Sticking It To Those Who Would Be Governor
Major party candidates for a variety of political offices in Maine have just passed an important deadline, the date to get their signatures filed in order to get on the ballot. For clean elections candidates there are other deadlines looming that they'll have to meet in order to qualify for public financing.
One deadline of a different kind, however, has already passed for candidates running for governor, the deadline for the establishment of a brand identity for their campaign materials. The designs they've chosen and printed are likely the ones they'll be sticking with for the rest of the campaign.
Candidates' yard signs, bumper stickers, and branded vehicles are already visible in caucus halls and on highways across the state and this is just the first shoots of what will soon grow into a spring flowering of political paraphernalia.
Despite the simplicity of these branded materials, the way candidates and their advisors choose to represent themselves through this medium can often reveal a great deal about the focus and message of their campaign.
Take Steve Abbott, for instance. I joked previously about how he chose Orono High School maroon and white for his Web site. Maybe there's something to that. After all, with a Portland address, he likely wants to emphasize his roots in central Maine. More obviously, his sign design has a very similar color scheme, element placement, and font line weight to the campaign signs used by his recent boss, Senator Susan Collins. Abbott may attempt to show some independence from the Senator during the campaign, but his signs will always create an unconscious link with his long-time employer.
My favorite design from the Republican side of the aisle so far has to be the mountain and stream theme of Peter Mills. I like the font (looks like Trump Mediaeval Bold), the white letters on a dark background provide for maximum readability, and the scene says “yes I'm a Republican, but not the kind that would dump toxic waste into this stream.”
If we disqualify Les Otten for plagiarism (and we should), my least favorite design on the Republican side is that of the Poliquin campaign. The green state outline behind his name obscures some of the letters and the black writing on a white background just isn't very interesting.
On the Democratic side, my membership in the America-hating liberal intelligentsia has led to my receiving bumper stickers from four campaigns so far (pictured above). All of them, unlike their Republican counterparts, sport prominent union bugs.
My favorite of the four is McGowan's. The design is simple and readable and the pine tree logo provides just enough difference to make it interesting.
The Rowe campaign went with full color and an ocean vista, which certainly sets it apart. Rowe's name is clear, but the Web site url fades into the background.
I really like Rosa Scarcelli's bold use of orange as her campaign color. It's a nice break from the blue, red, and green of every other candidate in the race. Her choice to lead with her first name is also unique. Unfortunately, the use of orange on a white background means her name is less visible than the words “for Maine.”
The worst of the four has to be John Richardson's. In a technical sense, it's a fine piece of campaign material, but it has no spark at all. With the white-on-blue text and a red swoosh, he could be running for any office anywhere in the country.
As you can probably tell, I'm a bit obsessed with political design. In order to feed this obsession, I've decided to take a page from my hero, NPR's Ken Rudin, and make the following offer: any gubernatorial or congressional candidate who sends me a campaign button gets a write-up on the blog. So to does any state house or senate candidate who sends a sticker. Want a mention? Email me here.