The Saga of Hillary’s Logo: 3 People, 2 Months, 0 Wins

While it may now be a relic of a lost war, standing alone as a tragic reminder of failed ambitions, we all recognize the image:  the colors, invoking Old Glory;  the presentation, simple yet bold;  and the purpose–that, perhaps, was the grandest of all, heralding the arrival of something familiar and yet so new, so invigorating, so exciting that it would sweep everyone up with the sheer force of its power.  Even now, when I think of it, I still get the shivers.

Yes, I’m talking about the Hillary logo.

Believe it or not, it took a team of three creative professionals almost two months to come up with the final design–which, in retrospect, is only slightly less shocking than the surprise Darva Conger got at the end of Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.  But now that the election is over (and Hillary Clinton will never be president), the full story of how that logo came to be can now be told, which is what designer Michael Bierut did when he recently took to the pages of the Design Observer:

Almost two years before, I was invited to volunteer my services on a secret project: the design of a logo for the possible presidential bid of the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I was excited. I had never met Secretary Clinton, but I liked her when she was my senator and I was impressed with her performance as Secretary of State. I had assumed she’d be the candidate in 2004, until Barack Obama had come along. Eight years later she was even more qualified. This was a historic moment. I said yes immediately.

 

I put together a three-person team: me, designer Jesse Reed, and project manager Julia Lemle. We would work in secret for the next two months. Our first meeting with the Clinton team began with a simple statement: “Our candidate has 100 percent name recognition.” There is a well-known marketing principle that is often credited to midcentury design legend Raymond Loewy. He felt that people were governed by two competing impulses: an attraction to the excitement of new things and a yearning for the comfort provided by what we already know. In response, Loewy had developed a reliable formula. If something was familiar, make it surprising. If something was surprising, make it familiar.

 

Our candidate was universally known. How could we make her image seem fresh and compelling?

And so the Hillary logo was born.

Although we explored dozens of symbols, the one everyone gravitated to was the simplest of all: a perfectly square H. But its simplicity was deceptive. What looked like an H was really a window, capable of endless transformations. It could contain pictures and colors, patterns and motifs. Because so much communication for the campaign would happen digitally, the logo could change at a moment’s notice. It could be customized not just by various interest groups, but by individual supporters. It was the ultimate dynamic identity system. Still, we worried that the H alone, even as an ever-changing frame, was too static. We finally found what we thought was the right finishing touch, the simplest thing in the world: an arrow, emerging naturally from the geometry of the letterform, pointing forward, toward the future.

Bierut doesn’t realize it here, but he actually hits on one of the major reasons that Clinton never could close the deal with her campaign, and that was her “dynamic identity.”  Like the logo, which could be refashioned into anything you wanted it to be, Clinton herself went through so many makeovers and changes that it was hard to tell if we were on Hillary 2.0 or Hillary 3.0.  It’s actually fitting that her logo was so interchangeable–but unlike the Transformer she wanted to be, Clinton herself was actually less than meets the eye.

On the election postmortem, Bierut also makes the observation:

Armies of smart people generated oceans of words in the aftermath of the election trying to figure out what happened. Talented pundits and strategists and pollsters, all masters of their craft, were wracked with self-doubt. I too wondered if the very thing I was so good at had somehow betrayed me. We had spent months developing a logo; Trump had spent years building a brand.

Again, he has hit upon something profound here.  Love him or hate him, everybody knew who Trump was.  He made no excuses for himself and he never changed a lick during the campaign (even when changing might have benefited him).  Clinton, who has been in the national spotlight for the better part of a quarter century, could still never convey to voters who she really is.  That’s why we seemingly got a new and improved Hillary every few weeks, as she shifted styles to try and be more likable.  You only do that when your brand stinks.  And it’s very hard to change that with advertising and logos.

All kidding aside, Bierut actually seems to be a very good designer–and I have to admit, I don’t think that his work on the Hillary logo was all that bad.  In fact, he did his job expertly and with obvious passion.  The problem, though, wasn’t with his work, but rather with the product he was trying to sell.  Clinton was a terrible candidate and ran a terrible campaign, and the fault for that lies entirely with her.

Who Cares Who Donald Trump’s Running Mate Is?

Tomorrow, at long last, we find out who Donald Trump’s running mate will be. Speculation is abounding: will we get a red state, conservative governor in Mike Pence? A former Speaker of the House in Newt Gingrich? A more liberal Republican like Chris Christie? We could even get a pro-choice Democrat in General Michael Flynn! Who will emerge from Trump’s board room the victor and be named executive director of Trump Vodka the Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States?

Well, what does it really matter?

Much like his other business ventures, Trump’s candidacy to this point has exclusively revolved around the gilded infamy that is the Trump brand. His most fervent supporters would have it no other way, as they have dutifully defended each of his platform’s tumultuous twists and turns, making it abundantly clear that their vote is for a man, not for any particular set of principles. Those who have reluctantly settled in behind Trump as a way of blocking Hillary Clinton from reaching the Oval Office will also not be perturbed by his selection, as their vote for prevention is very much locked in. And for the conservatives who have thus far refused membership in Trump: Republican Party, it’s unlikely that anyone apart from the ghost of Reagan himself could change their minds.

Candidates, of course, generally select their running mate based on perceived inadequacies in their own campaigns. John McCain put Sarah Palin on the ticket as a means of pulling his moderate candidacy more to the right. Barack Obama chose Joe Biden in order to address concerns on his youth and inexperience. By contrast, Mitt Romney went with Paul Ryan to add a certain young, intellectual bravado to his campaign.

But what could one person hope to add to a ticket built entirely around the celebrity and personality of one man?

This is the price of building a campaign around a person rather than principles and ideas. Trump has long past peak exposure and it’s fair to say that the vast majority of the American public has already made up their minds on whether or not they can bring themselves to cast a vote for Trump in November. Any amount of conservative, moderate, or liberal influence will do next to nothing to convince anyone of Trump’s viability as a potential Commander in Chief. No running mate can hope to make the idea of a Trump presidency more or less palatable.

Furthermore, let’s not forget that we are talking about a man who once proclaimed that he was his own closest advisor and that he had never done anything in his life that he felt the need to apologize for. Now does this strike you as someone whose perspective can be swayed by the beliefs and suggestions of any one person? Trump is not drafting an advisor but another surrogate, a glorified salesman tasked with pitching to the American people the gold-plated, opulent product that is Trumpism.

And while their ideas may fall on deaf ears, this person can at least expect to retain some usefulness. After all, someone’s gotta get Trump his McDonald’s.

Animal-Style Politics Has No Place in the Conservative Movement

Animal-style french fries have a rightful place in the United States. Animal-style politics courtesy of Donald Trump do not.

As a native Californian taking refuge in Virginia, I always encourage others to sample and try In-N-Out’s animal-style french fries. (For those unfamiliar with animal-style fries, they are french fries topped with a Thousand Island-style dressing made from ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish.) These fries truly live up to their name: they are messy, but oh so delicious. Although animal-style fries are enjoyed by countless Americans, it’s a shame many are endorsing animal-style politics.

Trump’s “strength” is seen in his relentless pursuit to prey on those who pose a threat him or his empire. He had the audacity to mock a disabled man. He had the gall to criticize a woman’s face. He compared one of his recent endorsers to a “child molester” with pathological tendencies. He trashed a respectable female reporter who dared to ask him a tough question. He threatened a prominent family in Chicago for not appeasing him.  (Need I go on?) Despite unleashing these attacks, he proceeds to bark and howl.

A few days ago, Trump tweeted that rival Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) used a suggestive yet publicly available photo of his wife, Melania, in a SuperPAC ad. He proceeded to say he’ll “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz:

Much to the chagrin of Trump, Cruz had no direct involvement in this ad since campaigns are legally barred from colluding with SuperPACs. (Campaigning 101.) More importantly, the Make America Awesome PAC that’s responsible for the ad is anti-Trump but not affiliated with Cruz in any shape or form. (Facts are stubborn things, especially for Trump loyalists who excuse the candidate’s indefensible behavior on the pretext of “making America great again.”) Cruz also condemned the ad in question–a fact largely ignored by Trump and his surrogates. As expected, Cruz took the high road and responded with the following:

Then Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of Mrs. Cruz paired side-by-side with his model wife yesterday morning, which immediately prompted Cruz to address Trump’s antics before the media:

Instead of debating Cruz on policy matters and substance, Trump skirts serious conversation by mudslinging, hurling insults, and channeling his inner clown. Even worse–he threatens to defame a formidable candidate’s spouse who is devoted to her husband and successful in her own right.

What could be so dangerous about Heidi Cruz? She’s a woman who excelled in the private and public sectors. She’s a woman who overcame depression. She’s a woman who got her undergraduate degree at Claremont McKenna College and later got her MBA from Harvard Business School. And more importantly, she’s a woman who successfully juggles motherhood and a career. (I’m shocked–SHOCKED, I tell you, by all of her “biggly” accomplishments!)

Given Trump’s animalistic tendencies, The Daily Beast even suggested Mrs. Cruz is far more qualified to be president:

In his world, a woman’s physical attractiveness—measured by his own subjective standards—is the most important thing about her, and unless that attractiveness is off his personal charts, her value is zero.

And so he believes that women who pose threats to his candidacy—like Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, and now Heidi Cruz—can be destroyed with schoolyard bullying.

Heidi got her B.A. in economics and international relations from Claremont McKenna College and a master’s the following year in European business from the Université libre de Bruxelles in Brussels. Five years later, she received the MBA from Harvard Business School.

After Harvard, Heidi worked for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as an economic policy aide, which is where she met Ted.

Trump moved to New York City after his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania’s business school. He started off with a personal net worth of $200,000 (the equivalent of $1.4 million today), according to what he wrote in his first book, The Art of the Deal. At the time, his father, the real estate developer Fred Trump, had a business worth $200 million. (How much Fred gave Donald at the start of his career is a matter of some debate, but it is in the millions.) Upon his arrival in Manhattan, Trump started going to Le Club, a glitzy nightclub, and associating with a lawyer who introduced him to mobsters as he got his start in real estate.

Let’s reserve animalistic behavior for our furry friends in the Animal Kingdom, shall we? It’s imperative to refrain from animal-style politics going forward.