Tooting and booting the campaign designs of the 2020 US presidential candidates.
Yes, he filed reelection papers almost as soon as his shock win was announced so unfortunately he is pretty much the first candidate.
The overwhelming feeling that you get from the ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign is how ‘undesigned’ it is, it’s a readily available sans-serif typeface rendered in a basic navy topped off with a simple (but clearly effective) slogan. It was also badly executed a lot of the time, inconsistent typography across communications, a bevy of homemade posters, it often looked like the early days of the internet, blue text on a green background, why!?
There’s an interesting school of thought though proposing that perhaps bad design is one of the reasons that Trump ended up being victorious, a position taken by Michael Bierut no less, the designer of Clinton’s campaign logo. Seems nice typography and consistency are just for the metropolitan elite now.
Verdict: Sad. In all the ways.
Maryland Representative, John Delaney was the first prominent Democrat to announce his candidacy for president making the call all the way back in July 2017!
Political predictions these days are like physical media - useless! So we’re being bold with this but - John Delaney is not going to be President of the United States. This design though is …surprisingly ok? The 'D’ with the open road element is a bit on the nose and a bit too close to Hillary’s arrow but it’s at least considered, and while the slightly rounded (to appear ‘friendlier’) slap serif is nice in a heavy headline it doesn’t really work in lighter weight. His website is also pretty competently put together.
All in all whoever put this together should at least not be as embarrassed as John Delaney should be for running.
Verdict: Focus on the future? You’re probably going to be focused on someone else.
Oh this is bad, this is really bad!
The fact that it took us ages to find a decent image to utilise should tell you just how seriously former military man and state senator, Richard Ojeda is taking his run. Just take a look at his campaign site, the majority of his policy positions are publicly listed as ‘to be announced’!
Then there’s the logo, where even to begin? A friend of a friend clearly ‘knew photoshop’ and the two family members we’re guessing pass for campaign staff at Ojeda headquarters thought this was a stunning reimagining of the Obama ‘O’ - now with added wings!
The wings, the wings, THE WINGS! The worn effect that looks more like splatters of blood, the fact that they opted for a strange not quite black as the prominent colour! It’s all just so …tragic.
Verdict: Shoot it down.
(Update: On January 25th Ojeda suspended his ‘campaign’.)
Tulsi Gabbard here to answer that age old question - just what do the Democratic base think of an Assad apologist?
Gabbard may slot nicely into the current sweet spot for Democrats, she’s a young ‘progressive’ woman of colour, progressive is in inverted comas here because she has more than a questionable history, there’s a good thread here on why you shouldn’t really be rooting for her.
Annoying then that this is actually quite good. We’re not the biggest fans of gradient in branding but this works as a nice nod to her home state of Hawaii, the typeface two is nice, particularly in the geometry of the ‘0s’ in 2020. It does however seem a wasted opportunity not to have rounded off the ‘I’ in the top right corner instead it would have finished the mark off much more smoothly in our opinion.
Verdict: Did we mention she’s an Assad apologist?
Interesting that he decided not to lead with his surname - Castro. Can’t think why that would be…
We were pleasantly surprised by this, after seeing the design of his exploratory committee we didn’t have much hope. The choice of typeface seemed particularly bad but it actually works here in a large heading format, it still looks a little clumsy when used in subheadings however and his initial choice of a pale almost cornflower blue and yellow was well …a choice. This dark navy and more vibrant blue is much more appropriate and making a feature of the accent over the ‘A’ is a fun quirk and nice signifier to his latin heritage.
Verdict: Has potential to be a nice sight throughout the Democratic Primary shame it probably won’t be around for long.
Can’t believe we’re about to say this but it’s somehow worse than Ojeda’s!
“Anyone could’ve have done that” is such a lazy and uninformed critique but come on! This is a readily available font beyond used in a beyond simple manner, and the colour, we get what she’s going for but it makes it look even more amateurish. Her original senate campaign was really badly designed, like really badly, Microsoft Word art badly but for the 2018 election she had a rebrand and it was pretty decent, we thought it was in preparation for a presidential run but that seems to have been abandoned for …this! We just hope it’s purely for the exploratory committee and something better is coming down the line because at the moment you’re losing badly girl.
Verdict: You’re better than this Kirsten.
UPDATE: With the formal launch Gillibrand had a bit of a rebrand, a GilliREbrand if you will …we’ll see ourselves out.
She might as well have not bothered, the typeface is better sure but it’s still the worse design in the race. Having the headline in white and constantly relying on a dark background is not nice at all and why does the year precede the candidates name, that’s surely the most important bit! The need for a dark background has also made her website look a total mess, it’s not very accessible for anyone with any kind of sight issues.
Second verdict: Oh it’s brave alright, bravely bad!
We’re calling this the ‘The Unbreakable Kamala Harris’ candidacy. Is she running to be the president or is she about to star in her own hit Netflix sitcom?
This was the announcement we were most excited about and we thought possibly would have the best design, this isn’t exactly a let down but it certainly is a little unorthodox. There are no hallmarks of traditional campaign design here, no red white & blue, no flags or eagles, the typography and colour palette instantly reminded us of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, even her announcement video had a definite Kimmy energy.
Don’t get us wrong it’s nice enough but does it say I want to become the most powerful person in the world? Having said that Kimmy Schmidt probably is the most powerful person in the world and totally should be president and we would love to see Harris ‘lemonading’ the shit of Trump.
Verdict: To paraphrase the great Titus Andronicus - “It’s time to run gurl”.
He’s gay and he’s called Buttigieg…
His twitter bio handily explains that it’s pronounced (BOOT-edge-edge) which somehow makes it gayer, and this won’t mean anything to American audiences but there’s also a whiff of the Hyacinth Bucket about that (she tells people it’s pronounced ‘bouquet’ ). He’s the mayor of South Bend, make of that what you will, he’s married to a man called Chasten and he’s a member of the Episcopal Church. Basically, we stan!
In all seriousness though, well about as serious as we’re getting here, it’s great to see an openly gay man mount a bid to be the most powerful person in the world, however much a long shot his winning even the Democratic nomination may be. The only way to describe this campaign design though is basic.
The choice of typeface is uninspired and the majority of the time it’s rendered in the classic red, white and blue. The only interesting thing to note is the decision to prominently feature his first name, which we can assume was made for well, obvious reasons.
It’s also exactly the same design as his mayoral campaign, you’re gay Pete you should know better! Step your bussy up.
Verdict: What is it that the bumper sticker in that episode of The Simpsons says? ‘A Gay President in 2084’
All the above jokes about him being a ridiculous long shot look rather foolish now.
Let’s be clear we’re still not predicting a President Pete but his candidacy is certainly much less of a punchline now. He’s managed to climb from obscure “also ran” to top tier candidate in a matter of months, out fund raising and now out polling some of the bigger names in the race.
A top tier candidate with a new and improved campaign design to match. We actually really like this. Yes there’s an element of ‘hipsterishness’ to it that can be a little cringeworthy but it’s definitely one of the stronger contenders design wise now.
The typography is good and utilising the symmetry of the date in the logo is a nice touch that we’re surprised more campaigns haven’t opted for. The ‘bridge’ shape of the logo is a nod to the Jefferson Blvd Bridge in Buttigieg’s hometown, that as major he turned into somewhat of an icon of the city by installing lights that light up the river at night. It’s not reflected in this example but the colour palette is also very good, perhaps a bit too sophisticated for a political campaign but we’re a sucker for a good yellow.
The campaign even has a great site for design resources that supporters can use to customise and download campaign resources to help spread the #PeteForAmerica message. Now that’s good design.
Second verdict: Think we may be coming down with a severe case of Buttigieg fever!
We’re a little torn on this one.
Our initial reaction was one of revulsion but that may have had something to do with the choice of overlaying an image across the logotype on his campaign site which is a …choice. It’s not a good photo of you Cory and adds nothing to the design.
The design itself isn’t particularly bad, it’s quite modular which will lend itself nicely to being rolled out across different platforms and there’s a kind of cool make shift ‘street’ vibe to it that sets it apart from looking overtly corporate and the red and blue, though cliche, are nice shades. The typeface, again while not being wholly bad doesn’t quite work, the parts of letterforms that are thinner unbalance the impact somewhat particularly in the ‘C’ and the ‘2’ giving a slightly amateurish quality.
The broader typographic choices outside of the mark are probably the reason we think Booker could be giving Gillibrand a run for her money in the worst campaign design primary, we count six different typefaces on his website alone and not a one of them is good.
Verdict: How can we trust you to be president when we can’t even trust you to pick one good typeface!?
We held off including Elizabeth Warren for a while because we thought with the formal launch of her campaign something …more would be featured design wise, but apparently not!
This is fairly serviceable to be fair, the typeface is interesting enough to make it stand out from some of the more generic choices in the field *cough* Gillibrand *cough* but the colour palette is a little off, especially when paired with some of the secondary colours used on the campaign site and in merchandise. Purplish blue with pale green and the occasional splash of red just leaves everything looking a bit washed out.
Verdict: Somewhat uninspired for one of the more inspiring people in the race.
Amy, Amy, Amy…
‘Dated’ is the word that springs immediately to mind though this may be a conscious decision. Klobuchar is running as a pragmatic, folksy, ‘Minnesota nice’ candidate, though that ‘Minnesota nice’ comes with a side of toxic work environment.
It’s the first serif typeface to be featured this cycle and it has nice elements, the ‘A’ and ‘m’ are good but the tail on that why is horrible and contrasting the headline with a really nice sans serif just highlights the poor choice all the more.
We obviously do however appreciate the use of green, it’s a nice green, hell it’s a nice blue but there doesn’t seem to be a colour combination the design team aren’t willing to use across the wider campaign, it even comes in red! Which is probably a not too suitable bipartisan call.
At the end of the day we’d be sending a 1 AM email to the team who came up with that, though we couldn’t quite use Klobuchar’s favourite ‘the worst’ insult as that still very much sits with Gillibrand.
Verdict: We want to throw a binder at whoever signed off on this.
We understand sticking with a recognisable brand but we were expecting at least some tweaking if not a bit of an update.
To be fair it was a successfully designed campaign last time, well successful for a losing campaign. It’s traditional enough to be recognised as a presidential campaign but idiosyncratic enough to become an icon for a singular candidate.
We were never that taken with it, it’s good design, well executed but as a matter of taste it’s just not for us. It’s got a similar toothpaste vibe that Romney/Ryan had in 2012.
It’ll be interesting to see if there is a little update to the design across the campaign or if it’s going to be utilised in new ways, the updated slogan of ‘Not me. Us.’ feels like an unnecessary dig at Clinton however.
Verdict: Will design success translate to actual success this time?
Critiquing something as ‘looking corporate’ when not intended to is a bit of easy design criticism but in this case it not only looks corporate but it looks like it was designed for a fictional corporation that would appear in a video game or an episode of The Good Wife.
Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee is running on a central platform of tackling climate change, that’s great but this design is not.
The headline typeface isn’t actually that bad, the serifs on the top of some of the letters add points of interest that make it stand out from a crowded field of majority sans serif typefaces, the sans serif choice featured in the strap line here however undoes any good will the headline typeface brought.
The half globe gradient makes sense conceptually for someone prominently featuring tackling global warming, and this is somewhat a matter of taste but we’re not the biggest fans of a gradient, especially used in this context. The campaign design team has been forced to switch up the colouring each time the mark is used against a different background somewhat diluting the execution in some cases.
Verdict: You may be represented by Lockhart and Gardner but we’re not sure you’re going to win this time…
Well well well, here’s one we actually instantly enjoy!
The typeface choice, though some might argue is a little safe and traditional works really well and somehow makes, as he puts it himself in his announcement video, “a funny sounding last name”, seem pretty average.
The mountain range icon is well executed and works effectively across all the campaign design and merch, it’s used particularly effectively in the website favicon, (that’s the little icon in the browser tab for those of you who don’t know).
The use of the star in place of ‘the sun’ is a little on the nose but it’s a nice call back to more traditional ‘stars and stripes’ themed campaign designs.
The only thing we can pick to gripe at is the odd colour choice but it seems increasingly common in this election cycle to shy away from the partisanship of red and blue.
Verdict: If design were any indicator of electoral success this would be leading the pack for us.
With all that time he took ‘considering’ a run you’d have thought he’d have spared a little time to update the campaign design a little further than inserting ‘America’ where ‘Texas’ once was.
It was said a lot throughout his unsuccessful run for Ted Cruz’s senate seat that the design resembled a hipster burger joint more than it did a political campaign and it remains the most astute observation. Tell us you can’t see that plastered all over the greaseproof paper that sits under your wagyu burger, poutine and slaw?
The typeface alone isn’t actually that bad, though it does look like the kind of type treatment that was all the rage when we were at university almost 10 years ago now. If you went to any graphic design degree show circa 2010 you would have seen numerous versions of this kind of ‘quirky’ sans serif applied to everything from fast food businesses to high end fashion labels. Just like Beto himself it somehow manages to be both ‘hip’ and incredibly dated.
Black is also such an uninspired choice, it might make it stand out from the other more colourful campaigns but it wins you no style points, in fact much like Beto’s voting record it’s surprisingly conservative, consider that while you abandon the more progressive female and racially diverse candidates in the race for the hot new thing.
Just like that burger joint in your newly gentrified neighbourhood it’ll be something else in a few months, a Peruvian street food vendor perhaps.
Verdict: President Beto or a burger? We’d rather have the burger thanks.
Ah Tim Ryan, one time challenger to Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. He lost badly there and he’ll likely lose badly here too.
How’s he doing in the design primary? He’s losing badly!
This is unfortunate, made even more so by coming after Cory Booker’s slightly more successful riff on a similar theme. It just looks lazy, the typography choice - lazy, the colour choice - lazy, the layout - lazy, his campaign slogan ‘Our Future is Now’ - LAZY! And nonsensical, the now is called the ‘present’ Tim!
Verdict: Is there something also vaguely pharmaceutical about it?
Stand back Kirsten Gillibrand we have a new contender for worst design of the 2020 Democratic Primary!
Incorporating the flag, even in this abstract way, into a campaign mark is so cliche and it has been done so many times! John Kasich did it, Scott Walker did it, Lawrence Lessig did it (quite nicely actually) even Hillary did it in 2008!
This has to be one of the worst examples of it though, in fact let’s just say it, it is the worst example of it. Some of the designs this time around look at a little lazy, there’s a lot simply rendering a name in a typeface and colour pallette and sticking in on stuff, but what makes this worse is it seems at least some thought must have been put into it, some bad bad thought.
The typeface is hideous, the shades of red and blue are beyond basic, seriously they look like they were chosen from Microsoft Paint, the ‘flag’ detail is too simplistic and the over all balance is completely off.
Verdict: Congratulations Eric Swalwell you win …win worst campaign design of 2020!
Oh we’re on a race to the bottom here now.
The race to see who has the worst campaign design is now more interesting than who is actually leading the pack in the Democratic Primary, just when you think someone has cemented their place as the front runner someone else comes along and sweeps into the lead.
This design suffers from the same shortcomings as the Eric Swalwell campaign design above, in that it looks like it was a little more considered than some other designs in the field which makes it’s failure all the more worse.
The typeface when it’s rendered in uppercase is actually quite nice, as is the colour choice of the paler blue and the red but everything else…
There’s about 10 elements too many going on here. Why is the headline so large and in lowercase, three colours is three too many, there is far too much spacing between each line and a simple star motif has been turned into what has to be one of the most complex renderings of a geometric shape ever.
And just as an aside why are so many candidates prominently featuring their forename while running these days? Hillary was arguably among the first to do so in 2008 with obvious reasoning - to distance herself from her famous last name, (while also subtly signalling the historic nature of a bid by a woman). A tradition that many female candidates have since embraced. Pete Buttigieg obviously decided to opt for running with Pete because …well his surname is Buttigieg, but the rest of you have no excuse. You’ve benefited for generations from the respect and prestige of being referred to be ‘your’ family name, stay in your lane men!
Verdict: If by some miracle you manage to become president we’re going to petition congress to impeach you on grounds of crimes against design.
Here we …JOE!
Biden has finally jumped into the race and after, well years really of teasing a third bid for the top job and after such a long time of mulling it over you’d have thought his campaign could have come up with something …better than this.
It’s no bad no, but it’s not good either. We had a feeling he’d go with ‘Joe’ (you can read our thoughts on men doing this above) as it fits with his folksy salt of the earth image, though it’s not entirely sure at this stage which of the two marks opposite is going to be the main focus of the campaign.
The use of the stripes from the flag are utilised better than some of the other designs in this list but it’s still a lazy and obvious feature. The typography is actually quite nice, though we’re not keen on the sharp points of the ‘N’ and they look at odds with the more blunt ends to all the other letters. The colour choices are OK but a little too close to the generic blues and reds that you’d find in software like Microsoft Paint.
His website is nicely put together and does feature a fun element on his bio page as an Amtrak train scrolls down the page as you do (Biden’s love of the Amtrak is a fact you should know about him apparently). We do however question it just being ‘Biden President’, it’s very abrupt, not to mention presumptuous.
Joe Biden stands a good shot at unseating Trump, he could win a general election, the real question is can he win the primary? He’s another white man running for the nomination of a party that is becoming increasingly diverse and electing candidates that better represent them at all levels.
This campaign design is pretty traditional for a very traditional candidate, whether that is right for the current climate remains to be seen. Maybe he could ask Hillary how her by the numbers campaign went…
Verdict: Say it ain’t so Joe
Well, the big beast that is Biden didn’t seem to dissuade anyone else from jumping into the race - and another person with a ‘B’ name too!
This is quite serviceable though it does suffer from coming after Buttigieg’s rebrand as even to a casual observer it holds a couple more than a couple of similarities. The typography is nice (similar to Buttigieg’s), the colouring is good, particularly the blue, (again not to far removed for the blue in Buttigieg’s palette), and the arch in the headline bears a definite resemblance to Buttigieg’s bridge inspired mark. They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
Verdict: Copying Buttigieg’s work probably won’t result in the same surprising success.
Yet another ‘B’ - which really should be shorthand for ‘White Bloke’!
This is very traditional, it wouldn’t look out of place in a 90s political film in fact and we’re not entirely averse to that. The headline typeface is strong though the colour looks a little muddy, the secondary red and blue palette is better but still slightly insipid. The type for the ‘2020’ however is not nice (italics, really?) and this mark would probably be a lot stronger if it wasn’t there and the lines just continued to the end.
Verdict: Bullock not (entirely) bollocks.
Yes we’re counting this as another ‘B’ name and yes, definitely YET. ANOTHER. WHITE. BLOKE.
The inside scoop is that de Blasio is just fed up with being mayor of New York and doesn’t really believe he has any chance of winning so has decided to run just to have the occasional break from mayor-ing - ‘de Blasio, because I’m bored’ now there’s a campaign slogan!
About as much thought has gone into this as went into his decision to run too. This is bad, like really bad, worse than Swalwell bad! It’s worse than some of the stuff put out during UK elections and we’re terrible at campaign design.
Where even to begin? The typography is ugly, a lightweight typeface in particular has no place in a campaign looking to make a statement. The green feels shoehorned in for a little climate change street cred and why is it forced into this unwieldy rectangular format that absolutely no effort has been made to consider how it would work in different settings. Just look at his website, it’s terrible and the logo has just been slapped on everywhere as it appears here, and don’t even get us started on that additional headline typeface that appears there. Who chose that!?
Verdict: de BlasiNO!