• Transform magazine
  • June 16, 2019


Opinion: Thackway and McCord ask, “What is the story behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo?”

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Kat McCord and Simon Thackway


Criticize Hillary Clinton’s logo all you want, but it’s a breath of fresh air! Look back to her 2000 Senate race logo¹ (yes, we kept it), which no one wisecracked about because they were too busy falling asleep.

In fact, until President Barack Obama, political campaign logos in the United States were terribly boring and a meaningless exercise in flag-waving. That’s not to say that boring, meaningless logos are not without controversy or debate; in the October 2004 New York Times infographic, Paula Scher gave a thorough explanation of how the exceedingly dull logos of presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry negatively contributed to the morale of the campaigns.

Interestingly, these examples look hopelessly outdated 11 years later. The field in which Hillary’s logo² will be viewed is altogether more modern and differentiated.

Of course, it was Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster and Obama’s groundbreaking branding³ that pioneered a more strategic approach to political graphic design in America.

The brilliance of the Obama campaign was not the logo alone, but the ownership of a big idea: hope. Making Obama synonymous with the positive message of hope, left the Republican field with nowhere to go but negative. Like Nike’s ‘Just do it,’ Obama made ‘Yes, you can’ the rallying cry of hope for a nation tired of Bush and big business.

Choosing the right strategy is what counts; the logo just has to communicate it.

While Clinton’s logo may appear to be a PowerPoint quick fix (sorry Pentagram), it is, like that of Obama, refreshing because it boldly commits to an idea: ‘Moving America Forward.’ Where the logos of other candidates will wave the flag and say little, Clinton’s makes a stand and communicates a story.

So when the logo noise dies down, the only questions that will really matter are:

  • Does Moving Forward capture the mood of America?
  • Is it a promise which people will believe?
  • Can Clinton own it?

In short, is the strategy right? May the best (logo) strategy win!

Kat McCord and Simon Thackway are co-founders and of the brand strategy and design firm Thackway McCord, based in SoHo, New York


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