“h” at the center of the conversation

In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo has stirred quite a commotion. Some people have said that it could have been done with the least amount of thought, the most basic software and no real design principles in its inception. There have been spoofs about it, comments saying that it looks like a sign to direct you to a hospital…you name it. (If you want, you can even make your own logo using “Hillvetica.”)  Hillary’s logo is certainly not the first to generate heated discussion – remember when the clothing giant Gap changed their logo for what seemed like a second? Or the issues faced by Pepsi and American Airlines when they changed their marks?
What’s intriguing to me is not the logo per se but how attuned the general public has become to design, and particularly the need for good design. While those of us in the business have been beating that drum for years, for a long time design sensibility was kind of an arcane trick of the trade, and certainly not something that the general public would feel compelled to discuss or dissect. That’s changed significantly, driven by the onslaught of design shows on TV and companies like Apple and Target bringing well designed products to the masses.

The result is that all companies (or politicians) need to think deeply and thoughtfully about their overall brand experience, what it conveys and how it elegantly communicates the brand’s overall sensibilities. From my perspective design should either be transparent and engineered to get out of the way, so you are only conscious of experiencing the brand (like in great UX or package design) or, it should be thoughtfully used to position the brand center stage, and really help it break through in this cluttered and distracting world in which we all live.

So that brings me back to Hillary… from my vantage point, her new mark as a stand alone “H” speaks to me in many ways. It can be read as a sort of “getting back to basics” and pushing this country forward. Unfortunately the overall logo with the supporting text needs some polish IMO, but this woman is not playing it safe for sure and I respect that. Go out there, be bold, think different. Hillary’s campaign has chosen a bold yet simplistic design, and contrary to popular belief, obtaining simplicity in design can be the most complex issue to solve. So I give the team props for that.

One more thing: no matter what you get from Hillary’s logo or how you feel about it, you have to think that maybe, just maybe her campaign staff is way smarter about it than we assumed. And that this was the carefully orchestrated and anticipated outcome. To stir things up, be at the forefront of the media and the twitter/blogosphere. To create dialogue about Hillary and to listen intently to what is said. Then use that knowledge to play a role in shaping the long campaign trail ahead. Hmm…it’s definitely something to think about.