Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Designing A Candidacy - Students Rate The Logos

We've been taking a look at the 2012 presidential candidate logos since this summer. We've been trying to imagine how a slogan and a design might relay a candidate's brand and influence voters. Recently, we asked the same thing of our middle school students. We showed them the banner of each significant candidate still in the race, and we asked the students to judge the logo's appeal for themselves.

Source: ASIDE

We began the exercise in the same manner we approach political cartoons and photographs, using the four steps of graphicacy to understand an image. Specifically we asked:
  1. What visual elements do you see? How is the image constructed?
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe the logo or banner?
  3. Based on his/her logo, the candidate seems __________.
  4. Based on his/her logo, would you be more or less likely to vote for the candidate? (rating on a scale from -3 to +3)
What did we learn? Well, first, by an overwhelming margin, most students rated most banners a "0." Most designs had no impact on their likeliness to support a candidate. While this conclusion made for lukewarm data results, it hinted at larger electoral takeaways. A logo is traditionally a space-filler, something to wave or personalize a podium. It requires a special concept to turn a graphic into a game-changer. Poor designs can do damage, however, which explains why most campaigns are playing it safe for 2012.

Source: ASIDE
Secondly, Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich scored the highest among our middle schoolers. Both received positive marks for clear, positive, and modern imaging. Many students were not familiar with Obama's rising sun logo from 2008, and they, therefore, viewed his recent incarnation on its own merits.

Thirdly, President Obama had the most variability, with the fewest neutral ratings and the most extremely positive or negative opinions. Mitt Romney and Gingrich also enjoyed a range of scores and descriptions.

Finally, we learned what we already knew: middle schoolers are not easily impressed. Most of the images elicited a few half-hearted "eh"s. The worst sin was to be "boring," applied most frequently to Romney's logo. In fact, 2012 dropouts Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain rated higher among our students in their unexpected and intriguing designs. The biggest fan favorite was former Louisiana governor and current GOP outcast Buddy Roemer. We'll highlight his quirky carnival banner in an upcoming post.

Check out our other posts about design and education in the 2012 election.

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