The official redesign of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign logo in 2016 was designed using a flexible logo strategy by Michael Bierut, Pentagram. Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump in the 2016 USA Presidential elections, in which she lost. I am interested in how the role of the brand identity, particularly the use of the flexible logo, influenced the public’s support and interaction with her visual campaign.
Initial reactions were largely negative “I think the Hillary logo is really saying nothing” (Samuelsohn and Fossett, 2015). Many considered the message “all wrong” referring to the republican red and arrow directed to the right, seeming to suggest a political shift to the right. (Merelli, 2015) However, the logo makes use of the red, white and blue colours enabling it to appear patriotic to evoke feelings of pride to gain support from the American public.
Others recognised its effectiveness for use on social media because of its ability to be flexible. Richard Westendorf, creative director at Landor Associates described the logo as “extremely progressive and modern” (Larson, 2015), showing appreciation for its originality to past Presidential logos. Debbie Millman, chair of the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York said “It flies in the face of everything we’ve come to expect of a campaign logo: there are no stars, no stripes, no rolling plains”. (Larson, 2015) Hillary’s new logo seemed to be giving more exposure to the new logo strategy, making use of her digital platform and setting an example of possible changes to logo design strategy in the future. As the logo differed greatly from past Presidential logos and appeared to be controversial, this would have allowed the logo to be exposed to a greater audience due to it being talked about for its originality. Therefore, this could have led to more people taking notice of Hillary as a candidate. In terms of design, it would have been a good platform to display the use of a flexible logo and show people the potential future of logo design.
The logo was restyled and contextualised to fit ideas and themes, allowing particular issues to be brought to the forefront. The logo was able to be used as a “framework” (Limited, 2016) to address particular political issues, such as gay pride which uses the public’s pre-existing knowledge to contextualise and start a conversation. Using these differing images within the logo in a number of different occasions would allow the outline logo to be remembered and become associated with Hillary. Its simplicity allows it to be quickly recognised and as it makes use of a contemporary approach to logo design, this would therefore enable it seem modern and current.
Kreiss stated that “What we’re seeing is a shift toward political attention being driven by social sharing processes … I think the Clinton campaign is very clearly aware of these new dynamics and has worked very hard to be on many different platforms.” (Ruiz, 2016) Today, much of the communication is distributed on digital formats which allows fast output with the ability to keep up with current issues. Having the different iterations of the logo would have been acceptable because of the ability to place the versions in front of the target audience. As the designs were able to be placed in the shape the same way, could therefore be produced and shared quickly.
The 2008 logo highlights how design is changing how audiences interact with political campaigns and how users take on more responsibility in their supporting role by commenting their opinions. This exemplifies the growing importance and influence of our digital culture and particularly social media habits.
Most recently, with the development of new channels such as the Internet, strategies to logo design have changed. Many brands now recognise the importance of flexibility in a visual identity. (Felsing, 2009 p.17) “We need flexibility for the human ability to adapt to changing situations.” When variation is applied to logo design, the constant aspects that remain the same are what makes the identity recognisable despite adding variable features such as change in colour, typography etc. (Felsing, 2009 p.223) “Fully developed flexible visual identities can react not only to the changing contents of an organization, but also its context.” This allows brands to easily change their message to keep up with current events happening in the world and form talking points relevant to that day to encourage users to interact, particularly focusing on their target audience or purpose. An example of this are the Google Doodles which change daily.
The way that society interacts with brands has evolved due to the accessibility and widespread use of digital media. Consumers now have a role in a brand to act as supporters who can review brands for friends and followers to see online. The ideals that are attached to the logo could help to personalise/ humanise the brand and encourage people to become loyal. In terms of the logo use, it allows interaction for customisation, for example, the Hillary Clinton avatar generator for her 2016 Presidential Campaign shown above. As a flexible logo it seems to produce a strong message to unite people in a positive way, thus benefiting both the user, to make them feel listened to, as well as helping to gain reputation for the potential political leader.
Felsing, U. (2009) Dynamic identities in cultural and public context, volume 1. Baden, Switzerland, Switzerland: Lars Muller Publishers
Limited, H.S. (2016) Clinton 2016: The logo design. Available at: http://www.hellostarling.com/clinton-2016-the-logo-design/
Merelli, A. (2015) It’s official: Hillary Clinton’s logo is actually perfect. Available at: https://qz.com/423037/its-official-hillary-clintons-logo-is-actually-perfect/
Ruiz, R. (2016) How the Clinton campaign is slaying social media. Available at: http://mashable.com/2016/07/25/inside-social-media-hillary-clinton/#qSb4FPfZvqqc
Samuelsohn, D. and Fossett, K. (2015) Design experts trash Hillary’s new logo. Available at: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/design-experts-trash-hillary-clintons-new-logo-117100