Brands of the 2020 Democratic Party Primary

Originally posted on March 25, 2019

Last updated on April 8, 2019

 

With a total of 18 19 Americans having announced 2020 campaigns or exploratory committees so far, I thought it may be a good time to look at the design work of each campaign so far.1

In a trend that isn’t entirely as new as you may think, many of the logos shown below either rely on colors other than the traditional red/blue, or avoid the use of those colors entirely. Often times, this is in favor of a single defining color, or in the case of some candidates in favor of a trio of colors. Of course, some do so more successfully than others, but political campaign logos have really dramatically improved since 2008, when Obama’s campaign upped the game.

As more candidates announce and unveil their campaign logo and brand, I’ll update this post. You can also check out Dressed for the Protest, where I was a guest of host Olivia Countryman’s to chat about the 2020 candidates so far.


John Delaney was the first to announce in mid-2017 and unveiled a pretty standard political logo. It’s inoffensive, but nothing that’s going to stand out in 2020, much like Delaney’s candidacy itself.


Andrew Yang went from a relative unknown early candidate to someone who is going to be talking about Universal Basic Income on the debate stage. His logo doesn’t do anything special with color, but does use type that is very reminiscent of startup logos which really fits with his experience.


Although Richard Ojeda already dropped out, I think his campaign logo is worth including because of how untraditional it is. The weathered “band logo” effect on the “O” icon and “Ojeda” text is probably a first for at least a presidential campaign, if not any prominent campaigns. It is interesting though that “For President” doesn’t have this effect. But that aside, the red and blue and eagle in the “O” is actually a pretty solid campaign logo.


If you don’t know who Marianne Williamson is, you’re probably not alone. But hey, that’s okay because that’s kind of been a trend this year. Her logo favors a pink that is, quite frankly kind of disappointing. I can’t help but feel like it’s only pink because she’s a woman running for office, which I know sounds bad, but that association is just too strong to get past with a pretty barebones brand so far.


I was really excited about Julián Castro’s announcement both because I quite like him (and his brother, who should definitely challenge John Cornyn in 2020) but also because this would be the first presidential campaign with an acute. So excited, that I decided to set some time aside to create a prospective brand to explore the idea of really embracing the acute. Julián’s official logo does this in a more subtle way, with a lighter blue giving it some prominence. The box around his name also really works with the acute. It’s also reminiscent of Martin O’Malley’s 2016 logo, which is just a bonus because it was the only great logo of 2016. Julián’s is easily one of my favorite logos of 2020.


Elizabeth Warren stayed out of the (small) field in 2016, but she’s stormed onto the scene early in this primary. And her campaign is just as bold as she is, using just her last name (which is fairly unconventional for women running for President historically) and combining this dark blue color with a mint green. It works so well. It’s a great example of using a color other than the standard red/blue, but doing so in a way that you can own it. It’s not like using yellow, which carries with it connections to the Libertarian party, or a traditional green with its association with Green party candidates like Nader. Plus, these colors can really stand out on the campaign merch side of things and that’s good because Warren has a very complete store so far.


While I don’t think Tulsi Gabbard is much of a good candidate, her campaign logo is a great breath of fresh air. Using a gradient in a national campaign logo hasn’t been done this well since Obama in 2008, where this logo clearly draws some inspiration from. The colors do a great job of evoking Hawaii, and while I’d guess it’s supposed to represent a sunrise, marking a new day in the White House it’s also far too close to a sunset which… obviously isn’t a great association to make. Another thing I really like about her campaign: Her website. There’s a great Ken Burns effect that works really well.


Kirsten Gillibrand is the only candidate that used a significantly different brand identity during her exploratory committee, so I wanted to be sure to show both of them because of the comparisons. At top, her exploratory committee had a tall and condensed typeface that I think is really really great. The second logo from when she launched her campaign is very different in its near complete desaturation of the navy blue, and of the dramatically different typeface used. Not to mention, the massively increased prominence of “2020” in her campaign logo. The pink that’s shared between these two isn’t a pale feminine pink, but a bold pink that’s perfect for the call-to-action’s on her website. Much like Julián’s logo, her exploratory committee logo is one of my favorite of 2020. It’s confident and has a nice twist on a classic red/blue political logo. And like Warren, Gillibrand is using her last name and that just adds to the confidence in this logo.


Kamala Harris’ campaign started off with a bang, and it has the logo and brand to match. This. Is. Great. The use of not one, but two unconventional colors (three if you think the red is more of an orange) works so well, the type is great and modern, and something about it is just so different from everything else this year and in recent memory. I’m planning on a followup post to this exploring each campaign’s websites and extended use of their brand on social media, and Kamala’s is clearly one of the best. Although, for what its worth I do think they’re making a mistake not using this three-color “Kamala” design they have on the store. Up until a few days ago, it was only available on a ball cap, but it’s just so damn good I can’t believe they’re not putting it on everything. It’s a perfect substitute for the full logo, and I hope it keeps spreading to more parts of the campaign.


Pete Buttigieg is an incredibly interesting candidate, and so far he doesn’t have the logo to match. It’s a fairly standard political logo (complete with a star), where the only thing of note is the focus on his first name. Although, it makes sense given his last name isn’t the easiest for people to pronounce at first. Plus it’s leaning into the “Mayor Pete” moniker that many have adopted for him. Currently, he’s still ramping up his campaign for a launch and I really hope that includes a logo as inspirational as Mayor Pete is. He’s quickly become a sensation in the media, and I think he’s very clearly going to be an important name in the 2020 race.


Cory Booker’s logo is pretty simple and straight to the point, which is pretty fitting for Cory Booker. It’s red and blue, white and black and while it’s nothing groundbreaking the unconventional typeface makes for a great twist on the traditional red/blue campaign logos. And I’ve gotta say, the bright blue is very similar to Bernie’s and I’m happy to see brighter colors gaining prominence in large national campaigns. Owning the red and not avoiding it like man Democratic candidates tend to is also a smart choice, especially with Booker’s message of coming together with your neighbors. Especially if your neighbors are giant pharmacy companies.


While shades of green like this have a pretty easy association with the Green Party, Amy Klobuchar’s logo and campaign website is trying to own it but it’s really not working. There’s a reliance on both a light and dark shade of blue, including on the fucking podium when she announced. What’s the point in using green if you aren’t going to go for it? It really feels like there was a disconnect between whoever did the website, and the rest of the campaign. I do like the serif type they’re using for her first name, but it’s nothing special and it isn’t enough to stand out on its own.


Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016 was unique in many many ways, including in its campaign logo. It’s not very common for Presidential candidates to use their first name only like this, and it brought a brighter blue to the 2016 election much like Obama’s 2008 logo. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a solid and dependable logo and it’s a great evolution of his Senate campaign logos before he became a household name. The fact that this logo is exactly the same as 2016 is pretty telling for the mentality of Bernie’s campaign, but there’s also nothing bad about reusing something that worked and was so visible. It gives Bernie a great head start, along with his name recognition since 2016.


Running on almost one single issue, Jay Inslee isn’t the household name that Bernie is but he could be with his focus on climate change. It won’t be because of his logo or his campaign branding though. For a candidate focused on the planet, it’s kind of amazing his campaign’s logo isn’t just green, or maybe green and sky blue like his website uses. Maybe that could change if his campaign catches fire, but we’ll have to wait until later this year to see.


Another lesser known name from out west is John Hickenlooper, who’s logo is a great blend of traditional with the “stars and stripes”, and the now accepted color outside of the red/blue color palette. His Colorado background clearly informs the mountains of this logo, and I gotta say that it really works for me. The typeface choice isn’t anything special or groundbreaking but it’s not a big deal when you have something else great to set you apart.


Wayne Messam is the latest Mayor to enter the Presidential primary, because apparently that’s either a thing we’re doing this year or Mayor Pete just proved that you can do it and make a solid case for why you’re in the race. Messam announced an exploratory committee with a very simple and traditional logo that doesn’t leave much to discuss, and at his formal announcement didn’t have much else to show for it.


Beto O’Rourke became a national name after he challenged Ted Cruz for the Senate seat in Texas in 2018, and his simple black and white campaign logo (shown here in a single color version) certainly played a role. It’s been updated for his Presidential bid, but it’s just as eye-catching in this new colorful sea of political logos. Plus, it’s kind of fitting for a man with a punk rock and hacker background like Beto’s. Notably, there were some small tweaks to the logo for its national debut, and so far it’s resulted in other parts of the campaign being built more closely around this identity. I’m a bit biased as a I’m an active volunteer on his campaign, but it’s another of my favorites of the 2020 pool. It’s just great to have something that works with a single color still stand out so much.


Former Senator from Alaska Mike Gravel is a bit of a surprising candidate. He's already said that the goal is not to win, but wants to bring "a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage”. He’s been an avid voice against war and foreign intervention, rising to national prominence by attempting to end the draft. He used this logo when he announced an exploratory committee before his formal announcement, and so far I like this logo. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but much like Gillibrand’s logo it uses a dark background and the contrast does help it stand out.


Tim Ryan was the first candidate to announce their candidacy in April, and his logo also embraces both red and blue, much like Booker’s. It’s fine, but it’s nothing special. The rather thin border of red around his first name is really strange honestly, it almost looks like a mistake. For how bold the type is, it’s really just bizarre they went for a hairline border here. Castro’s logo embraces a border and it works really well because of it, and Tim Ryan should be doing the same here, or ditch it altogether. Not to mention that his bumper stickers opt for a full red background, rather than the border at all. You just know he’s not going to get far in this race with such a bland logo, but it’s even worse that his campaign website isn’t even in the first two pages of Google results for “Tim Ryan for President”. Oh, and “Our Future is Now” is also a really generic campaign slogan.


Eric Swalwell is the 3rd notable candidate from California, and so far there’s still only one good logo to come out of it. Swalwell’s campaign logo is red and blue (hey, it’s been than just blue I guess) and has three stripes that are clearly meant to be the flag, but doesn’t work… at all. It’s vaguely flag-esque but it’s incredibly forgettable. It’s another condensed font, which is an interesting thing for this primary but that’s really the only interesting thing in play here.


 

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  1. 1⃣️ It’s kind of silly how 6 of these candidates felt the need to announce an exploratory committee in such a crowded race, as if any of them would wind up not announcing their candidacy. The only example of this that has made any sense to me has been Mayor Pete, as he has gained exposure and set a public goal to reach the 65,000 unique donor milestone to qualify for the debates before announcing a full campaign. Others who explored a candidacy like Sherrod Brown didn’t feel the need to waste time with exploratory committees.