Top down campaigning

Michael Bierut’s story on the design behind I’m With Her

Michael Bierut has written a very interesting and revealing article on the thinking behind the design/logo for Clinton’s campaign, and where and why it failed to deliver. It’s enjoyable as this was sort of forgotten in the aftermath. It also highlights how good campaign work hones in on and enhances brand traits — whether they are good or not, or whether they stand a chance against their opponent. It also reveals how quickly change happens, how hard it can be to soak up the emotions of society for the brand to respond too. Solidity of brand personality, behaviour, design, values and principles are always important, but we have tendency to put too much focus on these factors and forget about real life in which the brand is supposed to live. Another essential factor, next to brand personality and behaviour, should be brand response, or brand flexibility, in which we explore how the brand should interact and connect with the ever-changing landscape it is living in, making room for imperfections or deviations from the core brand.

As we worked on the campaign, it never occurred to us to be anything less than perfect. (As our campaign contact Teddy Goff observed much later, to be imperfect would have been inauthentic to our detail-obsessed candidate.) During the height of the primary battle, Lindsay Ballant, a Bernie Sanders supporter, wrote a perceptive critique that compared the graphics of the two campaigns.
“While Hillary’s visual campaign is inarguably successful by all traditional design principles, it’s also calculated, expected, and contrived,” Ballant wrote.
“It reinforces the perception of establishment status, which is one of the main criticisms of her as a candidate. One of the consequences of a campaign so tightly controlled is the campaign feels so tightly controlled.” In contrast, the design of the Sanders campaign had the homespun charm one associates with do-it-yourself craft sites like Etsy. They looked and felt authentic. When I read this in the spring of 2016, I had to admit she was onto something.