With the preface that, like many existential questions of life, no one can really quantify how much branding matters, one exciting development this year is how many 2020 candidates are using all kinds of colors in their logos!
Here’s Kamala Harris’s purple, red, and yellow logo, and with jazzy text, which looks like it’s moving even when static.
(The campaign says this is a throwback to Shirley Chisholm’s campaigns for president, which employed yellow in the design — though it kind of seems more early ’90s in execution, but in a good way.)
Here, Sherrod Brown’s proto-campaign has deployed yellow. (Brown wears a caged canary pin vis-à-vis labor rights.)
Here we have Kirsten Gillibrand’s pink, a color rarely used in national logos beyond Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen, and T-Mobile. What could it possibly signify? It’s a choice in the grand tradition of daring someone to comment. Gillibrand’s signature issues in politics have been changing the prosecution of military sexual assault and #MeToo; out of the gate, she’s talked a fair amount about that and motherhood, and so here we are.
And here, the glowing core of the Earth emerges.
Branding in general seems like something that doesn’t matter 90% of the time, except for the 10% of the time when logos and designs reach escape velocity and turn into cool things to have on T-shirts or hats, and that’s when it really does.
Traditionally, there’s not a lot of branching out beyond red, white, and blue in presidential campaign logos, as pointed out last year by Nolen Strals and Bruce Willen in the Washington Post. Jesse Jackson used yellow in 1988, and Jimmy Carter did it in 1976:
But if you think about the last 20 years, it’s basically been one big parade of flags chopped up into different shapes and letters.
What’s brought us to this expanded moment of color? Four ideas off the top of the head: a) Donald Trump has the market cornered on red; b) A huge field demands candidates identify themselves early and clearly; c) We’re in a design moment when the NBA, for instance, has teams wearing four or five uniforms; and d) The biggest thing happening in politics ran with super-cool posters like this last year: