What Role Does Graphic Design Play In Elections?

October 30, 2012

Elections today are decided by image, not issues, which is why graphic design plays a major role in determining which candidates voters select. There’s a reason FDR didn’t want to be depicted in his wheelchair, why presidential debates weren’t televised for 16 years after John F. Kennedy’s youthful TV appearance helped him beat Richard Nixon in 1960, and why today’s candidates have opted for iconic campaign logos versus simple lettering. Andre Agassi perhaps said it best: “Image is everything.” Graphic design is the foundation of campaign logos, brochures, flyers, posters, banners, websites, business cards, T-shirts, stickers, buttons and more. Graphic design is the surrogate candidate; it is what voters see when they’re not watching the candidates themselves, and therefore must represent the candidates.  And in today’s design-savvy world, graphic design is more important than ever. Let’s compare presidential campaign logos over the past recent elections:

Google Image Result for httpwww.4president.orgimage1992clintongore1992.gif_2012-10-26_12-19-04Google Image Result for httpwww.4president.orgbushwallpaperbushquayle1992wa_2012-10-26_12-17-26
Google Image Result for httpwww.4president.orgimage1996clintongore1996.gif_2012-10-26_12-19-21Google Image Result for httpwww.loriferber.commediacatalogproductcache1_2012-10-26_12-19-13
Google Image Result for httpwww.4president.orgbushwallpaperbushcheneywallpa_2012-10-26_12-19-47Gore_Lieberman_Logo_2000.gif (166×108) - Google Chrome_2012-10-26_12-19-34
Google Image Result for httpwww.4president.orgbushwallpaperbushcheneywallpa_2012-10-26_12-19-47Google Image Result for httpupload.wikimedia.orgwikipediaen33dKerry_edwa_2012-10-26_12-19-58
Google Image Result for httpwww.ozsticker.com121-313-largeobama-biden-08.jp_2012-10-26_12-20-13Daily Kos Logo-Rama Rating the 2008 Campaign Logos - Google Chrome_2012-10-26_12-23-54

In each case, the candidate with the stronger logo won (I think McCain’s logo was the second-best on the list, behind Obama’s much-ballyhooed logo). This isn’t to say that a great logo will win presidential elections on its own; but it does speak to each candidate’s understanding of the importance of image. Those we cared more about cultivating their overall image are most likely to also have the best logos, which represent the candidates to voters, who in turn vote based on that image. How much do you think graphic design has to do with who ultimately gets elected? Let us know in the comments!

Brian's picture

About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

[...] There’s a reason FDR didn’t want to be depicted in his wheelchair, why …See on blog.psprint.com ← Unique Business Cards Anyone? Comments Leave a ReplyWant to join the [...]

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

My boyfriend voted for a ballot measure that had a kitty in the marketing materials -- 'nuff said.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

That's hilarious Jennifer! Did the measure win?

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

It did -- design DOES count!

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