Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign recently revealed a new logo, garnering mixed reviews even from experienced designers. “It’s just a red arrow moving to the right,” said Scott Thomas, design director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, in a Politico article. Yet, Hillary’s logo succeeds precisely because it’s a deceptively simple mark that is both memorable and versatile.
The logo design brief naturally would have included the salient detail that she’s a woman. It would also have set out the challenge of needing to assure people that she will be no less decisive than a man when faced with tough decisions. That she is no pushover. That she is the person to move the country forward. Given how little seems to get through Congress these days, moving forward is an important aspect of what Hillary must communicate in her candidacy.
That’s very different than the challenge O’Bama’s logo designers faced some 8 years ago. O’Bama’s campaign logo featured a blue O with red and white waves, symbolizing his intention to work side-by-side with Republicans. Back then, he anticipated a high degree of collaboration. Then the Tea Party happened, followed by a Republican-led Congress that defines compromise as a concession to be avoided at any cost.
Hillary’s campaign logo is an effective contrast to the soft oval of O’Bama’s. Her strong, bold H is purposely solid. Just as horizontal as vertical, it won’t be tipped over easily. It’s not at all elegant or gracefully proportioned, but it is STRONG.
It reminds me of the Hyster logo, although Hyster’s square has arrows going up and down (which makes sense, as Hyster supplies lift trucks and other warehousing equipment). Arrows are fairly popular in logos, although usually not well executed. A few notable exceptions:
- The extremely clever FedEx logo contains a “hidden” arrow where the E and x join.
- The logo of Carrefour, a French supermarket chain, is a bit of an optical illusion. There is a dingbat-like blue arrow pointing right and a red carat pointing left. But these two pieces of art also create a large and fancy C in the negative space.
- The UK Space Agency has a red arrow blasting onward and upward through the Union Jack flag, leaving shards of color that emphasize movement.
Economics and Optics
Hillary’s campaign logo is a cost-efficient, 2-color logo that will embroider well (on hats, for example). It will be easily recognizable at a distance on buttons, lawn signs and posters. It will be nice and large on a podium because of its square shape. The arrow is an element that has already been applied to her campaign website where it is used to point people to specific actions.
Some people are bothered by the right-pointing arrow being red, a color associated with Republicans. But there are few options. White just isn’t bold enough and would have required an outline or a background color to read correctly. A background color puts the logo in a box, which causes a host of other production issues. More expensive to embroider too.
The other option, a blue arrow pointing to the right, is better than white but not quite up to the task. Dark colors recede, whereas red jumps off the page (and screen). Red is more visible. Red puts the emphasis on movement and progress, not on the H.
The arrow of progress, of moving forward, is the most important element. Marrying that to a strong and solid H for Hillary is a great solution. The designer created not just a logomark, but a memorable icon that will serve her campaign well.
What do you think about her logo? Are there other logos you particularly like? Feel free to leave a comment below.