THE US ELECTION –
A GRAPHIC REVIEW
This week the world watched in shock as Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America and consequently one of the most powerful and influential people in the western world. How a man who is mocked by a large percentage of the country he is to govern came into this position is a different matter but I want to consider whether the graphic campaigns of Clinton and Trump effected the final result. Setting aside all personal opinions on the matter I aim to give an analytical review on the branding, campaigns and stage design of the candidates.
Donald J Trump, business man and reality television star, has been a member of the Republican party since 1987 (with the occasional switch to other American political parties for a handful of years.) Trump’s campaign targeted the old-fashioned, traditionally American members in society, those who still live by the American dream and are eager for conventional American politics (where the needs of the American people are put first) to be brought back.
During the running for presidency Hillary seemed to bethe front runner and this could potentially explain why her graphic design team chose to use predictable graphic devices that gave her a sleek modern brand.
Perhaps some background information would set the scene for this discussion. Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton (former President of the US between the years of 1993 to 2001), has been involved with politics her whole life, spanning from her education at Yale Law School to standing as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 for the Democratic Party. During the campaign Hillary’s policies pushed forward those set in motion by President Obama, for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and gun laws. Whilst many Americans consider the Democratic Party policies to be static and repetitive Hillary had a large following by celebrities, the general public of America and the rest of the world.
The use of the sans-serif typeface, block arrow and patriarchal colour palette is cliché to many design rules followed by political designers in order to make a piece appear modern and professional. Did Hillary’s design team feel that her popularity from past ventures meant that she didn’t need branding with the same level of impact as Trump’s?
In complete contrast Trump’s campaign is solely focused upon his identity. His graphics are explicit to his views and aspirations for the country. We could suggest that the use of philosophical design ideas in Hillary’s campaign, such as the arrow to represent progress, were confusing and did not demonstrate the correct ideas to the voter, whereas Trump’s campaign is clear and direct.
Trump has targeted those in more rural, traditional areas of the country who are possibly less commercialised. Therefore, his basic approach to design and marketing is appropriate and perhaps the reason for his success. The message was clear, Trump himself is powerful enough not to need to be surrounded by celebrity endorsement or excessive advertisement.
If we consider his stage design and presence, he elevates himself to appear superior and untouchable. He presents himself as a religious figure with the use of pedestals, spotlights and a large use of gold within the sets. Gold is a prominent colour within the Trump empire as it is used on his hotels representing wealth and an exclusive position within the economy.
Maybe the graphic designs of both candidates has no correlation to the outcome of the election, however I refuse to suggest it is completely irrelevant. The way you view a person initially depends on how they look and the image they create in your mind and whether they resonate within your thoughts. This comes down to strong branding which in my opinion has been successful for both parties but in utterly opposite ways.