The Democratic Field is a Graphic Design Catastrophe
Living in a world dominated by the likes of Instagram influencers and Twitter roasting, we're accustomed to seeing beautiful things. It's almost impossible to enter a space and see such a high concentration of unaesthetic and ugly. Yet, if you're a fan of adjoining lines, complementary colors, or appropriately-kerned fonts, take this as your official trigger warning. You might have thought that the vagina-themed Ted Cruz logo, basketball-jersey Rick Perry logo, map-for-a-dot Marco Rubio logo, and the disembodied-torch Rand Paul logo that headlined the 2016 Republican class were the worst you'd ever seen. You'd have assumed that the Trump-Pence penetration logo that lasted all of five minutes was as low as we could go. And… you'd be right. This go-around is nowhere as bad as those, but still, we are in the end times.
A quick palette cleanser before we start – Hillary Clinton. Remember her? More importantly, remember her logo? The unwieldy, off-balance, and mis-colored one? It's the epitome of everything you could do wrong with graphic design. The arrowhead destroys the symmetry, making it feel like the 'H' is about to tip over to the right. The colors don't naturally go together, which could have been remedied with some whitespace for separation, or to just use shades of blue. Or, you could make the arrow entirely white, and make the top half of the 'H' blue and the bottom half red. While the reliance on the 'H' might have been to highlight her as the first female nominee, maybe the last name could have somehow been incorporated because 'Clinton' is a very famous name too. It's still an improvement over her 2008 attempt, where she apparently decapitated a flag and draped it over her name as a symbol of victory.
Anyway, on to 2020. Prepare yourself to bear witness to the disturbing pool of graphics that currently litter the Democratic presidential field.
Uncle Joe's logo is, like the candidate it represents, one of the frontrunners in the field. The flaglike 'E' isn't intrusive and flows naturally into the type, but has differing overall results in each design. In 'Joe', the flag almost looks like skid marks, like the 'Jo' is trying to escape the badge entirely, whereas the 'N' in Biden fixes the entire name in place. The dichotomy in geometry is clever, with 'Biden' going rectangular while 'Joe' uses O/0 to go circular. The light blue background brings out both primary colors, but doesn't excuse the fact that it says 'Biden President' instead of 'Biden for President' (maybe it's a psychological trick), or that the '2020' isn't properly spaced across 'Joe'. At least align the 0 with the O!
Elizabeth Warren probably thinks that all you really need to know to vote for her is that her name is Elizabeth fucking Warren, and her logo echoes that sentiment. The actual type is striking, and the Statue of Liberty background color is a refreshing change, but it's a waste when her slogan "I've got a plan for that" could have been incorporated to give some more substance. And the line extending beyond the edge of her name is just lazy.
There was destined to be someone who tried to design a logo through PowerPoint, and Cory takes the cake here. The iterations with a white '2020' are less offensive to the eyes, but having white, black, red, *and* blue in such a compact, claustrophobic space is uncomfortable. It looks like the label on the inside collar of your t-shirt, the one that you always cut out because it's so damn itchy. In a post-shape design world (especially one that has evolved from rectangles to rounded corners), this is truly an atrocity. It's sad that Tim Ryan, someone who is perhaps a tenth as popular as Booker (and didn't even get his own paragraph here), has a similar logo that is somehow also way better.
There are a number of things that are instantaneously annoying about Klobuchar's logo, from the three different fonts for three different words, to the random italicization, to the fact that the 'for America' tagline is unnecessarily overused (actually-a-real-candidate Wayne Messam used the same thing with the same annoying italics). But then you look at what it could have been, and the soft blue-green balance, and it's passable.
Beto has already undergone a campaign relaunch after Buttigieg supplanted him as the upstart middle-aged charming white-guy media darling, but his logo has unfortunately stayed the same – not only from his initial announcement, but his failed 2016 Senate campaign. While it's an elegant display (the all-black, triple line and tall letters all contributing), the dark overtone isn't truly reflective of his fuzzy personality. This is our third 'for America' so far, which is evidence of how impersonal and generic it is as a catchphrase. If you have some text in your logo that any candidate could have put on theirs for the same effect, it's probably not worth including at all.
The accent here is a beautiful touch, just the kind of subtle thing that makes a statement but doesn't overpower. What does overpower is the 'Julian' relative to the 'Castro' – most candidates opt for one name over the other, but including both is fine as long as it feels like they're on even footing. The background is a little dark, and might have benefited from inverting the baby blue and the navy blue to really make the accent pop.
Inslee's logo is garish and haphazardly assembled, with the feeling that none of the parts really belong there. The crucial thing with logo design is to ask 'why', why are you including something and putting it where it is? The type is passable, with the flares at the top of the letters giving an illusion of forwardness or progress, but the red underline is out-of-place and unnecessary. The gradient dome is bad because it's a gradient (which we left behind in 2000), and though it's likely an emphasis of his self-proclaimed stance as the climate change candidate, the dome doesn't look at all like a globe. 'Our Moment' is vaguely aspirational, but doesn't relate to his one issue, and the period at the end stalls any forward momentum the logo might have had.
Eric Swalwell is about as basic of a candidate as you can get, and his logo does nothing to change that. The stripes almost seem like a sort of filler, as if he didn't really know what to do with all that space because he… doesn't really have anything to say. He didn't even bother to put in the effort to somehow stylize the 'E' in his name with the flag like Biden did, which is doubly dumb because he has E's in his first and last names. His slogan, which is included on his buttons, is "Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good." Putting aside that it sounds like an excerpt from the Boy Scout Oath, it seems like he had three ideas he wanted to go for and couldn't decide on one. Even settling on two and omitting the clunky periods would be a huge improvement.
Like Williamson, Hickenlooper suffers from the curse of the long last name, and (perhaps worse) from the curse of the vanilla first name. 'John' is not inspiring unless your last name is 'Kennedy'. And there's no abbreviation to be had – both 'Hick' and 'Looper' do not evoke any positive connotations. While the mountains are a nice homage to Colorado, that's all they are. It doesn't really scream *united* states. The striped patterning of the mountains could have benefited from a red touch to model the American flag's red and white stripes, or something.
Bernie's logo is indicative of his age, in that this design should have been left back in the sixties. He didn't bother changing it up from 2016, because it worked out so well the first time. He stubbornly sticks to a Roman typeface, even though Serif would undoubtedly look better with the arcs. The star on the 'i' is incredibly undersized, the intersection of the 'rni' with the arcs is clunky, and the world has moved on to straight lines anyway. And Bernie has an iconic logo available to him even if he doesn't know it – not his crazy hair or his glasses, but the dove that came and sat on his podium while he was at a campaign rally. Do something with a bird, Bernie! It could be the Bernie Birdie!
Mayor Pete succeeds where several candidates have not – using the surprising recognition he has gained with his fairly common first name (unlike Hickenlooper), and eliminating his long last name instead of featuring it in smaller type (unlike Castro). Having only four letters, each with approximately the same width, makes the overall look extremely symmetric, as the name is nicely accented with the '20's to the side. It does give off an impression of a men's hair-care product (looking at you, dollar shave club), but that's probably the correct aesthetic for the approachable Buttigieg. While the muted colors work well, he's released the logo in a variety of colors, proving that it's adaptable to any look.
The reason that Harris' logo is disappointing is because she has one of the best slogans in recent memory (evocative of a prosecutor's opening line at trial) and pisses it away. It doesn't really come together as a logo, looking more like an auto-generated word cloud or the opening title of a sitcom. The yellow background is certainly a fresh choice and shows up nicely in the background of a speech, and is much better than the inverted yellow-text choice.
Everything about this is strange, from the overlapping text, to the cutoff of the 'R' and the 'A', and the placement of 2020 at the top. Everyone knows it's 2020, Kirsten. It might be best to lead with your name. It's definitely more of a standout than her old, boilerplate logo, but superimposition just makes it hard to read. If you're going to take that route, go all the way, and make the '2020' huge and half-opaque right behind the name.
Yang's use of the flag is probably the most polarizing choice in the entire field. It looks somewhat worse in the blue version since the stripes become red-and-blue instead of red-and-white, but the 3D effect is jarring on an otherwise flat logo (akin to fellow candidate John Delaney's patriotic laser beams). The font choice is a poor one exclusively for the rendering of the letter 'g', which is an ugly-looking letter incongruous with how it's written by hand. The red also shows poorly on the blue background, though the 'humanity first' is a good summary of his automation-related corner.
I'm not quite sure what Tulsi is going for here – the curved typeface is promising, but the effect is ruined by having the '2020' underneath. Ideally, the curve should come at the very bottom of the logo to give a sense of closure, but if you follow the path of the curve, it rams right into the numbers. If she wanted to commit to it, she could have had her name in a V-like formation, since both 'U' and 'S' have curved corners by default, giving a more circular effect. Perhaps she could have taken a page from fellow losing Dem Michael Bennet's playbook. A lost opportunity, just like her campaign. In some iterations, there's a strange red-to-blue gradient that is probably intended to be evocative of a sunrise, but looks like the heat signature from a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Moulton takes the tired star concept and breaks it up to emphasize an arrow pointing upward and onward, a trick which does earn points for novelty. While Moulton has branded himself as the national security candidate, he doesn't make the Inslee-esque mistake of trying to jam his single issue into his logo. But he a couple of others – going from lowercase to uppercase, a very strange tall-ass font, and an overall portrait layout instead of the typical landscape. The two-tone blue with a light red is, however, the best color scheme this side of Kamala.
Marianne Williamson isn't even in the Swalwell-Inslee tier where people kind of know who she is, she's in the tier below where people are unsure of whether that's a real name. She probably feels some kind of pressure or need to stand out, but… this ain't it. Despite the cleanliness, it looks more like a banner for a cupcake shop than a presidential run. While 'Marianne' is more memorable than 'Williamson', there has to be something more than just your name, which might be problematic because both her first and last names are quite long.
Everything is fugly about this dumpster fire of a logo, from the weird pastel blue / moss green color scheme to the weight imbalance of the name vs. the year, to the awkward placement of the website that for some reason uses capital letters. It looks like a horizon where the bottom is grass and the top is sky, and de Blasio is a behemoth that threatens to swallow everything in sight (which makes sense, because he is freakishly tall). It feels rushed and ill-conceived, like the thought of de Blasio becoming president.