The Graphic Design Abortions Known as the “Choices” in Gavin Newsom’s Logo “Contest”

Ack! By the time I got home to write this, Everyone Else already blogged something way cooler. Curses!
418216434_8b199a59b4_m.jpgBy now, the Newsom for Governor campaign has spent so much time believing its own hype and that their candidate walks on water, it’s almost a bit painful to critique ’em because they’re punishing themselves just fine. Today, I got a way-too-enthusiastic email from a John Hughes movie villain asking me (yes me!) and everyone else on their list to “vote” for a campaign logo! Oh wow! So web 2.0!
Now, mind you, Newsom had a campaign logo earlier this year at the convention and there was nothing wrong with it at all. In fact, it was kinda nice in that it didn’t look like a typical campaign logo (and it had a URL, Facebook and Twitter logos on it too!) They even had this totally SF hipster tee for sale too for the folks in Sacramento.
But following in the footsteps of Steve Westly and Barbara Boxer, who also offered similar “vote for the logo and be empowered” nonsense, they’re doing this to keep people busy and avoid thinking too much about his actual record or mysterious relatives. I guess if you’ve been cooped up in a war room for the duration it sounds really “out there.”
Fine. But like Westly and Boxer, the choices offered are so crap-tacular, the designer(s) who came up with these should be sent to remedial design school or something. Sure, I am not a designer myself. I have, however, done some award winning creative on direct mail and on the web, because while I can’t draw a picture, I work with some of the best people in the business, and we come up with kick ass shit. Sterling Cooper can kiss our ass.
Before I pick apart these things, one by one, the way one might pick apart a really bad something or other, it’s clear that these are all variants on a very narrow theme.
They all obscure his name a little in some weird way (“ooh he’s the new thing on the horizon, dear!”) and few of them reproduce well in a variety of mediums (the the green one in particular has hideous typography and can’t easily be seen at a distance) If they want the mob to pick a design, fine, but at least have some decent choices so that they don’t end up with a stinker.
Ok, now to the nitpicking, Internet style:

The second worst one of the bunch. The fade in the middle makes this an especially difficult design to reproduce in print, or in black and white on flyers. There’s no URL for the website, Twitter and Facebook (oh wait, the new guys can’t make 15% off of those so I guess those are out), and in almost all these designs there’s a maniacal focus on obscuring part of the guy’s name. This is not edgy design, people, this is just stupid.

Now this seems to combine weird pieces of the second and fourth logos, and again, it doesn’t work. The typeface is way way too thin to be noticed from a distance, and the weird faux sun ray effect simply does not work. If you’re gonna do the whole sunrise, new dawn, new day bullshit, do it right.

This one is a favorite of my good friend Brock at SFist who makes an excellent point about the whole Manchurian Candidate vibe. However, between the blood red color and this fetish for thin, white typefaces, this doesn’t come close to say, Dianne Feinstein’s standard designs, which have been used in one form or another since 1990.

This last one is a doozy. Where to start? Ok, I get it, it’s a green sign because, oh right, he’s the Mr. Green Jeans of the campaign, running around telling everyone what to do about their recycling, all the while driving a gas guzzler and killing Muni back at home. Right.
Fine, but this looks less like a campaign logo, and more like something we’d see in Gavin’s private life, when he partners with Lisa Simpson to start a company to recycle animals into slurry. I’m sure this got points in the war room for “not looking political” (um, like the original) but that’s half the battle, kids. You have to “not look political” and also “not look like crap.”
So far it looks like the consensus amongst the cool kids is for “the wed wone,” If this is any sign of things to come, in the wake of Streetsbloggate, all I can say is go, Gavin go. I need a respite from the day job’s work, and let’s face it, Gavin’s provided enough blog fertilizer in the past to let a thousand blogs bloom. Yes We Can!
UPDATE So today I got this little email from the “campaign manager” talking about all the excitement over this cool, edgy contest:

Dear Friend,
It’s been a fun couple of days with the launch of our online logo contest. So far we’ve had over 6,000 total votes and the comments have been pouring in.
Elisa from Facebook said, “Let’s be bold and go with red!”
Greg said, “I love the green one.”
Jenny on Twitter thought the logo with the white background, navy and sun said, “new day, new way.”
As of this email, the logo with the white background, blue lettering and yellow sun is in the lead but the dark blue logo with the yellow sun is close behind.
Thanks to everyone for participating and giving us your feedback – we’ve been following the commentary and have seen some great ideas.
Voting is open until Sunday at midnight. So, if you have not voted, now is the time.
Cast your vote and help us pick the official Newsom campaign logo.
Nick Clemons
Campaign Manager
Newsom for California
P.S. To stay connected, join with over 1 million supporters on, Facebook and Twitter.

Wait, so out of over “one million supporters” online, only 6000 have voted? Hmm..lessee…that’s .006% of this online army he bragged about not too long ago….WOW. Work that online mojo, Gavster!
As I’ve said before, you can get into a numbers war on Twitter, et al, but it’s all meaningless if they don’t do anything.
And for the record, THIS Greg thinks the green logo sucks ass.

Leave a Reply