SALT LAKE CITY — A panel of three design experts at The Summit Group Communications was held Thursday to assess the 2012 crop of presidential campaign logos. Moderated by Mike Winder, Summit’s director of public affairs, participants included creative vice president James Rabdau, graphic designer Karl Lundeberg and copywriter Jake Clayson. Collectively, the team has been involved in dozens of logo design projects. Here is what the experts thought of each candidate’s logo.
“I’m not a fan of the new Romney logo,” said Clayson. “The swirl of an ‘R’ reminds me too much of Aquafresh,” he noted, a complaint that others nationally have also pointed out.
“The ‘R’ is too distant graphically and spacing from the rest of the name, and makes it look like a fellow named 'Omney' is running for president,” said Lundeberg.
Rabdau gave Romney’s logo a little more credit. “I’m not sure it’s super successful, but I do think it is trying to add a slightly different feel, which you don’t see much of,” he said. “It gives it a more textured feel and is at least stepping in the direction of something different.”
Romney's “Believe in America” tagline could be a subtle nod to the evangelical vote that is so critical in the early primaries, noted Clayson. It also implies that someone else is not as proud of America as they could be, like perhaps the incumbent.
Jon Huntsman Jr.
“Any time you look at these logos you see a lot of sameness — the usual red, white and blue,” said Rabdau. “So when you see something different, like Huntsman’s, you’re interested in that.” But the group felt that Huntsman’s iconic “H” lacks the versatility that Obama’s “O” did in his much-praised 2008 logo.
“Obama’s ‘O’ had some built-in narrative,” said Lundeberg. “The sunrise in Obama’s ‘O’ implies hope, a new day, imagery that is tough to build into Huntsman’s strong ‘H.’”
But Huntsman’s “H” logo does give the feel of industry and business, which could be good in a year when the focus is on jobs and the economy, noted Clayson. Other panelists felt that the “H” logo looked too corporate, and that it would feel better on a hotel bellman’s uniform.
Her logo was considered clean and straightforward by the panel, but too predictable. “It looks quickly put together and something a first-year design student could have done,” said one panelist. “It is the textbook example of a stereotypical presidential candidate logo.”
While basic as well, panelists liked the flair in Paul's “A” but were divided on whether the juxtaposition of a modern name font with an eighteenth century American eagle watermark worked or not. The “Restore America Now” tagline conveyed urgency, but ending the statement with the word “Now” seemed odd to the panelists. The tagline of restoration did score points for tying in with the historic watermark.
The panelists actually liked the simplicity and style of Newt’s 2012 logo. “It’s not the best logo possible, but it is simple and doesn’t get you distracted with it,” said Lundeberg. With just the words “Newt 2012,” this logo is the epitome of “less is more.”
The design experts felt Pawlenty’s logo was one of their least favorite. “I really dislike the way the ‘Y’ was made larger at the end of the name. What does that say?” wondered Lundeberg. “The flag looks like a tarnished flag, and the overall look is something like a scrapbooking sticker,” he added.
“There is no good reason for the type,” agreed Rabdau.
No one was too excited about the logo of the former Louisiana governor, but gave him some credit for trying to get beyond the ordinary red, white and blue.
The panelists also blasted Santorum’s logo on a number of fronts. “It looks like a dated logo for a city council candidate, not someone running for president of the United States,” said Rabdau.
Others took issue with the lengthy tagline. “Ron Paul and Romney keep it simple with three words, but Santorum’s ‘The Courage to Fight for America’ feels extremely wordy and clunky in context,” said Clayson.
Cain's logo earned praise for being clean and crisp, but also for trying some different imagery with the torch. While some thought the logo felt more Olympic than presidential, others thought it worked fine.
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Overall, the panelists were not overly impressed with the crop of logos. The marketing genius of the Obama campaign logo in 2008 left a high standard, they said. But a word of caution was given to the incumbent as well: “Obama’s change and hope logo doesn’t work as well now,” said Clayson. “His brand identity is different and his 2012 campaign logo will have to reflect that.”
Melissa Romley is the director of public relations for The Summit Group Communications.