What Nikki Haley's branding tells us about her candidacy
Haley uses familiar fonts and colors to brand her first-of-its-kind campaign
Hello, in this issue we’ll look at Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign branding. Scroll to the end to see who was stoned while George W. Bush showed them his artwork. I’ll be off next week for Presidents Day and will just send out one newsletter. Have a great holiday! — Hunter
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Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced her presidential campaign this week with a new wordmark logo.
Haley’s red, white, and blue logo appears to be in Roboto, a wildly popular web-safe Google Font, and the crossbar in the A in her last name is disconnected. Customizing a vowel in the last name was a trick used in President Joe Biden’s 2020 logo, but Haley’s is more subtle.
Haley announced her campaign in a video titled “Strong & Proud” that opens with her talking about being raised as the child of Indian immigrants in Bamberg, S.C. She talks about her job as South Carolina governor, then drops a social studies fact you only usually hear from Democrats:
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections,” she says. “That has to change.”
It’s an argument for electability, but in a party where a 61% majority believe President Joe Biden didn’t win the election fair and square, that may prove to be uncompelling.
Haley’s visual identity is simple and underbranded. A diagonal slant is used throughout campaign assets, showing up on the Team Haley campaign account and in digital ads announcing her rallies and town halls. At her kickoff rally in Charleston, Haley walked out the Reagan-era jock jam “Eye of the Tiger” and spoke behind a lectern that advertised her text list and website.
Haley touched on many of the same themes in her speech as she did in her announcement video and spoke about being underestimated throughout her political career. She served in the South Carolina state legislature from 2005 to 2010, when she ran for governor. A Tea Party favorite and one of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s original “mama grizzly” endorsements, Haley won and became the state’s first female and Indian-American governor. Her gubernatorial campaign logo used a thick serif typeface and a South Carolina map.
Haley walks a fine line in emphasizing her heritage and gender, bringing it up while also playing it down. During her kickoff speech, she said the U.S. should send “a tough-as-nails woman to the White House” and “may the best woman win,” but later added “this is not about identity politics.” Comments from hosts at CNN and Fox News show female candidates of color continue to face discrimination.
Haley hasn’t shied away from emphasizing her gender earlier in her career. Her books come in jewel tones and present a conservative alternative to liberal feminism. She wore power pink on the cover of 2019’s “With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace,” and last year’s “If You Want Something Done…” tells the story of ten female leaders. Collecting stories of female heroes has been popular on the left — Hillary and Chelsea Clinton published “The Book of Gutsy Women” in 2019 — but Haley’s book includes leadership lessons from women like Margaret Thatcher, whose success Haley hopes to emulate.
For her presidential campaign so far, though, references to gender aren’t as overt. Of the three stickers sold in Haley’s campaign shop, just one acknowledges her gender outright, reading “Sometimes it takes a woman.” It’s in red, white, and blue like the rest, and it positions her gender as a source of strength and toughness.
Early polling shows many Republican voters are unfamiliar with Haley, meaning she has plenty of room to grow and lots of work to do. Whether or not her message connects with voters remains to be seen, but her branding is traditional, with familiar fonts and colors for a first-of-her-kind candidate.
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