It’s been called everything from a FedEx logo rip off, a confused hospital sign, a third-grade project made in MS Paint, and a big red arrow pointing strongly to the Right. At a time when a new logo unveiled by pretty much anyone can launch a social media maelstrom, it’s inevitable that Hillary Clinton’s Pentagram-designed presidential campaign logo has fueled a Twitter tirade that (IMHO) has already gone on way too long.
Aside from Twitter crazies, actual designers weighed in. Sol Sender, who led a team of designers in creating Obama’s successful campaign logo, gave the big blue H a resounding meh:
“It’s not a particularly galvanizing symbol. It doesn’t say a whole lot.”
But if there’s one designer whose opinion is so universally respected he can sketch a design in a taxi on the way to a client meeting and then watch it become the most famous slogan maybe ever, it’s Milton Glaser. So we asked him what he thinks about the onslaught of new presidential campaign logos from Hillary and the Republican hopefuls. Here’s what he said:
“As we all have witnessed, politics in America is divisive and mean-spirited. The mark itself seems strong, simple, and memorable. Whether it embodies the spirit of Hillary’s objectives is another story.
“The difficulty of such a mark is the requirement to be ambiguous in order to avoid alienating any part of your audience. In any case, as usual in communication, the relationship of the familiar to the novel is significant.
Too much novelty results in confusion and indifference. Too much familiarity yields banality and indifference. The question of whether we must use stars, stripes, Statues of Liberty, torches, or rising suns as required symbols in a presidential identity becomes central to the problem.
“In this case, we have an ‘H’ for Hillary and an arrow for movement. Whether it also contains the twin towers or the suggestion that the arrow faces right seems irrelevant. The mark doesn’t seem to be a breakthrough in the history of trademark design, but it’s professional and competent compared to the previously revealed identities of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (see below).
“At another time, I wrote that most of design consists of creating affection for an event or a product. In regard to all of the logotypes developed so far, one can truthfully say that none of them has the potential to create affection. From that point of view, they all fail.
“One of the most interesting observations that can be made is the frequency of so-called patriotic imagery—stars, stripes, torches, the U.S. map—to assure potential voters that the candidate is, in fact, a loyal American. Can this repetition of what is already known actually be useful or necessary? We are in the United States of America, after all.
“Hillary’s mark avoids these references, perhaps because many of them have become associated with the Right. Rand Paul utilizes the torch, ostensibly from the Statue of Liberty, but doesn’t indicate whether it represents the candidate or the corporation. Ted Cruz inadvertently burns the flag. The new Marco Rubio logo replaces the modest star he originally employed with a map of the entire United States. Lincoln Chaffee fortunately has ‘Lincoln’ to work with, but adds a few stars and a literary framework. Ben Carson, making sure that everyone gets the point, links his name with America and the image of an eagle and the stars and stripes. No chance for misunderstanding here. Jill Stein purposely avoids any color or symbolic relationship to patriotism and introduces a theme of the sun and greenery, to some extent acknowledging that patriotic symbolism misrepresents her position. The Mark Everson logo uses the flag symbolism in a friendly, popular, informal display. Brian Russell employs the White House in a somewhat confusing arrangement of typography and image. Skip Andrews lacks any point of view and consequently evokes no response. Dale Christensen employs the red and blue, superimposes an incomprehensible scrawl over the squares, and creates a completely forgettable image.”