When Samantha Cabe approached my social media marketing class asking us to design her District Court Judge campaign and social media presence for her, I was immediately intrigued. I’d never designed anything for a political campaign and was excited about the opportunity. We had a team of about 50 students all working on various aspects of her campaign: design, social media presence, PR, photo/video, etc. I was part of the graphic design team: our main project was designing her logo. Rather than most logo designs that rely on a symbol, for campaigns, your name becomes the symbol. We needed to ensure that it stood out.
Samantha was the only woman running in her race. She wanted to use that to her advantage; thus, she wanted her logo to emphasize that she was a woman. However, she did not want to do this by emphasizing her first name, because the man she was running against was named Sam. Emphasizing “Samantha” too much could confuse voters. The campaign was for a local election; the main town in her district was Chapel Hill, NC. UNC Chapel Hill’s colors are light blue and white, and Samantha went to UNC Law School, so she wanted to integrate those colors into her logo to show her dedication and ties to the community. She also wanted to use purple if possible; it’s her favorite color and the color of Western University, where she went for her undergraduate degree.
Samantha wanted her campaign to feel personal and relatable. Rather than only using big, blocky text, we decided to give it a more personal feel by using her actual signature for her name. We asked Samantha to sign her name and then scanned it in and retraced it with the pen tool. Lucky for us, Samantha has beautiful handwriting, so the signature became an essential design element. Her flourishes and flowy cursive also helped with her goal to emphasize her femininity.
To contrast her signature, we used thick, prominent block text to display her last name and desired position. This was especially important for campaign signs to ensure that they were easily readable. Because her signature was so unique, we decided to keep the rest of the words in the same font, as adding a third font would make the sign look cluttered and awkward. This emphasized readability while also drawing attention to the element that wasn’t blocky and bold: her first name. As a result, the viewer’s eye drifted to the name “Samantha,” which helped communicate that she was a woman running for this position.
A major part of political campaigning includes signs that are displayed along the road. We didn’t want to use a light blue background for her sign, because almost all the signs in Chapel Hill have a light blue background. Samantha’s needed to stand out. We also considered how her sign would look in the day and at night. At night, car headlights reflect white. Thus, having a sign with a white background and dark text will be more difficult to see at night—the white background would wash out the text. On the other hand, having a dark background with white text is very easy to see at night, so we designed her logo for that. At night, CABE (the most important part) is clearly visible on the signs in white text against a dark purple background.
Why the purple background instead of black or navy blue? Purple is seen as a more “feminine” color, and none of the other candidates with signs up had a purple background, so Samantha’s would pop out in a sea of white and light blue. Plus, Samantha really wanted to use purple and was thrilled that it was so prominent.
The design team and I still wanted to use light blue in the logo to show Samantha’s ties to Chapel Hill. We decided to make the words “Samantha” and “For Judge” in light blue. Having just one in light blue would look strange, but making both of them that color tied the logo together and made everything feel very cohesive.
Samantha was thrilled with the final logo. She loved the personalization with her signature, the colors were exactly what she wanted, and her logo looked professional but not intimidating/corporate. Using the logo we designed, we went on to use a similar style to design graphics for her Facebook page and her website.