Thursday, June 27, 2013

Virginia's Governor Race - Designing A Candidacy

Source: Wikimedia, Flickr
The 2012 presidential election was historic for many reasons, not least of which for the quixotic logos that candidates on both sides used to market themselves to the American public. Luckily, this summer offers more opportunities to examine political brands. These carefully crafted icons present avenues to study how various campaigns plan to pitch themselves to voters and define themselves through visual messaging. In May, for example, a judicial candidate in Dallas was flagged for hijacking the Brooklyn Nets logo for his own t-shirt design.

This post is part of our ongoing series in "Designing A Candidacy." We talk a lot with our students about logos and branding as components of media literacy. They become engaged during civics comparisons of television commercials and candidate bumper stickers, and they enjoy assigning adjectives to the relative strengths and weaknesses of political insignia. Even though 2013 is an off-year election, we want the future voters in our classrooms to remember that citizenship matters more than once every four years.

Only two governorships, Virginia and New Jersey, are up for election in November. The state of Virginia limits its governor to a non-consecutive four-year term, meaning current Republican governor Bob McDonnell cannot succeed himself. The principle candidates vying to replace him are Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe. Cuccinelli is pitching himself as a jobs-focused successor to the popular (but currently under ethics investigations) incumbent. Cuccinelli is best known, though, for his attempt to sue the University of Virginia over its research into global warming and for his steadfast opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. McAuliffe, as the former head of GreenTech Automotive, is also trumpeting his job-creating credentials. He is most remembered, however, as the former chairman of both Bill and Hillary Clinton's respective presidential campaigns and as the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Source: Ken Cuccinelli For Governor,
Cuccinelli's logo is traditional and stately, with classic blue, centered, horizontal lettering in a heavy serif on a clean background. The Williamsburgian design features the state prominently in a deep red shadow to emphasize the candidate's Republican ties. The single all-caps "Governor" stands out prominently with its two side spears, avoiding any suggestion of a contest "for" governor. The colonial layout evokes patriotic tones similar to Ron Paul's blueprint. It also allows for flexibility to customize the mockup for later niche posters. The absence of any style distinction, though, makes Cuccinelli's flavorless emblem fairly forgettable. And the lack of any slogan or motto means voters won't glean a specific message from the marketing.

Source: Terry McAuliffe For Governor, Daily Kos
McAuliffe's scheme marks a stark contrast to Cuccinelli's. The stylized white, serif-free letters slant upward in a modern pitch on a bold blue canvas. Most striking is the unexpected and clearly intentional green banner. The bright spearmint shade, with no mention of the Democratic Party and no overt logo, seems to position McAuliffe as a nonpartisan choice for an environmentally friendly future. The bold slogan also unequivocally accentuates his business background, rather than his hyper-political past. It's unclear whether voters will be swayed by this attempt at rebranding, and the choice of "Andes Mint" green is somewhat jarring to the eye.

Current polls, by the way, show a tie between the two contestants. As reference points, the winning logos from the recent Virginia candidacies of 2012 Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, 2009 Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, and 2008 Democratic Senator Mark Warner are featured below.

Source: Wikipedia, Republican Express, Kaine For Virginia

Check out our other posts about design and education in elections.


  1. Neither ad for a current candidate mentions a website the way Warner's ad did. That is a mistake in this online age. It is good that their ads featured their names, since both candidates have names that are difficult to remember. Reading blue on white is easier that reading white on a blue background.

  2. Thanks for your ideas. You can also find the details on Virginia Web Design, at the Internet marketing company USA. The main object of the Virginia Web Design is to provide quality web services and is among the few software development company in USA.

  3. All the tips you shared are adorable !!! Thank you.

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