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Behind the campaigns A presidential colour & design analysis

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This logo and visual identity analysis will focus on the analysis of campaign colours, logo shape and design, layout and use of photography. To keep the analyses fair, the cover photo from each candidate’s Facebook page is being used as the central design feature, with some mention of other elements in their physical branding.

Sarah Jama

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Colour: Orange

While colours can have many meanings, in North American society, certain colours have grown to have more associated meanings than others. Orange is often linked to freshness — think of the actual citrus fruit and its refreshing connotation. Jama’s choice to use orange is reflective of her emphasis on innovation and bringing new, inclusive ideas to campus. In Canadian society, orange is also tied to another association: socialism. Jama’s shade of orange is the same as that of the New Democratic Party, an unsurprising choice given her emphasis on equity and her slogan, “Students united; a place for everyone.”

Logo: Unity Triangle

Jama’s logo has two main elements, shape and content. The logo itself is a triangle, the strongest shape used in design. Its strength comes from the fact that any pressure placed on the shape will be evenly distributed across all three sides. The content of the logo is three ambiguously diverse arms and hands, united. Together these two elements create the image of strength in unity.

Layout: A hint of MSU familiarity

If you’ve ever seen a promotional cover photo for an MSU service or event, this layout is probably very familiar to you. The central call to action in the larger right-most rectangle, and supplementary contact information in a left-hand, narrow rectangle are two staples for MSU promotional branding. Jama’s branding isn’t the only one reminiscent of MSU materials, and it definitely isn’t the most similar one.

 

Jonathon Tonietto

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Colours: Yellow, purple

Tonietto has an unexpected colour palette compared to most of his competitors, who are sticking to conventionally popular darker tones and minimal colour mixing. Yellow, often associated with sunshine and summer, gives off a youthful, friendly vibe, which works well given Tonietto’s outgoing personality. The yellow also matches one of the symbols of his campaign, the “this is a good sign” sign that has been on his person at all times and used as his hashtag. Purple on the other hand gives off the opposite association, one of age and wisdom. It’s a more regal colour that is a technical compliment to yellow, and tones down the vivid nature of the rest of his campaign theme.

Logo: The Toni vector

The strongest element of Tonietto’s logo isn’t the graphics; rather, it is the actual tag that is attached to it, “TONI16.” Whether it was intentionally a play on “KONY2012” or not, it still rolls off the tongue nicely and feels simple and familiar. The logo itself uses an easy sans serif font that lets the focus fall on the vector cut-out of Toni’s face. It isn’t complicated, but it ties in Tonietto’s appearance without an obvious photo.

Layout: Kept to a minimum

Much like his colour scheme, Tonietto’s layout is different from most. It does not have any contact information, which is a bit of a letdown, but it is eye-catching at the least. It is much simpler than that of other candidate’s, but it still gets the point across.

 

Devante Mowatt

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Colours: Tie-Dye

Mowatt’s colour scheme is one of a kind. Looking back on previous presidential campaigns, there have been a few candidates who worked with a rainbow or tie-dye colour palette, but Mowatt is the first in a while. Tie-dye is fun and funky and relates back to an era in time that led to open-mindedness and social change and progress. According to details on his website, the tie-dye was inspired by the university’s previous “colour”— multi-coloured plaid. Overall the tie-dye gives off a relaxed vibe in an otherwise buttoned-up race.

Logo: Balloons and stars

Mowatt’s logo is hard to notice at first, as it isn’t quite front and centre on his posters or other promotions, but it is there. It is a little yellow star attached to a tie-dye balloon. It includes the obvious colour element of his campaign, but other than that, the symbolism isn’t too clear. Balloons in general have an element of freedom, so for those who have seen his logo, this could be an associated meaning.

Layout: Familiar places

His promotions don’t seem to follow an obvious theme in terms of layout, but the use of photography of iconic McMaster locations is consistent. It seems to be trying to create a familiarity without using direct styles from pre-existing university branding.

 

Mike Gill

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Colours: Green, black

Every year will have at least one MSU presidential candidate dawning the tried and true combination of green and black. Green has two iconic associations, sustainability and money. They’re both great things to subtly promote to the student body, so it’s no wonder it keeps being used. Gill’s branding is particularly reminiscent of Jacob Brodka’s 2014 campaign for MSU president. The use of black is associated with power and mystery à la business suits and covert operations. They are two meanings that could also work in Gill’s favour, whether intentional or not.

Logo: Layered triangles

Going back to comments made in Jama’s logo analysis, Gill also makes use of design’s strongest shape, the triangle. It’s unclear what the shape is supposed to represent other than strength, but for the most part it is quite chic and on most of his visuals, it doesn’t come across as distracting or unnecessary.

Layout: That beloved MSU touch 

Brodka’s 2014 campaign isn’t the only thing Gill seems to be borrowing from. Like Jama, his cover photo design is very reminiscent of typical MSU layouts. It’s unsurprising for both of them, as they have both been involved in multiple MSU services, but Gill borrows more from MSU branding than Jama. The primary font, Gotham, is also the MSU’s official font. He features the acronym “MSU” in its official font, which doesn’t technically break rule 4.23 of presidential campaigning (“Material may not possess any logo(s) of the MSU”). Overall it is a strong design, but its MSU-esque qualities could provide students with a certain sense of trust and give him an advantage over his peers who are following less familiar layouts.

 

Justin Monaco-Barnes

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Colours: Navy, grey

Monaco-Barnes is sticking to a known-to-win colour scheme among presidential candidates, a combination also used by Ehima Osazuwa’s winning 2015 campaign. When thinking of blue, images of the sea and sky often come to mind, leading to an association of calmness and tranquility — two fair associations with Monaco-Barnes’ stoic personality. It’s popular use in political campaigns around the country, and the globe, also hint to confidence and professionalism.

Logo: Stand-alone name and slogan

His logo isn’t so much a logo as it is a slogan. His “#bethechange” quotes Ghandi, which for most people, brings to mind a positive association. His choice to use his name and slogan as his logo is a smart decision instead of trying to create a visual logo that could be lacking in substance. Like Gill, Monaco-Barnes is also using Gotham, the MSU’s favourite sans serif, as his campaign’s primary font. It’s hard to blame either of them for this choice, since it is a nice font, but like the comments made in Gill’s layout analysis, seeing “MSU” written in its typical font can be misleading to students, but can give Monaco-Barnes added support.

Layout: Simple but strong

The layout used in Monaco-Barnes’ campaign is probably the strongest from a design standpoint. It has a clear visual hierarchy and includes important details without being too heavy on content. His visual identity works well to tie together photos and text, having his name and face front and centre will work well in getting passers-by to notice his promotions. It has a strong association with other MSU promotions without using direct logos from their previous campaigns.

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Author: Amanda Watkins

Amanda is a graduate of McMaster Humanities, majoring in Multimedia and Communication Studies. She started at The Silhouette as a Lifestyle volunteer in her first year and is now Editor-in-Chief. She humbly acknowledges that she started from the bottom and now is here.