Biden’s Branding

Hunter Schwarz, writing for AIGA’s Eye on Design:

The campaign also updated its typefaces in time for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to join as Biden’s running mate, after Biden senior creative advisor Robyn Kanner reached out to type designer and Hoefler&Co. founder Jonathan Hoefler. “The first message I sent to Jonathan was, ‘talk me out of Gotham,’” Kanner said. “He called me, and we had a three-hour conversation about it and we went through the weeds of type.”

Kanner ultimately chose Decimal, a sans serif inspired by vintage watch lettering that was released last year and featured in the Netflix series “Abstract,” as the primary typeface, with the serif Mercury as a secondary typeface. Kanner, who talks about design in musical terms, likened the two typefaces to major and minor chords that could be used to arrange text in a graphic like notes of a song. They were both chosen in part for their connections to truth, Kanner said. Decimal was “true as time,” while Mercury held the “truth of the written word” because it had been used by publications like The Atlantic.

A neat trick they’ve pulled is that for the post-election transition, they’ve switched the two typefaces, with Mercury doing primary work and Decimal doing secondary accents. They work together both ways, but they work differently. With Decimal singing lead vocals, the work felt like advertising — which it was. A campaign is selling voters on a candidate. With Mercury in the lead, it feels more like the voice of serious people getting to work. They’re not selling anything now — we bought it — and this is the brand they’re using as they begin to deliver. Just flipping the roles of Decimal and Mercury shows the magic of deft typography — it’s the same brand with a different tone.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020