Women of 2020: Breaking the Rules of Political Branding

September 29, 2019

I often wonder if I should be writing more about graphic design here, as I am a graphic designer. But I’ve been doing this for nine years now and, to be completely honest, I often find design conversations pretentious and egocentric. I have so many other interests and passions. And now that I have my own space at Koriko, I find myself wanting to branch out.

Yet sometimes, something catches my eye that gets me excited about design again – and what a surprise, it’s related to women and politics. 💃🏻

We often tout the importance of branding on our website, and the women campaigning in the 2020 US Election are prime examples of its significance. Tulsi, Warren, Harris, Gillibrand – they’re breaking the rules of presidential branding that normally consists of three colors: red, white and blue. But these women aren’t really running to stick to the status quo, are they?

Fast Company has an excellent article about these Democratic candidates and the brief history of branding #rulebreakers that led to this moment – one being Barack Obama's campaign with it's modern minimalism and boldness:

“The high production value and disciplined branding of the Obama campaigns deserve a great deal of credit for raising the standards of campaign branding, proving that great branding provides a powerful platform to build trust, tell stories, and engage the public imagination. But experimenting with nontraditional color palettes was never in the cards. Obama’s campaign branding was more concerned with quality and modernity than it was with confronting established norms.”

That has now changed for the upcoming election. Challenging established norms is exactly what these women want to do. They are communicating this through actions, speeches, and, yes, color and typography.

Of course, we can’t talk about rulebreaking in politics (AND branding) without talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose Congressional campaign thrust her in the public eye and made her a left-party star. Her energy, authenticity and pride in her cultural background was so clearly communicated in her posters and merchandise – and people loved it. Perhaps our candidates learned something from our youngest Congresswoman.

When you look at their new colors and smart positioning, you can see these women understand that patriotism doesn’t have to shoved down our throats with the standard red, white and blue. To do the same old same old would feel disingenuous. Now, their identities are represented in their own individual way – through Warren’s fresh mint green, Harris’s desaturated warm palette representing her and our country’s multiculturalism, Gillibrand’s feminist pop of pink, and Tulsi’s Hawaiian sunset.

Honestly the thought of the 2020 presidential election makes me break out in hives a bit. But if what comes from it is a world with more diversity, representation and color, it will all be worth it.

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