Keeping the Hillary Clinton brand on track

political party branding


An interesting insight into the design process for the Hillary Clinton campaign brand identity.

An interesting email conversation has emerged from early last year in regards to the branding work Michael Bierut and his team at Pentagram were developing for candidate Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. Clinton campaign adviser Joel Benenson emailed a number of Team Clinton members to express his concerns about the direction of the Clinton brand mark design development:


What is striking about this for me is the universal themes of client Vs agency that are playing out here. This isn’t a criticism of the client, by all accounts Benenson is one of the best – a professional making calls on all aspects of the Clinton campaign. But this is a reflection of the challenges for both client and agency where the brand agencies expertise is often undermined by a client’s lack of experience and understanding in a field where they are unlikely to have developed the required perspective.

Valuing brand expertise.

Taking the 10,000 hour rule into account, Bierut will have accrued much more than 10,000 hours of focused practice and specialisation – part of which makes him one of the best in the world at the strategic art of branding. Benenson will most likely have less than 100 hours experience in strategic branding, and quite possibly less than 50. Those 10,000+ hours equip Bierut and his Pentagram team with the experience to make the right calls on design strategy and execution. The chance of them getting this brief wrong is as close to zero as it gets. On the other hand, Benenson’s logical mind is seeking to make sense of a field of expertise he knows is important to the campaign, but doesn’t have the experience to fully understand. As the client he gets to have the kind of input that can impact the effectiveness of the end product, and without the experience to do-so effectively, the client can unintentionally become the greatest risk to compromising the branding outcome.

Fortunately in this case, the team included Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola’s top North American marketing exec who was taking a leave of absence to pursue a passion project – ie. work with Clinton on her campaign. Clark is an experienced marketer with a strong understanding of branding, who was able to play a key role client side in keeping the project on track. Her reply to Benenson’s email included a strong and rational lesson in brand management:


This correspondence is a wonderful insight into the similarity of challenges faced by clients and branding agencies the world over, but also the immense benefit of having an experienced marketer on the client team who understands the branding process and how to get the best possible results.

And what political brand identity would be complete without it’s own memes?


branding for politics

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more at…
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