Hillary Clinton recently announced her intention to run for president of the United States of America with a logo that looks partially inspired by Fed Ex, partially an "I'm with Stupid" T-Shirt and something from the 80s (not in a good way).
In short, it stinks.
Full disclosure, I'm not voting for Hillary, but this is not a political opinion piece. It's about good strategy, design, execution and branding--all important things in the worlds of business or politics. In fact, some of the information in this piece may even be useful to her and her team as she crafts her image and message in the coming months. There's much I believe is wrong with the logo from its visual aesthetic to the message it conveys. Here are a few areas where it likely fell down:
The designer behind this approach may have been trying to communicate "strength" "reliability" "steadfastness" and possibly "trustworthiness". Whatever the intent, strength comes across most loudly as well as hinting at aggressiveness with a bulky, thrusting arrow that dominates the visual. Hillary Clinton is well known to be strong and assertive and while a logo should be authentic to your personal brand, the strategy to start here may have been off as it reinforces negative perceptions here as well.
Aesthetically it's less than refined--something that is likely to turn off Hillary's base. It's also decidedly un modern, which flies in the face of today's shifting voting demographic. It seems to be the opposite of the elegant approach put forth by the Obama team during both campaigns which may have been the intent, but goes too far. The only conclusion I can come to is that it may have suffered a process over informed by focuse groups and or design by committee.
Conversation has erupted on Twitter and elsewhere with mostly a collective head scratch reaction to the logo with some pointing out the unfortunate red arrow pointing to the right (both conservative symbols in color and direction) as well as the general lack of design sensibility or apparent rationale.
What Team Hillary Should Do About It
There's a strong temptation to do nothing here. After all, it would require significant time and resources and perhaps it would send the message that team Hillary is strong and unwavering in their conviction and that they believe in the decision to launch with this brand mark. The other school of thought: a bad decision is a bad decision and leaders who move quickly to correct bad decisions can reap the rewards of appearing both human and effective. If I were Hillary, I would look to help from the folks who know how to fix a problem like this. Perhaps enlisting a firm like IDEO who know both design and problem solving.
Or, they could just dig their heels in and live with what's done. A logo may seem a temporary and insignificant part of a political campaign. But if candidates are brands (and I believe they are) then every interaction with them counts. Hillary's logo isn't just a first impression--it's a reinforcement of her brand and name every single time you see it... much like the candidate herself.