We’re well underway in the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign season, which means candidates are sprouting up like weeds. Over the next few weeks a few more may emerge from their caves, blinking stupidly at the light they’ve never seen before as they try to comprehend its radiance and what that searing feeling is.
That, friend candidates, is the burning light of day, ready to expose you. You will endure worse, far worse, should you make it as far as being a real candidate (right now you’re just candidates for candidacy, derivative candidates who must be integrated into the party in order to become a candidate prime).
You’ll be asked questions and subjected to scrutiny, your closets rifled through and any skeletons therein dusted off and mounted for museum display. You’ll also be subject to a lot of mockery.
And I’m here to help with that. To that end, I’ve gathered up the logos of everybody officially running for president. I’m going to point out some subtleties of their designs, and pitch a campaign slogan based on the logo. Candidates are in no particular order.
Lindsey Graham (R)
Here’s the real deal. Notice the red and blue triangles, separated by a thin white divide. Graham positions the blue over the red, as if to suggest a north-south divide between blue and red. Since the 2000 election, the party colors have been fixed, and prior to that the Republican party implemented the Southern Strategy.
Graham’s name is large, but only his last name. Lindsey has been coded as a more feminine name in recent decades, so perhaps he’s hesitant to have his first name be part of the logo - it might make people think they’re supporting Carly Fiorina, and that wouldn’t help Graham at all.
The 16, representing the year of the election, lives in a bubble of whiteness that resides mostly in the red triangle but carves out a slice of the blue triangle as well. That said, Graham’s red triangle is smaller than his blue triangle, signalling his downfall in the general election should he become the candidate. He just doesn’t believe he can do it.
Campaign Slogan: “Vote for Graham, like the cracker.”
Rand Paul (R)
Rand takes the one-name approach and inverts it from Graham’s strategy, using only his first name. The strategy here is rather obvious - he’d prefer to trade off the cultural cache of another Rand - Ayn Rand.
Where Graham uses no adornment to his text, Rand turns on the bold and the italics. As if to say he has a bold vision, and he really likes Italian food. Above his name, Rand plays off the iconographic torch of liberty, with a red flame. Because fire is red, and so are Republicans.
His name stands against a stark white background, one that can fit all the libtertarian dudebros out there who will love him because he’s Ron Paul’s son.
The color scheme also includes a blue triangle on the bottom right corner, as if to say there are more pages to come. This is perhaps overly optimistic. Alternately, it may be the signal for the public to turn the page on Rand Paul.
Campaign Slogan: “Choose your own adventure with Rand. If you like Rand, turn your IRS manual to part 36, section 2, subsection 5, subsubsection 6. If you don’t like Rand, close the book and burn it on the torch of liberty!”
Bernie Sanders (D)
Bernie Sanders has a very sparse logo. There’s his name, a couple wavy lines, and the year of the election. There’s an alternate version of the logo where the white and the blue are swapped in positions - this is the version from his website, but at campaign rallies he uses the other version.
The simplicity of this logo would appear to hint at honesty, but then why the two logos? What is the other logo hiding? In this logo, Bernie stands out against a sea of white; in the other version, he stands out against a sea of blue. Being an Independent, he should consider the optics of both versions. This one seems to integrate him in the blue of the Democratic party; in the other he reminds us of his independence by standing apart from Democratic blue.
Also, Bernie capitalizes only the first letter of his name, using lower case letters for the rest in order to show us that he dots his i with a star. The serifs on this font are almost unbearable. But, it’s less like he’s shouting at us (the same goes for Cruz and Pataki; I’ll get to Rubio).
Bernie only makes contact with the blue wavy line, leaving the red wavy line as an afterthought. A contrasting color to make himself stand out. Opposition. Bernie expects opposition should he go to the White House, and he has no plans to seek compromise with Republicans the way President Obama did for the first several years of his presidency. He’s not going to touch them.
Red is not only the color of Republicans, though. Bernie is as close to socialist as it gets in this country’s national politics. There’s just a dash of it, just like there’s just a dash of it on the logo.
Campaign Slogan: “Give the red a taste, comrade.”
Ted Cruz (R)
Cruz has a different approach to logos than the others we’ve seen so far. His name doesn’t feel integrated into the design, and the biggest design element is instead a bit of a puzzle.
First, we start with the name and background. Cruz incorporates black into his logo, a rare move where American political logos tend to stick to three colors only. So strike one against Cruz on the patriotism meter for that. Secondly, the contrast between Cruz’s name and the background makes his name appear to be a more grayish color. Which makes sense, because Microsoft Paint says it is gray. So there’s strike two, as Cruz removes the white from the flag.
It’s an interesting design decision, and one I wonder about. Is Cruz trying to signal something here - that Republicans are ready to move beyond color? Is he trying to subtly remind us that he himself isn’t white? I don’t know.
The biggest element of the logo, however, is also a study of contrasts. It’s an American flag, but the shape is truly the crux of your interpretation. Starting from the top, it almost appears like a drop of water, as if to say Ted Cruz is essential to American life (as water is essential to life). Alternately, it could be a teardrop. Did Ted Cruz kill a man? Was he raped in a Mexican prison (I really hope not)?
An alternative is to read the image from the bottom up, where it appears to be a fire. Ted Cruz represents the fire of the American spirit (which we bizarrely attach to our flag). Of course, this reading isn’t terribly helpful to Cruz either because now it just looks like he’s burning a flag.
Campaign Slogan: “Watch America burn and cry simultaneously!”
Mike Huckabee (R)
Oh dear gods, what have ye wrought? Mike Huckabee’s logo is the most overburdened logo thus far. Where other logos have the candidate’s name, the year, some bits to get the colors in, and a design element, the Huckster goes and adds on top of that. His logo comes pre-equipped with a slogan, and he directs you to his website.
I’m going to start with the website. Look, Hucky, you don’t need to tell us what your website is if the url is literally www.yournamehere.com. You only need to do that if your website is something different because someone else already claimed that domain in order to sell porn. Including your website when anyone familiar with both you and the internet would think to check there first suggests your logo is designed around the needs of those who might not know what a www or a .com actually is. Which just makes the information extra redundant.
The bulk of Huck’s design focuses on the two-toned swoopy lines everybody loves for these things. Color composition doesn’t seem terribly important in this logo. But there’s a difference here in the swoops- they swoop down, then up. We have the good fortune to have helpful text explaining the meaning of this element, though, to help us along.
Look, I Heart Huckabees is a Southern Baptist pastor. That’s a branch of Protestantism, and the big thing that differentiates Protestantism from the Catholicism it split off from is the doctrine of sola scriptura. That is, no church hierarchy telling you what the Bible means, but the exercise of critical thinking and critical reading skills in order to understand it because the meaning is contained in the text. The Protestant Reformation - it made things like English degrees possible.
Now I’m no Protestant, but I do have English degrees. We’re being told, in a very top-down sort of way that assumes we’re incapable of reading the image, that the left swoopy bit is the hope and the right swoopy bit is the higher ground. That is, Barack Obama gave us hope and it crashed and burned, but we can turn this around with Huckadoodle.
But the right swoops are less than half as long as the left ones. Up-Huck’s planning to die or resign before his first term ends - or perhaps he thinks he’ll get raptured if he gets the presidency.
That leaves the four stars in the logo. Throw-an-apidae seems to have grafted them in to separate his name from the year, and to ensure some patriotic symbol made it into this already bloated mess of a logo. They’re golden, just like his opinions of his animal-torturer son and incestuous-pedophile buddy.
Campaign Slogan: “I’m Mike Huckabee, and I endorse these atrocities.”
Martin O’Malley (D)
Oh man. Where Huckaroo above gives us an overstuffed logo, O’Malley goes for sleek minimalism. Well, he goes for sleek. It doesn’t quite make it to skeek.
OMG, let’s start with this color composition. We have an open square outline of blue. Inside we have a field of white, and O’M on the inside in red. It’s bold, it’s italic. It does kind of make you think his name. The blue on the outside makes clear his party affiliation, but the red letters just make it seem like he might be a Republican hiding in a Democratic box.
Oh my darlin’ Clementine, the best part of the design is the way it’s open at the bottom, like a speech balloon. He’s anticipating the shouts of Democrats and Republicans alike, who will see his campaign and sing to the sky “O’Malley, who?” Maybe they’ll yodel it. It sounds more like a yodel.
Campaign Slogan: “Oh my, O’Malley, let’s talk about Baltimore, shall we?”
George Pataki (R)
The Pataki logo is a bit unusual. The white is kept purely to background, and he uses two shades of blue and very little red. This sort of color balance seems like it would be more appropriate to a Democratic candidate, and perhaps as a former governor of New York, Pataki is hoping to capture the base of liberal Republicans people keep telling me actually exist.
Pataki’s name looms large over all, not unlike Rudy Giuliani’s logo from 2008. It’s an unappealing font choice made worse by the size. I’d say ugly, you might say tacky. Potato, Patacki.
The only non-verbal design element are three horizontal bars. They represent the American flag. But they’re incomplete if that’s their intended purpose. Another red bar needs to be put on a level with the blue bar. As it is, Pataki looks to be giving us a horizontal bar graph, the worst kind of bar graph. And with two bars the same color, the graph doesn’t even convey anything. What are you even doing, George?
Campaign Slogan: “Maybe Democrats will vote for me in the primaries?”
Ben Carson (R)
Ben Carson is a guy who’s a bit baffling. So it makes sense that his logo is baffling as well. Two elements, really - Carson and America. It’s a very simple logo in most respects, but unlike Clinton and O’Malley, Carson actually uses words.
On the right side of the logo, we have America in blue. It’s a sans serif font, but a relatively boring one. The first A in America is the only piece of excitement in the whole design.
It incorporates the stars, stripes and colors of the flag, but does so in a very compact way. Carson doesn’t want us dwelling much on the flag. A little, yes, in order to make sure we remember to love ‘Murrica, but only a little. The bit with the stripes at the top of the A seems a bit much. It’s probably supposed to represent a rippling flag, but all I can think about is America bleeding from the head and needing a doctor. Wait, Carson’s a doctor! Interestingly enough he was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head.
The left side of the logo is where Carson loses me. It’s his name, which makes sense, but it’s tan. At least, it’s tan according to the not-colorblind woman I asked to verify the color for me, because I didn’t know what to make of it. Why tan? Is it about appealing to white people? Probably not. Tan makes no goddamn sense in a campaign logo. And that’s probably exactly what it’s for - a sign that the candidate himself makes no goddamn sense.
Campaign Slogan: “Ben Carson for president makes as much sense as a neurosurgeon who doesn’t believe in evolution.”
Marco Rubio (R)
It’s a new American century, and Marco Rubio still can’t upload his logo by itself as a linkable or copyable image to his website or social media. Despite those shortcomings, Rubio is thirsty. He thirsts to be the first president of this new century (don’t worry, it takes about sixteen years before the century really starts). His thirst for your campaign contributions is unquenchable. He thirsts most of all for water.
Rubio, Rubio wherefore art thou Rubio? And wherefore dost thou write thy name all in lowercase and thy slogan in all caps? I know it’s complicated but uppercase and lowercase letters can live peacefully in the same word. It’s okay.
Where Bernie Sanders dots his i with a star, Rubio can’t help but go absurdly big and dot it with America (minus Alaska and Hawaii, and the colonies we still have like Guam and Puerto Rico). It’s that kind of incomplete megalomania that really shines in this logo.
Campaign Slogan: “Stay thirsty, my friends, because I’m not nearly as interesting as that guy.”
Hillary Clinton (D)
The only candidate to go even more minimalist than O’Malley, Hillary Clinton knows we all know her from her H. We don’t need anything else to identify her because she’s the juggernaut elephant on steroids in the room.
She was that same juggernaut in 2008, though, and she lost there. Decisively. So don’t be fooled - she’s the presumptive candidate, but that’s just presumption. We’ll see how it shakes out.
There’s not much to say about this design. But what there is to say is very revealing.
Clinton is no leftist. She’s good for white, upper middle class feminists and for businesses. Birtherism? Started with her camp. To have her saying “It’s your turn” is rich, considering the rejection she got in 2008. It’s your turn to do it right, she means, and by do it right she means give her the nomination. Because it’s not actually about us, the voters. It’s about Hillary, the big H, claiming her spot in the alphabet soup of presidents. And at all points, it comes back to Hillary being representative not of the left-wing of the party, but of Hillary and Hillary alone.
You see that big, red arrow? It’s pointing right. Because Hillary Clinton is not a leftist. If you think you’re getting one with her, you’re in for a sudden veer rightward. Hillary, like Bill, is a neo-liberal - a purveyor of the kind of liberalism a post-Thatcher, post-Reagan America can swallow: liberalism on the right, pretending to be on the left.
Campaign Slogan: “Hillary Clinton - she moves to the right.”
Carly Fiorina (R)
Perhaps the least inspiring logo thus far, Carly Fiorina’s logo is as sparse as her success as CEO of HP.
We have again two shades of blue dominating the logo, and only the barest hint of red. I would say Fiorina hopes to capture voters for Hillary based on that color choice, but she’s running as a Republican, so that would be a pretty weak strategy.
The only other thing even worth commenting on is the red star in the A in her name. The only red in this Republican campaign logo comes in the form of a communist symbol. A+ work, there.
Campaign Slogan: “Vote for Carly, she’s like a Republican Hillary but incompetent!”
Rick Santorum (R)
Actually, this isn’t a terribly composed logo. The mix of serif and sans-serif fonts in the text is grating, but Santorum uses enough red to let you know he’s a Republican, enough blue not to appear skimpy on the ol’ patriotism meter, and enough white to pop.
The eagle’s a more dynamic sort of device for ramping up the symbolic patriotism. It’s flying off to the right, which at least makes sense for a Republican candidate to be doing (I’m looking at you again, Hillary).
The biggest element of the logo is Santorum’s name. And that’s where it goes wrong. See, it’s crass to put an obscenity on a campaign logo, and Rick Santorum can’t seem to help but do exactly that. Santorum properly refers to the “frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.” Having that on a campaign logo is just, no. How does Rick Santorum expect people to explain him to children? He could at least have the decency to change his name before slapping it on a campaign logo and spreading it all over the internet like that.
And the eagle has santorum on its tail feathers. What’s been going on with that eagle? Is it gay or slutty or having cloacal sex outside the confines of marriage? Because the traditional definition of marriage is between one man-eagle and one woman-eagle, except for the times when it was one man-eagle and many women-eagles....
Campaign Slogan: “Eagles like santorum, what about you?”
Rick Perry (R)
Rick Perry just made his announcement earlier today. This time around, it appears he’s trying to riff on President Obama’s logo and give us a circular logo reminiscent of the Presidential seal. Because in Rick Perry’s world circles are what win elections.
Let’s start from the outside in. We have a delightful alliteration between Perry and President, white against the blue circumference. Two stars separate the words, lest we get confused and think we’re supposed to read it as Perrytnediserp. Good call on those stars. It would have been confusing otherwise. The kerning in his name doesn’t match that in the word president, though, and that’s a bit of an eyesore.
Inside the logo we have a red P in a field of white. P is for Perry, just like H is for Hillary. But P is also for President. Where Perry is trying to capture the same “Hey look, it’s a letter and I know who it’s for” thing Hillary is doing, this doesn’t work. For one thing, P is just too applicable in other ways to American politics. P is for Perry. P is for President. P is for Politicians. P is for Please God stop this fillibuster he’s misinterpreting the Cat in the Hat! P is for Prick. The list is endless. At least for Hillary, H has very little resonance beyond Hillary.
It’s not just a P, though, but a P with a big star in it. Perry goes beyond any other candidate and gives this star three blues and one extra swoopy point to extend down the leg of the P. As a single star, it’s probably meant to remind us that Perry is former governor of Texas. The swoop makes me think he’s also going for a shooting star. Ironic because shooting stars don’t rise, they crash into the earth. That is, they crash into the earth if they don’t vaporize in the atmosphere first - a pretty apt description of Rick Perry’s last attempt to run for president.
Campaign Slogan: “Three reasons to vote for Rick: rich, Republican, and um, what’s the third one?”
Logos retrieved from their respective campaign sites or from the candidate’s social media. Rubio gif via pixgood.com.