Give me a D!
new democrat logo

On September 15, 2010 the democrats introduced a new logo and website, with a focus on change.

The new logo received a lot of attention immediately, and much from the right criticizing (or really “picking on,” some it of quite clever) the new logo and a quick Google image search shows many a negative parody of the logo.

While there are myriad political implications for the new logo (can anyone say kairos?), this is not a political blog but a media design blog. So, let’s discuss the design. I’ll stick to just to logo today, the website might make a good podcast…

The new logo is clean and simple. The color scheme is American and modern, and very similar to the color scheme of Obama’s campaign website and logo. The logo’s shape is the same as Obama’s logo–round–which creates a strong connection between the two.

I’m a huge fan of clean design and white space (which often is a huge part of clean design) and this logo has plenty of it. The circle with a D in it part of the logo works nicely on it’s own and works well very small (as all logos should). In fact, it makes a lovely favicon on the website.

The typefaces are well chosen. The bold sans serif “D” is striking and as a sans serif is readable on screen, by itself, and very small (like in the aforementioned favicon). The slab serif used for the word “Democrats” is modern in feel while carrying a bit of the authority and ethos of a serif typeface (it is technically a neo-grotesque slab serif). The lack of think/thin transitions in the strokes of these letters increases the readability over most serif typefaces that have thick/thin transitions. “Democrats” is in all caps, which slows reading and is generally a “no-no” in design, but can work for short sections of text like a single word. All caps tends to give a solid feel, but takes up more space. Using upper- and lowercase would enable the designer to make the word “Democrats” larger while taking up the same amount of space. But the all caps does provide a strong repetition with the large O in “Democrats” and the circle in the logo. Still, I prefer upper- and lowercase.

The slogan “Change that matters” is also all caps, and while readable, upper- and lowercase letters would be more readable and give it a friendlier feel. Putting one of these in upper- and lowercase letters would create an contrast of form and lead to a stronger design. This is a sans serif face, increasing the more casual feel of the logo, and maintaining the screen readability of the rest of the type. Red is used well here. It brings focus to this smaller part of the logo, highlighting the words–making the “pop”–but not competing with the red of the logo due to the small size. Red and warm colors make things appear to advance/come closer, thus increasing the “pop” here. Cooler colors recede, like the blues, which creates an interesting and slight tension in the design. The size of the blue allows the blue to be an initial focus, but this clever use of size and color pulls the eyes across the logo and then down to the slogan, where we may hang for a bit thinking about change.

Overall, I like the logo. It has a modern, clean, and fresh feel and relates strongly to the top elected Democrat–the President. It works very well online, fitting as it comes with the new site. However, I do agree with sarahpixellogo in her post about the logo, it is not exceptional. I’d not go as far as to say dull, but certainly not exciting. It is a a vast improvement (or “change”) from the old logo. There is also a bit of cleverness in changing to a new logo with a new focus on change.

What do you think? It rocks? It sucks? It looks a bit like a toilet? Or a target? You could do better?

Will you vote Democratic now?

2 Responses to “Branding Change with a Changing Brand: The Democrats’ New Logo”

I love your rhetorical analysis of the new logo. I agree with you about the design elements. Although I have not yet read the comments the Republicans made about the logo, I would guess that they might have said something like, “It’s the grade that the American people have given the party–not a total fail, but certainly not the ‘A’ they will give us.” Some schlock like that, probably. I just received three of the new “D” stickers in the mail. I will place one in your box. :) It will commemorate your blog post.

I had my students analyze a political blog today, and they made some really perceptive observations. I may ask them about this logo and see what I can elicit from them. Thank you for this great post!

Thanks! The grade comments is one string of comments on the logo. the other strong compares it to a toilet.

Political site can be a lot of fun to critique and have students critique. I’m always impressed with what they come up with. Did you do the logo?

Something to say?