Out on the Twitters, people have been generally down on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo. The New York Times’s Nate Cohn said it looked like a hospital sign. Others suggested it looked like the Cuban flag. Or the Fed-Ex brand. Box CEO Aaron Levie said it looked like it was drawn with MS Paint. (Oooooo! Burn!) The self-righteous whiners at Wikileaks accused her of stealing their logo. The logo got its own Twitter account. (Which is 98 percent less funny than Obama’s Teleprompter.)
Even so, the new log tells us something about the kind of campaign Clinton is going to run.
(1) She’s using Obama 2008 as her model.
Have a look at Clinton’s 2008 brand. It’s a classic presidential logo, almost indistinguishable from John Kerry’s 2004 effort or any of the logos of people running in 2000. Dark blue, red accents, white text. Hillary 2008 might as well be every presidential logo from the last fifty years. (The site 4president.org helpfully catalogues presidential campaign logos going back to 1960. It’s a repository of awesome.)
The eureka moment in presidential graphic design is Obama’s 2008 “O” which jettisoned the entire campaign color palette and presented softer hues while reducing the candidate to a single, iconic letter which was its own visual motif.
Hillary’s H-> is a direct effort to copy Obama’s branding: A single letter with a visual element (Obama had the red striped road; Hillary has the arrow), and a non-traditional different color palette.
(2) Hillary 2016 will be a cult of personality.
One of the reasons Obama’s “O” was so successful was that it was perfectly in-sync with his campaign, which was a cult of personality. Bill Clinton didn’t need a fancy piece of graphic design in 1992 because he was running a policy-heavy race with a specific view of America’s future. (People forget how policy-wonkish Clinton was as a candidate; his appeal wasn’t just his charisma.) Obama, on the other hand, ran as an empty vessel promising voters that “they were the one’s they’ve been waiting for” and offering himself as a stand-in for everyone’s nebulous “hope.”
Traditionally, campaigns use arguments or visions to drive their campaigns. Obama was his campaign, and his logo emphasized that.
Hillary’s new logo suggests that the lesson she learned from 2008 is that a cult of personality is a powerful force. Hence the H-> and the insanely Orwellian “We Are Hillary” mission statement.
(If you are Hillary, then how much does Goldman pay you per speech?)
(3) Things could get weird.