Helping The Hateful: Rebranding Bigotry, With a Nod to the Past
Suppose for a moment that you’re an angry, moderately racist, beer’d up redneck. Since we don’t really have a name for such a specific group of people, I’ll just call them… Trump Voters. This morning, I woke up to Trump voters talking about their new hatetag… erm, hashtag… #BlackRiflesMatter.
Trump Voters feel like their whiteness is being impinged upon, and also feel like that whiteness has something to do with black people becoming their equals. Ta-Nehisi Coates actually wrote a piece about this recently, if you’re looking for the long form version of why white people think their identity is being trampled on. This isn’t about that.
This is about the horrible design that bigots and racists tend to use. They clearly need some help with their branding.
I want to just take a moment to quickly review the“Black Rifles Matter” sign in question.
Look at those poorly made stencils, the awkward, off-alignment text, and (clearly) cobbled together backing material? It just says, “I don’t care about my brand of hatefulness. My white supremacy isn’t serious.”
If you’re going to be a racist, be great at it. Take pride in being a bigot — don’t just let the liberals have all the fun with design. You’re the type of person who wants to pound a beer, fuck a goddamn bald eagle, and shoot an innocent minority in the evening, like George Zimmerman. That’s the American fucking dream, right?
Let’s take some key elements of racist and bigoted design, and make them come together into something more visually pleasing. Basically, let’s work on re-branding bigotry into something that is more visually appealing, while keeping the same design features in place.
Tip 1: Use the American flag.
This is demonstrated brilliantly in Trump’s banner on Twitter. Trump and Pence have been crudely outlined and presented in front of an American flag. For just a little contrast, there is a little bit of black drop-shadow behind each of them. “Trump Pence” is done in a gold foil texture, because of fucking course Trump needed his own name to be gilded. Then, below that, there are some terrible font clashes, with “Republican Nominees, Donald J. Trump & Michael R. Pence” below the other sans serif fonts in what appears to be Times New Roman.
What works? The goddamn American flag. What doesn’t? Literally everything else about this. I have no idea who decided that the white Times New Roman font needed to be there. It literally puts the same information twice, on the same banner.
That’s a symbol of bad design. If you need to say the same thing twice, it means you’re poorly communicating your ideas.
Tip 2: Use white space.
You’re white. White is what we in the design world like to call “integral to your brand”. If you’re not making effective use of white space, you’re not using the uh… “power” of white. I guess you could call it white power.
Using the flag effectively means it’s an accent, and not the whole design.
White is your brand. If you’re not using enough white, your audience won’t understand your branding.
Tip 3: Negative space is your friend.
When you’re promoting a message of negativity, make sure you’re implying the negative. This can be accomplished by overlaying your core elements and then masking them away.
It also “feels” like something is being removed. Is our evil, black, Muslim president trying to take away your guns? Imply that by using fonts that remove space from your gun. It visually says, “Something here is being taken away from me.”
Here’s what I came up with. Pretty nice, huh? I bet that racist cock of yours is hard enough to hunt and kill a Mexican with, am I right?
Let’s start at the top: A subtle, but effective American flag, lightened, and fading into a white gradient. It says, “America!”, while also transitioning into whiteness. Visually, it says, “America should be white.”
Our biggest striking element is an black AR-15 body, with “Black Rifles Matter” used in negative space. Remember what I said about negative space above? That’s what I meant. It just feels like this gun has more power, because the black rifle text is both on, and being removed from the black rifle, while exposing the American flag behind it.
Then, below all this, is our centered text, featuring our tone-deaf message.
Yes, we have ‘em.
No, you can’t take ‘em.
Notice how the “No” is colored in bright red? I really pulls your eyes there, and focuses the message towards what really matters. It’s not just that you have guns, it’s also a broader conversation about your Second Amendment rights.
We never know when minorities and Muslims might try to take over America, force us all to be gay, and put “taco trucks on every corner” — that’s why we need to focus on the “No”.
That strong “No” really tells a larger story of the regressive branding within male-dominated white supremacy. “No” is the story of regression. It tells the parable of someone afraid of change and progress. Every brand needs something that we can clearly understand. With bigots, xenophobes, misogynists, and racists, the brand is NO.
“No, I won’t let black people in my schools.”
“No, I won’t let women vote.”
“No, I won’t let gay people get married.”
“No, I don’t want those brown-skinned, non-English speakers in my country.”
Take notes, bigots. You need to work on your branding. Focus on maintaining what you have, and the fear of change. That fear is a powerful branding tool. When you’re trying to manipulate and control the masses, while simultaneously removing the rights of minority groups, “No” is the starter, but fear is the driving motivator.
Effective propaganda makes you feel proud of being a white man, while simultaneously breaking down anyone who might be different. Your “No” branding needs a pivot point, because sooner or later, you’ll need to transition into what you really mean, and repeating a consistent message is important to how fascism and xenophobia get adopted by the masses.
The good news is, we have a template for imposing power, effectively using flags, images of your leader, and also making sure you’re saying there is something wrong with the minority groups you hate so much. You need guns. Why? It implies violence. It says, “We’re powerful. We’re going to impose our will on you. We will kill to maintain our way of life.”
Here’s your rubric for the branding you’re looking for. Happy branding!