From the Design Desk

From the Design Desk: Trump-Pence campaign logo

Courtesy of the Donald J. Trump for President campaign

The original Trump-Pence logo featured an interlocked T and P, which was mocked relentlessly on social media.

UPDATED: Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 11:54 p.m.

It’s been quite the week for presidential candidate Donald Trump.

He made the big announcement that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be his running mate. His wife, Melania Trump, has been under scrutiny for the similarities between her speech at the Republican National Convention on Monday and Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. And on Thursday, the RNC’s fourth and final day, Trump officially accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president of the United States.

But somewhere along the line, the spotlight shone on the Trump-Pence logo which featured a somewhat suggestive icon in the image of an American flag. The icon, which has since been removed from the logo, was mocked relentlessly on social media.

Here’s what some of The Daily Orange design team thought about the original logo.

1. What was your first reaction to it?

Clare Ramirez: Somewhere between “Trump is trying way too hard” and “that is one ugly American flag.”

Emma Comtois: What is that T doing to that P?

Lucy Naland: Probably not the definition of partnership Trump and Pence were going for.

Kiran Ramsey: Well, Trump and Pence cozied up to each other pretty fast.

2. Let’s talk about color, typography and the icon on top, which has since been removed. What do you think about the campaign’s choices?

C.R.: Red, white and blue are typical color choices, so that was predictable. Not necessarily bad, just predictable. Trump and Pence’s names are clean, though I think Trump’s name being slightly larger doesn’t add anything to the design. While the text is clean, the large inconsistency in spacing from line to line just throws you off.

As for the icon? As suggestive as it is, I have to give them credit for using the American flag. It’s an image that is familiar to everyone in this country and the campaign is using it to its advantage. Don’t get me wrong: the execution of the idea fell flat and caused the world to mock them. But the monogram approach was a smart concept.

E.C.: The sans serif typeface is modern and the colors scream “America,” which goes nicely with Trump’s slogan. However, all the different lines of text seem to be competing with each other because of the different colors and sizes. I am always a fan of simple, clean design. And while this logo checks most of those boxes, there are still some flaws in terms of hierarchy.

The icon seemed to be too suggestive for a presidential campaign logo. I also thought it was just too busy. With the interlocking letters and stripes coming out the side, as well as all the text underneath, there was just too much to look at.

L.N.: Red and blue are very basic choices for presidential logos, as the logos of Hillary and pretty much any of the other 2016 candidates show. No surprise there. Despite its flaws, the icon was probably the logo’s strongest aspect, because it’s a much more compelling visual than the plain type underneath it.

The style of its monogram was unfortunate, but it cleverly employed imagery of an American flag, which is something everyone can recognize. The intersecting T and P also imply a solid partnership between the two men. It’s interesting that the new logo features a sans-serif typeface (Akzidenz Grotesk Bold Extended), though, because the modernity of this type doesn’t really align with Trump’s conservative views.

K.R.: Red, white and blue: classic and simple. That might work for any other candidate, but I was expecting something a little more unconventional from Trump. As far as the typography, Pence is just the VP, so making his name less bold would have been a better choice. The space between the letters in “Pence” is also way too far apart and makes the whole logo feel unbalanced.

Last, but not least, the erotic icon. I feel like the concept of creating an American flag out of the monogram really isn’t the worst idea. Sure, a bit trite, but a solid effort. The worst part really is just that no one on Trump’s staff realized the placement of the “P” and “T” was totally NSFW. I’m sure there are ways it could have worked. Michael Deppisch found one:

3. Do you think it was a smart idea for the campaign to change the logo to just the names?

C.R.: Yes and no. Obviously, with all the mocking that the first logo received, I can see why it was decided to get rid of the icon on top. It’s better to do it now rather than later in the campaign. But the resulting logo is now merely three lines of text. Maybe it would have been possible to somehow take the original icon and clean it up. You know, make everything look purposeful rather than the mess it was. Like I said, the concept wasn’t bad, but the execution that could have used more work.

E.C.: I think the campaign’s choice to remove the suggestive logo was really the only thing it could do. Of course, it was already out there for the Internet to make fun of for eternity, but with Trump already running such a controversial campaign, the last place more controversy should be coming from is the logo.

L.N.: Because the original icon received so much backlash for its inappropriate imagery, taking it down was probably a smart move. Still, without an additional image, the Trump-Pence logo is pretty weak. The fact that Trump’s name largely overshadows Pence’s is only exacerbated by the lack of the monogram and flag. Pence’s name is also extremely tracked out, which is not an image of solidity and strength. Even though Trump now has a running mate, this logo tells me that his campaign is still all about him.

K.R.: Smart? Yes. Too late? Also yes. The logo will remain in screenshots and tweets, and there’s nothing anyone can do to make it disappear. The new logo still has many of the same typography problems, but it doesn’t draw any negative attention. I will argue though that it doesn’t draw much attention at all.

4. Compared to Hillary Clinton’s logo, which do you think is stronger?

C.R.: I’m actually not a huge fan of either. Unlike Trump’s original logo, which used the flag, the incorporation of blue and red in Hillary’s logo seems simply because they’re patriotic colors. You could literally make the same logo with any two other colors.

On the other hand, that’s also what makes it adaptable. An arrow pointing to the right for a left-leaning candidate seems ironic, but I understand what message her campaign is sending by using it. In the long run, I do prefer Hillary’s because it’s bolder and more memorable than Trump’s — at least, in the way that you want voters to remember a logo. I’m curious to see how her campaign changes or adjusts her logo once she picks a running mate. I’ve got higher expectations.

E.C.: Hillary’s logo is more graphically compelling because there was more creativity used in making it. Her logo appears really simple, but continues to push her message of forward with the use of the arrow. That is what good graphic design comes down to: pushing the message of whatever you are designing forward without interfering with the original message.

Hillary’s logo is also a lot more versatile because it can be trimmed down to just a wordmark with the “H” and arrow, while Trump’s logo is best used at only one size. Presidential logos are difficult to design because sometimes you are limited by the letters in a name, but they become an icon even after the winner is announced and are a crucial part of campaigning.

L.N.: I’m a fan Hillary’s campaign logo because it possesses two key elements of a successful logo: simplicity and versatility. It’s straightforward and clean, yet still distinctive, making it easily recognizable at any size or on any platform. It’s also malleable. You’ve probably seen lots of its variations, from a rainbow flag version to adaptations that feature pictures of Iowa and New Hampshire. This is a great plus for her logo because its default colors, red and blue, don’t mesh well together. The logo’s forward-moving arrow also acts as positive imagery that helps counter-balance the heavy criticism she receives.

I’d have to wait to see Hillary’s updated logo when she announces her running mate, but so far, hers is definitely the stronger of the two. It’s adjustable and recognizable without having to put her name on it. Trump’s does its basic job of representing his campaign, but it’s boring and is in serious need of a new accompanying icon. It doesn’t communicate much more than his name and placement over Pence.

K.R.: Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo has become a very digital-friendly marketing tool where supporters are able to insert images of their own. The versatility of Clinton’s logo is what makes it stronger. Or also maybe the fact that it isn’t X-rated. I’ll be interested to see if her marketing team can keep the same versatility with the addition of her vice president.

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