Sunday, 28 August 2016

Political Types

When you vote, you vote for the manifesto, the policies and not the person—or at least you should. Usually this doesn't go to plan and political parties are clicking onto this; with politicians becoming more of a brand than a person.

Trump gets it
Think of any brand you know, any brand you love—it has a particular typeface doesn't it?
Because words are how we decode the information around us, with fonts making the visual representation for all words around us. Typefaces and Fonts are the core for almost any branding structure, developing a sense of warmth, trust or safety in a brand; this is exactly why politicians embrace them so heavily.

Imagine Donald Trump's full campaign set in the god awful Amatic – which I've secretly used before – that wouldn't allow much trust his loyal minions. Trump is a man that sets his words in BOLD and SERIF because clearly he's strong and traditional, right? I mean, there aren't strictly any fonts that print Xenophobia that well.

Trump mostly sets his punchy messages in Akzidenz-Grotesk BQ Bold Extended a strong favourite of mine and the original G when it comes to sans-serifs. In the world of typography this font holds more weight that Trumps campaign in the swamps of Mississippi—described as The Snob's Helvetica by a certain Andrew Byrom.

And when he's not shouting that we should save veterans or build walls, he wants to inform you that he is the best way to make America Great Again! in a mix match of every font available to his small fingers. I can't quite nail down exactly which one because sometimes it's FF Meta and other times it Times New Roman but it's always with a fauxed sense of traditionalism and knowledge.

On the other hand, we have a black man. Barack Obama.
Just as he ends his term in office, he retires a surprisingly strong branding system backed with a spine built upon Gotham—a strong, alternative, modern sans typeface. For the man rising through the ranks, beating racism down with a strong manifesto and a highly notable wife; it couldn't be more fitting that the right font for the job shares the same name of the crime ridden metropolis that Bruce Wayne keeps in order. If you haven't got it yet, I'm comparing Obama to Batman—the original alternative hero.

Things are no different here in Britain either; we have strong branding for the innovators and we also have idiots hiding behind warm branding. 

But what if someone changed up  the formula, for good or for bad; made a politician as local, friendly, modern and relatable as they all try to be? What if someone who did this was someone I can't shut up about, someone I've spent good amounts of time with? What if they were Swedish? What if this was done by PJADAD?

C'mon you had to have seen this coming.

They saw it coming
In 2009, when I was merely a young boy (15) PJADAD was working hard creating a political branding system; for the CUF (Centerpartiets ungdomsförbund). A system aimed at the youth of Sweden, it employed comical noses, bright greens and as always a strong sand-serif. They described their system as a trojan horse, working it's way into not just displaying the political party but creating a link between voter and politician, a unifying item.

With the green nose supporting a clear link to the wild and colourful branding of the party, it was a clear sign that someone supported the party and when worn created a sense of obvious unity in ideology, like a trainspotters badge collection or a memorial poppy.
The idea of obvious unity of thought isn't new but is effective; even Trump caught onto this one.

You know them Swedes know whats up.
I know this final bit has nothing to do with their choice of typeface, but although type was a prominant part of my message here it's not the whole story. All these politicians chose to represent themselves through various typefaces because of the connotation of the imagery of their words. PJADAD's branding was no different but instead of the typeface being the masthead for their communication they used relative humour and human connection.

Their use of typeface for brand reinforcement and the development of a clear visual connotation both proves and disproves my point. Their words display who they are, but the visual link their followers embrace defines what they see.


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