March 30, 2017

RAYMOND LOEWY WEEPS: Great moments in graphic design — It Took Three People Two Months to Create Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Logo.

Contrast that with how quickly Trump came up with “Make America Great Again:”

Trump told the Post that he first thought of it after the Republican loss in the 2012 presidential election. Republicans were surprised at the loss, having thought their nominee Mitt Romney could have beat President Barack Obama, and Trump was considering how he could brand a run for president as a revival of the party and the country.

“As soon as the loss took place, I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, assuming I’m in a good position, assuming all of the things that you have to assume, which are many, I’m going to run next time,'” he told the Post. “And I sat back and I said, ‘What would be a good expression? And I said, let’s do this.'”

Trump outlined his thought process to the Post: “I said, ‘We’ll make America great.’ And I had started off ‘We Will Make America Great.’ That was my first idea, but I didn’t like it. And then all of a sudden it was going to be ‘Make America Great.’ But that didn’t work because that was a slight to America because that means it was never great before. And it has been great before.”

He continued: “So I said, ‘Make America Great Again.’ I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down. I went to my lawyers. I have a lot of lawyers in-house. We have many lawyers. I have got guys that handle this stuff. I said, ‘See if you can have this registered and trademarked.'”

One of the designers of the Hillary H-logo was Michael Bierut, who was featured in the (actually really fascinating) film Helvetica, released in 2007 to celebrate the ubiquitous font’s 50th anniversary. When I wrote a long post on the movie in 2010, I dubbed it “Liberal Fascism: The Font,” due to how effortlessly the Helvetica font unites the world of business and government into a seamless corporatist whole.

Bierut is quoted by the Washington Free Beacon today as being quite proud of the Helvetica-derived logo he created for Hillary, and apparently quite astonished that “The majority of the reviews were negative:”

He didn’t know his logo had been chosen by Clinton, however, until he saw it in Clinton’s official launch video in April.

“What we had been working on in secret was suddenly public,” Bierut wrote. “It was really happening.”

The majority of the reviews were negative, which was difficult for Bierut to deal with, but he was told by the campaign to “adopt a no-comment policy about the logo.”

Though he was unable to defend the logo publicly, he believes that “the world noticed” how great it actually was as the campaign went on and its versatility became known.

Bierut also thought that Donald Trump’s visual campaign was awful—”Bad typography; amateurish design; haphazard, inconsistent, downright ugly communications”—and that gave him added confidence as he settled into the Clinton campaign’s election night victory party in New York City.

“It was going to be the most thrilling night of my life,” Bierut wrote. “As I walked the darkening streets of midtown Manhattan toward Jacob Javits Convention Center, from blocks away I could glimpse an enormous image on the JumboTron over its main entrance, a forward-pointing arrow superimposed on a letter H.”

The night, of course, did not go as planned.

Heh.™ In the Helvetica movie, there’s a clip of Bierut that to date as received 94,000 views on YouTube, as it neatly summarizes both the film and its subject matter’s history, which is quite a double-edged sword:

The pre-war socialist modernists of Weimar Germany’s Bauhaus and Holland’s De Stijl produced some genuinely impressive graphic design and architecture, but as with political correctness, another prewar German product that flourished in America after WWII, by the 1960s, architects and designers were trapped by the soul-crushing limitations of its rules: only Mies van der Rohe steel and glass boxes were considered acceptable architectural designs, and only Helvetica-based logos were considered acceptable graphic design, destroying much Americana and great design in their wake.

See also: New York’s Penn Station.

Just as Pauline Kael infamously described Nixon voters as “outside my ken,” no wonder Bierut couldn’t imagine being defeated by “Bad typography; amateurish design; haphazard, inconsistent, downright ugly communications” – everything terrible except a slogan that genuinely resonated with the American people exhausted after eight years of Obama and dreading another four of the same.

And speaking of graphic design and Obama, lest you think I’m reflexively bashing the left, compare Hillary’s soulless H with the iconography of the 2008 Obama campaign. The Obama “O” logo’s brilliant graphic design – the sun rising, the red, white and blue “Morning in America” symbolism all inside Obama’s namesake initial — leaves Hillary’s clunky H in the dust, as PJM’s own Bill Whittle explained in 2009:

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