Actually... Joe Biden’s logo is fine
Perhaps no 2020 campaign logo was criticized more upon release than former Vice President Joe Biden’s. With its E stylized to look like the stripes of the flag , “JO≡” was ripped for reading as “Jo.” One Twitter user said it looked “like someone was playing a party game in which they had to draw the Obama logo, blindfolded and from memory.” Fast Company said the D and E in the “BID≡N” version of the logo looks like a hand and would remind voters of his history of touchy-feely behavior.
I’ve found that the campaign logos that get the most negative reaction tend to be those of more established politicians, like the Hillary H, the Romney R, and the Jeb Jeb!. It's easier to disparage a mark for a politician who has well-known foibles from which to hang criticism (look, a hand!), but they’re also logos for an already well-known brand. It’s a rebrand, and everyone hates a rebrand.
There’s something unsettling about seeing a logo you’re familiar with when it’s overhauled or tweaked. Companies like Google, Airbnb, and Slack have all unveiled new identities that weren’t initially received positively, but consumers eventually get used to it. The same could be true of Biden’s identity.
In an election cycle where candidates aren’t restricted by red, white, and blue, Biden stuck with the traditional color scheme. It’s one of the few design consistencies for a political career that stretches across nearly 50 years of changing campaign design trends.
You can see early examples of Biden branding in a pin for his U.S. Senate campaign and in a 1978 campaign newspaper supplement. Biden’s first presidential logo, during the 1988 cycle, underlined his name in red and set it in italics, giving it a sense of motion. His second logo, from 2008, used a serif typeface which was placed in a box with a star icon.
Biden’s 2020 identity is either his third or fourth presidential campaign logo, depending on whether you associate him with the Obama logo, which I think you should since his time as vice president informs his public perception more than anything else today.
The stylized E stands out because it’s an accent for a letter other than the first letter of a first or last name. Es have been turned into flags before. Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker used a flag E for his 2016 presidential campaign logo and was inspired by a 1984 Ronald Reagan campaign poster. It was also compared to the logo for eyeglasses and contacts company America’s Best. But where Walker’s E was a flag icon, Biden sticks to just stripes that peek out from the letter preceding them.
In “BID≡N,” the stripes set apart “DE,” the abbreviation for Biden’s home state of Delaware and in “JO≡,” the O looks like an Obama interpolation, as if the letters of his name highlight his biography. The stripes are also used in a standalone Biden B icon and they were adapted for Pride using rainbow colors.
For the record, Obama O designer Sol Sender doesn’t see the resemblance between his work and the Biden identity. “I would say no, it doesn’t strike me as being in the same family in any way,” Sender told Yello. “If I had to guess why they said that, I guess it’s just sort of the stripes emanating from a circular form.”
Still, it’s a rebrand for Obama’s veep with an O front and center. The stripes that appeared in Obama’s O are broken out for Biden’s, and it may look a little funny at first. It’s not the O voters are familiar with. It’s “JO≡.”