Discover more from YELLO by Hunter Schwarz
With liberty green, Elizabeth Warren brands herself a new kind of Democrat
Democrats have been defined by the color blue since election night 2000, when the current red-blue party dichotomy was codified in TV news’ color-coded election results maps. The color has become visual shorthand for the party and it has been the primary color of every Democratic nominee’s campaign logo of the century so far.
If Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has her way, though, two decades of blue could soon come to an end.
Warren’s color palette includes a brick red and navy blue, along with secondary and tertiary colors, but a specific shade of mint green is the campaign’s most distinctive color. It’s a soft, seafoam shade. Its hex code, which is a code used by designers to match colors onscreen, is #b7e4cF. Valspar Paint’s name for it is “Witch’s Brew.” The Warren campaign dubbed it “liberty green.”
The Warren campaign color palette.
Mint green is midcentury throwback — it was a popular color for appliances, Cadillac sold a mint green sedan, and Grace Kelly accepted the Oscar for Best Actress in 1955 in a mint green dress by Edith Head — but it’s been making a comeback.
Lady Gaga predicted mint green would be “very big in fashion next spring” in her “Marry the Night” music video in 2011, and she was ahead of her time. In 2016, Pinterest named it one of their colors of the year after tracking a 40 percent increase in pins with mint green as the dominant color. Jeremy Scott used it in Moschino’s Fall 2018 show for a Jackie-Kennedy-in-a-biker-jacket look and it was one of the defining colors of designer Christian Siriano’s Spring 2020 runway.
Subscribe to Yello for the latest news on the culture, branding, and visual rhetoric of politics, delivered each week:
Last year, London-based trend forecasting firm WGSN predicted “neo mint” would be big in 2020. The firm’s director of color, Jane Monnington-Boddy, described it as oxygenating and gender neutral.
“It has a cool, futuristic tech feel but also connects with plant life and nature,” she said.
Mint green in Stone Island’s Spring Summer 2018 campaign.
On Twitter, Warren staffers are identifiable by black-and-white headshots set on a liberty green background, and Warren supporters show up to rallies wearing liberty green tees, beanies, and wigs. When “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness made calls to donors on Warren’s behalf, he did so with liberty green nails (the nail polish brand tenoverten sells the shade and even calls it “liberty”).
Warren staffers are identifiable on Twitter with black-and-white headshots set on a liberty green background.
“That color has taken on a life of its own,” said Claire Jamison, a member of the Artists with Warren group from California who dressed as the campaign color palette for Halloween. “It’s got this clean, minty feel … It’s not really associated with anything else.”
Those who join the Artists with Warren group often ask for liberty green color codes first thing, she said. One supporter made an unofficial style guide with free alternatives to Ringside, the campaign’s pricey typeface, and information about the color palette.
“It’s on brand to be nerdy about getting the color right,” Jamison said.
Jamison likened supporters’ use of the color to sports fans, and said it bonds them in a way that’s broader than a cult of personality around Warren.
“The way the Warren community has come to adopt the color as an identity and a team pride thing for clothes, clipboards, phone wallpaper, Halloween pumpkins, etc., resembles the function of team colors for sports fans,” she said. “Sports team colors don’t belong to one player or coach, they evoke the the whole organization as well as its fandom.”
Green is a lucky color for Democrats. The last candidate to win the White House without red, white, and blue visual identity was Jimmy Carter, who used a forest green in his 1976 campaign. Former Carter communications director Gerald Rafshoon told me last year he picked the color because it stood out.
Shades of green used in campaign identities for Jimmy Carter, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, and Jay Inslee.
Although green has historically been associated in politics with environmentalism, that’s less the case today. The group Sunrise Movement, which advocates for the Green New Deal, uses yellow as its primary color. And though green was used by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who ran for president on a platform prioritizing climate change before dropping out, it was a secondary color in his logo. 2020 candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick both use green in their presidential campaign branding, though neither have made environmental issues central to their candidacies.
Green is a recent development for Warren’s political branding. When she ran for Senate in 2012, her campaign logo was blue and white, but green has popped up in her wardrobe before, like the blazer she wore in 2010 to a conference at the Treasury Department. Though Warren’s more likely to wear purple, red, or blue on the campaign trail today, she sometimes wears a turquoise sweater or blazer.
Left: Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign logo. Right: Warren, then head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, speaks during a mortgage disclosure forum in 2010 in a mint green blazer. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.
The Warren campaign did not respond to a request for an interview with a member of its design team, but naming their green “liberty” feels like a pointed message. While conservatives typically embrace national symbols like the flag or bald eagle more enthusiastically than liberals, the Statue of Liberty has become an exception.
When Trump administration members like Stephen Miller and Ken Cuccinelli downplayed or rewrote the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” found at the statue, Democrats including Warren pushed back.
“Our values are etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty. They will not be replaced,” Warren tweeted in August, responding to Cuccinelli falsely claiming the poem welcomed people who “stand on their own two feet.”
First conceived as a monument to emancipation, the Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of freedom that’s drawn immigrants and refugees from around the world. Originally copper in color, it turned green due to oxidation.
Warren supporters during the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Celebration on November 1. Credit: Nati Harnik/AP Photo
Should Warren become her party’s nominee, one can imagine a Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee next July looking like a sea of liberty green, and a general election in which liberty green is offered as the alternative to the fire engine MAGA red of President Trump. TV news magic maps might update their color key for the first time in years, and Warren could imbue liberty green with new meaning, as the color of “big, structural change.”
Warren supporters sometimes describe themselves as “Warren Democrats,” as if to set themselves apart as a new evolution of the party. Liberty green gives that identity its own new color.