The list of names of the Democratic candidates for president is like one of those long, biblical passages of “begats,” or the ship catalogue in the Iliad (I have been told Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg will get this reference), and after each reading, I am utterly spent, filled with the sense of recognition and wistfulness that accompanies a list of people you apparently went to elementary school with. “Oh man, remember John Delaney? I wonder what he’s up to!” “Hey, Cory Booker!”
Given the sheer profusion of candidates, I would like to perform some service journalism (that is, to be fair, neither a service nor, really, except in the loosest sense, journalism). Let me start over. I would like to rank the logos of the candidates currently in the race. This would not be a big deal were it not for my yet-to-be-disproved theory that whatever candidate has what I consider to be the best graphic design winds up winning the electoral college. So, watch out!
Eligibility for inclusion in this ranking was determined by a set of arcane metrics barely known even to myself — and turned out, oddly, to result in the same 20 who are debating tonight and tomorrow.
You are welcome, and also, I apologize.
20. Bill de Blasio
Oh, no. The theme of the de Blasio campaign seems to be de Blasio looking at people holding up clear signs indicating that they did not want him to run and would not be enthused about it if he did, and then running anyway. This is just another of those clear signs. It could have been something, but nobody involved cared! I would be pleasantly surprised if the font was not one of the first three suggested in whatever graphic-design program was used to make this, and even more pleasantly surprised if this program was not Microsoft Word. No, not Paint. Word.
The addition of BilldeBlasio.com at the bottom in an enormous font is what takes this from Regular Bad Sign to Parody of a Bad Sign. Is this a car dealership? Where other campaigns have a slogan or some hint of a rationale for Why This and Why Now, the de Blasio campaign offers … BilldeBlasio.com. Maybe, it suggests, the people who were trying will be found on the website? Be sure to add Mayor de Blasio on LinkedIn! At least it isn’t a QR code, I guess.
19. Andrew Yang
This gets worse the more you look at it, I think. Staring at this logo, you go on a journey. The font is fine. This is a year when a lot of people seem to be straying from the usual red, white and blue palette, and it is nice to see someone stick with the classic set of colors. But there is something not quite right with the flag/road/draped thing coming out of the Y. What is the perspective here? It looks like the Y is wearing a colorful scarf that has blown into its face. Or is it a road? And if so, why is it running over the Y? Is Y in the way of progress? Is this “Inception”?
18. Tim Ryan
This looks like a two-sided concept album: “TIM/RYAN.” But not a very good one.
17. 2020 Gillibrand
I should like this logo more than I do. I like how pink it is! I like the whole pink-and-black thing, a great color scheme that should not be the exclusive province of bachelorette parties. I think the placement makes it look like Gillibrand’s first name is 2020. Which might be less ambiguous to spell than … Kiersten? Kristen? Is there a hidden J? This confusion over what should be a simple name may be the least problematic legacy of the former Department of Homeland Security head! Also, I don’t like how 2020 is hiding behind the Gillibrand. I guess I am opposed to the illusion of depth in logos. Candidates, save the illusion of depth for your position papers, where it belongs!
16. John Hickenlooper
There is a lot going on here. It looks like at the brainstorming session that led to this logo, they said, “Everyone just throw out suggestions! There’s no such thing as a bad idea! We’ll winnow them down later!” and then they forgot the second part. So the result is a logo that looks as though a star appeared and led to … Colorado! Where there were either mountains or a set of blue stairs that had fallen over. And also it was 2020! But, hey, I’d drink a beer with this logo. Hickenlooper 2020: No Bad Ideas in Brainstorming!
15. Tulsi Gabbard
Something happened to the T and the I, and I do not like it. It looks as though someone was cutting one of them out by hand and made a slight mistake, then trimmed the other one to match. The 2020 looks uncertain as to whether it is supposed to come in yet. The letters are so good! Why would you choose this font?
14. John Delaney (For President 2020)
This dared greatly. Whether it also succeeded greatly is a more difficult question. I like the red-and-blue road leading away from the D, or perhaps through the D. But it also sort of looks like the D has been wounded by a red-and-blue arrow. I like also that the logo understood that its reader would not know that Delaney was running for president and helpfully wanted to clarify that for us. Otherwise, we might assume it was a failed airline, or a successful toothpaste.
13. 20Pete20 Buttigieg
The sign looks like his name is 20Pete20. This is like if those festive New Year’s Eve glasses were a logo.
12a. Joe Biden
I am bothered by this sign. It looks as though the candidate is someone named Jo moving rapidly leftward. This describes neither Biden nor the voter he is courting. This is a classic case of picking the wrong letter to do something fun with. Perhaps instead, his profile could be affably looming from the J, or he could be sort of peering out of the O — a letter that, if emphasized, would have the added bonus of reminding us of his eight years of service in the Obama White House.
12b. Bonus Joe!
Similarly, the surname sign’s commitment to making the E do something fun looks like BID moving rapidly to the left, with a capital N left awkwardly behind. I don’t like this, either. It has all the worst hallmarks of the inexplicable rightward-pointing arrow in the Hillary Clinton sign, which was the visual equivalent of “Fight Song.”
11. Jay Inslee
Behind “Inslee,” underlined in red for emphasis by an overzealous spell check, is a nightmarish vision of what our Earth will become if we do not act on climate change YESTERDAY! “Our moment” is a fun replacement for “2020” and will make this sign recyclable, if the campaign does not go as hoped!
10. Cory Booker
This is the same problem as Tim/Ryan. At least Cory/2020 seems like it might be a sort of cool, futuristic concept album in a way that “TIM/RYAN” does not.
9. Kamala D. Harris
Oh, man, that “THE.” Something about it is not right! If “FOR” is going to be that big, then “THE” should not be tiny. This is driving me wild! I should have started by stating things I loved about this logo, which are many: I love the purple. I love the orange-red. It’s bold! But you can’t have “FOR” and “THE” in different sizes like this! This reads as “KAMALA HARRIS FOR PEOPLE the,” and that is not right! It looks as though they added “the” as an afterthought. And why does it want to read diagonally? I am IRRATIONALLY UPSET by this! No small tables in the vicinity are safe! This is something I am going to have to work through on my own, I think. Maybe there was a discount if you did not print “THE” the right size? Maybe this is a message? No, I’m looking at it again. There is so much in this I like that it really bothers me that this one thing about it is so desperately wrong. This could have been fixed so easily!
8. Beto O’Rourke
Another candidate going all in on the First Name for America. At least his “for” is a rational size. I could say mean things to this logo like, “It looks like the logo of a New York-based barbecue joint,” but I won’t say any of those things. It’s fine. You know what? It’s fine.
7. Eric Swalwell
Oh, it’s a flag! How original! The risk was not high, but neither was the reward high. At least the red stripes do not give Eric the illusion of movement, which might be cruel.
6. Michael F. Bennet
It was prudent of them to put a box around BENNET, as BENNET cannot be contained! Personally, if I had this last name, I would have leaned hard into the “Pride and Prejudice” of it and gotten something Regency (or Georgian!) and loopy, but, as usual, nobody consulted me. Unfortunately, given the combination of logo trends and his current name recognition, this makes it appear that his first name is Bennet. Which, I think, it isn’t?
5. Elizabeth Warren
I like the font. I like the underlining. I like that it isn’t something faux-folksy like “LIZ!” It is businesslike and unembellished, but if you want to jazz it up with an underline, you can jazz it up with an underline. This is the button-down shirt of logos. If you really want to do something to it, you can. It is not the most memorable logo that has ever existed, but at least it isn’t memorably bad.
4. Amy Klobuchar
Okay, Amy. Amy, okay. I like that Klobuchar feels that we are on a first-name basis! I like the font. Good, sturdy serif font. Heaven is a place with serifs. It feels whopperjawed, though, like America should be a little farther to the right for this to really work? I don’t like that America lacks serifs, but I am sure she thought this through. Love everything about the big A, A-plus, would embroider on the front of my bodice with pride. I wonder, should there be more color, or should there be less color?
3. Julián Castro
I like this one a lot! And it can definitely not be mistaken for a logo for his twin brother, Joaquin! I like what the accent mark is doing! It has a nice élan! I like the colors! I like the border. I like that his last name is there, but also that it is small, to emphasize that he is JULIÁN and not any other Castro you might be thinking of. I think he is navigating this previously-occupied-last-name situation just about perfectly, definitely better than Jeb!.
2. Bernie Sanders
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” says this logo, confusingly the exact opposite of Bernie’s actual campaign message: EVERYTHING IS BROKEN AND/OR RIGGED, AND YOU MUST ALLOW ME TO FIX AND/OR REPLACE IT NOW. Admittedly, it is a good logo.
1. Marianne Williamson
Yes, Marianne Williamson! Hear me out. This logo has a confidence that I find thrilling. Many things occurred to the makers of this sign that had never occurred to logomakers before! Why shouldn’t you stack 2020 on top of itself? You can still see it, and it takes up much less space that way! Why should the 0s have holes in them? We can still guess what they are! I think in a field of 20-plus candidates, you must take risks to stand out, and this logo does that. Fresh thinking!
I like the font. I like how it takes up a confusing amount of space, like what happens whenever I attempt to write in block letters by hand, where I start enormously and then am forced to stack the last few letters on themselves. I like that 2020 is pink. I don’t think it would make a good bumper sticker, but I do not think of Marianne as a bumper-sticker candidate.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” reads a quote on Marianne Williamson’s personal website, not to be confused with her campaign website. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
That, I think, is the message of this logo.