By now you’ve likely seen all of the 2016 presidential campaign logos, heard some of the debate surrounding Pentagram‘s logo design for Hillary Clinton, and contributed your own opinions around the water cooler (or, let’s face it, the coffeemaker).
In Belk’s bio on Siegel+Gale’s website, it states that over the past 25 years he’s helped a lot of big-name clients to “compete and win by leveraging simplicity to activate customers and employees.” Knowing this to be his perspective on design, we were very interested to hear about Belk’s initial impression of Hillary Clinton’s new logo, which many are calling too simplistic.
“The very first time I saw it, I saw a very poor rendering of it,” Belk says. “So, I was unimpressed. However, now I’m looking at a really sharp and crispy rendering of it, and I’m also looking at it in the context of 11 logos for presidential candidates … and I can honestly tell you that in that context, by a very wide margin, this is my favorite logo.”
(Psst! If you’re interested to hear what the designers at Siegel+Gale have to say about all of the other 2016 presidential campaign logos, keep an eye on this post on Printmag.com, where we’re archiving the logos from contenders both large and small. Siegel+Gale will be discussing what works—and what doesn’t—in each of these logos.)
Belk goes on to say that this logo was the best of the bunch for a few key reasons, the first of which is simplicity.
“In the cacophony of a presidential campaign, where there are so many messages, promises, etc., simplicity really matters,” Belk says. “At the end of the day, just like with consumer brands, voters have to associate a candidate with just one or two issues. So Hillary’s is: She’s this champion, and she’s going to take us forward. … This logo is all about that.”
Belk also points out that the design is closely linked to Hillary’s experience. “It’s completely different stylistically from every other logo out there, but not in a bad way. It’s very simple, it’s very focused, it breaks a lot of conventions of stars and strips and flags and flames and pictures of the White House. … When I think about Hillary’s candidacy, she’s breaking a lot of conventions, too. Tons of them. One: She’s a woman. Two: She’s a former First Lady. Three: She’s a failed presidential candidate herself. She’s just broken so many barriers that to have a symbol for her campaign that does that, too, I think is appropriate.
“I also like the fact that it’s an ‘H,'” Belk continues. “So, it doesn’t spell out her name, it doesn’t focus on the last name. It’s not even her first name—it’s her first initial. That, too, works both creatively but also strategically because one of the things that’s also very important for Hillary is to distinguish herself from Bill.”
The General Public, the Design Community and the “Anti-Clinton Camp”
As we all know, not everyone shares Belk’s opinion. On social media, many are calling the logo uninspired, too simplistic, amateurish, even hideous. Some are comparing it to hospital signs, the FedEx logo, the Cuban flag, to name just a few. The HOW team was curious: Does Belk feel that any of this uproar is warranted based on the design itself or rather to be expected—regardless of the design—when there’s a presidential election on the line?
Belk noted that you can separate these critics into three categories: the general public, the design community and the “anti-Clinton camp.” Belk says that the last group will criticize Hillary no matter what she does, and that the general public sometimes has a hard time with simplicity.
“We know how hard simplicity is at Siegel+Gale because we’re the simplicity company,” Belk says. “We’re striving for it all the time. It’s hard.”
Then there’s the design community, which Belk says has recently turned logo-bashing into a blood sport.” It’s like reality TV. There are so many platforms for them to do it anonymously, and they sort of fuel their own fires to see who can be snarkier.
“I also think some of [these designers] are disappointed legitimately because they were hoping for more. … They were hoping for more than a singular idea. [The logo] lacks a lot of nuance. In some ways, it’s a one-dimensional message, and that’s disappointing for them because the Obama logo was a richer mark.”
Okay. So the logo itself has created quite the initial stir among many groups of people. HOW wanted to know: Does Belk foresee the logo performing well down the road, in action throughout the later phases of Hillary Clinton’s campaign?
“One of the things that Hillary has to do in her campaign is attract millennials. She has to attract women, minorities, millennials and undecideds. She’s got her passionate loyalists—they’re going to vote for her no matter what. … You’ve got on the flipside her brand detractors. … You’re never going to win them. You have to get the ones that are on the fence. A lot of them are millennials, and millennials are living on their mobile devices, which is a small format. This logo is going to be perfect for that. … I don’t see any issues with it.”
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