Typefaces and Connotations





Origination and development of Biden’s campaign

Bidens 2020 campaign design very much reflects and works off of his run with the Obama campaign in 2016- especially in its big and blocklike typeface. It is drawn from the typographic ideals that Obama had made recognizable in politics- a clean, modern look, done through sans serif typeface and bold color blocking. There are even small motifs in Bidens design drawn from the Obama campaign- the red striped E referencing the flag included in the “O” of Obama’s campaign logo. His bold typeface and stripe motif are paired with bright blue and red, nothing muted or darkened down in his campaign. His branding in one word can be described as safe, familiar, comfortable. Along with that, his branding of “Biden, President.” is something that can be seen word for word in his 1988 and 2008 campaigns. While his campaign does make many references to past democratic campaigns, the general new look of his campaign is entirely post-Obama esque, his visual identity something birthed from Obama’s visual distinctions. In his work as vice president, Biden had also been given a bit of a persona by millennials and gen z, popularizing himself as Obama’s less serious, often too friendly, best friend. The idea of Biden being all American “Uncle Joe” is something that he still runs with in today’s campaign, and it is most definitely present in the visuals of his campaign. He has included softer, blue and red gradients in most of the campaigning involved with his online social media presence, such design not something typical for politics and only possible because of modern day developments in audience consumption- more specifically, the appeal to younger voters. This persona, while softer and familiar, still solidifies the steady and persistent attitude one would want to see in a presidential candidate, bright colors paired with unsoftened sans serif typography allowing the campaign visuals to make a statement about Joe’s political outlook. While his visuals can still be considered as “typical” to what you’d see in political design, the Biden Harris campaign merchandise will usually stay up to date with modern day design and online trends, making items such as a fly swatter in reference to the fly stuck to Pence’s head during his debate with Harris, and sweaters with embroidered motifs and creative designs that suit todays fashion, not just sticking to one exact design for his whole merchandise collection.




Origination and development of Trump’s campaign

Trump’s design describes him as a natural born leader- all made to compliment his experience, and his tendency to take the position of power in any possible situation. Looking at his logo and typeface design, it really doesn’t stray away from the patterns seen in typical political design. The same bright red, white and blue in other designs is present, the common motifs of the American flag prominent as well. Trump likes to refer to his campaign as a movement, the variety of content in his typographic visuals bold and capitalized; the content mostly making statements about the changes he is intending to make. While candidates such as Biden may intend to win new, young voters, Trump’s biggest intention, which is very present in his visuals, is to solidify support from his long term supporters. His campaign works very hard in reassuring his supporters that he has and will stick to his word, and does so very pompously. Trump supporters are very proud to back their candidate of choice, and both them and Trump himself are very “in-your-face” about exactly that. The common imagery in his visuals are huge crowds, airplanes and helicopters, photos in which he is the clear and blatant focal point- visually describing himself as the leader of a country that one shouldn’t be able to help but feel a strong sense of nationality for. In his merchandise there isn’t even a typographic consistency; different shirts having wildly different typefaces and color schemes, kerning often uneven and words scaled to nonsensical sizes. However, this seems to work perfectly with his campaign and supporters. The point of his design is not to be consistent, it is to be simple and as straightforward as possible. One could even say that the visual design and composure of his campaign could be disregarded altogether, as it really is just used as a visual vessel for one to say, “I support Donald Trump!” It is not something he put together and directed with the purpose of convincing anyone to vote for him.




Comparing how the visuals have made an impact (supporters)

The biggest difference between how the visuals have made a difference in each party’s campaign is actually in how the supporters have taken ownership of the merchandise and typographic content. Although Biden’s visual campaign could be considered to be more “cohesive,” the way that Trump supporters have ran with his campaign is undeniably impactful, to the point where the merchandise has created such an identity for itself that one is able to create an immediate perception of anyone they may see wearing or carrying his collection, and that pattern follows with any kind of outward visual support; his yard signs, flags, car stickers, anything. Even if one is wearing his collection as a joke or as a more lax supporter, they still give off a very harsh, in your face idea to others of how exactly they feel in their political stance. This is evident much more so in Trump’s design than Biden’s, Biden’s really made for the purpose of representing him and his ideals to prospective voters. For Trump, his visuals have become something infamous- such as his MAGA hats, one of the items that have become a gigantic statement now rather than simply just a hat. It has even gotten to the point where people have stated that they feel like they actually have to be “on guard” whenever they catch sight of a red baseball cap; the merchandise is such a statement item for Trump supporters.



Ellis, Matt. “The 2020 Presidential Candidates’ Logos and Branding.” 99designs, 99designs, 23 Jan. 2020, 99designs.com/blog/logo-branding/2020-presidential-candidates-logos/.

Givhan, Robin. “Perspective | The MAGA Hat Is Not a Statement of Policy. It’s an Inflammatory Declaration of Identity.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 16 Aug. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-maga-hat-is-not-a-statement-of-policy-its-an-inflammatory-declaration-of-identity/2019/01/23/9fe84bc0-1f39-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html.

Silvertant, Martin. “The (Unkerned) Typeface of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’.” Medium, Medium, 31 Jan. 2020, medium.com/@msilvertant/the-unkerned-typeface-of-trumps-make-america-great-again-863f40f1cc28.

Schwarz, Hunter. “The Branding of Joe Biden.” Yello, Yello, 21 Aug. 2020, yello.substack.com/p/the-branding-of-joe-biden.

Cillizza, Chris. Cnn, 23 Mar. 2020, Schwarz, Hunter. “The Branding of Joe Biden.” Yello, Yello, 21 Aug. 2020, yello.substack.com/p/the-branding-of-joe-biden.

Editors: Ameena Muhammad, Samuel Saputra