V is for Victory

How we designed a winning campaign logo

Ben Blumenrose
Jan 5, 2015 · 5 min read

“I have about $500 in the budget. Is that enough for a designer who takes BART and wants to make their commute better to do a logo for me? Otherwise, it would be tremendous if you would like to put something together…”

Last year a good friend of ours decided to take on San Francisco’s public transportation problems and run for BART Board. Of course, he also needed help designing his campaign logo. With a $500 budget, we could either help him find a design student, find a designer good samaritan, or… do it ourselves!

Given we had a free evening I sat down with my writer + art director wife and set out to design Nicholas Josefowitz a winning campaign logo. Here’s how we did it:

Define the Goal

First we wanted to make sure we had clear goals and that our client agreed with them. For this project we defined the goals as —

  1. Communicate that Nicholas Josefowitz is running for BART Board.
  2. Allude to some of the ideas he stands for — speed, inclusivity, democratic principles, etc.
  3. Have it be flexible/adaptable

Agree on Guiding Principles

To help with creative direction we wrote down some guiding principles we wanted to keep in mind —

  1. People want a transportation system that is fast and reliable.
  2. Nick is running against a 24-year Republican incumbent in a highly democratic region.
  3. BART is a terrible mess — filthy stations, broken escalators, etc.

Before moving forward we quickly IM’ed the goals/principles to Nick to make sure they were on point before moving forward. With his sign off we moved forward.

From Ideation to Final Design

With this light scaffolding we went about exploring logo concepts. Some questions we asked: is there any BART imagery we can borrow from? What colors/typefaces will support our goals? What language would support our visuals? This seems like overkill if you’re trying to complete a project in one evening but the up front work allowed us to be very efficient with our time.

We began with a quick Google search of “BART”. I find this sometimes helps get the ideas flowing. The first page revealed this image —

My eyes went right to the 4 lines on the side of the train. The BART basically has racing stripes on the side! Also they’re democratic blue which is a nice coincedence. Given we wanted to communicate that Nick is a Democrat and wants BART moving fast this was a great visual element. We added a little angle to convey even greater speed and we were on our way:

When considering typefaces we again took a lean approach. Usually I’d explore tens or hundreds of typefaces to see how they look but we had very little time. What we did have was years of history and hundreds of millions of dollars spent equating Gotham to Democrat in the eyes of many Americans. So, given -

Gotham = Democrat

and we want to convey a democrat that wants people to move fast (see guiding principles), we needed to look no further than Gotham Italic. Done.

Refining the Language

We were coming along very nicely. The next step was coming up with a tagline. Something that would communicate speed and inclusivity and public transportation. After a bit of playing we came up with this catchy rhyme: “All Aboard: Josefowitz for BART Board”. A bit cliché but it did communicate people coming together and building a public transport system for everyone. Putting it in context really sealed it —

The cherry on top was that Nick’s last name has FOW in it which reads a bit like forward. To amplify that we had the 4 lines go right up to the edge of the “F”.

Finally, we wanted to see if we could steal a bit more from the Obama playbook and apply it for different support groups. We mocked up a couple quick sketches of how the mark could adapt —

And there it was. The next day we presented the work to Nick and he was thrilled — the only tweak being to change the language to Get SF Moving. Within a few days he was using it on his site and campaign emails to mobilize his message.

Ship and Iterate

A few weeks later Nick informed us:

“We’re going to do a slight re-brand. Instead of GetSFMoving we’re going to CleanUpBART. A bit more focused on how dirty and poorly maintained the system is, and its environmental problems. I think we can use the same logo, just change the strap line. What do you think?”

Given we designed a pretty flexible system we thought — no problem. A few tweaks and we resent Nick the files to keep his campaign going strong. Below are just some examples of how the logo was used in signage. Nick did a great job mobilizing people around his message and would eventually beat out the 24 year incumbant. Now all he has to do is clean up BART. We’re behind you!

If you’d like to follow Nick’s journey to revamp BART you can like his Facebook page here — https://www.facebook.com/GetSFMoving

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