NOTE: This is a post about logos and graphic design. It is not about politics. All editorial comments, snarky or otherwise, are attempts to mask my insecurities through humor, as I have been doing since age 14, rather than attempts to sway your political beliefs. On with the show!
In 2008, the nation and indeed the world celebrated a defining moment, a culture shift that seemed impossible just a year earlier. I’m talking, of course, about Pepsi releasing a new, type-free logo that warped the form of its decades-old wavy circle. It was the sort of change the world had been clamoring for, and I’m happy to report that since the new logo was released, everything has been great, and no one has had any problems. Way to go, Pepsi!
At the time, some people mentioned casually (and by that I mean it appeared on every single graphic design blog on the Internet) that the new Pepsi logo bore some resemblance to the logo for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. The underlying message behind this graphic design subterfuge? Barack Obama is bad for your teeth.
SIDE NOTE: Pepsi was recently sued by a person who claimed to have found a dead mouse in a can of Mountain Dew. This person clearly was inspired by the McKenzie brothers in the 1983 classic, Strange Brew. (“It’s in the Canadian criminal code, eh.”) Pepsi’s defense was that a dead mouse would have dissolved in a can of Mountain Dew before a consumer could find it. (Read about that here.) Clearly, this story was leaked by political adversaries to remind you: Barack Obama is bad for your teeth, and could possibly dissolve your entire body in caffeinated citrusy goodness.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has seized an opportunity. If the current president is bad for your teeth, then Mitt Romney will be the Good for Your Teeth President. This explains the thinking behind what the graphic design community (goatee required) is describing as Mitt Romney’s Aquafresh logo (“Mitt Romney: Fluoride President. Triple Protection”).
Listen, I know what it’s like to design a logo that reminds people of something that’s already been done. Every time I drive past a Hyatt hotel, with the swooshy A that I inadvertently borrowed for NAI’s new logo in 2007, it makes me want to ram the sign with my car.
There are very few forms that you can put out there that won’t remind some people of something else that already exists. (I would say that there are no more original ideas, but someone has already said that.) Designers of logos for presidential campaigns are particularly constrained because there are certain inviolable rules in place: You must use red, white, and blue and you must set your type in all caps (do otherwise and our enemies have already won). The fact that Obama won the presidency in 2008 with type set in upper and lower case is nothing short of historic.
To wit, here are logos for the other current Republican candidates still in the race:
All five of these (as well as the Romney logo) conform to the rules of presidential logos, though you’ll notice that Jon Huntsman’s logo features type set in black instead of blue. So he’ll never get the nomination.
Every subset of the graphic design world has its own visual vernacular and is susceptible to trends, from movie posters that are required by law to use the typeface Trajan (see a funny video on that here) to weddings that only take place if the invitations are set in centered Edwardian Script. Political logos are no different, and if they remind us that good oral hygiene is important, how can that be a bad thing?