6 Graphic Design Lessons from Hillary Clinton’s Logo

Christina Rickabaugh April 24, 2015

After Hillary Clinton officially announced her presidential candidacy for 2016, she became a highly trending topic on social media for reasons that had nothing to do with politics or the upcoming election. So why did Clinton generate so much social media buzz? Her new campaign logo.

Yes, you read that correctly. As soon as her new logo was revealed on her campaign and social media websites, the internet erupted with reactions to it creating a ton of fuss over a letter “H” with an arrow:

The logo was criticized as being amateur, and a ripoff of everything from a hospital road sign to the WikiLeaks and FedEx logos. It appeared as if every armchair graphic designer was ready to weigh in with his or her opinion.

Why did the logo get such negative reactions?

Part of the reason is the fact that it is a presidential campaign logo. Politics can be a very divisive issue, and Hillary Clinton is an incredibly popular figure. While many expected her to run for president in 2016, the announcement and the introduction of a campaign logo made everything official for her.

The fact that many people first encountered her logo with the white square background as an avatar on Twitter—where she has 3.41M followers—led to the hospital road sign comparisons. When people think of logos, they usually imagine something complex and fancy, so there was a certain amount of surprise that the logo used such a simple color scheme and font.

Where does the logo work well?

While the logo may not look that appealing as a Twitter avatar, it actually works well on her official campaign website. The arrow within the logo creates a theme and a vehicle to use throughout the website:

When the transparent version of the logo is used, it makes for a nice, subtle brand reminder on some pages throughout her website such as her donation page:

So what lessons can we learn from the new Hillary Clinton logo?

Much of the feedback given about the logo was based on best practices and fundamentals behind creating logo creation. There are certain design principles businesses should follow when creating logos themselves or working with a graphic design company. Carly Stunder, Director of Website and Graphic Design at Miles Technologies, shares her list of best practices to follow when getting started:

1. Start with a sketch phase

When initially devising logo concepts, spend a lot of time brainstorming and sketching initial ideas. Don’t discard anything as being “too crazy” before you sketch it out. You may not ultimately use that design, but there may be elements of it you incorporate into your new logo. If it helps, make use of a mood board to illustrate the type of style you are looking for. A mood board is a collage that usually consists of text, images and other visual samples.

2.  Understand what colors you want to use and why you want to use them

Colors are an essential part of your logo and your company website as a whole. They not only need to be visually appealing, but the colors should also convey the mood you want to instill in your customers. For Clinton—and other presidential candidates—the color choices of red, white and blue for logos are fairly obvious. For other companies it’s about taking the time to find the perfect color combination that best represents their brand through their logo and company website.

3.  When designing your logo, think big picture

Remember, your logo will need to look good everywhere and in different variations. While focusing on color is essential, don’t forget to consider how your logo will look in black and white as well as grey scale.  It is important to also view your logo in the different contexts in which you will be using it. See how it looks as an icon, a social media profile picture, a banner, with text such as a tagline.

4.  Test your logo to see how it looks on merchandise and other advertisements

You will likely be using your logo on different merchandise for advertising purposes. From hats and t-shirts to pens and keychains, your logo needs to look good on items of different shapes and sizes. While it is not cost effective to order a bunch of merchandise just to see how it looks, many vendors allow you to upload your logo and view an image to understand how it will look on the merchandise. You may also be able to find vendors that are willing to send you a free sample. Also, be sure to keep in mind the various print advertisement options that could incorporate your logo. You may not have enough money now for a billboard or a full page color-ad, but that might change down the line.

5.  Create a digital asset library

This library will house all your digital assets, including your logo and all of its variations. You can create and host a library yourself or utilize a service like SharePoint, Dropbox, or Google Drive. As part of your library, or as a separate style guide, you should include information about your logo and other branded assets such as colors, font and image standards.

6.  Your logo must be unique

Last, but certainly not least, your logo must be a unique and original design. Avoid using stock images so that you have the the option of pursuing a trademark for your logo. While you can certainly look at images for inspiration, your logo should be designed from scratch. When selecting fonts, make sure the ones you choose are eligible for commercial use.

Remember, your logo is the visual representation of your brand and your company. It will also guide many of the stylistic decisions you make on your website like font and color scheme. Take the time to design something that your company can get excited about and that resonates well with your target audience.

What do you think of Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo? How about our redesigned versions? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when designing a logo yourself or working with a graphic design agency? We’d love to hear your input in the comments below.

If you have any questions about these graphic design lessons or would like to get some website and graphic design tips for your brand, don’t hesitate to contact us today to speak with a web and graphic design expert.



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