Logo Design Love

on logos and brand identity design

On the 2012 US election campaign logos

Steven Heller, Debbie Millman, and Alice Twemlow gave their thoughts on the 2012 US election campaign logos. Here’s a snippet from the post on SVA’s Visual Arts Briefs.

Rick Santorum logo

“What’s right with this logo, other than his political stance?”

“For a corporation, it would feel established and a bit stuffy. Seems as if there should be an image of the Bible on this page… If you’re going to make a site that looks like Tumblr, why not just create a Tumblr account?”

Nb/ Rick Santorum’s website.

“The further right you get, the less care seems to have been taken with the visual presentation of a candidate’s image. Like a graphic equivalent of his lamely monogrammed sweater vest, this logo looks as if it were created from an interchangeable selection of hackneyed devices that signal American values (eagle, red and blue, stars) in a DIY business card machine.”

Other 2012 campaign logos

Mitt Romney logo

Mitt Romney logo

Mitt Romney logo

Mitt Romney logo

Read what the trio had to say about the all the candidate logos.

Via Gayle Snible at SVA.

Related: Obama logo ideas that weren’t chosen.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

24 appreciated comments

  1. amyjenc1

    Of the 4 GOP ones shown, Rick’s Eagle Circle is the only one that has the potential to stand on its own as an icon much like the Obama’s O. Granted the font and type set up leave much to be desired. Maybe there should be fewer dots for legibility, but as marks go it’s not bad. It can be easily identified, applicable to a variety of media, artists who create posters have a lot to work with…oh hey…doesn’t that remind you of a certain O? It’s not a static bird image, it has movement.

    As far as campaign logos only Rick’s and Obama’s can follow through into a well crafted visual identity system. And hey, as far as Rick goes, what do you want from a guy whose campaign office is a P.O. Box? (Which I find rather funny.)

  2. My question is more basic: exactly how important is it for a politician to have a logo? Does a logo help us remember what they stand for more than their own name and visibility on media outlets?

  3. They certainly don’t mess about when it comes to colour schemes.

  4. steve

    What’s (not so) amazing is the liberal bias the critics show in their comments. I’m not sure I can take their criticisms without a grain of salt after reading them.

    For the record, I’m a bit of a centrist, so I’m not screaming liberal blood. I think the reviewers should leave their politics out of design critique and maybe they’ll have some true insight into these.

    I think Romney’s is ok except for some kerning issues and the highlight on the “R” symbol. And Newt’s is clean and I like the way the star device helps create a perceived symmetry between name and numbers. Santorum’s feels like a credit union logo and Ron Paul’s is uninteresting. See, that wasn’t so hard.

  5. One: they all look like brands of toothpaste.

    Two: Obama’s number twos look horrible (eeeewwwww).

    Three: why the heck hasn’t Obama commissioned a new Shepherd Fiarey portrait? That’d smear across the web like nobody’s business.

  6. Todd Sledzik

    Curious, Ad Week ran a story in the same format, also with Millman, called “The Blanding of America,” but that was back in November. I would encourage folks to check that out. I won’t post a link, but a search for “ad week + (above title)” will get you there. Being back in Nov., they covered a few more candidates that were still in the race at that time.

    The most telling line from that piece asked you to picture, in your mind, the Obama logo – then try to remember John McCain’s or Hillary’s logo (from 08). Good luck. Why does Obama’s “O” work? Take it from Millman who, “credits the president’s branding success to the oldest tricks in the ad book: simplicity and repetition.” Forget the metaphors, it’s original, striking and simple. That’s why it works. I don’t get the Romeny “R”, but at least it makes an attempt to do something original/memorable.

  7. I like the font on Santorum’s logo; it’s strong, classic and familiar. The only problem I have with it is that the dots around the eagle are too thin and faint, especially when compared to the large, bold font, which breaks up the continuous element.

  8. 5 perfect design solutions to one problem. Create a logo that the opposition can’t use as ammunition against you. Solution, make your logo the same as everyone else.

  9. steve kennedy

    Do I detect a little left wing bias in Heller & Twemlow’s critiques?

  10. Is Romney’s “R” a bad rip-off of the Romika shoes logo of the 70’s? http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTmrHlsx_yOc7QbjR9CxvhowYDn9ZY1L4whvmK2xRr1QnYvE0nxfeRMK6QK

  11. Sherie

    Would be nice if the critics could keep their political bias out of their critiques of the logos and focus on the logos themselves.

  12. Mce

    How has no one commented that the Santorum logo just says Sant Rum – is he making Rum now?

  13. Camille

    First, I would have to agree with several others who have commented: I would really appreciate NOT having to hear the reviewers’ political bias when they are supposedly offering their opinions on logo design. It’s quite unbecoming, to say the least.

    Second, while I don’t think candidate logos make much difference in the long run, people do notice them and appreciate the good ones (as they see it). It’s yet another way for candidates to connect with voters.

  14. People don’t elect a politician by what he will do or what he says, they vote, especially in the US, for the politician that feels the most presidential, the one that makes them the most comfortable.

    It’s not about the party or the politics it’s about the personality. In a fear driven society they have to make people feel secure, safe and unthreatened. That’s the main reason why these identites all look the same.

    Design, logo, identity etc should be based on truth. The logo’s wont make any difference because in reality there isn’t much difference between them all.

    Logo’s do make a difference. New Labours rose was an important part of the rebranding of Labour. Judge it as a logo and it wont win many accolades but judge it by the branding and it was hugely successful.

  15. Frank

    Dittoing jarhead’s comment – the Romney logo looks indeed to be quite the blatant rip-off of Romika’s “R” logo.


  16. John Spiegel

    Moe said it: Santorum’s says: “Sant Rum” because the weak “O” is so bad!

    Remember, a brand logo may catch your attention, but it’s the product’s consistent performance promises that make the sale. When the product lives up to the promises then it will be bought again!

  17. Alan Bennington

    Steve and Steve are correct in their observation about liberal bias. Would that the liberal ever admit it exists.

    These three stooges from SVA are a joke. It’s all conservative bashing and no logo critique. I attended the school several years after it opened and even at a much younger age I realized it was a viper pit.

    I find it particularly shameful for Heller to remark about not being able to take Newt’s name seriously. Every one of you remarking here should be offended that your mother may also have failed to name you correctly…go forth and complain!

  18. Mark Wood

    A nice logo on a bad product doesn’t help.
    Every time I see the “O” it says Over Promised, under delivered.
    Not sure people will fall for the false advertising again.

  19. Beth Houston

    “…All kids don’t want to be different so they fit in. Then suddenly, everybody WANTS to be different.” from Modern Family

    …and then we become political adults and have to be the same again, or we hate you!


  20. Patrick Beaman

    I too noticed the political slant. That’s OK, I guess. Not too concerned about the candidates logo and branding as much as what they believe and stand for. And an MFA in Design Criticism? Really? I’ve been out of school for a long time!

  21. Mark Wood is right! We need to use the right logo for the right products…

  22. James Random

    I think Obama’s is the strongest here. Very simple with no spoon-fed rhetoric, playing on the easy recognition of his logo from the campaign that got him the Office and a simple web address at the bottom.

  23. Tim

    The new Santorum logo fixed the issue with the O. I have to say I like it the best, and so far I’m undecided on my vote.

  24. Sant Rum


    These kinds of unfortunate splits are common in student designs, but one might expect these basic design problems to be solved by candidates with millions at their disposal. Gingrich, Paul, and President Obama’s all work much better and show professional judgement.

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