Romney’s Logo Problem

October 02, 2012

At some point, a long time ago, the Romney campaign chose its logo. It was probably a quieter time, when the senior staff and the candidate had time to consider options, ask for changes, and make a considered decision. So how did they get it so wrong?

Even before criticisms about Bain Capital, or the arguments over withheld tax returns, the campaign must have known his wealth would be an issue. (See "For Romney, Wealth Means Both Freedom and a Trap" by Ann Gerhart and Philip Rucker in last Sunday's Washington Post). Questions like: Was he out of touch with average Americans? Did he care more about money for himself than middle class workers? So why did they pick a logo that nearly spells out the word “MONEY?” By making the R in Romney highly stylized, and the other letters plain, we are left to read “OMNEY.” Now, maybe it’s because I’m dyslexic, but I think many people taking a quick glance will be reminded of MONEY. There is nothing he can do about the spelling of his name, but he didn’t have to choose a design that highlighted those letters.

Of course, it may be that they did it on purpose. It’s hard to remember, but part of the original justification for his candidacy was his success in business. He turned around companies, the pitch went, so he can turn around America’s economy. He could be, for middle class Americans, the embodiment of the MONEY they weren't seeing in their bank accounts.

If that’s the case, I think he misunderstood how Americans want to view their presidents. Unlike other political offices, people aren't just looking for a person who will deliver (though they want that too). They want someone who they can like, trust, and feel proud about as the leader of their country. They want someone who they can connect with emotionally, and who understands their lives. And it was too easy to see that Romney’s wealth, and the way he got it, were going to be issues in building that relationship.

To be clear: Logos don’t matter. The election won’t turn, even a little bit, on Romney’s. But if this was a choice made back when there was time to think, when details could be considered, it seems to show a candidate who is not self-aware. And that does matter.

Check here for regular observations on the 2012 presidential campaign and political history, as well as new clips from The Bigger Hammer. Follow @TheBiggerHammer on Twitter to find out when new excerpts are released and where you’ll be able to see the whole film.

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